Anna’s always had a strict plan for her life. Get good grades, get into a good college, be successful. Falling in love with a homeless boy? Not exactly on her list. Dean has a plan too. Survive. After a difficult childhood, he now lives on the streets doing everything he can to get by. When he meets Anna, he realizes he doesn’t have to do everything alone. Slowly, Anna and Dean let each other in, blending their two worlds into one. But, when a series of events brings Dean’s world into perspective, he pushes Anna away, causing Anna to set out to bring Dean back to her. But her determination and faith in their future puts her on the tracks of danger. Can he be the one to bring her home?
Today I’m chatting with Tessa Marie, author of ‘Home is Where You Are’. Tessa, thanks for joining me today. Can you start us off by giving us the insight as to where this book began?
When I was younger (7 or so) I would spend after school at my mom’s job and sometimes after she got off work we would walk up to Main Street. The path we took went along the side of the church. On Wednesday’s the church would hold a soup kitchen and for some reason seeing those people standing in line and my mom explaining their situation stuck with me. Then one day I read an article about the increase in teenagers living on the streets and that memory came back to me. Slowly the story of Dean and Anna began to unfold in my mind.
Did you have characters that you wanted to stay with longer, or were your favourites to write?
Absolutely! Katie, Anna’s best friend really spoke to me. She’s a bit of a mess, but she’s also someone I can relate to most when I was a teenager and I drew a lot of that into her character. I actually plan on writing her story very soon and it will focus on Katie and Anna’s brother Seth.
Did you do any research support the story between Dean and Anna?
Yes, I did a lot of research for this book. I read news article after news article and learned as much as I could about teens and why they’re homeless. The situations that brought them to that place in their lives, what they go through every day and every night, how they find the strength to keep going, and what they do with their time.
How did you feel about these things that you found out? Did you find it rewarding.
Yes it was the most rewarding thing about the novel. It was really eye opening to a situation that is very relevant in our world today, but something many people don’t realize. They may see it on TV and maybe in the news, but it’s easy to believe it’s not happening in your home town. But homelessness is happening everywhere.
Did addressing the aspects of homelessness lead to you choosing to intentionally write themes into the storyline?
No. I always find it funny when readers point them out and it becomes so clear to me. Like oh yes I meant to do that… No. No I didn’t.
As you weren’t consciously always adding in details, what was the process like for you?
I try to write every day, but when I finish a book I usually take a week off to regroup and refuel. I usually only have a set word count when I’m on a deadline. I’m a procrastinator at heart, so I can plan out to write 3k words a day, but keep putting it off until I have to write 7k-10k a day. I actually prefer to write bigger chunks at a time than to spread it out over a longer period of time. I write at my desk, but if I need a change of scenery I’ll move a room over to my couch.
Is the editing an integral part of the writing process for you?
I would never trust myself to be my own editor. It is so easy to miss things when you are so close to the work. I have a group of critique partners who I swap manuscripts with. I try to get at least two or three critique partners to read through it and give me notes. From there I go through all the notes, make changes that are needed then send it to beta readers. I try to do at least one beta reader. Also my mom gets every single version of my books and gives me notes along the way and points out typos. Then the last stage it goes off to a copy editor. I also always give it one last read through before publishing.
How about the cover, how did that come into existence?
I actually designed the most recent cover myself. The original a friend designed for me.
And once it was assembled and available to the public, how did you feel when you got your first book review?
Excited! Someone actually took the time to read and review my book. For me that was bigger than publishing the book itself.
Do you have any tips for self-publishing for other authors?
Read as much as you can in your genre and outside of your genre. Take time to find your voice. Find a critique partner who you can trust, and who isn’t afraid to be honest as long as that honesty is constructive. Make friends with bloggers and not just to promote your books, but because most bloggers are awesome people. And most importantly when it comes to marketing, know that what works for one person doesn’t always work for someone else. You have to find what works for you through trial and error. It can be frustrating and time consuming, but don’t give up.
Wow, those are alot of fantastic tips. Thank you for sharing them. Do you have overriding tip for authors?
Write, Write and Write. Read, read and read. As a writer you are always learning and always honing your craft.
As for reading, who are your favourite authors, and do you believe that they have influenced your writing style?
I have so many. To name a few Sarah Dessen, Simone Elkeles, Katy Regnery, Marie Force, Susan Mallery, Toni Blake, Jennifer Echols and I’m going to stop there. I think any book that you read will influence your writing style. You read to learn and you pick up on styles, but the fun part is putting your own spin on it so you can make it your own.
What are you currently reading?
Barbara Freethy’s Callaway Series. I’m currently on That Summer Night book 6. I’m loving this series. I’m also reading Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt by Arthur T. Vanderbilt II. I’m a history buff and that tends to sneak it’s way into my books. Dean in Home is Where You Are loves Ancient History.
Now we’re at my absolute favourite section of the interview. The Quick Fire Random Question Round. Answer as fast as you can.
What is your favourite quote?
It’s actually a Dr Seuss quote: Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Another one of his I love: Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. Dr. Seuss
If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
I don’t even know! This is a great question and I hate that I don’t have answer.
Can you stand on your hands unassisted?
I used to be able to until I got old and my back gave out.
Can you curl your tongue?
Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
I’m fascinated by dinosaurs.
What’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across?
Abcde and La-a (pronounced Ladasha)
Those are some strange names. Thank you sharing a little bit of insight into your book and writing process, and I hope that your promotion of ‘Home is Where You Are’ allows you to connect with many new readers.
Want to find out more about Tessa? Check out her work here: