In preparation for this blog blitz, I asked the person organizing it, Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours, what exactly I should write about in my guest posts. She suggested many things, but one was my favorite male characters in YA. I’m not entirely sure why they had to be male? Maybe it’s that whole book boyfriend craze? I don’t know. So I started thinking. She actually said they could be in any fiction, if I wanted, but I quickly realized I absolutely had to limit it to YA. There’s just too many. And as I made the list, I realized something else. Many of the characters I listed actually came from my favorite books. Not every book on this list is my favorite, and many of my favorites did not make this list. But many did. Another thing I realized was this: If I had had to name my favorite female characters too, many of them come from the exact same books, and to be honest, I will probably point those out too as I proceed. Because, really, I think characters are important no matter their gender, and I’m not one of those book boyfriend people. (I know, I know! How dare I? It’s really just because my husband is as amazing, if not more so, than any of the men on this list, I promise. He is like the ultimate book boyfriend.) Anyways, let’s move on to the list, shall we?
In no particular order (really, just the ones that popped into my head):
Justin – The Voice by Jennifer Anne Davis. The Voice is actually in my top 10 (probably even my top 5) books. I absolutely love this book and adore the author. But that’s not the point of this post, is it? Justin is an amazing character. He is strong and caring. He cares so much for the MC but most of the time, he can’t even show her or tell her. He works so hard to protect her and she doesn’t even know it at first. He is the ultimate gentlemen and I just love him so much. Audrey from the book is an amazing female character too, if you’re curious. She goes through hell and manages to not only survive, but become a much stronger person because of that. And that is something to be admired.
Darmik and Savenek – The True Reign Series – Jennifer Anne Davis. I know there are two people on this line, but I wanted to keep the book together. Darmik is a fighter, the commander of the king’s army, so he’s definitely tough and strong, which is in and of itself a good thing. But he also completely turns his life around for one girl. And when I say completely turns his life around, I mean, he could be murdered by his own family for his actions. But he doesn’t care, because he’s more interested in doing the right thing and protecting this girl. And Savenek, well, he’s just sarcastic and snarky and that’s just so fun. No, he really is great for other reasons. But those are the main two.
Cinder/Brian and Rob – Cinder and Ella by Kelly Oram. To give you a little background info, this a contemporary Cinderella story, but it’s woven in such a way that is actually quite subtle and brilliant. Brian is our handsome prince, known to Ellamara, our Cinderella, as Cinder. He is a cocky and conceited playboy. But he’s also an incredible friend who cares very deeply for Ella. Not only would he walk over hot coals for her, he’d crawl over them. He is an amazing character in his depth. He’s snarky, he’s arrogant, he’s irritating. But he’s also clever, caring, and kind. Rob is a supporting character, but he is just so sweet to Ella too, a perfect gentlemen, that it’s nearly impossible not to like him. He’s just too good of a guy. P.S. Ellamara is brilliant and I highly recommend this book, just as I do pretty much every book on this list. Scratch that. Every book.
Grayson – The Avery Shaw Experiment by Kelly Oram. This guy is kinda like Brian, except where Brian is famous and rich, Grayson is merely handsome and popular. But the same rules apply. He’s pretty cocky and full-of-himself, but he goes out of his way to help Avery. He does things he’d rather not do, like join the science club, to try to comfort her after his jerk of a brother breaks her heart. He deprives himself of what he wants because it’s best for Avery. He steps out of his comfort zone to help her. And that is very gallant, and the perfect way to steal my heart. I’m starting to notice another pattern. I think I love guys that are devoted to their women. I think that’s the main requirement. Interesting.
Tristan – Archers of Avalon Series by Chelsea Fine. Let me start this one by saying, it has been a while since I’ve read this series, so I’m a little fuzzy on all the details, but I still love Tristan enough that I remembered him. Tristan is a tortured soul. Literally, I think. I’m trying really hard to explain my love without spoiling the plot of all these books, so forgive me if I mess up and do so, or if I’m super vague. Tristan loses his girl over and over again. She keeps dying. And when she’s alive, he can’t be with her, or he accelerates her death. But being away from her literally causes him pain. To keep her alive, though, he stays away from her, taking the pain, so that she might have a chance at life. He not only sacrifices his desires and accepts horrible pain, but he also does everything he can to protect her and stop her curse of dying all the time. And no matter what she does in any of these lives, he still loves her as much as he did the first time he fell in love with her. He comes across as a jerk at first, but really, he just loves her so much that he makes her hate him to save her. Which is tragic and beautiful. Tristan is a hunter, an old soul, and a bit of bad@$$ for lack of a better term. He’s morbid in a funny sort of way, and stronger than most. He’s just a very well written character, I think.
