Tosca Lee: Writing the Perfect Thriller
Bestselling thriller author of ten novels, including The Progeny, Firstborn, The Legend of Sheba, Iscariot, and the Books of Mortals trilogy (with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker), Tosca Lee is in the house! She’s representing this genre proud with The Line Between, a dystopian page-turner already optioned for television by Edward Burns and his Marlboro Road Gang Productions, in partnership with Radar Pictures (#cantwait). As you’ll hear, the female protagonist could be the little sister of one of my favorite Dean Koontz characters (Dean’s a former guest of this show)—bad-guy killing heroine, Jane Hawk.
I’ve put the notorious night-owl Tosca together with my guest co-host today, Hayli Baez, because I adore them both. And, for the unique things they have in common—namely a past with pageantry, as in beauty, which has helped both of their current careers; an obsession with world-travel, fed in part by those pageants; and get this—late-night video-game playing! (Admission, I’ve never played a video game in my life, so I’m dying to know the allure of shooting fake people.) You might be wondering how a busy author like Tosca has time for such an indulgence but says it helps her come up with some of her best characters and storylines. And, I’m guessing her three boys think she’s the coolest.
Speaking of cool, Hayli has THE dream job according to my son (and probably yours, too). She actually gets PAID to livestream herself playing video games on Twitch. Yes, that’s really a thing. She also happens to have written excellent fan fiction as a teen and still gives me the best book recommendations of anyone. And, she’s family. I can’t take any credit for her beauty or brains, as she’s my fiancé’s daughter, thus not blood-related. But, as soon as I learned she’d read the entire Harry Potter series more than anyone I’d ever met (or heard of!), I was deeply proud. Lol.
I’m excited to share this chat, with its many pearls, including how Tosca plots her suspense and thinks about each character’s arc within the three-act structure (and her two invaluable book recommendations on the subject). There’s her refreshing take on the thriller genre and how she recruits top experts for her research to make her work bulletproof (and how you can too!).
I am also fascinated by her thoughts on how travel helps the writing mind play and wander; her description of dealing with the twin demons of fear and procrastination, and why letting someone see your writing before it’s ready is like allowing them to see your cellulite! We talk balancing writing time with platform building (social media); how her hot farmer husband handles her 20-hour writing days (and bakes cookies); what to do when an author friend writes a book you just don’t like; and how when her friends are mad at their mates, they’ll ask her help in devising the perfect murder plot.
If you love action, conspiracy, romance, and questions of whom—and what—to believe, you’re going to adore this high-octane story of survival and love in a world on the brink of madness (and its sequel, out in September). And, you’ll be taken with the sanity and sweetness of this killer author and her deep gratitude for her craft and her readers. I left this conversation more in love with books and writing them and know it will likewise inspire your reading and writing life.