Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy,
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.
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.