Insight from local author Ms. Tessa Wegert on the literary industry


Ms. Hildi Todrin

Local author, Ms. Tessa Wegert, has published two books in the mystery genre.

The King Street Chronicle conducted an exclusive interview with Ms. Tessa Wegert, author of “Death in the Family” and “The Dead Season,” about her transition from working as a journalist to writing fiction.  Ms. Wegert attended Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies.  She initially entered the journalism field and specialized in digital marketing before publishing her first novel in 2020.  Despite her literary success, Ms. Wegert continues to write articles as a freelance journalist.  She offered her advice for aspiring writers and discussed how she balances her career and additional responsibilities.  Ms. Wegert currently resides in Darien, Connecticut with her husband, two children, and dog.  Read the Q&A with junior Claire Moore, News, Opinions, and Podcast Editor, below.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 

“I have always loved writing because it is my creative outlet.  When I was younger, I wrote a lot of poetry and short stories for contests.  Then, I worked as a freelance journalist focused on digital marketing and advertising, so I was already a professional nonfiction writer, but I wanted to write more creative fiction pieces.  After my kids were born, I decided to try writing a book because I felt like I needed a hobby that was flexible and that I could do from home.  I had already had several ideas for novels, but none were successful.  In my first real attempt to write a book, I chose the thriller genre and ended up with a full manuscript about a year later.  I eventually found an agent who really liked my book and thought it could be published, however, there wasn’t a market for thrillers at the time and after several years, my book was still unpublished.  Because of this, I decided to try writing a mystery novel as a contemporary take on the golden age of detective fiction.  I was lucky that these types of mysteries were making a comeback, so I was able to get my first book published in 2020.  I initially wrote Death in the Family as a stand-alone novel, but my publisher suggested a series, and so we published The Dead Season about a year later.  I think this success after so many years of trying is what inspired me to continue professionally writing fiction.”

What was the inspiration behind Death in the Family and The Dead Season?  What drew you to the mystery/thriller genre?  

“As I mentioned earlier, I wanted Death in the Family to be a sort of an homage to Agatha Christie and her novels.  I am also a big fan of authors like Tana French, Jane Harper, and Louise Penny, who all write police procedural novels that heavily focus on character development.  Their books always have a lot of secrets under the surface and successfully keep the reader guessing.  I really liked the idea of probing different characters’ psyches to figure out how they would factor into the novel’s crime or mystery.  Family is also a big theme in both my novels and I think the different character relationships are fun to play with.  Overall, I just wanted to write detective fiction, but dive deeper into my characters’ minds to implement psychological elements.  Mysteries and thrillers are kind of like my escape from reality.  I have always enjoyed reading them because it’s an intellectual challenge and I was inspired to give other readers that same experience.”

Ms. Wegert promotes her most recent book at Barrett Bookstore in Darien, Connecticut.  Courtesy of Ms. Tessa Wegert

How did your background in journalism aid your while crafting your first novel? 

“Working as a journalist taught me how to research, which is hugely helpful while I was writing a book that focused on the police procedure.  I wanted to make Death in the Family and The Dead Season as realistic as possible so that my readers would come away feeling like the story could have actually happened.  Since I had never worked in the police force, I had to do a lot of research, both online and in person.  I was really fortunate to interview the sheriff of Jefferson County, who gave me a lot of details about the investigative process, especially concerning what happens when a crime occurs on an island as it does in Death in the Family.  Journalism also prepared me for the revision process in that I didn’t become too attached to my work because I was used to heavily editing my freelance articles.  I had no problem slashing words or even entire chapters if it would make the story sharper and more effective.”

When do you find time to write amidst a busy schedule of family responsibilities and outside interests?  How do you maintain balance? 

“I had initially developed the routine of writing really early in the morning, but once my kids started school, I had a big chunk of time during the day where I could write without interruptions.  While we were all in quarantine last spring, I shifted back to waking up at 5 a.m. because my whole family was home again.  Mostly, I just try to get in a couple of hours either in the morning or late at night.  I have also found that minimizing distractions helps me get work done much more efficiently.  Everyone has a different approach to being productive, but this has been working well for me.  When my kids get home from school or during family dinners, I fully concentrate on them and don’t write again until much later.  It can be hard to maintain this balance between my career and home life, but my family is very understanding, so it tends to work out well.  In some ways, it’s good that it took so long for me to publish a book because my kids are much older and independent now, so they don’t need me as much.”

What are the most difficult parts of the writing process?  How do you counteract “writer’s block?” 

“Outlining is the hardest part for me because I love writing so much that I just want to start, but I’ve found that writing aimlessly leads to an especially long revision process.  In the past, I often had to rewrite entire chapters because they didn’t align with the book’s conclusion.  With mystery novels especially, it is important to know how the story will end.  I have to think very methodically about where to implement clues, ‘red herrings,’ and foreshadowing.  Unfortunately, I experience ‘writer’s block’ most often during this outlining phase, and my strategy is to pick up another mystery novel and find inspiration in its contents.  Sometimes, my incorrect predictions about the story’s outcome end up working well in my own books.  Most authors will tell you that reading is the best thing you can do to become a better writer because you learn so much from other novels’ techniques and become accustomed to your genre’s form of storytelling.  I have always found that doing this myself helps immensely when trying to finish my own projects.  Most authors will tell you that reading is the best thing you can do to become a better writer because you learn so much from other novels’ techniques and become accustomed to your genre’s form of storytelling.  I have always found that doing this myself helps immensely when trying to finish my own projects.”

Who is your favorite female author and why? 

“There are so many authors like Ruth Ware, Louise Penny, and Tana French who deal so well with their styles, settings, and character treatment.  I especially like writers who create a strong atmosphere for their novel and almost use the setting as another character.  It’s also nice to find an author that you know will continue to surprise you by writing virtually unsolvable mysteries.  I look for authors that do a great job of crafting ‘the big reveal’ on their book’s last page.”

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Most authors will tell you that reading is the best thing you can do to become a better writer because you learn so much from other novels’ techniques and become accustomed to your genre’s form of storytelling.

— Ms. Tessa Wegert


“Besides reading a lot, the best advice is to write consistently.  It can be very overwhelming to look at a blank page or document and think about all the words, lines, and chapters it will take to fill it.  This often feels like an insurmountable task, but writing for even just half an hour every day will gradually make the words pile up, and you’ll find yourself with chapters and eventually a full novel.  There are so many distractions today and our lives are so busy, but carving out at least a little bit of time to focus will be a huge help.  I also think if you take too many breaks, your head gets out of the story and it’s hard to resume writing without rereading, which greatly slows the process.  If you are consistent, it will keep your story moving along efficiently and productively.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Ms. Hildi Todrin