Through a fictional lens
Tesa Jones ’73, known as Teri Ranney to her Elon professors and peers, has written two novels inspired by her memories of Elon.
By Sarah Collins ’18
For alumni, returning to Elon’s campus evokes memories of time spent walking along the brick paths or watching the autumn leaves fall Under the Oaks. For Elon alumna and author Tesa Jones ’73, known to her peers as Teri Ranney, such memories of campus inspired her first two novels, “Cobwebs of Time” and “Reflections of Memories.”
“Elon is a character in the books and you watch it evolve and change as the decades move forward,” says Jones. “Anyone who loves the campus will enjoy them.”
The novels were a labor of love for Jones and the results of several decades of work. After drafting her first manuscript for “Cobwebs of Time” in the early 1980s, she set her writing aside following the birth of her son. It wasn’t until after her children went away to college that Jones began the pursuit of publishing her work. In 2002 Rutledge Books published Cobwebs, a story of four young college students growing up in 1970s America. But Jones knew there was more to the story. She began drafting “Reflections of Memories” as the prequel to her first novel.
Published in August 2017 by Archway Publishing, the second novel is a love story featuring Elon in a more historic time. The story follows the lives of Richard Malone and Caroline Sue Miller, who live on opposite sides of the societal fences in a 1920s western Pennsylvania coal town. Despite the economic differences between their families, the two become best friends, a friendship that eventually blossoms into a bond that continually pulls them together.
Although Jones assures that the stories are fictional, she says the characters and events in each novel were influenced by her own experiences at Elon. She was a member of Elon’s cheerleading squad during an era that welcomed Elon’s first male cheerleaders. As a “flyer” who loved being at the top of the pyramid, Jones recalls many Elon football victories. She lived on campus from 1969 to 1973 and she fondly remembers her time spent first in Staley Hall followed by Virginia, which still houses students in the heart of Elon’s historic campus. “I loved dorm life, my Zeta sisters and my roommates,” she says. “Those women became my best friends.”
Jones also fondly remembers Vice President Emerita Jo Watts Williams ’55, whom she credits for having a profound impact on her. “Dr. Jo Williams was my rock, an amazing woman and role model for me and many other students at Elon,” Jones says, adding that she was delighted to see Williams at a book signing event she held at Elon during Homecoming.
Jones has loved storytelling since she was 10 years old, and she has always had a desire to bring her Elon memories to life through writing. As for a third novel, Jones hints that she’s already begun writing—and Elon is set to be featured once again. “Everybody can find themselves in my books,” says Jones. “You can find your innocence or your experiences because they’re all not that different.”
A retired teacher and mother of two, Jones lives in Mooresville, N.C. Learn more about her books at booksbytesajones.com.