Before we continue with the Q&A, here’s a little bit about Tosca Lee.
“One of the most gifted novelists writing today.” —Steven James, best-selling author.
Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of Iscariot; Demon: A Memoir; Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times best-seller Ted Dekker (Forbidden, Mortal and Sovereign). Her highly anticipated seventh novel, The Legend of Sheba, releases September 9, 2014.
Tosca received her B.A. in English and International Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts with studies at Oxford University. She is a lifelong world adventure traveler and makes her home in the Midwest. To learn more about Tosca, visit www.toscalee.com.
- I understand you created a special bonus for your readers with Legend of Sheba. Can you tell us more about that?
Ismeni—a free eBook short story prequel to The Legend of Sheba—will be available August 26. This is the story of Sheba’s mother, and sheds some light on the man who would become the queen of Sheba’s right-hand councilor. It’s about 34 pages long, and also includes a preview of the Prologue and first chapter of The Legend of Sheba.
- You recently won the 2014 Gold Medallion for fiction—what people may not know is this is the only award given each year by the ECPA for Christian fiction across all genres. And yet you’re known for your controversial points of view and pushing limits of the category. What is it about your books that you believe resonates so much with Christian readers?
I think it’s that I’m willing to go there and get gritty. To admit that halfway through the writing of Iscariot, I realized I was no longer writing his story… but my own. Havah is also my story. They all are. And we’re not that different, you and I. I like writing about these maligned characters because even though we may not want to, we can often identify with them far more readily than the good guys, who seem so untouchable. We all feel let down at some point by the way God fails to adhere to our agendas for Him. We all have moments when we think, “if you knew me—really knew me—you would not love me.” We all fail with the best of intentions, and we all want to be embraced exactly as we are. We are all as capable of darkness as we are of light—and often the darkness is far more tangible. The stuff in the Bible isn’t sterile—far from it. It’s gory, violent, sexual, and messy. But so is life. I want to be honest about fear and compromise as I am about hope, beauty and redemption.
- You’ve also co-authored the Books of Mortals series with Ted Dekker. Aside from the obvious, how does co-writing differ from writing solo?
It takes twice as much time. You have to spend a lot of time talking, planning, plotting, and going over what you’ve done. When you write solo, there is no need for consensus, and for making sure you are sharing the same vision of character, plot, and resolution. But writing solo is also scarier; you don’t have the safety net of a partner to catch your writing foibles, pick up the slack where you are not as strong, and to get you out of bed and into the chair each day. They both have their pros and cons.
- You get approached by a lot of writers early in the process of trying to get published. What is your best advice for writers and for those hoping to pursue a career in writing?
Finish the work first. Far too many people write to me asking how to get an agent/editor/publishing deal and they haven’t even finished a novel or built up a body of work to sell. Finish the novel, and start another. And another, even after you approach agents or start to self-publish. Agents, in particular, want to know what else you have to offer and if you can produce on schedule. If you haven’t completed at least one sellable book, you are not ready to approach the industry. Finish the work. And please don’t send files to an author you don’t know personally to ask for his/her opinion of your writing. Many authors teach, edit or offer critiques as a business to support themselves. Sending them something out of the blue for their opinion presumptuously asks them to work for free.