I spotted Tessa Emily Hall grasping her coffee cup with both hands at a shop in Downtown Greenville. Within minutes of meeting each other, we hit it off, and she excitedly dove into the story of her journey of becoming an author.
Though she had been blessed with a Kingdom-oriented childhood, it wasn’t until middle school that Hall started sculpting her own personal relationship with God. This desire for a stronger connection with Him is attributed to the faith her family instilled in her so early. She even recalls intentionally setting aside her own quiet time to pray and be with God.
Hall felt a calling to bring light to those around her when she was merely 11 years of age. From this determination stemmed a digital Christian newsletter which the blossoming writer and a close friend worked to send out every Sunday. For two years, readers would learn about Jesus, receive reminders of hope, and find timely advice or encouragement. This newsletter was met with great success, but Hall was just barely scratching the surface of a deeper purpose.
During a moment of studying the Word a few years later, 14-year-old Hall landed on Ecclesiastes 11:9:
You who are young, make the most of your youth.
Relish your youthful vigor.
Follow the impulses of your heart.
If something looks good to you, pursue it.
But know also that not just anything goes;
You have to answer to God for every last bit of it (MSG).
“Pursue” leapt off the page and immediately inspired the teen. This word bubbled up in her heart, propelling her into a whirlwind of passionate drive. Eventually, “Pursue” would serve as the moniker for Hall’s ever-expanding online magazine, but in the meantime, the word would echo in her spirit with every milestone she reached in her writing. While piecing together Purple Moon, her first Christian fiction book at the age of 16, Hall acquired a major interest in attending a writing conference. She relished the idea of sharpening her skills and learning from other writers’ craft.
It wasn’t long before the aspiring author found herself at The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, an event at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina. In a serendipitous moment, a man overheard her talking about Purple Moon while she was in an appointment about a Christian devotional website for teens.
Three chapters prepped and ready to share, Hall handed over her work to him. This man enjoyed what he read and asked for the whole manuscript. He wasn’t just a curious bystander, though. His name was Eddie Jones, the Acquisitions Editor and CEO of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. What’s more, the company was in the process of developing a fiction category, a perfect fit for Purple Moon.
After praying about this opportunity for six months, Hall felt peace about moving forward with Lighthouse. At 17 years old, she signed a book contract that would change her life. “It was a God-thing,” she states matter-of-factly, “because it wouldn’t have happened naturally in any other way.” For the next two years, writing and editing were more important than ever, but the pressure wasn’t too much for Hall.
Though a senior in high school, she continued working early in the morning before classes to meet deadlines for her manuscript. Her tenacious method wasn’t losing momentum anytime soon, and in 2013, at just 19, she released Purple Moon.
Unwritten Melody, Hall’s second novel, paced closely behind in 2016. Differing from Purple Moon, which Hall explains is “authentic to youth culture and issues” to “meet [teens and young adults] where they are,” Unwritten Melody is considered inspirational fiction. It is laced with more prominent faith-related elements, like hope. It remains engaging and entertaining while it “points to God” throughout each chapter. Mirroring one other, however, each volume remains down-to-earth instead of preachy.
So how did such a young woman, now 24, get two published novels under her belt?
“It’s not a quick process,” Hall admits. “You have to set goals. Write a page a day, and you’ll have a whole book in a year. A lot of authors do that.” She encourages those who enjoy writing not to make it just a hobby but a priority.
“Make a schedule. Read as many books as you can. Research your path of writing, like blogs. Then, write,” she says with confidence. One of the reasons she loves writing so much is “you don’t have to make it perfect the first time.” If you don’t like what you’ve written, go back, make edits, and change things up. It might take “hours and perseverance,” but it’s worth it to chase your dreams. Plus, Hall reminds us that “passions are not about us. They’re about using the tools given to us for His glory.”
Today, Hall fills the role of Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate, the Young Adult Imprint under Lighthouse. She was offered this position at only 23. One of the special things about this opened door was that she herself was given the chance to name the imprint. The idea for Illuminate is based on a dream she had. “I saw a picture of a lighthouse and heard the word ‘illuminate,’” she says. No better word could describe the beacon of light Hall has become for the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, she works for Hartline Literary Agency as an Associate Agent and is the founder of Pursue Magazine, where she also frequently contributes articles. Hall released Coffee Shop Devos under Bethany House Publishing. This 180-devotion book is geared towards teen girls and has been available as of September 2018. In addition, her third fictional story, Fallen Leaves, released in October 2018.
Tessa Emily Hall is a bright girl who followed her dreams and grew into an accomplished woman. She stepped out of her comfort zone and has never looked back. Now, she’s living a life far greater than she could have imagined. May we learn to listen to Hall when she says, “Don’t settle for a life you don’t enjoy just so you can stay safe. The safest place is in God’s will for your life.”
In-Text Image by Nathan Dumlao
Featured Image by Lalaine Macababbad