Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of ten novels including The Line Between, The Progeny and Firstborn (all in development for television), Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, and the Books of Mortals trilogy with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker. A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, playing video games with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband.
You can find Tosca hanging around the snack table or wherever bacon is served.
Tosca, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Your journey as an author is remarkable, from the success of your House of Bathory duology to your latest release, The Line Between. Can you pinpoint the key decisions, moments, or individuals that have guided you on this extraordinary path? Have you reached the pinnacle or have you already identified greater mountains to climb?
Thank you so much. And this is a great question—one I don’t think I’ve been asked before. Looking back, it’s weird how so many things come together to contribute to any path, including things that don’t seem related. I’d have to say THE key decision is simply to try again… over and over. That moment has to be replicated thousands—hundreds of thousands—of times. Beyond that, writing the Books of Mortals with Dekker was a game changer, and I’ve also been very fortunate to meet and make wonderful author friends. As far as new mountains, I’m always trying to outdo myself.
It has been said by readers that your speculative fiction is often religiously-themed and controversial. If you could, please give us a glimpse into your perspective. What has inspired you to test the standard and challenge the worldview of readers?
It’s what I find most interesting about writing the stories of biblical characters we think we know so well. We’ve all heard about Adam and Eve or Judas Iscariot, but our knowledge is very two-dimensional. It’s part of my job to look beyond convention and flesh those characters into three-dimensions with lesser-known details or angles most people wouldn’t think of. For instance, Judas Iscariot was a kid once. But we never think of that. He also had an entire set of circumstances that led him to make the decision that would define his life. It’s my job to explore what those might have been.
I am eager to talk about The Line Between but, first, we must discuss The Progeny and Firstborn, the two books in the House of Bathory duology. Countess Elizabeth Bathory de Ecsed happens to be my favorite historical person. I am intrigued to know how you have incorporated her fascinating tale into your story and what compelled you to write this collection of books?
You are the first person I’ve known who not only knows who she is, but for whom she is a favorite! I’d heard of her but it was a fan who suggested I write a story about her. I wanted to do something contemporary, however, so instead of doing another historical, she became the mythology behind a race of characters based on her descendants. It was super fun to visit a couple of her castles, including the one she was walled up and died inside. In fact, you can see all the real images from my research trip and the story on my Pinterest board here: https://www.pinterest.com/toscalee/real-life-progeny/
The Line Between was released on January 29, 2019, but the buzz surrounding the novel started way beforehand. Admittedly, you have the right elements to make this an unforgettable work of fiction. Let me bite my tongue for a moment, so you can tell us about the story and the main characters.
In The Line Between an extinct disease has reemerged from the melting Alaskan permafrost to cause madness in its victims. There is no cure, it is always fatal, and now it’s spreading. For 22-year-old cult escapee Wynter Roth, it’s a terrible time to start over.
As Wynter struggles in a world she’s been taught to regard as evil, she finds herself face-to-face with the apocalypse she’s feared all her life—until the night her sister shows up at her doorstep with a set of medical samples. That night, Wynter learns there’s something far more sinister at play and that these samples are key to understanding the disease.
Now, as the power grid fails and the nation descends into chaos, Wynter must find a way to get the samples to a lab in Colorado. Uncertain who to trust, she takes up with former military man Chase Miller, who has his own reasons for wanting to get close to the samples in her possession, and to Wynter herself.
Duh duh duh…
Inside The Line Between, you include information about cult culture, apocalyptic themes, spiritual growth, the impact of dementia, and biological diseases. What type of research went into creating its framework to keep The Line Between believable?
Cults, for sure, as well as recent headlines about the melting permafrost, zoonotic and prion diseases (which are very scary) and the ramifications of prion disease in hospitals and outdoor environments. I recruited my sister, who teaches medical school, to create a custom disease for the story. I also might have stalked the microbiology building on the Colorado State campus.
The news of Edward Burns and Radar developing The Line Between for television was announced in recent weeks. What can you tell us about this development? Any idea on when we might see the TV adaptation?
This is relatively new, so there’s a lot of things that need to happen yet: attachments, pitches… more pitches. Hopefully, we’ll know more in months to come!
What can we expect from you in 2019?
A Single Light, the sequel to The Line Between, comes out in September. I turn 50 in December. It’s going to be a big year.
It has been a pleasure, Tosca! Please tell us where fans can find you online or in the upcoming year at events.
Thank you, Joshua! You can find me at toscalee.com, where I also have a calendar that gets updated as I add new events. Right now I’m planning to be at Phoenix ComiCon, Omaha ComiCon, Thrillerfest, Bouchercon, and others.