Maxon – The Selection Series by Kiera Cass. I’m not going to talk much about Maxon, I don’t think, since I know how popular of a series this is. Maxon is self-deprecating, intelligent, and really cares. He has a hidden strength and humility that most people don’t see and despite his horrible father and job demands, he really does care about people. And he loves America enough to give her the world. (I love America and her stubbornness by the way)
Kile, Henri, Erik – The Heir by Kiera Cass. Technically, this is in the selection series, but different main characters, so I separated them. It’s hard to choose a favorite character from this book, but these are my top 3. I don’t even know what to say about Kile. I just love him. He’s willing to do whatever Eadlyn needs. He wants to talk and comfort her and know her better, but she just wants to make out, and he accepts that, because it’s what she needs from him. Henri is just… How could you not love Henri? I mean, really? He’s just too adorable. And Erik is a good man. He truly cares for Henri, when most would just see him as a job. And he truly cares for Eadlyn too. He takes care of her more than most of the other guys, even though he doesn’t have too. Also, Eadlyn is an amazing character. I know a lot of people for some reason don’t like her. Maybe because she’s too different from America? But I actually think she’s great. She’s realistic. And even though a lot of people think she’s too mean or callous, I don’t. She has to be, a lot of the time, to protect herself. Even in the book, she’s let her guard down before and gotten hurt. So she’s a lot more cautious. She wears a mask. And I think that makes sense. (Sorry. I know that’s off-topic).
Akinli – The Siren by Kiera Cass. Akinli is just a good-natured, friendly, goofy guy who falls in love with a silent girl. He is just a true, good guy, and I love him for it.
And because I just can’t help myself, here are two from adult fiction. These are two of my favorite books, so you’ll just have to bear with me.
Samuel – Running Barefoot by Amy Harmon. Samuel is a Navajo who begrudgingly befriends a young girl who teaches him more about life than he could ever imagine. She turns his life around and helps him become the man he wants to be. He becomes a marine and returns years later to find that the young girl he’s befriended has become a grown woman who has lost her fiancé and her light. She’s lost, and he decides to show her the way. He’s a strong character that hates to fail or show weakness, but does so for Josie. He’s a man that is stubborn enough to push Josie into remembering who she used to be, even though she doesn’t want to. He forces her to move on and to start living her life again. His growth in the book is extraordinary and is astounding to watch.
Taylor – The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks. I don’t know exactly what to say about Taylor. I love this book and I love him, but it’s been years since I’ve read The Rescue. Taylor is one of those rare men who becomes a father to a child that does not belong to him. To make him even greater, the child is autistic. Not a lot of people bother with autistic children, but this man not only bothers with him, he treats him like a son. And that means something to me. He’s a good man that has to face his self-destructive behavior in order to be with the woman he loves and her son. I like Taylor for other reasons too, but mainly just for the way he treats the little boy.
Timekeeper Rising by Allyssa PainterPublication date: August 1st 2015
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Young Adult
Fifty years ago, the sky cried acid and the earth vomited poison, all due to human destruction. Desperate for a savior, the people called out to the Shunned, a group of Fallen angels on Earth, and allowed them to take over. Now the Shunned rule with unspeakable cruelty, manipulating and torturing the humans in every possible way. Marked for death, Iris Ankea will do anything to end their tyranny and rescue her brother and best friend from their clutches. When she learns that she is God’s chosen Timekeeper and has the power to defeat the Shunned, she sets out with the only man who can help her, the one she thinks just might kill her. With a prophecy about her drawing ever near, Iris must race against time to discover her powers before the world, and her life, end. Can Iris force herself to embrace her role and sacrifice herself to save everyone she loves, or will she lose it all?
Look, if someone can sense your aura, they can trace you. If they can trace you, you're dead. You cannot be traceable.”
Iris barely flinched as he dropped down beside her, glancing around cautiously, checking for threats. She had held her dagger in her hand, occasionally twirling it through her fingers, since he joined her at the edge of the forest. “I already am, though, aren't I? You signed my death warrant yourself.”
Once more, Sage Atroxé sighed. “I came because I was ordered to. That doesn't mean I agree with my orders. Have I killed you yet? I believe you can help us. However, more than likely, if you don't die, I do. That's not to say I'll kill you. I just... It's not like I just came here to kill you without even batting an eyelash. This isn't a simple decision.”
Iris nodded. No fear, no worry flooded her features. She smiled. “Let's make a deal. I'm headed to the Shunned to... Well, to kick some butt and save my loved ones. After I do that, kill me. Let me save the people The Shunned stole from me. Let me help your people. Then save your life.”
Sage shook his head in a melancholy manner. “Unfortunately, even if I did choose to murder you, it would only hurt us. I told you, you are special. We need you.”
She shook her head. “No, I need you to help me save Daniel, among others. You need me to die at your hand. That's it. Deal?” Iris didn’t know how much Sage knew about her life or her family, but if he didn’t know about Zander, she didn’t want him to. Zander was powerful in his own right, and important. Iris was sure Sage already knew about Daniel, but she wasn’t sure about Zander and she had no interest in giving him any more ammunition against her than he already had.
“Why? Why would you just allow me to kill you?” Sage wondered aloud.
Iris chewed her lip, standing. “Because, I believe in your cause. You need to beat them. You, Sage, no one else. You must beat them.” She paused. He said nothing but appeared slightly sick. “Because Sage, I've Seen it,” she said, and started on her way out of town, tossing a bag over her shoulder as she did.
Author Interview – All About That Book
Who inspires you to write?
