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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Taking the Pressure Off: An Interview with Tosca Lee

Tosca Lee is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of multiple Christian thrillers and co-author of the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker. In addition, she may soon have one of her works turned into a TV series. So let’s move on to learn more about why and how she writes.

What made you decide to write suspense thrillers? 
As an author, it’s so fun to pull readers to the edges of their seats. We all remember times we’ve said, “Just one more chapter…” and then suddenly it’s the wee hours (or dawn) and we’ve read far longer than we intended. I love those times—and giving the same kind of excuse to read far too long or late to my readers! 

How much time do you spend researching your stories? 
For the research, it really depends on the book. I’ve spent months and months researching some of my novels, including trips to the locations (as for Iscariot and The Progeny/Firstborn, my most recent duology). 

Have you ever found something especially surprising in doing research?
And I think one of the biggest surprises that happened during my research was for The Progeny when I learned I was distantly related to Elizabeth Bathory--the most prolific female serial killer of all time. Aieee!  

You’ve done multiple books with Ted Dekker. What is that process like?
Each book was different, with the first one taking the longest and the last one taking a very short amount of time (just a few months). Sometimes I wrote the first draft of a chunk of the story. Sometimes we switched off chapters, or characters, or wrote most of a section except the parts we didn’t feel like writing or felt the other person would be stronger at.

I know many authors who have co-authored with others, and it seems that every partnership is different. The most important part of writing in partnership (or any partnership) is knowing your strengths and what you’re each bringing to the table.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
All of it. Just getting that first draft out. It’s such a messy process! Yes, there are occasional moments, pages, or scenes where everything just flows so nicely. But those are definitely the exceptions. Once I get that first draft out and have something to work with, I feel a lot better.

What does your editor remind you to do most often?
I’ve had several different editors in the last few years, though I have one editor friend I always enlist to read my work before I turn it in. He knows my tics so well at this point that I’ve begun to search them out before he sees it. But in general, I’ve learned a great deal about deleting unnecessary stuff. 

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
Letters from readers. Awards are great. Hitting lists is great. But the connection with readers is everything. 

We have all experienced rejection. How have you learned to write past it?
My #1 Rule of Writing: Write like no one will ever read this. Because it completely takes the pressure off.

What has surprised you the most in writing/publishing? What frustrated you the most? 
Getting to do this for a living surprises, delights, and humbles me every day. Probably the most frustrating part is just the business side of things—the publishing business is constantly in flux, and many things are outside of your control as an author. 

What is some of the best writing advice that you’ve received or could give?
My best advice for writers is to simply finish the work. Don’t keep fixing the beginning, don't worrying about how to market it, get an agent or an editor, or self-publish it until you are done. Finish the book. When you have and while you’re busy trying to publish that first one, write the next.

Are there any other points about writing that you would like to add?
Surround yourself with a cadre of writing friends. Enlist a mentor. Have fun. :) 

What is the next book that will be coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
I’m actually working on a book for writers designed to help them power through fear and finish their projects! I’m hoping to have that out this summer. (So please be sure to sign up for my newsletter for upcoming news on that.)

My next thriller is called The Line Between and is coming out this winter. Synopsis from Goodreads (where I just noticed it’s already up!): 

In this frighteningly believable thriller from New York Times bestselling author, Tosca Lee, an extinct disease re-emerges from the melting Alaskan permafrost to cause madness in its victims. For recent apocalyptic cult escapee, Wynter Roth, it’s the end she’d always been told was coming. 

That’s all for today’s interview. If you’d like to read Tosca’s books and learn about future ones, you can start with her website: You’ll find all kinds of posts about her books and tips on writing, as well as sign up for book updates and her writing newsletter. 

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