My Wednesday's Writer guest this week is the extremely talented Tessa Stockton and I feel very privileged that she agreed to come on my blog and talk about herself. She's a fascinating person, as I discovered when I interviewed her and, to help get to know her better, I thought I'd share a few details with you before going on to look at her latest powerful story Wind's Aria.
Q: Tessa, what inspired you to write your first novel and did you always know your genre would be romance?
A: My first novel remains unpublished. It was inspired by a trip I made to East Africa. I cherished my time there and it inspired me to write a contemporary romance that blooms in Tanzania. However, after many attempts, I was unsuccessful in finding a publishing home for it. I still might revamp the manuscript and try again in the future, but for now I have my hands full with current works-in-progress. I was offered my first contract about four novels later with my political intrigue/romance title, The Unforgivable. I can’t really say I could “know” or predict that my genre would be romance. For one thing, the industry, as well as each individual path, is unpredictable. Yet, in my heart of hearts, that’s what I wanted. I’m an emotive creature and I gravitate toward relational aspects. That’s what excites me as a writer and a reader.
Q: I must say, The Unforgivable sounds extremely dramatic. I see you describe yourself as a novelist of romance and intrigue - does this reflect what you like to read yourself and do you have specific views on what should and shouldn't be included in romance novels?
A: I chose the description of romance and intrigue because it’s comprehensive, covering a variety of subgenres. It does, indeed, reflect what I like to read as well as write. You see, I linger in anything from fantasy and paranormal to political intrigue and suspense/thriller. Anything goes. As far as specific views on what should and shouldn’t be included in romance novels, that’s the thing…I don’t care to be boxed in, so I don’t really have specific views. I want to be able to write what I write with a sense of freedom and creative flow—and I think other writers should, too, you know, do what’s right for them. It’s relative. Some of my work might be light and lyrical, other work dark and, hopefully, thought provoking.
Q: I couldn't agree more. Has any part of yourself crept into the heroines of any of your romances?
A: In my first unpublished manuscript, yes, I think so. That’s probably why it’s not published—ha! But not so much thereafter. Except, I tend to have a cynical sense of humor and that comes out in my heroine’s mind/voice in my suspense/thriller, The Unspeakable. Also, I happen to like green beans—which she does. In Wind’s Aria, the heroine has a love of music, as well as horses. In that, we share a likeness. Honestly, I do attempt to create characters that I myself am trying to comprehend.
Q: Wind's Aria is a beautiful title. What is the most desirable characteristic you've bestowed on the hero of your latest romance?
A: I like monsters who are conflicted, tortured souls. To me, that’s desirable. That’s the hero in Wind’s Aria. He’s a gorgeous creature, but he’s malevolent, and feared. Yet, deep down, he wants to be good—but it pains him, fills him with sorrow because he doesn’t know how. There is only one who can see the potential for him to be good and that is the heroine, Aria. He’s drawn to her because of it, not just because of the attraction.
Q: He sounds fascinating. Do you think you'll always write in the same genre and style or do you have desires to experiment and if so, in what way?
A: I always have the desire to experiment. I never know when an idea will hit me or where it comes from, but I usually will act on it or file it away for later. I do foresee writing mostly romances in the future, just in a variety of genres. My literary voices vary, as well, from first person narrative to third. The literary world is a wide and blank canvas for each writer. It’s an interesting and colorful place to dwell and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I second that. Let's now take a closer look at Wind's Aria.
Elected as the Songstress, Aria takes her place on the sacred platform to sing before every dawn. As long as she does so, peace and abundant life belong to her people. One morning, amidst a strange wind that brings with it a curse in its eerie howl, Aria loses her ability to make music. But the encroaching death that transpires isn’t her biggest tragedy. It’s that she adores the cause of her blunder, for he’s a magnificent winged creature who’s stolen more than her voice.
“Who are you?”
He pushed further back into the shadows as she strode closer. “Someone you need not know.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
When he didn’t answer, she sighed.
“What a strange, terrible day,” she mumbled. “Well, at least tell me your name . . .”
He stood, speechless, knowing he shouldn’t be there at all—conversing with a Meleyan—especially not their musical deliverer that he was set to doom the day after tomorrow.
A peculiar grumbling interrupted her insistence, to his relief.
“Sorry.” She patted her stomach. He could see, even in the blackened night, how her face turned a deeper shade of red than her hair. “I’ve forgotten to eat. I guess I’m hungrier than I realized.”
He plucked an apple from the tree he’d nearly become a part of and held it out to her. The girl approached tentatively. She reached for the fruit but recoiled when her fingers brushed his.
“Is touching me so horrible?” he asked.
Her jaw dropped open and her delicate brow furrowed. She inclined her head. “It . . . hurt.”
“How?” he asked, for her fingers felt good to him, soothing. Warm. He wanted to try again.
“I don’t know how to explain . . .”
“Hum.” Unsatisfied with the answer, he tossed the apple to her and watched as she crunched her teeth into it.
Fog continued to dance around them covering most of his body, to her dismay. Just curious, she convinced herself. She closed her eyes and squeezed the bridge of her nose to concentrate . . . something that seemed hard to do at that moment.
“Feeling better?” The smooth notes of his words swam through her ears.
“Mmm.” She nodded. “I guess.”
He continued to stare.
Aria cleared her throat. “Um . . . can I ask you a question?”
“You may ask . . .”
“But will you answer?”
“Oh. Well. How did you get to be so huge when all the Meleyans are rather small? And why haven’t I seen you before?”
“That’s two questions.”
He exhaled a steady stream of air, adding to the mist, as if deliberating.
Aria felt the strength of his breath, blowing strands of her hair across her face.
Slow, yet with precision, he lifted a lock from the curve of her mouth and rubbed the strands between his fingers. He murmured, “Soft and orange, like the petals of prairie-tails.” Then he bent and smelled her hair, closing his eyes. “And sweet like the honey of bees.” Again he held her gaze. The corner of his mouth twitched upward. “Do you have a sting?”
“I asked you a question first—”
“Two,” he corrected. Then he smiled.
About Tessa Stockton:
Tessa is a veteran of the performing arts and worldwide missions, having come from a long line of musical arts professionals. She loved seeing the world and absorbing the beauty of other cultures . . . an enriching life full of dance, music, faith, and interesting cuisine. Over the years, she 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.
Purchase Links - Wind’s Aria:
More titles from Tessa coming soon!
Sea God’s Siren
An accident left Syrena blind and only one can bring her healing. But the cost of abiding in his, Dagon's, aquatic prison in exchange for sight proves more than she bargained for.
Tree Lord’s Oracle
Arekel becomes the chosen of her world to stop the Tree Lord menace from expanding his domain of Deadwood. Embarking on the fretful task, the young maiden learns that she alone holds the key to destroying the Tree Lord’s malevolent heart. There’s just one other problem. She’s fallen in love with him.
Thank you, Tessa, it's been fascinating talking to you and learning more about you and I wish you every success with Wind's Aria and your forthcoming releases.