Tessa Emily Hall is a 19-year-old who has been penning stories since before she could read. Her first YA inspirational novel, Purple Moon, will be published fall 2013 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Tessa is also an editor for Temperance Magazine and writes for several online Christian teen magazines. She resides in South Carolina and is currently working toward her degree in English. She is also a coffee-addict, music-lover, book-worm, and has a passion for youth ministry, especially in the area of the written word. Tessa owns a blog, where she posts weekly devotions for teens, book reviews, writing tips, and more.
Let the conversation begin!
What one word describes you?
Introverted. I’m the definition of an introvert.
If I gave you a brick, what would you do with it?
I’d probably give it back to you because I’d have no idea why you gave it to me in the first place.
What do you do when you see a spider in your house?
Call someone else to come kill it. I’ve never been a fan of killing bugs, and I am terrified of spiders!
Do you bake or buy?
Why bake when you can buy?
What song best describes your work ethic?
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield—it describes my writing career both literally and figuratively. There’s still a lot to be written, and there’s still a lot to look forward to in my career.
What kitchen utensil would you be? Why?
I’d be the spoon that gets to stir coffee every day. The reason is obvious.
If you were a road sign, what would you be? Why?
If there was a sign that said “Keep On Going”, I’d be that one—which is otherwise known as a green light. I am a strong believer in never giving up, especially when it comes to pursuing your dreams.
If you were to attend a costume party tonight, who would you be? Why?
Bella from Twilight, since I get told all the time that I look like her. Plus I wouldn’t have to dress up.
Which is worse, being in a place that is too loud or too quiet?
Too loud. I can’t think straight in that kind of atmosphere, and I certainly can’t speak if it’s too loud. My voice is way too quiet.
What is one quality that you really appreciate in a person?
Selflessness. I love it when people lay down their own desires in order to put the desires of another first.
What classifies as a boring conversation? What classifies as an interesting one?
A boring conversation is one that is so forced with small talk that it’s almost fake. A conversation that is one-sided is also boring, especially when one person continues to talk about him/herself. An interesting conversation, however, is a genuine one. It’s when both people are so passionate about what they’re discussing that they could probably go on for hours without realizing how much time had passed.
What is your favoriteboard game?
I’m way more into card games than I am board games. However, if I had to choose, I’d probably say the game Sorry is my favorite. I grew up playing that game with my family and I still enjoy it—mainly because it’s simple yet fun, and it also doesn’t take too long to play.
What food item would you remove from the market altogether?
Soft drinks! I have never been a fan of them. When I finally realized that soda just didn’t taste good and decided to remove them from my diet when I was ten, I seriously lost so much weight. Soft drinks are nothing but carbonated sugar water. Ew.
What would you rather have: a nanny, a housekeeper, a cook, or a chauffeur?
Considering the fact that I love food yet have zero cooking skills and zero patience for cooking, I would definitely rather have a cook.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I wanted to write a book about a teenager who had fallen away from the relationship she once had with God after her dad—who was a preacher—kicked her and her mom out of the house. It was actually inspired by the song “By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North, as well as the skit that many churches have performed to the song “Everything” by Lifehouse.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I try to avoid writing the parts that most teenagers tend to skim over. With that being said, I’d say that my books might be a fast read, despite the fact that Purple Moon has almost 350 pages. I try to stay away from writing lengthy descriptions or backstories. Dialogue and the character’s internal thoughts have always been my favorite to write. I enjoy getting inside of my protagonist’s head and showing things from his/her perspective, which is also why I prefer writing in first person rather than third.
What do you think you do best in your writing? Bragging is encouraged.
It’s really easy for me to see things from my characters’ perspective—to feel their pain, understand their beliefs/opinions, as well as the reason behind their actions. I love to act, so putting myself in my characters’ shoes has never been difficult.
What books have most influenced your life?
I read The Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn during my first couple years of being a teenager, and I really enjoyed being able to relate to what Christy—the main character—was going through. Those books were also one of the first YA Christian fiction books I have ever read, so they definitely influenced my love for that genre.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I very much look up to Karen Kingsbury—who is known as the “Queen of Christian Fiction”—and the books that she has written. I would absolutely love to have the opportunity to sit down with her over coffee one day and ask her a list of questions on how she is able to write such emotional, yet inspiring, stories.
What book are you reading now?
Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes, which is a Christian adult fiction book about a woman in an abusive marriage. I have not been able to put it down since I started reading it the other day.
Name one entity that supported your writing journey outside of family members.
My teachers in elementary school have always been supportive of my writing, even way back then. They knew I loved writing, and the assignments they gave my class helped me grow in my craft tremendously. They are still supportive to this day, and even plan on buying a copy of Purple Moon when it releases.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Every time I read Purple Moon I find something I wish to change. This has definitely been a struggle for me, especially since I wrote the book three years ago and have grown in my writing since then. However, I have finally gotten to the point where I am satisfied with how the story turned out. Of course, I will always find things I wish to edit—but overall, I am happy with the story and can’t wait for it to be in the hands of my readers.
What initially inspired you to pursue a career in writing?
This is probably the biggest cliché to this answer, but it’s the truth: I have always wanted to be an author. Before I could even read—when I was three—I would dictate stories to my mom for her to write down, and then I would draw the illustrations. I have never stopped writing or wanting to be an author. However, I don’t want my books published just because of the passion I have for writing, but also because I know the potential that stories have to represent God’s love and to bring healing. That is actually my biggest reason for wanting to pursue this career for the rest of my life.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing? What comes easily?
As ironic as it is—considering the fact that I’m an author and all—I have always struggled with explaining things, both out loud and with a pen. Writing a description, or even explaining body language, is definitely my biggest weakness. Plotting is also challenging for me, especially since I am more of a character-driven writer. What comes the most easily for me, as I mentioned earlier, is getting inside of my character’s head. Also—since I tend to see my story play out like a movie, it’s never been a challenge for me to picture my scenes or figure out what should come next. Dialogue seems to come naturally for me also.
Who’s your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Oh man, this is such a difficult question, only because I have several authors that I love for many different reasons. However, Karen Kingsbury is definitely one of my top favorites. What really strikes me about her work is the way that she is able to write such emotional, grabbing, page-turning, touching, inspiring novels. I’m just in love with her work, despite the fact that I have only read five of her books and have seen one of her book-turned-movies.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of reaching your dream. Seriously. When I was fourteen, I emailed one author and told her that her book sounded really interesting. It was on my to-read list back then. I also asked if she had any advice to give me since I was an aspiring author. She told me that she wouldn’t recommend that I pursue writing, only because it was hard work and very unlikely to find success. Although she was right, I do not think either of those facts should hold anyone back from pursuing publication. Of course, I respected the author’s advice, but I obviously did not follow it. Yes, writing is definitely hard work. But since when has any career ever been easy? And yes, it is unlikely for a writer to be published. But I did. And so did all of the authors who wrote all of your favorite books. I certainly wouldn’t have found a publisher if I had followed her advice. No, writing isn’t going to be all fun and games. But if your passion is big enough, then none of that will matter. People may try to discourage you and tell you that it’s unlikely or that your work isn’t good enough or that the pay isn’t good or even that writing isn’t a real job. Ignore all of those voices, especially if it’s your own. Don’t let anyone—including yourself—keep you from reaching your dreams.