For her latest biblical novel,
best-selling author Tosca
Lee took on the task of
writing about one of the
most reviled men in history.

Judas Iscariot’s story never might have been
written, at least not by Tosca Lee. When the
idea of writing the story of the most vilified
men in history was suggested, the best-selling
writer rejected the idea outright. “I knew how
much research the story would require. You
can’t do a story such as this halfway,” Tosca
explains. “The other great challenge was getting
rid of this idea of Judas as a human anomaly,
a person I wanted to perceive as so different
from me because of the heinousness of his
actions. I had to put myself in his shoes. I had
to, in a sense, write my own story.”

Iscariot (Howard Books) is not the first
novel Tosca has penned about a pivotal biblical
character. Havah: The Story of Eve (B&H
Fiction) was released to wide acclaim for its
literary prose and evocative storytelling. Yet
writing about biblical characters is not just
a simple passion for Tosca, as she explains:
“For me it’s really about examining the things
we believe and why we believe them. That
includes judgments of characters such as Eve
or Judas, and a core belief on my part that
we’re not that different than them—that their
actions could have been our own. In the end,
it boils down to learning about ourselves.”

Tosca approached Judas’ tale believing, as
always, that there is more to the story. “A few
lines of an account doesn’t tell us about the
personality, history and hopes of a person
that inform his—in this case, infamous—decisions. When we read his story in a vacuum,
we two-dimensionalize him; but in the
pressure cooker of first-century Israel, his
story—as well as that of the disciples, the
Jewish people at the time and Jesus—comes
vibrantly alive.”

Significant theological research helps
inform the story for Tosca: “I also like to
build more obscure references into the story
similar to little Easter eggs for those who
find them. I’ve done that in all my books. I
guess that’s the geek in me.” Readers will
be delighted Iscariot is not her final biblical
novel: “I’m returning to the Old Testament
and the feminine voice in the Queen of Sheba—
time to put my jewelry back on.”

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of FamilyFiction digital magazine. Subscribe for free today!

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About The Author

A sought-after speaker and former Mrs. Nebraska, Tosca Lee left her position working with Fortune 500 Companies as a Senior Consultant for the Gallup Organization to pursue her first love: writing. She is the critically-acclaimed author of Demon and Havah and is best known for her humanizing portraits of maligned characters. She also co-wrote the Books of Mortals trilogy with Ted Dekker. She makes her home in the Midwest.