Michal by Jill Eileen Smith
Kim Ford 

Author Interview

Kim Ford Interviews Our Featured Cover Author
- Tosca Lee

There is a mystery that happens between what you lay
down and what the reader—or the viewer, or the listener—
picks up. There is something vital that happens in
translation and that is God.
Tosca Lee

Tosca LeeTosca Lee relentlessly pursues ephemeral ideas as a means of presenting eternal truths to others who find life and faith irresistibly fascinating. Her pursuit of answers has led her to produce two award-winning titles: Demon: A Memoir and Havah. Exploring the Bible is something Tosca Lee encourages her readers to do, and it is her hope that through her writing others will seek truth as well.

Tosca Lee serves as a management consultant for The Gallup Organization. She enjoys shaping executives as certainly as she enjoys her writing. These two talents merge yet again when Tosca accepts modeling jobs—another venue for creating an unforgettable image for her clients. For Tosca Lee, creativity is in her spiritual DNA. After all, as she says, “. . . we were created in the image of the most creative being in the universe!”

Kim: Musician, model, international business consultant, writer—Tosca Lee is a woman of many talents. When you meet someone new and they ask you what you do for a living, what do you tell them? How do you define Tosca Lee?

Tosca: I often tell them I’m a fiction writer, because storytelling informs everything—art, music, and consulting, too. When I work with clients and want to help them understand certain talents, it’s the stories that bring it alive for them.

Kim: You stated in a recent interview: “In the end, we are the only ones who jointly own this thing we have done in conjunction with the creative hand of God. In the end, you are the one sitting alone, naked with The One. Like a prayer prayed out loud for the benefit of others, we are the ones who suffer the loss of that intimacy if we worry about sounding right to those around us.”

This is a very confident statement of faith to me—displaying confidence in the knowledge that you are writing as an act of worship to God. Considering that you write what some would term “biblical” fiction, how do you prepare yourself for the questions that are raised about your interpretation of biblical characters and events? Do you depend on your own interpretation of Scripture, or do you have a pastor or mentor who aides you in your understanding of biblical knowledge?

Tosca: I think creativity in general is a reflection of God; we were created in the image of the most creative being in the universe! It is in our spiritual DNA.

I invest a lot of time in research, in reading commentary, studying the work of academics and theologians alike. In the end, I am one human. I do the best I can. I worry over these things. I also ask a lot of questions that make sense to me.

With the Eve story, I wanted to know a lot of things that I would never have felt comfortable asking in Sunday school. Questions like: Were Adam and Eve faithful? How did they know to avoid death if they had never seen it before? Why would God not prefer Cain’s sacrifice? What was the mark of Cain? And holy cow, how does a couple stay married for some nine hundred years? I had one pastor say to me, “Tosca, no one has ever asked me questions like this.” But maybe that’s the greatest part about doing this, asking those things.

Kim: Do you think there is a line in the sand, as it were, that you must not cross between scriptural accuracy and fictional interpretation (i.e. filling in the “blanks” of the Bible?) Have you had readers criticize you for this?

Tosca: I don’t want to write anything that disagrees with the theology of what I’m writing if I’m writing biblical fiction. It has to go together. It has to be cohesive. Logic and life as it might have been and human nature and the bones of what we know have to all coincide somehow. So my objective is not to take the theology somewhere it was not supposed to go, but to fill in the rest of the picture.

DemonWe’re given the important points. We know the things we need to know. But curiosity being what it is, I like to know what the rest might have looked like. What did Judas feel the moment he kissed Jesus? What did the angels who fell with Lucifer think about that whole event afterward? What did Eve really make of a talking serpent? These are three-dimensional beings! It is never as flat and as simple as we think it is, never.

Kim: Of your two published works so far, which has elicited the strongest reader response? Why? Which one touches you most deeply as the author?

Tosca: You know, they have both elicited strong responses for different reasons. Demon because it raises questions and paints the story of grace in an unexpected light. What does it really mean to be saved by grace? Seriously, we throw these words around, but what does that look like? That’s what I want to know. And I think that question resonates with people.

Havah because human nature strikes the same chord regardless of time. People can read that book and find their own lives and parenthood and married relationships there. A lot of my own experience is there as well. We are very similar after all.

Kim: You recently contracted to write for B&H publishing. Will you continue to write the same type of biblically based books (you mentioned that Judas Iscariot was an upcoming book topic)? Or will you be able to branch out and try different things?

