Tuesday, September 25, 2007

An Interview with Tosca Lee

Here’s a book I’m totally pumped about. Tosca Lee’s debut novel, Demon: A Memior is a dynamic read. The premise is unique and her characters have a depth of emotion I don’t see often. If you haven’t read this book, do so. This is one you don’t want to miss. *(Read to the end for a chance to win a copy of this fabo book!)

I had the pleasure of meeting this amazing author Saturday at the ACFW booksigning in Dallas. Such a pleasure to meet her in person. And it’s my great pleasure to welcome Tosca Lee here today to talk about her fabulous new book.

Tosca, tell us how you “birthed” this incredible premise of a demon telling his story to an editor?

Thank you, Dineen!

I’d like to say it was some profound, fecund process, but I birthed it by accident. There. Now you know.

I was part of a collaborative writing group online and was trying to come up with a new and original character, and thought it might be fun to take a stab at an angel—better yet, a fallen angel. But what would a fallen angel do? Tempt people to smoke, or skip exercise, or gossip? And why? It was way too petty and therefore unbelievable. Ever notice how so many of our images of demons are comic book-y? I didn’t want a comic book-ish demon.

So I started to wonder what it must be like to be damned. To know you were damned for a failing moment. Worse yet, to see your would-be inheritance—an unending future with God—given away to another race of mortal, base, clay people. And that’s how Lucian was born.

I wrote a novelette that was essentially a monologue in about three months after that.

Can you share some about how your story was first received when you starting submitting?

Editors liked the idea and the writing, but the monologue format was troublesome. Editors wanted something more traditional—with dialogue. I was willing to change it, but couldn’t think of how to re-package it. It was only when Jeff Gerke, newly transitioned to NavPress, suggested that Lucian tell his story to another character that it came together. I rewrote the first 30 pages like that and Nav picked it up in a three-book deal.

Which scared the crap out of me. I cried on the phone with my agent, Joyce Hart, and then practically barfed.

In his many human personas, the demon Lucian conveys regret, hatred, and envy. Was he a difficult character to write?

Honestly, not really. I tried to think of how I would feel if I were doomed with no hope—especially if I saw my only hope offered to a race that I considered infinitely inferior. He was sad, tragic, and, in the end, intriguing to write.

Lucian’s perspective of the fall and the creation of man is passionate and fascinating. The beginning especially intrigued me when he explains to Clay that techinically, “hell” doesn’t exist yet. Can you embellish a bit more on that?

The Bible talks about Hades (“Sheol”) as a sort of temporary place for those awaiting judgment, but permanent hell does not seem to occur until the lake of fire, after the thousand-year Millennium (Revelation 20:14).

Also significant: Revelation 20: 1-3 talks about hell as the place of Satan’s future incarceration. So this would suggest that the only time of Satan’s direct influence upon humans is while they’re living (after which they pass to judgment). This is an important point because it disproves the idea of Satan presiding over the dead unsaved. By the time Satan is condemned to the abyss for a thousand years and then to the lake of fire after that, the Bible says that he will be tormented there—but not that he will be the one doing the tormenting (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).

If we take our cues from Job and Revelations 12, then we could even infer that Satan still has access to the third heaven and the throne room of God, (but will lose it at a future date).

Okay, I gotta ask. Is Clay’s name meant to have a double meaning, as in God created Adam from the dirt and “formed” him? (You gotta love that!)

Yup! But you’ll notice that I never describe Clay, physically. Originally, I never named my human narrator, and never gave the narrative voice a gender. But friend and writing teacher Dan Mueller encouraged me to make him more specific. Clay’s backstory emerged after that.

Judging by your bio, you wear many hats. Was writing a novel always your intention?
Oh, it was always my hope. I have written professionally for years, but have always wanted to write (and publish) fiction. And let me tell you: it’s tough! (But it’s worth it.) I look at writers like Ted Dekker or Eric Wilson (who has an exciting new vampire series emerging beneath his pen), and wonder how they come up with so many ideas, how they keep writing so many books. It makes me hate them a little bit.

Just kidding.

Kind of.

I recently had the pleasure of reading the beginning of your next novel, Havah, the Story of Eve. I can’t wait to read it, too. Can you give us a sneak peak to the storyline?

I’ve been wondering why an incredibly intelligent woman (assuming she was created using 100% of her brain, as opposed to our—what—5%?) would choose to do something she had been warned not to do. And I come to the same conclusion that I came to about the fallen angels: there must be more to it. She’s had a bad rap throughout history, that girl, and I’m convinced there’s so much more there. And I hope you enjoy exploring with me.

Tosca, thank you so much for sharing with us!

*The first person to tell me what breed Tosca's dog Attila is will win a copy of her book!


Cherie J said...

Great interview! Her dog is a Shar Pei.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

I enjoyed meeting Tosca at the conference. She signed my copy of Demon at the book signing.

I already can't wait to read it and this interview just made me want to even more.

Hey Tosca, don't tell the other authors in my "to read" stack, but I just put Demon on top.

BTW, I love the name Tosca.

Lynn Donovan said...

Oh my gosh,

This is awesome. I have to get this book. Enter me into the contest if it is not too late. Facinating. Great interview. Great story. Can't wait.