Interview with Tessa Palmeri

What to you write?
I write fiction novel series - of the Young Adult / New Adult romance variety. But it's not all romance! There are interwoven themes of "coming of age", child/parent and family struggles, teen angst, and finding and practicing faith. The teen years and early twenties are a tough time of figuring out who you are, what you stand for, where you want to go in life, etc. I write about characters finding their way through that critical time in their lives. Sometimes it's not pretty. Sometimes other people in their lives are helpful, but sometimes they're not, and a person has to figure out how to deal with that.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I feel a sense of celebration for my characters when they overcome adversity and figure out how to break free of whatever is holding them back from experiencing life to the fullest. I also love it when I myself am moved to tears, whether from sadness or joy, by what is happening to my characters. That's when I am reminded of why I write - to evoke emotion out of thin air.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything, because without you, this would be a lonely and unsatisfactory process. Your support and encouragement and willingness to give me a chance to entertain you make it all worth it.
What do you want your readers to take away from reading your novels?
My hope is that readers, of all ages, will be encouraged and inspired by the characters in my novels as they learn to define relationship boundaries and triumph over obstacles, adversity, fears, and limitations.
What is your background, and how has it helped you as a writer?
The family, as a social institution, has always been a special interest of mine. I have a BA in Sociology, and the classes I took with an emphasis on family were the most valuable to me. There's no denying that family is the first and foremost influence on our attitudes, motivations, and goals as we grow up and form our own ideas about the world. I enjoy portraying complicated family dynamics and the catalysts that launch teenagers into adulthood.
What is your writing process?
I'm a spreadsheet junkie, so I start out with tabs for setting, timeline, and one for each character. Then, as the storyline starts forming in my mind, I fill in the timeline. Plus, I do some research on any topics that I might not already be very knowledgeable about so that I can accurately portray them. When different scenes that I want to write about come to mind, I look in the timeline to see where they'd best fit, plug them in, and make detailed notes so that when it comes time to do the actual writing, I have a record of what I wanted to say.
Why is your Olivia Series set in the early 1990s and what is the biggest challenge involved with writing in that time period?
I wanted to go back to a time when teens didn't have so much modern technology in their lives. This enables me to concentrate on genuine character development and focus on building their relationships without the constant distraction of cell phones and social media. One of the biggest challenges of writing in that time period has been to make sure I don't include things that hadn't happened yet, hadn't been invented yet, hadn't become commonplace, etc. Before I make any mention of different forms of media or technology; book, movie, or TV titles; clothing styles; or popular catchphrases, I do some research to make sure it actually existed prior to 1991, or that it came about during the course of the novel's timeline. It's been fun to revisit those days before the internet and the world wide web.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The idea of being able to squeeze in any little extra time I can to write. Waking hours mean possible writing hours, so I don't sleep nearly as much as I did before I started writing.
When did you first start writing?
I did some creative writing in middle school and high school, but it wasn't until January 2015 that I started writing a novel with the intention of publishing and calling myself an author.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
After a series of life events that helped me put some things in perspective (hindsight is 20/20, after all), I started re-imagining how some things could have been different in my teen years and my own kids' lives. Some character sketches started forming in my mind, a timeline/storyline took shape, and once I got started, I couldn't stop! As far as what motivated me to become an indie author - I believe I have a relatable and entertaining story to tell, and I'm too impatient to wait for the traditional publishing route!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, friends' recommendations.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle, though I wish page numbers could be displayed!
Describe your desk
Most of the time, my desk is the kitchen table. Otherwise, it's anywhere I can set my laptop to carve out a little extra writing time. That means sometimes my desk is my lap.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
When I first started this self-publishing journey, I had no idea what I was doing (sometimes I still wonder), and I vaguely recall looking into using Smashwords, but was so overwhelmed by so much information out there. Ten months later, I have a little more knowledge of how all this works and have so far found Smashwords to be amazingly helpful! I can't believe they don't charge for the information they provide. I was almost giddy to discover the style guide and Word template. This is the information I'd been searching for online over the last several months, and I was sorry I overlooked it before.
What are you working on next?
The second book in the Olivia series is set for release in February 2016. The book is finished, just getting some final proofing and beta reading, and the cover is still being designed. I've got about 3/4 of book three written and have discovered I can't possibly finish Olivia's story in the last quarter, so there's going to be a fourth book. I know, it's a little unusual to go beyond a trilogy these days, but I've got so much more to do with this set of characters that I don't want to rush into just three books. Then, I've got outlines already in progress for a spinoff series about Emma, Olivia's younger sister.
Published 2015-10-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Olivia, All In - Olivia Series Book Three
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 88,380. Language: English. Published: August 31, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Romance » New adult, Fiction » Christian » Romance
Olivia Miller is home for the summer after her first year of college.
Olivia, Finding Her Way - Olivia Series Book Two
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 92,190. Language: English. Published: February 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Romance, Fiction » Christian » Romance
Olivia's off to college with her boyfriend, Cameron, looking forward to freedom from her parents. She realizes she’s led a pretty sheltered life, and embracing the college culture isn’t as easy as she expected. After losing something that's very important to her, she struggles to find her way. She finally discovers what was missing in her life, but is it too late to recover what she's lost?
Olivia, On the Brink - Olivia Series Book One
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 97,850. Language: English. Published: October 30, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Romance, Fiction » Christian » Romance
Romantic, faith-inspiring, coming-of-age story of high school senior Olivia Miller in a small town in Texas in the early 1990s. While trying to figure out what she's going to do after graduation, she meets Cameron McClain, the hot new guy at school. He and Olivia's mentor, Mrs. K, help her navigate the troubled waters of her home-life, including a rage-aholic father and neglectful mother.