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.
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!”
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?
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.
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
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?
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
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.
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?
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
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?
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?
Driving! On the plane. Traveling is wonderful for that. Anything that
takes you out of your paradigm is likely to strike something new in
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?
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
I have met the most amazing
people around the globe—from
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?
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
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.
words of encouragement or inspiration you’d like to share with your
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
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