I’m delighted to be hosting Tosca Lee in my hot seat chatting to us about her latest thriller, The Line Between.
Find out about the inspiration for her novel, how her protagonist surprised her and more.
I think you’ll agree with me her dad is super supportive. Enjoy!
In this frighteningly believable thriller from New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee, an extinct disease re-emerges from the melting Alaskan permafrost to cause madness in its victims. For recent apocalyptic cult escapee Wynter Roth, it’s the end she’d always been told was coming.
When Wynter Roth is turned out of New Earth, a self-contained doomsday cult on the American prairie, she emerges into a world poised on the brink of madness as a mysterious outbreak of rapid early onset dementia spreads across the nation.
As Wynter struggles to start over in a world she’s been taught to regard as evil, she finds herself face-to-face with the apocalypse she’s feared all her life—until the night her sister shows up at her doorstep with a set of medical samples. That night, Wynter learns there’s something far more sinister at play and that these samples are key to understanding the disease.
Now, as the power grid fails and the nation descends into chaos, Wynter must find a way to get the samples to a lab in Colorado. Uncertain who to trust, she takes up with former military man Chase Miller, who has his own reasons for wanting to get close to the samples in her possession, and to Wynter herself.
Filled with action, conspiracy, romance, and questions of whom—and what—to believe, The Line Between is a high-octane story of survival and love in a world on the brink of madness.
The Line Between is available to purchase in digital, hardcover and audiobook and audio cd formats with the paperback publishing in the UK 13th August 2019.
Hi Tosca, welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise The Line Between.
An extinct disease has re-emerged from the melting Alaskan permafrost to cause madness in its victims.
It’s always fatal. It has no cure.
And now it’s spreading.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
In 2017, soon after Firstborn released, I met with my publisher in New York to talk about what was next. I had a short list of favorite story concepts—the idea of a cult escapee starting over and a pandemic rising from the permafrost (an idea straight from the headlines) among six or seven others. My publisher said, “I like both of those. I think you should put them together!”
It worked out strangely well! I wish I could take credit for the combination, but it was my publisher’s idea.
Does your story tackle a social barrier?
It does deal with sexual harassment. I finished the first draft just days before the Harvey Weinstein story broke and the #metoo movement began. I’d say it’s about time.
Please tell us about the characters in your story Tosca.
Wynter Roth is a 22 year-old young woman who’s been turned out of a self-contained doomsday cult on the American prairie. She emerges into a world poised on the brink of madness as a mysterious outbreak of rapid early onset dementia spreads across the nation. For Wynter, it seems like the apocalypse she’s been taught to fear all her life.
Important to Wynter: her sister, Jackie, who is still in the cult compound and married to its enigmatic leader, Magnus, and Wynter’s niece—Jackie’s daughter.
And if you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be …
Was there anything about your protagonist that surprised you?
How much I empathized with her sense of disorientation, anxiety, and even panic as she tried to adjust to life in the outside world. As someone who suffers from OCD, I truly saw myself in some of those moments. Though Wynter is far more brave than I would have been. She’s a very plucky young woman.
What scene was the hardest to write Tosca?
Honestly, the entire first draft of this book was tough to write for the fact that I’d just come out of a season of industry upheaval that resulted in my imprint’s entire office closing just weeks before Firstborn’s (my novel before) release. It’s hard watching this happen to a team of people you care about, and to a novel you gave a year of your life to. And it’s tough writing from a place of discouragement. The Line Between ended up requiring several rewrites. So I was floored when the first early reviews started rolling in as I was at work on the sequel. Just overrun with gratitude at the way it was already being received.
Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?
The Line Between has actually been optioned for television! As far as casting… this is such a hard thing. I’m probably weird in that I don’t actually imagine actors playing the characters when I write them. I’d love to see a relatively unknown new actor play the part of smart, brave Wynter Roth!
Is your story part of a series? What is in the future?
The sequel, A Single Light, releases this September and picks up right where The Line Between ends. It’s hard to say much more than that without giving away spoilers, but I will tell you that A Single Light has a new character who is one of my favorite—if not the new favorite—characters I’ve ever written. It comes out September 17, and will be up for pre-order in February!
What inspired you to write Tosca?
The first time I ever blurted out the words “I want to write a novel” I was home for spring break my freshman year in college (this is 1989 for those counting ;). I was telling my dad how I loved that a great book was like a roller coaster with its ups and downs, twists and turns. And then I blurted it out: I want to write a novel.
That day, my dad made me a deal: he’d pay me what I would have made working as a bank teller that summer, if I spent the summer writing that novel and treated it like a job.
Do you have a most creative time of day?
I used to love to write at night. And when I’m on deadline, the majority of my hours end up falling during the time that my family is asleep. Though I’m not going to lie: at almost 50 years old, it’s not as easy to do those late nights as it used to be!
Panster or plotter?
I’m a plotter. I learned that the hard way.
Do you have a favourite book? What is it about that book?
One of my all-time favorites is The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It’s a tome—some 800 pages. But the characters!! So real. I always hate closing the cover on them, because I swear they’re people I know.
Do you think movie adaptations do books justice Tosca? Do you have a favourite?
Some of them do. The Wife (by Meg Wolitzer) was pretty exceptional. Also, the Harry Potter movies, of course.
Have you done any writing courses that you would recommend to others?
I speak and teach at several conferences a year. This year I’ll be at WordSowers in Omaha, Nebraska, Thrillerfest, and Bouchercon. (If you want to come see me, my calendar is up at ToscaLee.com!)
Are there any tips you could share for new writers?
My number #1 rule of writing is: Write like no one is ever going to read it. Why? Because then you aren’t watering down anything with fear about what anyone will think. My #2 rule is: finish your article/essay/memoir/book. It’s the thing that separates those who want to make a career of it from those who actually do. Those who do it as a career finish—again and again. Also, surround yourself with the people you need: other writers to take this journey with you. Mentors, advocates, and encouragers who will remind you not to take everything so seriously. My husband is this person to me—the one who reminds me, when it seems like everything is falling apart, to have fun. Because writing is a lot of work. If you’re not having fun, your reader won’t either. And then what’s the point?
Finally, what has been the best part of your writing journey so far?
Readers. I love my readers, and I love getting to connect with them. Because ultimatelty, that’s why we read and write: to know we’re not alone. Every chance I get to see and hug them in person, I’m so very humbled and grateful and inspired.
Thank you for being my guest today Tosca. Wishing you success with all your writing projects.
Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, including The Line Between, The Progeny, Iscariot, and The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen and the Books of Mortals trilogy with New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker. A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games and football with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband. Lee, who lives on a farm south of Fremont with her husband and three boys still at home, also has a home in Lincoln.
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