I don’t know that anyone actually inspires me to write. I write because I love it. But inspirations as far as working so hard on other book-related things: Jennifer Anne Davis (Author of the True Reign Series, The Voice, The Power to See, and her new book, Cage of Deceit); Kiera Cass (Author of the Selection Series and the Siren); and Maggie Stiefvater (Author of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, Scorpio Races, the Raven Cycle, and more). There are plenty of authors I admire, but these are my main three that inspire me to keep working hard. Outside of authors, my family and my close friends are invaluable. I have a wonderful support system that encourages me every step of the way.
How do you write/plan/develop characters?
I don’t? That sounds crazy, but it’s kind of true. I am not a planner, not with my books. I just… write. A story just appears in my head and I just record it. Most of the time, I learn what’s happening at the same time in the book as a reader. I experience things like a reader would, because I have no idea what’s going to happen. I just write the story as is progresses. And truthfully, this is why I love to write. Writing is just another way for me to discover a story and experience things I otherwise wouldn’t. So, the characters are kind of already developed. Sometimes, I will stop and say, “But why is Iris doing that?” or “Hold up, I’m not clear on how Sage is feeling.” And I guess you could call that character development. But as for having notecards, timelines, binders full of notes, etc. like other authors? Nope. I just don’t use them. I’m sure they’re incredibly helpful. But I can’t write that way. So I don’t.
What’s your take on killing characters? Do we need to be worried reading your book?
I’m going to quote one of my famous authors here. “I don’t kill characters. They just die!” (Kiera Cass). Like I just said, I don’t plan out stories. I just write them the way the characters tell me to. Because of that, I have no control over who dies and who lives. I just record it. So, do you need to be worried? No? I mean, this is a dystopian society with a war brewing. People die. But it’s not like Game of Thrones or anything, if that’s what you’re worried about.
Can you give us an inside look at how your cover came to be?
I irritated the life out of my husband. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted and my husband is an artist (not professionally, but he’s pretty good at art). I looked at cover designers, but I couldn’t find someone I really wanted to work with whose prices I could afford. So I asked (and maybe begged) my husband to make it for me. I explained what I wanted. I wanted a dystopian city background with an hourglass crushing a clock. But not just any clock. A very elaborate, specific looking clock. So, he did the best he could with what we had to work with. And I hated it. It was pretty similar to my vision, but that just showed me how horrible my vision was. I decided I wanted it a little less busy, simpler. So we said, how about an hourglass and some nice outdoorsy background. I think we started with a storm, so we looked and I found plenty I loved, but then I thought, “Wait. Most of this story takes part in forests.” And so he found the background you see in the cover. Then he went through and edited it various ways. He probably emailed me at least 10 different versions with the same basic elements, just little changes. And eventually, he created the one that I fell in love with and chose.
What’s your research process look like?
It looks like the watch list for the FBI and NSA. For the Timekeeper Duo, I researched various types of weapons and fighting, the effects of acid (not drugs, but actual chemical acid) on your skin/clothes/etc. and how to treat it, various herbs, caverns in the eastern US, how quickly a corpse deteriorates with exposure and acid rain, various torture techniques (I think), etc. I’m sure someone out there is now watching me thinking I plan to kill people.
Where did you get the idea for Timekeeper Rising?
A conversation in my high school sociology class with Mr. Throckmorton. We were getting ready to leave and several of us fell into a conversation about what it would be like to watch our lives tick away and to know how every decision we made affected the time we had left. And that became my idea/plot/basis for The Timekeeper, which became The Timekeeper Duo (Timekeeper Rising and Book 2, Timekeeper Falling). It obviously evolved to where that is actually not the main point by any standards, but it is still prevalent. So thanks Throck!
What’s next on your agenda?
Now that Timekeeper Rising has released, I’m turning my focus to Timekeeper Falling, the second in the Duo. I’ve already finished writing it and editing it, but I’m still working on making it perfect. I still need critique partners and beta readers to go through it. And then I need to start working on publishing it. I’m also working on writing a new series, but I’m at the beginning stages of it, so there’s not much I can tell you about it. I don’t even know much about it yet! But if you follow my blog or newsletter, I’ll be sure to let you know about it as soon as I can.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Don’t give up. I know it’s kind of cliché, but seriously. Being an author isn’t easy. It’s not just writing a book. You have to edit/revise/etc. that book, design a cover or hire someone to do so, format the book, make a webpage and various social media accounts, organize a blog tour, and more. It’s not easy and, though this is my release week for my first novel, I know it doesn’t stop when the book releases. Not by a long shot. It’s not easy, but if you really want it, don’t give up. Don’t let someone convince you that you’re not good enough, strong enough, old enough, etc. If you really want it, fight for it. It might take some time, but eventually, you’ll make it.
Allyssa Painter is the author of Timekeeper Rising, the first in the Timekeeper Duo. She graduated from Sissonville High School and attends Concord University for elementary and special education. She dreams of becoming an elementary teacher and continuing to touch the world around her through the novels she writes. In her free time, she enjoys reading fantastical adventures, spending time with her family, and capturing the world around her in photography and writing.