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PRODUCT NEWS Books & Bibles Fiction File February 2013
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Written by Production   
Monday, 14 January 2013 03:13 PM EST

ToscaLee_CreditLeeSteffenASK THE AUTHOR: Tosca Lee

Latest project: Iscariot (February).

Publisher: Howard Books.

Why did you write Judas’ story?

The idea of writing Judas’ story was suggested to me by an editor friend, and my initial response was: “No way.” I knew how much work it would take. But the idea of it wouldn’t stop following me around. There I’d be, traveling, sitting in a restaurant, scribbling scenes between Judas and his mother on the paper tablecloth. I wanted to discover the story, to know if he was like me ... or I, like him, if I might have done the same. But more than anything, I wanted to sit down at the side of Jesus. To stand near Him as He taught, to see the look on His face as He worked His miracles, to rest my head on His shoulder. And that’s what finally got me.

What type of research did you do for this novel and how long did it take you to write?

I went to Israel. I compiled a library of over 100 resources and a small panel of experts I could call on with questions. The book took a year and a half to research and two more to write. I owe a big, big thank you to my readers, who were (mostly—OK, kind of) patient through this long wait. 

Did any of your research surprise you?

Very much. The historical stage that Jesus walked onto was far more violent, far more tense and unstable and oppressive than we can appreciate today. The teachings of Jesus, so familiar to us now, were radical enough then to make Him a dangerous man to be around. For some, even, to call Him a madman. It’s a very different view from Roman-occupied first-century Israel.

IscariotIn the book, why did you include events from Judas’ early life and the context of the harsh realities of Jewish life at that time?

I knew I had to set that stage, to show the harsh reality of life under Roman occupation and under Herod, the failed attempts by other would-be messiahs, and the swift consequences that came with their failures. The stakes were very high by the time Jesus started His ministry.

What is the heart of the story?

At the heart of this story is Jesus. This landless day laborer. This miraculous man who would not be controlled and never acted the way others expected. And it’s the story of those of us who think we know how God should act, and of our own shortcomings—and hopes. 

How has Judas’ story affected you personally?

I read the Gospels in a new light. I am continually moved by scenes like the healing of the leper, of the loving of the outcasts. It’s caused me to notice wrong less and love more.

What do you hope this novel will prompt readers to consider?

The unconventional and wild love of Jesus. Of a God who will not be controlled by our expectations, because He exceeds them every time.

What else would you say about Iscariot to Christian retailers?

This is Judas’ story, yes. It poses the question of whether you or I might have done the same. But this is ultimately a story about Jesus, of divine and human love. A story of you and me.