March of the Sequels: Tessa Hastjarjanto

8 Mar 2023

The Author/s

Tessa Hastjarjanto

Tessa Hastjarjanto

Tessa Hastjarjanto is a Dutch/Indonesian writer from the Netherlands. She writes speculative fiction, and blogs at about books, fountain pens, and writing.

From a young age, she imitated popular stories and games in creating her own worlds. This love eventually led to a master’s degree in media and game studies at the University of Utrecht. However a mundane desk job was enough to inspire her to follow her creative passion. The first fanfics were written in lunch breaks and soon original fiction followed.

With the support of her husband, she now focuses on her writing career while battling chronic pain. Swiss white shepherd, Shiro, acts as a therapy dog to keep her healthy and reduce stress through extensive cuddle sessions.

The Interview

First of all, tell me a little about your series and introduce us to the sequel(s).
My first trilogy is called the Infernal Contracts and consists of the books Devil’s Deal, Lucifer’s Favour, and Beelzebub’s Bargain. Where the first book only follows the main character Nora, in Lucifer’s Favour, you also get to know one of the angels, Danny, and Lucifer more. The paranormal romance makes space for more contemporary fantasy and darker themes. 


Do you find that most of your readers continue to read the whole series? Why do you think that is?  
Not many people continue with the series. I re-released the first book a few times and while people enjoyed it, the two-year delay didn’t help with keeping up with the excitement for those initial readers.

How difficult is it to add new characters in a sequel into already established relationships? 
It wasn’t difficult at all. I had a nice cast of supporting characters that I could give more screentime plus I went to Spain for part of the book. It’s a whole new plot, a whole new character with his own adventure.

Is it difficult to continue with worldbuilding for a world you have already built in book 1?  Do you find it easier to switch locations for the sequel and start again with worldbuilding? 
It was interesting because the first book takes place in my home town and not much else. I’m so familiar with the locations in the book. All of them exist. Expanding the world required some research but it’s still more of the same. Since it’s a shadow world of our current one, I didn’t need to add much. It’s mostly the lore and the supernatural touches that I added. I have taken some liberties with accuracy, but that’s what makes it fun, right?

You are also working now on a new novel in your Lunis Aquaria universe. What can we expect from it?
This will be the first full novel in the Lunis Aquaria world and a standalone. After writing this trilogy I needed a break. This is a fun getaway from the teenage drama before. Project Mermaid Story (full title to be announced later) centers around a girl who discovers she has powers. The majority of the story takes place on a tropical island so it was nice daydreaming about white sandy beaches and the warm weather when it was cold. Expects lots of wonder and magic!

Apart from author, you are blogger. Could you tell us more about that aspect of you?
I started blogging in 2006. The gaming blog was a creative outlet to share my love for games. In 2017 I started Narratess, a blog that focuses more on writing, books, and stories. I’m also using that name to publish my books. I love writing and being able to switch between fiction writing and non-fiction writing keeps me on my game.

Have you ever been stymied by a worldbuilding or plot detail from book 1 that is very inconvenient to deal with or write your way around in subsequent books? 
Not yet, but I’m sure that will happen at some point. I re-released Devil’s Deal after I got the edits for the last book back so I still had the opportunity to change a few things.

Would you say your craft has improved with the subsequent books?
My craft improved so much I had to re-release my book! The difference between Devil’s Deal and Lucifer’s Favour was so big, I already knew people wouldn’t continue the series. I’ve had several readers say each book is better than the last, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that people will give it a chance.

Do you have all the timeline planned for the full series?
For my next series, I’ve got the whole story outline ready. I know all the important events that will happen but I don’t have the outlines per book ready yet. I do aim to have them all done before I begin writing. But an outline isn’t static. Things change as the characters come alive and make all kinds of dumb decisions. So who knows what might happen?

Do you have any marketing tips for sequels?
Keep marketing book one and keep an eye on the read-through rate. Make sure the readers from book one know there’s a book two. 
Aside from that, I’m still new at this and haven’t done well (yet). So don’t listen to me, listen to people who have more readers and a high read through rate!