A little bit about Tessa...
A veteran of the performing arts and worldwide missions, Tessa Stockton also contributed as a writer/editor for ministry publications, ghostwriter for political content, and headed a column on the topic of forgiveness. Today, she writes romance and intrigue novels in a variety of genres.How to connect with Tessa...
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Author Interview | Tessa Stockton
You & Writing
Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I came from a family of musical arts professionals. I, too, entered that realm. Several relatives were also literary professors, and there are a slew of poets down the line. I think I am very much a product of my lineage. Seems I have always had my hand in writing something. And as somebody who needs a creative outlet, writing is a superb fit to that bill - especially now that I’m no longer in the performing arts.
Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...My favorite book is always the one I’m currently writing. When I look back at the ones that have been published, I see things I wish I would have done differently. As I’m working through a manuscript, I just go with the creative flow and try not to worry about much else. That makes the current work-in-progress my favorite, because I love that special place of creating without outside influences.
What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...At first, marketing. I’m a quiet, reclusive, introverted person by nature, and promo and self-promo (which is something all writers have to attack at points) I find extremely uncomfortable. But the more I do it, the easier it gets. Second, grappling with reviews. I will say, though, I’m beginning to understand that readers/reviewers opinions are as relative and as different as how we’re individually wired. You can’t please everybody and you just have to do what you do. Otherwise, you’re bound for one long and extremely exhausting rollercoaster ride if you hang on every word.
...The easiest—I hate to say this because every serious writer should have an amount of respect in the trade—I find people take me more as a “real deal” the more books that I have out on market.
Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?...The Unspeakable is a suspense/thriller. I have a keen interest in the topic of forgiveness. I like to explore events and questions that don’t have pat answers, yet offer what forgiveness can look like in raw form. Much in the same vein as how Jesus forgave those who tortured him and who pounded those nine-inch nails into his flesh.
Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
Puma. He’s complex and intriguing, and conflicted. He’s also a seeker.
What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...Forgiveness isn’t easy. Even in an unjust situation, when you want to say, “No way, I can’t do it, I can’t forgive,” sometimes it’s the only way to heal, to move forward - this kind of forgiveness. I hope readers recognize that this is how Jesus forgives each of us: his loved, yet sinful children.
Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...For The Unspeakable, I used to work in human rights groups and have had a fair share of encounters with, say, a war crimes tribunal lawyer, individuals who have been implicated in dirty politics or social cleansing, as well as those who have endured torture. My own family has its own history, as my mother is a Lithuanian Jew and one of the Hidden Children. Much of The Unspeakable is inspired by real life events, whereas my allegorical fantasy romance series is pure imagination and much lighter material.
When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...Mostly to provoke theological insight. With my suspense/political intrigue works, I hear: “It made me uncomfortable and it made me think.” I get that a lot from Christians and non-believers alike.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...It takes a lot of determination, thick skin, and time. There are up and down days, challenges, and a lot of rejection. Just accept it, roll up your sleeves, and keep moving forward.
Would you prefer chocolates or flowers on Valentines Day??
...Both! I never object to being showered with gifts. : )
On Valentines Day would you rather stay in or go out?
...I don’t know…it depends. Probably stay in, and then go out another night. I don’t care for large crowds. And being out among ALL of those who are celebrating Valentine’s Day only makes me feel like one in a herd. It’s never struck me as very unique or special, doing what a ton of other people are doing at the same time…having said that, I’m always in the mood for a good concert. If there’s a good show going on, I have no problem attending whatever day it’s on and I can get over my discomfort of large crowds if the show promises some great entertainment. Yeah, it depends…
Describe your ideal date.
...Horseback riding in the mountains. Make it with Gypsy Vanners and I’m mush. If not that, then a sunrise picnic followed by a hike. Or, perhaps, an excursion to explore a small tourist town, grabbing a casual yet gourmet bite in some quiet nook, and engage in profound, philosophical conversation.
Again, readers, don't forget to come back on Friday to read my review of Tessa's book, The Unspeakable!