Please give a big welcome to TOSCA LEE.
rem: First things first—you were recently married. Give us the scoop! How did you meet? How long have you know him? How long did you date? Details please!
TOSCA: I saw him across a crowded room… for real! I was out with friends, thought to myself, “That is the most handsome man I’ve ever seen,” and finagled a way to meet him. Best thing I’ve ever done. We dated a year and a half and he proposed at my Barnes & Noble booksigning for The Legend of Sheba! I wrote my latest novel, Firstborn (the sequel to The Progeny which comes out May 24) while planning a wedding, getting married, going on our honeymoon and becoming a new mom to four!
rem: Comm c’est romantique! Tell us about suddenly becoming a mom! How are you adjusting / adapting? How old are they?
TOSCA: Welcome to motherhood! I am dropping balls everywhere! LOL I seem to forget things every day, but I am having fun and feeling blessed every hour. That said, it’s definitely a change of pace for this formerly single gal to have five new people in her life! I had mad respect for moms before, but now I totally don’t know how they do it. The kids are 21—daughter, and three boys: 15 and 11 year-old twins. 🙂 We play a lot of football and video games and I cook a lot.
rem: How well I remember all the cooking! (mine are grown now) And now, the regular stuff. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
TOSCA: I was born in Virginia where my dad (originally from Seoul, Korea) taught at Virginia Tech., and then we moved back to Nebraska when I was 6. I say “back to Nebraska” because my mom is a native Nebraskan. So I grew up in Nebraska, went to college in Massachusetts (at Smith) and then came back. I didn’t realize until much later how progressive our small family was at the time; when my parents initially tried to apply for a marriage license in 1968 in Athens, GA, they were denied because they were a mixed race couple.
rem: Oh, that’s awful! Tell us three things about yourself.
TOSCA: I love bacon. I text silly stuff to my husband when he’s sleeping. My kids crack me up.
rem: I love bacon too, and my also crack me up. And when I have a husband to text silly stuff to, you better believe I will! If you could have any super power what would it be?
TOSCA: Mind control. Or flying. I’m torn.
rem: I’m on board with flying, I like flying. Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?
TOSCA: Coffee. With almond or coconut milk and a little almond flavor.
rem: Gonna have to try some almond now. (I drink hazelnut) Superman or Batman?
TOSCA: Batman. My husband thinks he’s Batman.
rem: Ya, you kinda got no option on that one! What is your greatest fear?
TOSCA: Of not being good enough.
rem: Can I ever relate to that! That was the story of my life! What is your greatest regret?
TOSCA: Not meeting my husband and kids earlier.
rem: Awww. Mushy, mushy. What is your favourite quotation and why?
TOSCA: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I love this quote because of so many things. Read it and see what speaks to you.
rem: One of my favorites as well. Speaks deeply and profoundly to me, and helped me really embrace my purpose. What do you do as a hobby?
TOSCA: Kid stuff. Football. Trap shooting. Ballet (I used to be a classical ballerina). Pilates. Watch TV. Is sleep a hobby?
rem: I can totally see you as a ballerina! (and yes, sleep is a hobby!) What do you most value in a friend? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?
TOSCA: Loyalty, truthfulness, trust.
rem: Yes, yes, and yes. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?
TOSCA: Bad prose kills it for me.
rem: I’ve put one or two down recently for that reason… Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?
TOSCA: The Mists of Avalon.
rem: Love that story! Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?
TOSCA: Dude, I have a lot of author friends. Are you trying to get me killed?
rem: Just say me and we’re good! LOL Which is more important: plot or characters?
TOSCA: Characters. In bad situations.
rem: What would you do if you weren’t writing?
TOSCA: Organizing closets. Seriously, I’m really good at it.
rem: um, help? Tell us a little about your writing journey.
TOSCA: I never thought I’d be a writer! I meant to be a news anchor for reasons lost on me—after I meant to be a ballerina but tore a groin. But I’d always been good at writing and one summer after my freshman year while I was talking about why I loved great books (because they take you on a roller coaster ride) my dad said he’d pay me what I would have made as a bank teller (which is what I was going to do ) if I’d spend the summer writing my first novel. Deal!
rem: Nice! (and sorry about the groin injury) What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
TOSCA: I write in the attic at the farm, and in my office at our other house. But I like the farm best because my husband and kids are around. I go to the office when I really have to be a hermit, for just a few days until I can’t stand it anymore.
rem: What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?
TOSCA: This is a hard question. I struggle with my OCD. It’s easy to let out when I’m on edits, but very hard to cage up during first drafts. I don’t like messy and first drafts are messy.
rem: Ruh oh, I’m in trouble—I edit as I go! (topic of tomorrow’s post in fact) Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
TOSCA: Editing, for sure. That’s when I get to pick at stuff.
rem: See previous comment—my OCD. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
TOSCA: Being with readers. Hearing their stories and what’s important to them. That matters way more than anything I have to say.
rem: It’s why we do what we do, “write?” What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
TOSCA: Learning that you just can’t please everyone. The easiest—daydreaming about the next story. Because when you’re in the early stages, it’s perfect. Until you get in there and start digging away at it.
rem: What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer?
TOSCA: Keep writing. Read a lot. Write like no one will ever read it (my #1 rule of writing).
rem: Your website says you’re known for “maligned characters.” What drew you to this kind of writing?
TOSCA: I just think they’re interesting. Most people only know the two-dimensional, short facts of a life story—and the truth is we like to villainize people. But there’s always more. I like the more.
rem: Characters are more real that way. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
TOSCA: From friends, from fans, and just from driving around on boring days.
rem: They’re everywhere, aren’t they? You have partnered with Ted Dekker on a series. How did that come about?
TOSCA: I wrote to him for an endorsement for the second edition of Demon and turned out, his team was already thinking of contacting me to co-author with him!
rem: How cool is that! Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
TOSCA: It’s really like trying to pick a favorite child. You’ve got the easy one, the trouble one, the one that cracks you up…
rem: I know right! Which character in the story is most like/least like you?
TOSCA: In the Progeny? Probably Audra. Since having four kids come into my life, I seriously struggle with remembering things!
rem: I think that’s called parental memory dysplasia… Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?
TOSCA: The Progeny, which releases May 24. It’s the story of a 21 year old girl named Audra who has erased the last two years of her memory and started over in the North Woods of Maine. Through a quick series of events, she comes to learn she’s being hunted as one of the descendants of the “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory—and now everything she erased is what she needs to survive.
rem: That is one maligned character! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?
TOSCA: You know, everyone takes something different away depending on what they brought to the story. But I hope they identify with the tenacity of the characters, and their drive to do their best, take the high road, and make the best decisions they can. Because that’s really all we can do.
rem: Tosca, that is so true. In every situation or circumstance. Thank you so much for chatting today. I hope you’ll come back again soon.
Tosca Lee is the multi award-winning, New York Times bestselling novelist of Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, and The Books of Mortals series (Forbidden, Mortal, Sovereign) with New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker. She is best known for her exploration of maligned characters, lyrical prose and meticulous research. Tosca received her B.A. in English and International Relations from Smith College and has also studied at Oxford University. A former first runner-up to Mrs. United States and lifelong world adventure-traveler, Tosca makes her home in the Midwest with her husband and children.
Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of ISCARIOT; THE LEGEND OF SHEBA; DEMON: A MEMOIR; HAVAH: THE STORY OF EVE; and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker (FORBIDDEN, MORTAL, SOVEREIGN). A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband.
Tosca Lee, Author Interview, The Progeny, Ismeni, Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, Ted Dekker, The Books of Mortals Series