Genre Chat – Tessa Emily Hall – Writing for Young Adults
Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who writes inspirational yet authentic books for teens to remind them they’re not alone. Her first teen devotional, COFFEE SHOP DEVOS, released with Bethany House in 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, 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 also co-host of Firsts in Fiction with Aaron Gansky.
Tessa is represented by Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency.
Caleb: Where did your writing journey start, and how did you become interested in YA?
Tessa: I was a teenager when I really started to pursue writing seriously. I started writing my first book, which was Purple Moon. I wanted to write for teenagers, not just because that was my age, but because I wanted to pursue ministry in some way. I felt like in some way God was calling me to write inspirational stories for teenagers – stories that they could relate with.
Caleb: What is it about young adult fiction that appeals to so many different age groups.
Tessa: It’s so cool! I think I even heard a study that said about 50% of readers of young adult fiction are actually adults. Just the teen angst… I think some of us can still relate with that sometimes. I love that age group, and I especially love the voice in young adult fiction, especially in the contemporary genre. I just love how a lot of the young adult fiction books are written in the first person point of view, because that allows me to get in the head of the character, and to hear their voice a little bit more.
Caleb: Do you do a lot of reading in the YA genre?
Tessa: Some people find it hard to [read in their own genre] because they start writing in that authors voice and style, but to me it kind of unleashes my voice a little bit more. I don’t copy that author, but it allows me to unleash my own voice. I read during my evening time as I’m winding down. Sometimes I’m only able to read five minutes a day, and I try to read at least an hour a day if that’s possible. I also listen to audio books.
Caleb: How can a YA author stay relevant in a market where the genre’s trends are changing so often?
Tessa: You really can’t predict the future of publishing. The thing is publishing moves at such a slow pace, and the process of writing a book is slow. you don’t know what’s going to be popular by the time your book is actually published. My advice is not to try and chase the trends. It’s important to understand and be familiar with what’s important, but you don’t know what’s going to be the next trend setter. Be familiar with what’s trending and write in a way that can be appealing to that target audience, but do it in a way that can bring something fresh and something new to the table.