Charissa Stastny lives in Meridian, Idaho with her husband, four kids, and her super mellow dog named Ginger. She and her family love camping, hiking, and biking. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from BYU, but is currently a proofreader and a grant writer. Eyes of Light is her first published novel. Her second book, Secret Keepers, is due out this fall.
Hello, Charissa. Please tell us about your novel.
Eyes of Light takes opposites to a whole new level. From Hispanic drug capos to Mormon missionaries in Guatemala, this story shows the spectrum of the human soul. The protagonist, Suvi Goldstein, is smart and resourceful, yet unaware of her true potential. She tries to escape her past, but life’s whirlwinds suck her back into danger and intrigue as she falls for a man with secrets as deadly as her own.
When disaster strikes, she flees to leave her guilt behind, but finds herself in even greater peril. Torn between violent men in one world and a kind, forgiving man in another, Suvi must find her way toward salvation. But will she ever be free of the darkness that binds her? Can she ever forgive herself for what happened...so that she can love again?
This sounds like an interesting Christian fiction. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
The inspiration for my Suvi character came in the form of a traveling artist that knocked at my door, selling canvases. I let her in, was charmed, and bought one of her paintings—The Street of Roses in Tiberias. Suvi was a captivating, gregarious personality. I couldn’t stop thinking about her, so used her to fuel my story for my creative writing class. Eyes of Light was born.
My little brother was my inspiration for my James character. He served a mission in Guatemala. I used his letters he wrote home to cast Elder Hinton. I tease my brother that James Hinton is him...only cool.
Hahaha. What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?
I used my brother’s mission letters to figure out details about Guatemala. I also did research on the FBI’s site about crime in Guatemala, which I thought my brother might be exaggerating. He wasn’t. Crime is terrible there.
I understand completely. I had to do research for my novel, Mayan Intrigue, since it was set in southern Mexico, and found that crime and artifact theft are running rampant there and in Guatemala. My eyes were really opened. So what does your husband think about your writing?
My husband thinks I don’t do enough zombie scenes for his taste. If I leave my computer for a second, I risk severe story tampering. I’ve come in to find my heroine being eaten by a zombie, or my masculine hunk telling the love of his life that he wants to eat her brains...things like that.
Hahaha. Your husband is so funny. How about your family?
Mostly, my family is supportive...but brutally honest. My daughter laughed hysterically when she read the first draft of Eyes of Light. She highlighted 3 different sections and wrote: “Cheesy! Please Mom, don’t ever publish this. It will embarrass me for you!” My husband also gave me useful advice: “Before you ever publish any of your stories, you might want to do a search for the word zombie.” Their tips saved me.
That is so hilarious. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.
I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, but am “gambling-challenged.” I haven’t ever pulled a handle of a slot machine, or thrown dice across a craps table, and I can’t shuffle cards to save my life. In college, I shuffled UNO cards by scattering them all over the ground and messing them up, then picking them up again. It drove my roommates crazy.
Hahaha. Now I know the real you! Just your answers alone make me wonder if you’re going to have a sense of humor in your book. Thanks for a wonderful interview.