Author Tessa Tempest #interview

Please give a warm welcome to

Tell us a bit about yourself

Hi, I’m Tessa and I write fantasy romance and sexy gothic folklore filled with poison flowers, dark forests, and princesses who can save themselves. My first book under this name is Poison Garden, the first book in The Beautiful and the Deadly saga.

When I’m not writing, I teach college English and run a small business with my husband designing journals, notebooks, blank comic books, and totes at Wayfarer Journals. I have two boys, 6 and 9, who like to get in on the designing action too.

I’m also a huge TV junkie. TV is just another medium of storytelling, after all. So much of what I’ve learned about dialogue and where to cut scenes to leave readers wanting more comes from watching my favorite shows with a notebook at the ready. Some of my faves include Gilmore Girls, Doctor Who (though I’m behind), Umbrella Academy, the OA, and pre-Neagan Walking Dead. It totally counts as research, right? Right now I’m bingeing How to Get Away With Murder.

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Have you always wanted to become an author?

Yes, probably since I was around seven or eight. I love stories. When I was in third grade, I made my own (cardboard) boxed set of these mini books I wrote about Sweet Tooth the blue dinosaur because all the books I loved at that age were part of a series, so of course mine had to be too.

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What was your inspiration for your current book/series?

The first nugget of an idea for Poison Garden came years ago from a picture and article I found on Pinterest about a real poison garden. I’m not sure if the one at Alnwick in the UK still exists as the link I saved is now broken, but it said: “ There is a garden in England where behind closed doors only poisonous plants will grow. The guides warn, ‘Do not touch the plants. Do not even smell them.’ “

What a cool setting for a story, right? The idea captured my imagination so fully that I tucked it away until I could find the right place for it. When I started crafting Astrid’s story, all of the pieces fell into place.

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What are you working on now?

I’m deep into the world of Poisoned Paradise, the sequel to Poison Garden. You’ll see Valkyries, more of Astrid’s powers and her hot Viking warriors, more vengeful gods, an impossible journey, and a race to the underworld to retrieve a vial for Loki and save Drysi, Astrid’s best friend, before she evanesces.

On top of that, I’m finishing up a Poison Garden coloring book that should be out this summer.

I’ve also got a few other projects I’m adding ideas to. The first is a series planned for next year set in a world where fairy tales repeat themselves and Poppy, who has just learned she’s a Sleeping Beauty, must team up with the most unlikely allies: the brooding and possibly very dangerous Blue Beard, the flighty Eternal Boy, and womanizing Prince Charming to try and stop their stories and save all of their kingdoms.

I’m also kicking around ideas for a funny witchy Academy series and a horror romance.

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Do you have any quirks while writing?

With my sensory processing issues, it’s very difficult for me to focus and write with any distracting sounds. So no music for me. No background noise if I can help it.

I also handwrite about 85% of my first drafts.

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What are your hopes for the future?

I want to keep telling stories as long as people want to read them.

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Do you have any advice for new authors about the publishing world?

Finish things. Start stories and write them all the way through to the end. Also, keep in mind that a “great writer” is not something you ever are or are not. Telling great stories is something all writers continually work toward.

Also, embrace the suck of your first efforts. Sticking with it until you develop your skills is so important when though it’s so uncomfortable.

There is a great video floating around from Ira Glass of This American Life with so many nuggets of wisdom on this subject.

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Do you have anything to say to your readers?

I’m so grateful to every single person who reads my books and gets to know the people who live inside my head. If you liked Poison Garden, I think you will LOVE what comes next for Astrid and her guys in Poisoned Paradise, which I hope to have out late August or early fall.

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