Ted Dekker is known for novels that combine adrenaline-laced stories packed with unexpected plot twists, unforgettable characters, and incredible confrontations between good and evil. He is the best-selling author of OBSESSED, The Circle Trilogy (BLACK, RED, WHITE), THR3E, BLINK, HEAVEN'S WAGER, WHEN HEAVEN WEEPS, and THUNDER OF HEAVEN and the co-author of BLESSED CHILD and A MAN CALLED BLESSED. Raised in the jungles of Indonesia, Ted now lives with his family in the mountains of Colorado.
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FaithfulReader.com's contributing writer Marcia Ford interviewed Ted Dekker, whose latest novel WHITE is the final installment in his Circle trilogy. Dekker explains the universal appeal of his characters, how he is able to balance his personal and professional commitments, and the theme of his first nonfiction title, which will be released next summer.
FaithfulReader.com: Describe the process involved in writing a complex, multilayered work like the "Circle" trilogy. How long did it take to complete, from the initial concept to the final draft of WHITE? Did you outline and plot out the entire trilogy before you began?
Ted Dekker: The trilogy took roughly eighteen months of intense work. But writing a novel starts long before the actual writing begins. I conceived of this trilogy seven years ago and let it stew in my mind for years. Or more accurately, I conceived of BLACK seven years ago. I wrote BLACK with only a very rough (one page) idea for RED and I finished RED before formulating WHITE.
FR: Thomas Hunter, the protagonist in the trilogy, literally awakens to an extraordinary set of circumstances and an equally extraordinary mission, one that involves intentionally crossing over between two realities to prevent a worldwide catastrophe. In his essence, though, he is a fairly ordinary guy. In what ways do you see yourself --- or any other contemporary person --- in him?
TD: All of my main characters are fairly ordinary people thrown into extraordinary circumstances. This way my readers and I can all relate; I'm really writing our story. Or, at the very least, a story that is analogous to ours. We all take the ride with the protagonist, and it's easier to enter his mind when we relate up front.
FR: Of all the many possibilities, what is the single most important concept you would like readers to take away from the Circle trilogy?
TD: The Great Romance. We were created for intimate fellowship with our creator. In the end he will go to great extremes to woo us back into that relationship.
FR: You write in several genres --- suspense thrillers and fantasy being two. Have you found that your readers cross over genres with you? Are they thriller fans, fantasy fans, or simply Ted Dekker fans?
TD: I would say Dekker fans. And then I would say I write thrillers that cross genres. Nothing new --- Koontz does it effectively, so does King. In all of my novels, you will find the similar elements surrounding a class between good and evil. This and my voice are what tie all of my novels together.
FR: The release of your eleventh book, OBSESSED, was delayed until next year so all three books in the Circle trilogy --- BLACK, RED and WHITE --- could release in succession this year. How have your fans reacted to that decision? Are you concerned that the book may feel "old" to you by the time it releases?
TD: I turn all my novels in a full year before they are published, so to some extent, they all feel old. In the case of OBSESSED, I went back and hacked it up quite a bit after being confronted with a new idea that required a massive rewrite. In some ways it's my favorite novel. Fun and chilling and...well, Dekker :-)
FR: Most of your books are clearly spiritual in nature but not "Christian" in the typical CBA sense. What kind of response are you getting from readers outside the Christian subculture? To what extent have your books found an audience in the general market?
TD: For the most part Christians buy my books, regardless of where they find them. But I have many Christian readers who don't buy other Christian fiction. They like Kellerman, they like Koontz, they like Coben, they don't like Left Behind so much. These people hear about my books and give them a shot. We're carving out a new audience, not by design, but because there just happens to be a large market of like-minded Christians who can't find what they want. Now other CBA writers are following suit and that's great.
FR: Your first nonfiction title, THE SLUMBER OF CHRISTIANITY, which releases next summer, focuses on "the next life." What compelled you to tackle that subject? What specific incident or life event, if any, fueled your interest in heaven?
TD: Anyone who has read a few of my novels, particularly my earlier work, knows of my fascination with all that lies beyond the skin of this world. The SLUMBER is in some ways a distillation of the themes found in THE MARTYR'S SONG. When the eyes of your heart are opened to the intoxicating bliss that awaits us, the simple pleasures of this world find their rightful place as foretastes of that bliss. They are simply samples of so much more to come. Embrace them, yes, but find first an obsession for heaven.
FR: What other ideas do you have for nonfiction books?
TD: Sworn to secrecy. (grins)
FR: Your suspense thriller THR3E won two prestigious awards this year: the Christy Award for suspense and the ECPA Gold Medallion Award for fiction. How has that affected you and your platform as a Christian speaker and writer?
TD: It hasn't that I'm aware of.
FR: What's the status of Fox Studio's plans to produce a movie based on THR3E? What about a movie based on the Circle trilogy --- any concrete plans for that?
TD: THR3E is now slated to go into production in the spring. They are very excited about the project, as am I. No plans on the trilogy. It would require a massive budget, so we want to tread carefully.
FR: You seem to always have several projects in the works at one time. What are you working on right now, apart from promoting your current releases and finalizing SLUMBER?
TD: I am just finishing the first story in a five-book series called "Project Showdown." I can't tell you much except this: It's never been done. It's very contemporary. It's very mind bending. It's very dark. It's very, very redemptive.
FR: Tell us about your family and how you balance family, writing, travel, and church commitments.
TD: My wife, LeeAnn, and our four children (ages 7 through 18), live in a small community that, for now, is perfect. My favorite time of day is dinnertime. I work eight to five or so, and then veg at night --- watch movies with my kids and such. I have to stay current with the culture, you know. As far as church commitments, I have very few. My writing and the traveling that comes with it is enough. For the most part, I'm a simple man bent upon writing books that shape the way my readers think about good, evil, faith, and the world our Creator has put us in.
FR: How did your experiences as a missionary kid shape your life as a writer?
TD: In more ways than I can possibly explain here. I tell the whole story in THE SLUMBER OF CHRISTIANITY.
FR: What form did your writing take prior to the publication of your first book, HEAVEN'S WAGER? At what point did you realize writing would become a full-time endeavor, and what was your job/career before that?
TD: HEAVEN'S WAGER was my fourth or fifth novel, but the first to be published. I spent four years leading up to HEAVEN'S WAGER writing full time. Prior to that I owned a string of small businesses, mostly manufacturing. After writing novels in the evenings for a few years, I sold my last business, moved to the mountains, and began to write full time. A few years later, I sold HEAVEN'S WAGER.
FR: Your website, www.teddekker.com, has an especially active discussion board. How have you been able to minister believers and seekers through your site?
TD: Actually, I don't minister on the website. We have thousands of members, but they minister to each other, primarily on the message boards. My books draw like-minded believers to a virtual meeting place where they can develop their own relationships and stay connected. Amazing how quickly it's grown in this first year.
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