Tosca: B&H and my editor at B&H, the dynamic Karen Ball, are very open to new ideas. The first of the three new books with them, as you said, is the first-person account of Judas. After

that, I’d like to do some exploring. My interest to date has been less in biblical fiction, per se, and more in thematic fiction—the theme being that we are all Clay, are all Eve, and are all Judas...that we all have sinned, that we all have betrayed God, and that we all have a choice.

Kim: Do you begin working with ideas for upcoming books while still in the midst of a work-in-progress, or do you wait for one idea to leave your mind before tackling another?

Tosca: Ideas, for me, seem to present themselves in their own time and in their own way. Demon came upon me while I was working on a different novel. Havah came some time after (Demon wasn’t even remotely published then), and I shoved in a drawer the page that would later become Havah’s prologue. Iscariot was the suggestion of my first acquiring editor, Jeff Gerke—an idea I ran away from for about six months.

Kim: When is inspiration most likely to strike?

Tosca: Driving! On the plane. Traveling is wonderful for that. Anything that takes you out of your paradigm is likely to strike something new in you.

Kim: Your current “day job” requires a lot of travel. How do you work your writing into this type of schedule? Do your characters ever interfere with your concentration during “working” hours? Or are you able to keep the two separate?

Tosca: The two are never wholly separate for me. I work on writing when I’m on the road for consulting. I consult in between laying down thousands of words on a writing day. I may set writing aside for days while I work at my consulting job and then write for several days in a lull during my consulting job. There is no routine, there is no schedule. I do what I can, when I can—or when I must.

Kim: What is your favorite task in your consulting work? Do you ever uncover inspiration for your writing among the people you meet as you work and travel around the globe?

Tosca: I like talking to groups. I like uniting them around a vision. And really, that’s what writing does, too. So whether it’s spoken or written—the advantage to doing it in written form is that you can edit—I like touching a chord with people and making them think or ponder or feel something.

I have met the most amazing people around the globe—fromHavah India to Thailand to Detroit to Italy to LA. People are amazing. And yet we are all the same.

Kim: Can you share a bit about your own faith journey? When did you come to Christ? Where is your church home? Do you consider your writing as ministry?

Tosca: I’ve been a Christian since I was eleven, but there are things that I am only recently starting to truly grasp. Grace, for one. I’m still getting my brain around that.

My church home can vary and that is difficult, since I am so often traveling, but I am most at home with non-denominational churches.

I consider writing a reflection of the person, of what a person is struggling with, going through, the questions a person is trying to answer. Those questions may have to do directly with faith . . . they may not. But in a way, every question is one of faith.

Kim: You spoke in one interview about undergoing spiritual attack during your writing journey. Do you still contend with that in your writing? Do you feel like the enemy is trying to silence truth? How do you deal with this as you write without it affecting your work?

Tosca: I deal with fear on a consistent basis. That is probably my greatest challenge. I deal constantly with the sense of never measuring up enough. Of never having done enough. And perhaps that’s why the idea of grace is tough for me because it removes performance orientation from the equation. You cannot do enough. That is the point.

I am an obsessive perfectionist. That is at times a great help. It is at times a great curse. Thank God that in life, none of it ultimately matters. Thank God.

Kim: What do you want your readers to take away from your writing? What do you want your writing to give back to you?

Tosca: I want people to think. I want them to journey with me through questions they might not have thought before. I want them to be authentic. I want them to see themselves.

I never really considered what I wanted writing to give back to me. I wanted to write. I could not help but write. When readers write to me and thank me, I feel blessed, humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude.

Kim: Closing words of encouragement or inspiration you’d like to share with your readers?

Tosca: I was doing pottery once in Cancun, and when I finished painting a particular piece, there was this guy who took what I had painted and basically finished it for me. He added some touches and glazed and fired it. And when he did that, the thing I had done became, suddenly, something more.

Art is like that, I think. Because God is like that. A mystery happens between what you lay down and what the reader—or the viewer, or the listener—picks up. There is something vital that happens in translation and that is God.

Kim Ford has been a resident of Alabama for more than ten years. Originally from Georgia, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Brenau Women’s College. She has spent the past 9 years in sales and marketing and has been an avid reader of Christian Fiction for more than 20 years. A mother of two teen sons and married to a technical writer and Army veteran, Kim’s life is full and blessed. She and her husband also volunteer as teachers for a resident rehab program for women with life-controlling issues. She uses her fiction to encourage the ladies she teaches. She blogs at: Window To My World