Tessa Stockton worked in the Christian performing arts for more than twenty years as a choreographer, dancer, and musician. Now retired from dance, she enjoys crafting novels and is devoted to offering spiritual comfort to those who battle an assortment of ethics. Of German and Jewish descent, Tessa’s upbringing filled her with many questions, but through it all she came to a very real understanding of who Jesus is, what He came for, and why.
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Tessa now resides in the Southeastern U.S. with her husband and son.
Your start in the creative arts began with dance and music. What was your impetus to begin writing?
I’m an avid reader. I’ve always devoured books. I think it was just a matter of time when I’d pick up the pen to jot down my own stories. The interest grew while in high school. Later, I wrote when I could, but was very busy traveling and doing productions. Then a door opened for me to write and edit articles for the ministry I served with, and after that in a few political circles. I could always see in my mind’s eye, the second chapter of my life as a novelist (dancer being the first). When the time came, I went after it. It didn’t happen overnight, but the journey was worthwhile.
How does your faith play into your work?
I find it almost impossible not to thread a novel I’m writing with elements of faith. In fact, I’m not sure I’d even bother. It’s a calling. While I was a child I felt the Lord beckon me into service. I’ve sought it throughout my entire life, in just about every endeavor. While I was immersed in the secular political arena, it was more difficult for me to share ties of faith, and I think that’s why I stepped away from it. Everybody is wired differently, each of our paths are unique. Some people are more subtle in their representation of faith in fiction. Some boldly proclaim his or her individual path with God noticeably placed at the lead. But it’s all good. We can’t all reach the same people in the same manner. Like parts of the body, we work together yet operate differently.
Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?
Having a child, because it was completely unexpected, thought impossible, and occurred during a time that required serious adjustment. Everything as I knew it ceased, and I underwent a drastic change. Now, besides glancing at my handsome little “wild child,” I can testify of amazing things through that transformation. I guess God really does know what He’s doing, especially in the timing department!
Let’s talk about your new book, The Unforgivable (Risen Books, April 1, 2011). Please tell us about it.
The Unforgivable is a contemporary love story, set against the backdrop of Argentina’s Dirty War—a military dictatorship that took place during the years 1976-1983. It’s about a Christian woman from Sweetwater, Tennessee, who travels to Buenos Aires for a trade show, then unexpectedly meets and falls in love with an ex-Navy officer whom she discovers is accused of war crimes.
Besides entertainment, what do you hope readers will take away from it?
The message of God’s grace that no matter what someone has done or seen forgiveness is all-inclusive. No one is beyond redemption. I wanted to challenge readers by providing a scenario which encourages introspection and response regarding clemency.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
If I’m feeling unenthusiastic, I seem to favor salty things such as chips. Celebratory moments call for sweets. A slice is nice…of cake, that is.
Were there skills and/or disciplines you learned in music and dance that you were able to apply to your writing?
Dance is excellent in the aspect of discipline. I have no problem tackling even those things I dread. I attribute that to dance training. It’s the ability to focus with intensity and work straight through something, even if it’s unpleasant or painful.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
An adagio…in fact, one of my favorite pieces of music is Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. It’s considered “The saddest music ever written”—not that I’m a sad person, but sad music stirs something inside of me. I create best when influenced by such passionately heartrending and emotive works. But then I also like European Techno-Pop!
Are you a major or a minor chord?
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
Good question. I think it changes. In fact, I think I might be the mysterious, high-heeled little girl next door, trying to be the strong heroine by just attempting to walk straight without stumbling while seeing through dark glasses. Yeah, I can’t fool anyone.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, and/or your favorite pet as a child.
I have a black cat named Hemingway who is a regular booklover and my comrade in fictive crime, and a 90 lb. white lab/German shepherd mixed dog named Reba who is getting old but who surprises me daily with her agility. I love animals and have owned anything from goats, guinea pigs, to mice. My favorite as a child was an ornery horse named Tilly. In fact, I’ve had horses most of my life, but no longer, since about five years ago. I often miss the equine world. A long time ago, I trained in cutting (sport), but then found my real love in competitive trail riding. I miss racing through the mountains, jumping over logs, and running through creeks. It was an exhilarating diversion. I miss the nostalgic smells in the barn, the hay, the oats, yes—even manure, and the sweet smell of sunshine lingering on a horse’s coat underneath the mane. Maybe another day….
Thank you, Tessa! It’s great to have you as a guest at DivineDetour!
Thank you, Kathy! It was great to be here. What excellent questions you ask! I appreciate the opportunity.
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For more information about Tessa, visit her website at http://www.tessastockton.com/.
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