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It’s a blog hop! (That means more opportunities to get to know the author, and a bigger prize at the end!) I’m excited to introduce you to Tessa Hall today. Her new novel, Unwritten Melody, certainly caught my musician’s radar! Here’s a quick peek at the story.
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.
Welcome, Tessa! Tell us a little about Unwritten Melody. Do you have a favorite character from this story? Why is this character your favorite?
I love my heroine, Cassie, the most. She’s an authentic character who doesn’t care to fit in with other teens. She’s pure and beautiful at heart, and she longs for freedom – an escape from all that is familiar, and from her grandma’s regimented rules. Although she isn’t identical me, she is similar to me in the way that she loves to write, enjoys the simplicity of life, and feels invisible amongst others her age (I felt that way several times as a teen and pre-teen).
I think many teens feel that way! What do you hope your readers take away from this novel?
It’s my hope that, through any book that I write, readers will realize they are not alone in their life’s journey – in the questions they wrestle with, emotions they deal with, situations they experience, etc. And hopefully, through following the journey that my characters take, readers can find a solution for their own problems as well.
However, I do hope that readers come away with Unwritten Melody with newfound hope for their current circumstances and a deeper revelation of the power of God’s unending love.
Those are great truths to hold onto. Have you given any of your own personality quirks to your characters? If so, would you be willing to share about it/them?
I love expressing facets of myself through my characters, especially my protagonists. While my protagonists will never be an exact replica of myself, I feel like I will always give them at least a few of my own traits, quirks, interests, etc.
Cassie is an exaggeration of my introverted self. Similar to Cassie, I grew up in a small town in SC and often felt as though I were invisible amongst some of the classmates I grew up with. My tendency to observe my surroundings was often misinterpreted by others as shyness. Cassie, however, is a shy person and would much prefer to remain out of the spotlight.
It would probably be hard not to write some of yourself into your characters! Which authors have had the most impact on your writing?
Karen Kingsbury is the biggest inspiration to my writing. The way that her books has touched so many lives reminds me that it is possible to use fiction writing as a ministry. Also, I’ve always been a huge fan of realistic and emotionally-driven stories—both in reading and in writing. It’s been said that Karen Kingsbury readers should always have a box of tissues with them as they read her books, haha. =) While it’s not exactly my goal to put readers to tears, I do want to write stories that accurately portrays the reality of life in a way that leaves the readers inspired and hopeful about their own struggles.
Reality can sometimes seem hopeless, so stories that are realistic and yet offer hope can have such a positive impact. If you could offer a word of encouragement to an aspiring author, what would you say?
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 was back 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. I left some of the scenes from the first version, but most of the scenes had to be rewritten.
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 envisioned at 17-years-old 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.
Lessons learned: 1) A book is never “unfixable”. 2) Never throw away the story on your heart.
Those are great lessons! Do you have a favorite or “life” verse? Why is that one important to you?
I fell in love with the scripture Ecclesiastes 3:1 when I was in sixth grade. One day, when I came home from school, my mom surprised me with a new journal that had this scripture on the cover. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (KJV) Sixth grade was a really hard year for me, but that scripture gave me hope and reminded me that middle school was only a season of my life. In a way, it gave me the ability to keep a birds eye view of my circumstances, similar to the way we always know spring is approaching as we walk through the cold season of winter. I wove much of what I learned and experienced that particular year into the creation of Unwritten Melody.
What a great reminder, for young people and older alike! Thanks for taking the time to visit with us today, Tessa!
Your turn! Do you have a musical background? Do you (or did you) sing or play an instrument?
More about Tessa:
Tessa 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.
You can connect with Tessa online:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2ef5bu1
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/tessaemilyhall
‘Unwritten Melody’ Giveaway:
Enter for your chance to win the Unwritten Melody Prize Pack! Two winners will be selected and announced on Tessa’s blog the final day of tour (Friday, December 9th) and will be notified via email.
*This giveaway is open to the US only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Blog Tour Schedule:
Don’t miss the next blog tour stop! Be sure to visit the following blogs on its designated tour date. You can also email tessaemilyhall (at) gmail (dot) com and request to receive the Blog Tour Packet. At the end of the tour, Tessa will send you the downloadable PDF that will contain all of the content from each blog tour stop.
Tues., November 1 – Christ is Write
Wed., November 2 – Adriana Gabrielle Writes
Thurs., November 3 – The Depth of My Faith
Fri., November 4 – Sarah Ruut
Mon., November 7 – God is Love
Tues., November 8 – The Bibliophile Angel
Wed., November 9 – Emily Rachelle Writes
Thurs, November 10 – Word Changers For His Glory
Fri., November 11 – Christian Teen Book Reviews
Mon., November 14 – Phyllis Still
Tues., November 15 – In The Bookcase
Wed., November 16 – Girl Meets Publishing World
Thurs., November 17 – Anna Schaeffer
Fri., November 18 – Ramblings of a Writer
Mon., November 21 – Naomi and Books
Tues., November 22 – Reading is My Superpower
Wed., November 23 – Zerina Blossom’s Books
Thurs., November 24 – Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud
Fri., November 25 – Labor Not in Vain
Mon., November 28 – Barbara Bruitt
Tues., November 29 – Katy Kauffman
Wed., November 30 – Jen Pheobus
Thurs., December 1 – Northern Belle Meg
Fri., December 2 – 2Me From Him
Mon., December 5 – Nicole Quigley
Tues., December 6 – The Destiny of One
Wed., December 7 – Catherine Castle
Thurs., December 8 – Rachelle Rea Cobb
Fri., December 9 – Leslie L. Mckee