Tosca Lee, on her new book, Iscariot.

Confession time:
When I was younger,  I’d occasionally imagine getting to ‘interview’ the authors of my favorite books.  How cool it would be to sit down over coffee maybe, and ask them any question I could think of about the book. And of course, they’d answer, and then I’d be on cloud nine because I knew something about the book that no one else did.
How ridiculously cool would that be?!
Now, here I am 15 years later, and guess what?  Thanks to a sweet gesture by one of my favorite authors,  I’m blessed enough to have that opportunity. Only, minus the coffee, but substitute a stellar internet connection. (And for the record? Still think it’s the coolest thing in the world. )
Tosca Lee is an author that I’ve gotten interested in fairly recently, discovering her when Ted Dekker announced they were going to work together on the Books of Mortals trilogy.  (Which, so far  is amazing. Just saying. And I doubt the final book will be anything less than stellar..)
The first book I read anything about while looking her up,  was called Iscariot.
Which of course, did nothing but intrigue, and confuse me a little.  Iscariot?!  As in.…. Judas, Iscariot?
Yup. The one and only!
How intriguing.  I was drawn instantly. Loved the idea.. but I couldn’t help but be a little confused. Why would a Christian writer devote an entire book to Judas? He’s essentially the guy who killed Christ. I can’t imagine that being a subject most would want to dwell on for an entire book.  Regardless, I had to read it.  It sounded beyond interesting. Controversial, if nothing else.  And let’s face it, controversial, is always fun, right?
Unfortunately for me, the book wasn’t out yet.  According to her website and some notes on Facebook, it was already delayed, for one reason or the other.
Flash forward a few years , and here we are! Not only is there a concrete release date (February 5th!), but there are interviews all over the place, and a very thought-provoking trailer, which I’m more than  happy to share with you all.
  Crazy, huh?
The sheer fact alone, that she’s not painting Judas as this horrible, one-dimensional, evil character who betrayed Christ is fascinating.  It’s probably off-putting to some, as well.  I know a few of my Christian friends I’ve mentioned it to have seemed very wary. I can’t say that I blame them, it’s a bit of a radical idea. Especially in a largely conservative Christian mindset.
Lucky for me, I’m not easily scared away. 🙂  Reading interviews about the book made me even more fascinated with it.  How on earth was she going to do this? How do you take arguably the most hated person in the bible, base an entire book around them, NOT make them an evil character, and not alienate readers?? (Or, publishers, for that matter!)
So, when Tosca offered the opportunity to do interviews with different blogs, I jumped on it.  It didn’t matter that I’m not a “blogger.”  I don’t have a popular blog, or get a ton of traffic, or have followers who hang on my every word….
But I had to.  I can’t help it. There’s something about this book that just draws me in. I don’t know if it’s strictly the fact that it’s so controversial… I don’t know if maybe I’m relating with the main character a bit too much,  or if it’s just my wanting to see the author do well.  I couldn’t tell you why..  But I’m here, and will be morbidly fascinated with the book until I’m able to read it.  (And after that, I’ll be a lost cause.  I’m apologizing in advance, you poor things will probably hear all about it.)
Sadly, I wasn’t one of the lucky few to have read the book in advance, it’s safely pre-ordered, and will be in my clutches the first week of February. Until then, here is what Tosca had to share with me about the book.

On Iscariot,did any one person’s reaction surprise you? 

One of the reactions was a review I read on Goodreads, where someone wrote that if you don’t understand Judas in context (I assume, meaning the Jewish Everyman of the time and the paradox, danger and questions all 12 disciples must have struggled with in following Jesus) that you don’t fully understand Jesus in context. And I thought that was very succinctly said. Because our reactions to Jesus as modern Americans (or modern any nationality) looking back 2000 years through the lens of church history is vastly different than the perspective on the ground at the time.

As an author, what are you wanting people to take away from Iscariot? There’s obviously the overarching concept of, “Would I really have done any different?” But, what would thrill you to hear from someone at one of your book tour stops this year?

I am thrilled every time a reader writes or says to me, “I understand Jesus so much better now! I understand the context of what he was saying in a way I didn’t before.” Because ultimately, this book is really a story about Jesus. Judas is simply acting as the lens.

 Iscariot is a look at Judas’ life, but in the end, it’s a fictional account. Not that any of us can actually know the answer in this life, but, in your opinion, do you think the book is close to being historically accurate? Or, is it more of a ‘what if’ story?

It was very important to me to get the historical setting and context as accurate as possible. I spent a year and a half doing diligence on that–which informed the plausibility of character actions  and motivations for me. Ultimately, what a character like Judas might have thought and what would have motivated him is conjecture, but it was very important to me to make sure they were plausible in context. And it’s the context that is mostly lost on us as modern, free readers today.

Between Demon , Iscariot, and the Books of Mortals, you’ve written plenty of villain-esque characters. Which are more fun to write: Heroes or villains?

Villains who are heroic… and heroes with a dark side. 🙂

If you could talk face to face with Judas, what would you ask him?

I’d love to hear from him in his own words why he did it.

And finally…more of a bonus question. Inquiring minds really must know. Is there any bacon concoction you’ve discovered so far, that you haven’t been excited to try? 🙂

Yes! Bacon ice cream. I mean, ewww??!
Tosca Lee is a New York Times Bestselling author.  She can be found on Facebook and at her own corner of the web.  (Interesting fact for anyone who teaches school, or Sunday school – there are discussion guides for both of her solo books on her website!)
What do you think? Will you be reading Iscariot when it comes out?   Why, or why not?

4 thoughts on “Tosca Lee, on her new book, Iscariot.

  1. Dale C. says:

    I can’t wait to read Iscariot! Thanks for posting this fascinating look into the mind of Tosca!

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