I first heard about Tosca Lee and her book, Demon, when one of the women in the critique group that meets in my home told me I had to get her on my blog. So I contacted the literary PR company that is featuring her book. She was at the American Christian Fiction Writers national conference, but I didn't get to meet her. Being a wheelchair at that event limited my access to some places. I do, however, have a picture of her in my slide show of the conference on my other blog. Dawn Morton Nelson had my camera during the public book signing, and she got a picture with Tosca. I hope to meet her face to face at the next national conference. Until then, I have this interview with her.
My friends always say they can see a lot of me in my characters, which sort of freaks me out because, you know, one of my characters is a demon.
There are little bits and pieces of my characters that come from me or people in my life—observations, mannerisms, things they eat. A couple of Lucian’s guises are based on people in my life. My sister and I have a cameo in the story—did you see us?
I'll have to look for the two of you. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I entered a beauty pageant. I walked on a stage in a swimsuit and five-inch heels. And then I did it again.
I was in a beauty pageant when I was in college, so I understand. However, no five-inch heels. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I wrote an article on the death of my bulldog, Oliver, and it was published in a pet lover’s newsletter. I was in fourth grade.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love reading about interesting women characters. From Margaret George’s Cleopatra character to Anita Diamant’s Dinah. I love Anne Rice. I love quirky Anne Lamott. I blog a lot of my travels as a consultant and because I love the format, Anthony Bourdain’s books (A Cook’s Tour, Kitchen Confidential) are a lot of fun. Steven Pressfield. He’s brilliant. I saw the movie “300” twice in the first two days it was out because of having read his Gates of Fire.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
My first novel was about the Stonehenge people of Salisbury Plain, England. It’s buried in a closet somewhere. It’s so embarrassing. And then I wrote a couple computer books in the early 90s when I was still writing on the staff of PC Novice (now Smart Computing) magazine.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I go a lot by the way things sound—sentence rhythm, syntax, and name choice. A lot of times a character just sounds like that name to me. Whatever name comes to the tip of my tongue when I picture that person, that’s the name they get.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I worked very hard at my marriage. I can honestly say I gave it everything. And though I got divorced last year, I’m proud to say I don’t look at those 14 years as lost or wasted. And I’m proud now of all the work I’m doing to become a stronger and more independent woman.
Good for you! If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
You know, they asked me this when I ran for Mrs. Nebraska in 1996. I said, “a lizard.” I think the only reason I said that is that I had a pet lizard at the time.
The real answer is that if I believed in reincarnation, I’m pretty sure I was a monkey in a former life. A very Curious George kind of monkey.
What is your favorite food?
Buttered movie popcorn with extra buttery topping.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Because of my work schedule and procrastination skills, my writing days are long and hard—often 12-14 hours. When I was writing Demon, my back hurt so bad sometimes I cried. I was always hungry but didn’t have time to cook.
I took 10 weeks off this summer to work on Havah: The Story of Eve. And invested in a new office chair. Right now I’m looking into the services of one of those chefs that makes meals that you can heat up later.
When I'm on deadline, my husband knows we'll be eating a lot of the gourmet frozen meals available. What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Make yourself finish. Done is better than perfect.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
About Demon: that you won’t see the world the same afterward.
About Havah: you’ll see Eve in a whole new light. Check out a sample on my website.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Drop me a note! Let me know what you think about my books. (Unless you don’t like them.)
Tosca, I've only heard raves about Demon. It's near the top of my to-be-read pile. I wil be reviewing it when I'm finished. Thank you for spending this time with us.
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