Jane Tesh: Author, Actress, Academic


First Posted: 6/20/2009

I have been writing all my life. I get inspiration from everything I do, everyone I meet and everywhere I go.
As much as Jane Tesh loved writing as a child, she never considered it a career path until her late teens. Writing was just something everyone did. However, she knew it was something she loved and she stuck with it. Through numerous disappointments, Tesh kept writing.
Finally, A Case of Imagination found its home at Poisoned Pen Press and Tesh was on her way to having a series of books about Madeline Maclin, ex-beauty queen, aspiring artist and fledgling private investigator, and her husband, Jerry Fairweather, charming con man.
The road to publication was not an easy one for Tesh. The novel went through four readers and two editors before it hit the shelves two years later.
Tesh is now ready to promote the third book in the series, A Little Learning, which tackles a dead unpopular teacher and a mysterious riddle which, if solved, could lead to treasure. This book is the first one of the Celosia, N.C.-based series to be recorded in audio format as well.
The novels are light, not graphic, with humor and romance, she said.
Now that this series is coming to an end, Tesh is ready to start on another set of mysteries.
I have another series of character-driven mysteries being considered by an agent, she said. This series, The Grace Street Mysteries, are about private detective David Randall and his friend Camden, a reluctant psychic.
Before she hit the publishing world with her own novels, however, Tesh was published in a textbook and a magazine while working as the librarian at J.J. Jones Intermediate School beginning in 1975.
During her 30 years there, she spent time reading stories to the students and trying to teach them a love for literature, poetry and drama. She also wrote plays for the students performances, two of which became her first published works.
One of these plays, Grammar Gulch, was my first professional sale to Plays Magazine, she said. Another play, Little Red Writing Hood, was chosen for publication in the fourth grade Harcourt Brace Language textbook, Dare to Dream.
I would say having a play chosen for the textbook was unique and certainly unexpected.
All the while, she was submitting novel manuscripts to publishers. Despite having these novels sent back to her, she did not give up her goal of getting published by a reputable publisher.
Writers need loads of patience, she said. Besides the support of my family, I had a great teacher, Gary Provost. Once he showed me that my main problem was shifting point of view, I was able to get my work read by more agents.
While living in Mount Airy, Tesh also stumbled upon a love for theater. In college, she worked backstage on a number of productions, finding props and offering assistance, but she had never acted. She and a friend, upon hearing about the community theater, dared each other to try out for a play.
A friend and I dared each other to try out for You Cant Take It With You, she said. We both got in, so we had to do it! I had a lot of fun and made lots of new friends.
Since then, she has continued to be a part of many local productions whether acting or working in the orchestra. She has played Vera in Smoke on the Mountain and Mother Superior in Nunsense. She has also conducted the orchestra and played the piano for Oliver and Beauty and the Beast.
Each production is a unique experience, as it involves people from all walks of life, all ages and all skill levels. Somehow, everything always comes together, she said.
For those interested in becoming writers, Tesh recommends getting a copy of Writers Market.
It comes out every year and lists all the publishing companies for fiction and nonfiction, including magazine companies; what they are looking for and how to contact them, she said. Fortunately, most companies now accept e-mail queries, which saves time and postage. The market book also shows you how to write a query and the correct manuscript format.
Perseverance and dedication have been keys to Teshs success.
When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I never knew how to answer because I already was what I wanted to be, she said.
Tesh will be in Mount Airy signing her new book on two dates this summer. She will be at Pages Bookstore on June 27 beginning at 11 a.m. and at the Mount Airy Public Library on July 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For more information on Tesh and her novels, visit her Web site at www.janetesh.com.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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