Meet Tessa Emily Hall, author of Unwritten Melody

Posted by on Dec 2, 2016 | 0 comments

Meet Tessa Emily Hall, author of Unwritten Melody

Tessa Emily Hall is an exciting young author with the goal of writing good clean fiction for Christian Young Adults. Tessa is releasing her second book, a Young Adult contemporary romance, Unwritten Melody. As a part of her Book Release Blog Tour, you can sign in on the Rafflecopter at the end of this interview to win some great prizes!

 

Fabulous Fridays

Meet Tessa Emily Hall!

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Welcome, Tessa! I am excited to introduce you to my readers! Tell us about yourself and how you started writing. You have a story that is somewhat different from most.

Thanks for having me! I’m the author of YA contemporary fiction novels, PURPLE MOON and UNWRITTEN MELODY. I started writing when I was three-years-old. Back then, I would dictate stories to my mom and she would write them down for me. That’s when my love for storytelling first began. Any time I was bored throughout my childhood, I would spend hours penning stories on blank pieces of paper. I knew I wanted to become an author when I grew up. I didn’t have a doubt it would happen, either. In fact, I would constantly ask my mom if she could send my books off to get published. =)

When I was sixteen, I attended my first writing conference, which is where I met the publisher for PURPLE MOON. I signed the contract when I was seventeen with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, then the book came out when I was nineteen. It was around that time that I signed a contract with a literary agent. I received a phone call from my agent spring 2016 (while I was packing to go to a writer’s conference!) with the news that Clean Reads was interested in publishing my second novel! I signed the contract about a month later, and it released November 10th, 2016. =)

What is one thing you recommend to other young writers who are starting out?

Don’t give up! Write the story on your heart, not just the one you think will sell. Write the story you’re most passionate about right now, the one that has grabbed ahold of your heart and refuses to let go.

After I wrote and edited the first version of this book, I took a long break from the story. I thought for sure the flaws in the story were too complex to fix. So, I tried writing another book. It didn’t last long before I returned to Unwritten Melody. The story and the characters wouldn’t relent until I fixed the manuscript’s issues.

I spent fall 2015 rewriting the story from scratch. The premise of the story was the same. The characters were the same, as well as the setting. Most of everything else was different.

I can’t explain the exhilarating feeling that came with writing that final scene in the final chapter. Through hours and hours of perseverance, the book that I had originally envisioned was finally taking shape. It was living and breathing. That wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t first believe that the issues could be fixed, and second if I didn’t carve out the time required to rewrite the story.

The writing life is a journey. There isn’t instant success, and you’re always learning, no mater how many books you have published. I think too many aspiring authors assume you have to have natural talent to sit down and write a book from start to finish in order to be published. This isn’t true at all. Publication isn’t impossible, and every author who lands a publishing contract received it with lots of hard work and perseverance—and yes, even rejections. It’s all apart of the journey. It’s the writer who stays on course and believes in themselves yet strives to perfect their craft that reaches the “finish line”. (Although I wouldn’t exactly consider a book contract the finish line, more like a milestone in the writing journey.)

Who was the first author who inspired you to write?

My love for writing was birthed out of an over-active imagination rather than a love for reading. (I was only three; although I did beg my mom to teach me how to read at that age, too!) However, the author that continues to inspire me today is Karen Kingsbury. I’m in awe of how she has been able to touch so many lives through the power of a story. Writing is a ministry for her, and she writes in a way that is authentic and emotionally raw. I love that. She inspires me to view my own writing career as a ministry and to write stories that draw others to God rather than to me, the author.

Tell us the story of your path to publication for your latest book, Unwritten Melody.unwrittenmelody_large

I first brainstormed Unwritten Melody when I was 17 and was in the process of editing Purple Moon. I didn’t have the chance to start writing it until I was 18, after the edits to Purple Moon were complete. After I wrote the first draft, I spent several months editing it myself, then I went through editing stages with my agent.

When I was 21, I received an edit letter of my agent that detailed problem areas of the manuscript (most of which were on the plot). Of course, she continued to encourage me—but she also presented the idea of putting this book on the shelf, starting on a new project, then coming back to Unwritten Melody when the time was ready.

That’s what I did. Actually, I figured the book’s problem areas were too hard to unravel. I knew it wasn’t what it could be—it wasn’t the book I had originally envisioned when I first brainstormed it at 17-years-old. But I didn’t know how to go about fixing all of its issues.

So, I took her advice and began on a new project. That didn’t last long. I kept praying that God would show me what He wanted me to work on, and that He’d show me if I were to rewrite Unwritten Melody. That’s exactly what happened. I couldn’t get the story out of my heart or my head.

I spent that fall locked up in my writing cave (literally—I went on my own writing retreat in the mountains), gave myself tight deadlines, and rewrote Unwritten Melody from beginning to end.

The book was then offered the contract in May 2016 by Clean Reads and it released six months later on Kindle. =)  

What character in Unwritten Melody is most like you, Tessa? Was that intentional, or did it just come about in the course of the writing? 

I think there will always be a facet of my main characters that are a reflection of myself, even if it’s a very small part. I’m also an actress, so I enjoy the process of expressing myself through roles and finding ways to connect with characters. I think it helps the characters come across more authentic. With that being said, I’d definitely say that Cassie, my protagonist, is the character most like myself in this novel. She wasn’t inspired by myself, but I could relate with her quiet temperament. (I like to say that she’s the shy side of my personality, yet magnified.) This wasn’t intentional. I’m not sure how she came to have that personality, actually! She became real to me the moment I began brainstorming the book, so I don’t remember trying to bring her to life her character, if that makes sense. 

What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time? 

