Interview with Tosca Lee

Iscariot is coming

[The following is a dramatization of an event that never took place. Just enjoy!]

I had just received word that I had been invited to a small gathering of fans to ask Tosca Lee some questions about her newest book Iscariot. Meeting in an undisclosed location we all talked nervously on the ride to the meet. The windows were blacked out so that no one could tell the route. When we arrived the guard asked each of us if we were prepared. I took out my recorder and at first didn’t understand why I received a frown and a threatening move. Suddenly I remembered and pulled my coat away to reveal a pound of bacon: the entry fee. I was allowed to enter

We gathered in the room and were reminded of Ms. Lee’s previous works: Demon: a Memoir; Havah: The Story of Eve; Forbidden, Mortal and Sovereign all written with Ted Dekker. Her numerous awards were subtly displayed in the background, almost as an afterthought. We looked around, trying to decide where we would sit or stand. Suddenly she came in and every eye turned as she entered the room. She sat down at the table, gesturing that we should join her and opened the floor for questions.

Q. What was the hardest part of the creation of Iscariot?

A. The first hardest part was deciding to do it, because my initial reaction to Jeff Gerke (who had acquired and published Demon and Havah) and who had suggested I write about Judas was “NO WAY.” The second hardest was doing all the research. I had a lot to learn.

Q. Did you learn anything unexpected while writing it?

A.  I learned more unexpected things than I have room for here, from the context of the stories we know so well to nuances of the parables formerly lost on me. But the over-arching thing was the context of oppression under Rome. The fact that other would-be Messiahs had risen up in the past, only to be violently put down. You could not safely make a bid at Messiah-ship without risking life and limb, and the freedoms (including religious freedom) Israel already had under Rome. In Jesus’ case, it became far safer to silence him than to risk retaliation.

Q. How have people in your church reacted to you penning this book?

A. With wide-eyed looks, questions of “why?” and “Wow. That sounds fascinating.” Not everyone wants to see a humanized Judas. But for me, I found looking at Jesus through Judas’ eyes–and the eyes of the first Century Jewish Everyman–a way to understand Jesus far better. And the story is ultimately about Jesus.

Q. How did your opinion of Judas change after writing the novel?

A Through the writing of the novel, Judas went from being an intriguing infamous character to a lens on the first Century Jewish Everyman… to an Everyman I identified with closely. I was writing my story, ultimately–a story about the tension between love and grace, and our expectations of a God that cannot be controlled. And so the central question became for me: would I have done the same? And the answer is I can’t say that, in the situation, I wouldn’t have.

Q. How can you relate our experience as disciples to Judas’?

A I think it was Barth who said that all the disciples failed, really. Judas’ was just the most spectacular failure. I don’t think we always understand or expect what God means for us or what God is doing at the time, and we forget that it’s usually something bigger than we could imagine.

She paused for a second as if in thought, then said:

I should add, too, that Jesus talked a great deal about how to live, and how to live included a lot of mercy and love. I think we, like the 12 disciples, can get very caught up in the intricacies of faith, in seeking answers, but the biggest answers always seem to boil down to being filled with love and mercy.

Ok, it didn’t EXACTLY happen that way. What really happened is that she has a group on the internet that she gave the opportunity to ask questions. These are questions and answers from that group. If I did get to meet her, I’m thinking I would bring some bacon, though. Iscariot releases on February 5, 2013 and can be pre-ordered at Amazon. I can guarantee that you’ll find the story intriguing. Oh, and there’s an great video/trailer for the book here

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