Author Charyse Allan Chats About her Gritty YA Series

14 February 2017

Booktastik’s guest today is a super busy young adult author who’s just released the third book in her fast-paced (and ominous sounding) Valley of Death Series. We can’t wait to see where she gets her inspiration from and why she’s scared to talk in front of a crowd yet loves to dance on stage. Welcome, Charyse Allan!

Thanks, Dionne!! I’m so excited to be among the very talented authors you guys feature. 

And we’re so excited to be featuring you at the same time as you have a new book baby coming into the world—Desert Rain. Can you tell us about the new book and the Valley of Death series?

The entire series follows the main character, Payton Morros, through the trials she faces being a teenage assassin. She was adopted as a child and trained by her parents to be a killing machine, but one who kills with concentrated poisons that she and her adoptive father have created together. In the first novel, Gravel Ghost, she is faced with her hundredth assignment, and battles with the direction her life has taken, wanting nothing more than to be a regular teenage girl who goes on dates and gets into trouble. She abandons her hundredth assignment, after finding out her target is her best friend’s/newest interest, Conner’s, dad.

Through the end of the first novel and most of the second novel, Desert Fire, he tries to teach her what love really is and that she has a choice in which direction her life goes next, no matter what she was raised to be. In the second novel, her and her family, along with Conner, are on the run from the agency her family works for, known as the Elites. At the end, she finds herself stuck in their grasp.

Throughout this final novel, Desert Rain, she struggles with who she really is, while trying to rebel against the Elites who now hold her captive. The Elites want her to be their personal killing tool, but she wants nothing more to do with that life and will fight with everything she has to escape them, while trying to keep her humanity and compassion intact.

The series is hugely focused on love and what it can endure, but it is also jam-packed with action, gunfights, romance and family drama. You won’t want to miss a word of it 😉

It definitely sounds action-packed :).

You love horse riding, gardening, pastry cooking and dancing. Do those things make it into your books?

The cooking does make it a little bit into the Valley of Death series with one of Payton’s sisters, who uses cooking as an escape from their assassin lives, but none of my other passions make it into these novels. I can say that some of these things will be found in a new series I’m working on, and I am very excited to have them in there, to share my other outlets with everyone.

I have to ask: why do you find it easier dancing in front of an audience rather than speaking? (My dancing style is awkward and embarrassing so I’d pick talking any day lol).

Well, I spent a large chunk of my life dancing at my mom’s studio, and every time I got on stage, I had an easy time pretending no one was there, especially when the auditorium was almost black. But every time I have gotten up to speak in front of people, I can still see them all, staring at me… waiting for words to come out of my mouth. I’m afraid I turn bright red, and I can actually feel myself becoming more and more red. Then I start shaking, which makes my voice shake, which makes me start vomiting out way too many words… not a pretty sight. My husband happens to love when I have to speak in front of even just a few people. He loves pointing out how red I’m turning, which makes me even more red!

At least vomiting words is better than actual vomiting lol. I think it’s cool that you can pretend no one is there when you’re dancing—that’s a real talent.

You didn’t start writing books until after you were married. What was the catalyst that started you on your writing journey?

I actually loved writing, especially in high school, and took multiple creative writing classes, but in the very last one I ever took, my teacher told me I just didn’t have it, so I moved on to my other passion, cooking. After I got married, I found myself with a lot more time to read and devoured as many books as I could get my hands on. I think it was five years ago, I just had this want to try writing a novel, so I did. After taking a few months to write my first novel, I realized it was possible to keep doing it and that I actually loved working with words, and characters that Icreated. My first novel was a mess, but I learned A LOT from it, and I continue to learn new ways to make my writing better every day. I wouldn’t trade this career for anything.

That’s awesome. I hate dream crushers. That teacher should be ashamed of themselves.

With all the things you have to cram into your day, do you get time to write consistently, or do you just fit it in if you can?

With homeschooling two of my kiddos, taking care of a one-year-old, and getting ready for another baby on the way, I do have a very very full day. But my writing is important to me, so I keep a strict schedule to make sure I can get consistent time in for that, and my older kids are pretty cool about it. I like that they get to see me living my dream and know they can, too. My middle daughter even writes her own little books, and I’m keeping every single one.

Where do you write, and does it have a view?

My desk is in the middle of our house, out in the open so I can keep an eye on everything while I write, you know, make sure the kids don’t start any fires or try their hand at giving themselves haircuts. That particular area doesn’t have a view, but all I have to do is open my front door to get a killer view of a huge forest.

Are there any books or authors that have influenced you in choosing to write young adult, and what are a couple of your all-time favourite books?

One of my friends, Aprilynne Pike, is a very successful young adult author, and before I even met her, her Wings series was one of my absolute favorites and a huge inspiration to me. I also really love Justin Chen’s North of Beautiful. Those two authors showed me through their work how much fun and exciting it can be to write about those years that really shape us and push us to figure out who we are. Some other favorites would be basically every single one of Sarah J Maas’ novels, and I’m a sucker for the classic love stories, especially Pride and Prejudice—you just can’t beat Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s sweet love story.

Yes, Pride and Prejudice is the ultimate classic.

What is your process when writing a book, from inception to completion?

When an idea strikes me, I always write it down (I have multiple notebooks lying around the house). If the idea becomes an actual project, I do a very short outline, a good amount of research, then dive in to write. I write everything with pen and paper first—my notebooks are all full of a mess of handwriting that usually only I can decipher. Once I get the book going, I’ll transfer a few chapters onto the computer, then go back to writing in my notebook. This process helps me work out the kinks in the story as I go along, and it’s actually quite relaxing.

What do you find more relaxing: pastry cooking or writing?

Writing is definitely for the win in the relaxation department! I love baking, and the goodies I conjure up are always a treat, but being able to drain my brain of all the words…there’s nothing that can compete with that. Especially after making sure my kiddos have survived another day, I have something that’s entirely mine :).

Have you started writing the fourth book yet, and if so, when can readers expect that one to be out?

Desert Rain will most likely be the final novel in the Valley of Death series. I have considered writing a novella for it, but that probably wouldn’t be released until sometime next year if I move forward with it. Though, I am working on another series that I am very excited about, which I plan to release the first book of sometime this year.

Wow, good luck with it, and it’s been great getting to know you better. And I hope you still have plenty of time to write after baby number four comes along :).

Readers, if you want to check out Charyse’s books, click on the book covers below to go to Amazon. They’re also on Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. And if you want to keep up to date with what she’s doing, you can visit her website, Twitter or Facebook.

Desert Fire


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