There are so many! It’s hard to choose the biggest.

I’d say all of the obstacles come down to one thing: self-discipline. I try to reserve mornings for writing, but sometimes my brain is more geared to tackle left-brained projects instead. (Which is great for editing, of course! Just not for writing.) That’s when I have to force myself to switch gears, focus my attention on God, and ask the Holy Spirit to help me write the story that He wants me to write.

It’s also difficult to keep that writing time protected. For instance, I’m a night owl – so although I absolutely love waking up early, it’s hard to force myself to go to bed early. It’s also important to stay focused and “in the zone” while writing, too. That can be a little hard for me at times. =) 

If you could spend the day with a character from your all-time favorite novel, who would it be and what would you do?

I love this question! I’d have to say I would love to spend the day with Christy from The Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn. I grew so much with her when I read those books as a teen. I already feel like she’s an old friend of mine.

What, in your mind, distinguishes your book from other books out there in the same genre?

purple-moonWhen I was a teen, I was discouraged by the lack of YA Christian fiction novels on the market. Unfortunately, the market is continuing to dwindle and is barely surviving. Teenagers aren’t interested in reading “religious” fiction that preaches to them – either that or they simply aren’t aware that the genre exists.

I want to write books that are clean, inspirational, and can be enjoyed by readers of the secular and Christian market alike. The characters in my books are flawed and real. They aren’t the “perfect Christian” because I don’t want my books to remain within the Christian circle.

I think there’s a need in the market for teen books that are entertaining, mirror struggles and questions that teens wrestle with daily, yet are clean and offer hope. I want my readers to grow along with my characters. By the end of the story, I pray that the readers – whether Christian or not – will understand the depth of God’s unending love and grace. (Even if it might take a while for that seed to take root!)

How would you like to inspire your readers?

I pretty much covered this in the previous question. I love it when readers tell me that they could relate with my character or that the book (Purple Moon) lead them to Christ. It’s my absolute favorite part of this writing journey! Stories are so powerful when it comes to revealing Truth. Jesus understood this; it’s why He told parables. Stories illustrate and help people understand. They connect with characters on a heart-level. And when a reader can identify with a specific character, the journey the character takes and the Truth they grasp becomes much more real to the reader.

All of that to say – I hope to inspire my readers by reminding them they’re not alone; whether it’s in the questions they’re wrestling with, struggles they’re facing, or pain they’re dealing with.

What do you see on the horizon for your writing career, Tessa?

I want to continue writing inspirational books for teens. It’s where my heart is. Sure, the reason I first started walking along this writing journey was because I loved to write and longed to be published. But when I was thirteen, God laid it on my heart to write Christian stories for teens. Honestly, I didn’t even know that the Christian fiction market existed, much less YA Christian fiction! So one day I Googled “Christian stories for teens” and found several books by Melody Carlson. I knew that was the path God wanted me to take with my own writing. I can’t write simply for my own entertainment. If I did, writing would only be a hobby of mine, and I’d choose a career that guaranteed a stable income. But honestly, that’s not what writing is about for me. I’ve invested way too many hours into my writing journey than for it to just remain a “career” or hobby. (I’m not sure if that makes sense, but it does to me! Lol)

In other words, I have to know that there will be a Kingdom impact in my writing career. That’s what this is about for me; it’s been on my heart since I was thirteen, almost ten years ago. It’s initially the reason why I wanted to pursue publication early. So, even though I have no idea what God has planned for my writing career, I have a feeling it’ll involve continuing to write stories that can hopefully draw others to Him. =)  

Please share a favorite passage from Unwritten Melody with us.

I’d be glad to! =) Here you go …

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Book Blurb:

Does breaking free require breaking the rules?

Cassie Gilbert lives every day in the shadows of her deceased mom’s rebellion. But now that she’s seventeen, she finds herself longing to break away from her grandmother’s suffocating rules, experience what it’s like to be a regular teenager, and fulfill her songwriting dreams.

James Russo, former American Spotlight contestant, escapes to small town Willow Creek, SC hoping to flee from his tarnished past. When a school project pairs him with the shy principal’s granddaughter, he’s determined to get to know this Emily-Dickinson-obsessed and typewriter-using girl. His plan? Convince Cassie to co-write songs for his demo album.

As Cassie gets to know James over “project meetings” (more like opportunities to match her lyrics with his melodies), she becomes intrigued by his sense of adventure and contagious passion for music. But soon, his past becomes exposed. Cassie’s left to wonder—did she make the same mistake Mom did by falling for the bad boy?

Then, Grandma’s control pushes her over the edge. Cassie must choose between remaining in the chains of yesterday, or delving into her own freedom by completing the melody her mom left behind.

About the author:

tessa-emily-hallTessa Emily Hall writes inspirational yet authentic YA fiction to show others they’re not alone—and because she remembers the teen life like it was yesterday (or a few years ago). The debut novel she wrote at 16-years-old, PURPLE MOON (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) was a Selah 2014 Finalist. Her second novel, UNWRITTEN MELODY, releases with Clean Reads November 2016. She’s the Founder of PursueMagazine.net, a magazine that inspires teens to embrace their calling. Tessa also enjoys helping writers achieve their dreams through her internship at Hartline Literary Agency.

When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, Tessa can be found making healthy homemade lattes, speaking to teens, decorating her insulin pump, and acting in Christian films. She writes in a small town nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Southeastern coast. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website.

Connect with Tessa:

Website: www.tessaemilyhall.com

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2ef5bu1

Blog: www.ChristisWrite.blogspot.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/tessaemilyhall

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/tessaemilyhall

Instagram: www.instagram.com/tessaemilyhall

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/tessaemilyhall

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