The father-daughter team discusses the process of collaborating on their first novel together.
New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker and his Christy Award-winning daughter, Rachelle Dekker, have joined forces to deliver a supernaturally infused suspense novel that will take readers to the edge of reason in The Girl behind the Red Rope (Revell). This gripping tale will move readers beyond boundaries and rules that imprison us to freedom that can only be found through grace.
Ted Dekker’s fiction has been honored with numerous awards, including two Christy Awards, two Inspy Awards, an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, and an ECPA Gold Medallion. In 2013, NPR readers nationwide put him in the Top 50 Thriller Authors of All Time. Rachelle Dekker is the Christy Award–winning author of The Choosing, The Calling, and The Returning in the Seer series.
In this interview, Ted and Rachelle talk about their collaboration process, point out how the Bible is packed with the fantastical, and how the novel can speak to all of us where we need it most…
What was the spark that started this particular collaboration? In other words, why this book, and why did you both need to write it?
RACHELLE: It was originally an idea I was working with, a question that came about over coffee with my husband. What if our fears could devour us like monsters? After I’d worked through this idea for months, which often means talking it through with others I trust—my dad being one of those people—he mentioned, “This sounds like a novel I would write.” It just happened organically from there. A story about love versus fear, sight versus blindness—it just resonated with us both deeply.
Ted, what advice did you have for Rachelle as she began writing?
TED: They say getting published is like crossing a stormy sea (the writing process) with the hopes that, once on a distant shore, you might get struck by lightning (being published). Having taken that journey myself, I feared for my daughter’s emotional well-being in attempting such an arduous crossing. The journey brings you to a breaking point, over and over. And even then, there is more hardship with each novel you write.
Ten years ago, Rachelle stood on a stage with me and announced her intention to become a novelist. I was surprised by the tears that rushed into my eyes, right there in front of a thousand people. I begged her to reconsider—surely inviting such struggle wasn’t wise!
Then she was crying, insisting she had to take the journey, and I held her for a moment as we both embraced that journey in the face of fear. It was a tender and life-altering experience for both of us.
Little did we know that ten years later we would be coauthoring a book that exposes the sea of fears masquerading as wisdom that we have been taught will keep us safe.
Rachelle, you have now written five novels. Why did you decide to pursue writing in spite of your dad’s advice?
RACHELLE: I learned early that I, like my father, discovered truth about the world and myself best through writing. I wrote because I had to. And I’m a rebel of sorts, so if you tell me I can’t or shouldn’t do something, it makes me want to do it that much more.
We all need to find our own way across the sea of fears that makes up our world, regardless of the encouragement or discouragement that comes our way. In hindsight, he was right—the storms of fear in life are often debilitating. But facing and overcoming them, in whatever course we choose, is the great privilege we all have in this life.
Did you ever worry about what collaboration might do to your father-daughter relationship? How did you handle disagreements on direction if and when they came up?
RACHELLE: No. If anything, collaborating taught us to see ourselves as partners on a journey beyond the expectation of authority that historically exists in a father-daughter relationship. We knew from the beginning that collaborating was as much about us letting go of our individual ideas and preferences as it was writing a story. As it turns out, we work very well together in that awareness.
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