Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who writes inspirational yet authentic books to remind teens they’re not alone. Her first teen devotional, COFFEE SHOP DEVOS, released with Bethany House September 2018. Tessa's passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as an Associate Agent for Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency, Literary Agent at Cyle Young Literary Elite, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PursueMagazine.net. She's guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 128 WPM across the keyboard, she can be found speaking to teens, decorating art journals, and acting in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is through connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: www.tessaemilyhall.com.
Tessa is represented by Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency.
Suzie: Welcome to the Diamond Mine. We are excited you could join us this week. My first question is regarding your name. Because I live in the south where going by two names is a regularity, I have to ask: Do you prefer Tessa or Tessa Emily?
Tessa: Great question! I live in the south as well. Although my mom originally intended for people to refer to me as Tessa Emily, the two names didn’t seem to stick for very long. Most people simply refer to me as Tessa. =)
Suzie: Ok, now that we’ve got that burning question out of the way. Let’s really dig deep with some Would You Rather questions (only three and nothing disgusting or impossible, I promise).
Would you rather invent a new gadget or discover a new species?
Tessa: Inventing a new gadget sounds fun!
Suzie: Would your rather have a lifetime subscription to Netflix or an unlimited Starbucks gift card?
Tessa: Way too easy. I could never say no to unlimited free coffee!
Suzie: Would you rather always have slow internet or never have a good phone connection? Ok, that one is verging on the impossible with all you’ve got going on.
Tessa: Haha yes … that’s tough! I’d prefer to never have good phone connection. Most of my work is done through the internet. And even if I can’t talk on the phone then I could at least make video calls using the internet! ;)
Suzie: That’s it for the icebreaker questions. Thanks for playing along. Now, let’s dive a little deeper.
I have to say, your resume is impressive—author, editor, agent, actress. This question has two parts. First, how do you balance your time with the many hats you wear? And two, what’s the best part of each position?
Tessa: Haha, thanks! I wouldn’t be able to pull off these various roles if it wasn’t for the teams that I work with. Since I work with other people, I am able to share responsibilities and tasks. And as far as time management goes--I learned how to divide my time accordingly when I was in school. When you’re taking classes, you have to learn the art of juggling multiple subjects. You have to know when to focus on a certain subject and when to move on to the next one. I’ve managed to find a work rhythm that works for me by using a block schedule system, which is similar to what I did in school. The only exception to this is acting. That’s more of a hobby than a career, haha. =)
The best part of each position? Let’s see. Where to start? With writing, I love the opportunity to tap into this creative gift God has given me to further His Kingdom and reach readers. I find it fulfilling to connect with my Creator in these writing sessions. Hearing from readers about how they were ministered to never fails to remind me of why I love this job!
As far as being an agent and editor goes--first of all, I absolutely love the publishing industry in general. It’s thrilling for me to play a part in shaping a book and delivering it to the hands of the right readers. But the reason I was initially captivated by this job was because I loved the idea of working to help the dreams of other writers come into fruition, of playing a part in their publication journey. I would say that is my favorite part of this job as well.
Suzie: Oops, left one thing off that previous list. Would you share a little about the magazine you publish?
Tessa: Haha, I’d love to! PURSUE Magazine is currently a blog and digital magazine that encourages teen girls to embrace their uniqueness, tap into their potential, and pursue their role in furthering God’s Kingdom. I wanted to launch a magazine that could provide teen girls with a place to not only draw closer to God, but to connect with other girls. That way, they could receive inspiration, support, and community in pursuit of their God-given dreams. Readers can learn more at www.PURSUEMagazine.net.
Suzie: Everything you've got going on is so cool. I love that you're ministering to teenagers and encouraging and supporting authors.
Regarding your writing career, who were your influences and/or mentors?
Tessa: The answer to this question has several parts, haha. First of all, the person who initially encouraged this dream of mine was my mom. She always had faith, even when I was a kid, that I would become an author one day. I know I wouldn’t have pursued this dream without the support of both of my parents!
I was also fortunate enough to have had teachers in elementary school who spoke life into this dream as well. Their writing challenges would always stir my creativity, and even back then they would encourage me to pursue writing.
I don’t necessarily have an author mentor; however, I have always considered Karen Kingsbury to be my author role model. The way that she has built a career by writing life-transforming fiction has shown me that it is possible to have a book ministry.
Suzie: Along that same vein, who are you reading and/or keeping an eye on in the Christian YA market today?
Tessa: Unfortunately, this is a tough market for Christian YA authors. The larger publishing houses are no longer interested in selling Christian stories to teens anymore; instead, they want to publish YA fiction geared to a general audience. There is definitely ministry potential here as well--if not even more than the CBA market! But because of this, my YA reads have consisted primarily in the general market lately. Some of my favorite authors who write for this audience (and who happen to be Christians as well) include Stephanie Morrill, Nadine Brandes, and Jenny B. Jones.
Suzie: I've never thought about it that way, but when you point it out, I totally see what you're saying about larger houses tapping into the general market where YA is concerned.
What would you like to see more of in the genre?
Hmm. Well, to begin with, I would like to see a growth in the Christian YA market in general. As I mentioned, the larger houses are not interested in publishing this general--but there still smaller houses that will take a chance on YA Christian manuscripts. I would love to see authors who are passionate about writing stories that teens love in a way that taps into their interests. There are many authors who want to write Christian stories for teens simply because they want to preach a sermon to them. To these authors, I would advise that they study the books that today’s teens are reading. Understand teenagers by hanging out with them. If authors can do this, then they will have the tools necessary to tell a story that meets them where they are in life without preaching to them.
Suzie: Tell us about your latest book release.
Suzie: I can attest to that. I read FALLEN LEAVES but haven't read PURPLE MOON (yet). And let's not leave out the devotional you wrote for teenage girls: COFFEE SHOP DEVOS
Which transitions well into my next question.What are you writing/are you writing now?
Right now I am working on LOVE YOUR SELFIE, which is a devotional journal geared toward teen girls that will take them on a journey of self-acceptance. It is scheduled to release March 2020. I am thrilled about this one! This book covers a topic that I am personally passionate about because insecurity is something I struggled with as a teen, and I know this has increasingly become an issue in the teen culture today. My hopes with this book is that teens will be taken on a journey that will allow them to learn to appreciate the unique way God has created them, and will give them the tools they need to further pursue their calling.
Suzie: Well, I don’t want to keep you from everything else you’ve got happening. Thank you so much for take some time out of your schedule and stopping by for a bit. It’s been a pleasure getting more acquainted with you.
Readers, keep reading for the synopsis of Fallen Leaves and enter to win an eBook!
If you're interested in learning a little more about Tessa, check out this interview.
Selena Taylor thought her only worry this fall was starting her junior year at a new arts school in
North Carolina, miles away from home. But when she finds out her mom could graduate from rehab sooner than expected—even worse, she could work for her former nothing-but-trouble boss—Selena's determined to create a new life for them. Back in her childhood Kentucky hometown.
Step one? Track down her dad and brother that she hasn't seen in eight years. Her anxiety is put to the test, though, when she unveils a truth that could threaten her dreams. Add to that an art competition that pushes her outside of her comfort zone and a girl who seems determined to come between Selena and her hopeful boyfriend.
Soon Selena must decide whether or not to continue her search for her dad and brother. But is there any hope that the ruins of her broken family could be resurrected? And how could God possibly have a purpose in the midst of these changing seasons?
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