Author Interview-Tosca Lee’s Iscariot

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tosca leeWelcome, Tosca Lee!

Tosca’s book, Havah, is one of my all-time favorite biblical novels, and I was so anxious to read Iscariot because she’s tackled such a difficult character!

I’ve reviewed Iscariot in my April 1st Newsletter, but we wanted to give a preview of Tosca’s writing process and a few other tidbits…

Mesu: Why do you write biblical novels?

Tosca: I actually kind of fell into it. When I was doing the deal for Demon, my publisher said, “What else do you have?” I scrounged around and found this one-page I had done a year or more before where I had written the beginning of Eve’s story from her point of view. I don’t know why I started writing that, but that day I said, “I have this!” And they bought it. It eventually became the prologue to Havah, my first biblical novel.

Mesu: What made you choose this particular biblical character/story/time period?

IscariotTosca: The idea for Iscariot was suggested to me by my first editor, Jeff Gerke. I immediately rejected it. Judas? Too much work. Too controversial. Too unlikable and unsympathetic. Except the idea haunted me. It seemed like a challenge that would probably kill me, but I’ve always been one to commit first and then figure out how to make good. Without that, I’m not sure I’d have the impetus to actually try anything.

Mesu: Who is your favorite character in the story and why?

Tosca: I love the character of Judas because he’s the Everyman. Halfway through the book, I realized I was no longer writing his story, but my own. He is me. But I also loved sitting down in his skin at the side of this enigmatic carpenter and miracle worker, this unconventional, even offensive teacher named Jesus and seeing him with my own eyes, hearing him with my own ears. Having him put his arms around me when he embraced Judas. I dreaded the look in his eyes when he realized he had been handed over, when he was standing before the gathered Sanhedrin. But I wanted to see that look, to see what love was in it, selfishly, for me. {Mesu: Oh, my! Chills!}

Mesu: What are some of the truths you hope readers will take away from this book?

Tosca: You know, every reader comes to a book with their own experiences and life situations. And so I just hope they take away whatever will speak to them today, where they are now.

Author’s Choice Questions:

In the following section, I give the author 25 questions and these instructions:

Read over all the questions quickly, marking only the ones that immediately strike you as “gotta answer!” Then go back and enjoy writing them.

Mesu: What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?

Tosca: I love to travel. I just love to get out of town—sometimes, if it’s been a while, I HAVE to get out of town. With my laptop, or without it (though usually I take it with me). I often travel when I’m not buckled down on a project.

Mesu: What movie (or book) affected you most when you were young?

Tosca: Clan of the Cave Bear. Wow, what a trip. What research. What an image of what life in prehistoric times might have been. Also, The Mists of Avalon. Those medieval characters were so imperfectly human.

Mesu: Where are you right now (LVR, DR, Bathroom) and what are you wearing? You have to tell the truth.

Tosca: Haha—I’m in my office, sitting Indian style on my ergonomic chair and my shoulder blades are killing me because after spending all this money on a great chair, I never sit right in it. I’m wearing grey sweatpants and a Tufts Med School (where my sister teaches) t-shirt in another grey that totally clashes. I can’t be bothered to wear makeup.

Mesu: What is your favorite season of the year? Why?

Tosca: Spring! After the short days, during which I always seem to go into a funk, the lengthening hours of sunlight are so full of the promise of sanity.

Mesu: Please tell us five random things we might not know about you.

Tosca: I used to be a classical pianist and ballerina, am compulsive about keeping my kitchen counters clean, am a crack shot with a deer rifle, hate to wash my hair and unabashedly love McDonald’s Filet o’Fish sandwiches.

Mesu: Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Tosca: I’m in every one of them. For sure.

Mesu: How do you organize your writing day? How many hours per day writing? Use a word count to determine when to stop? Just write until you drop?

Tosca: Organization? I do not understand this word. When I write, I write as much as I can in each day. It might be 500 words. It might be 13,000. Some days it’s a struggle to sit in the chair. Some days my whole body hurts from sitting there too long. Some days I give up and go watch whatever is on my DVR. Other days 16 hours have gone by and I realize I was hungry 8 hours ago.

Mesu: Has being an author been everything you thought it would be? If not, what has surprised you the most?

Tosca: You know, there are days when I’m talking to a friend and say, “My agents just got out of their meeting with Simon & Schuster…” and I stop and think, “Wow. This is my life.” I dreamed of the day I’d be able to say something like that. Of the day that “bestseller” would be attached to my name. But you know, I’m still the girl with the dirty hair eating Cheetos at my desk wondering if what I’m writing is any good and how I’m going to get the “book weight” of my last project off my butt. So I guess the surprise is that the dream is true, but that it’s still life as normal.

Thank you, Tosca, for your fun AND thoughtful answers!

ShebaAnd look what I found while searching Google Images…Tosca’s new release, due out September 2014! Can’t wait!!!

Today’s Question:

  • Does anyone have a question or comment for Tosca?


Comments 5

  1. Thank you for your insightful interview with Tosca Lee. I thouroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading Iscariot. I especially enjoyed your question: What made you choose this particular biblical character/story/time period? And of course I was surprised and intrigued with her answer.

    1. Post

      Thanks for perusing my website, Marcia. This was a fascinating book, the message staying with me long after I turned the final page. I’ll read this one again and again. 😉

  2. Pingback: Flaws in Biblical Good Guys & Good in Biblical Bads - Mesu Andrews

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