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Ted Dekker Interview

by C.J. Darlington

"It's the ah ha! moments each day that make the [writing] experience worth while. Each ah ha! moment translates into a reader's wow, moment. Worth every drop of cold sweat."
-- Ted Dekker


Ted Dekker is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California.

Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder. Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He lives in Colorado with his wife and family.

To find out more about Ted, read our previous interview with him here where he talks about the movie adaptation of Thr3e, his writing processes, and more.


C.J. I’d like to start by chatting a little about the Circle Trilogy graphic novels (which look terrific, by the way). Could you share with us how this project came to be and what parts you played in it?

Ted: I’ve always been fascinated with comic books, growing up on them myself in the jungles of Indonesia where access to high definition television was limited (read zero) and images came only through the mail. The process of launching three graphic novels at once turned out to be a huge undertaking that took roughly a year of actually production, but Black, Red, White really deserve to be read together.

I’ve given over half of my career thus far to the writing of this trilogy and The Books of History Chronicles. I really think I could not write another word and give the rest of my life to this one redemptive story that spans two worlds. The Graphic novel was just the next logical step in getting our redemptive history known.

Many of your books could be described as cinematic, but how challenging was it to adapt the books into the graphic novel form?

I think the novels that are filled with interesting visual feasts make the best adaptations. We all want to see the fantastical scenes we read about made into movies. Graphic Novels are like story boards, movies on the page. But stripping them down to those critical scenes that move the story forward makes for some tough calls. You lose half of the story or you run the risk of shoehorning too much into the space you have to work with.

Any future plans to adapt more of your books into graphic novels?

Chosen, Infidel, Renegade, and Chaos are all in production as we speak. The first two will be released late 2008 and the next two early in 2009. From there, likely Showdown. Thomas Nelson has purchased the rights to these novels and wanted to push them ahead of Showdown to fully flesh out the story of Thomas and the Horde before coming into this reality with Showdown.

Your next releases, Chosen & Infidel are the first novels in the Lost Books series and they’re being marketed as YA novels. Did you find yourself writing differently as you kept the young adult market in mind?

Not really. The characters are 16 and 17 years old and the books are properly classified as Young Adult, but the Young Adult literature out there isn’t so different from the adult literature. No serial killers or adult themes like you’ll find in When Heaven Weeps, but the choices forced on these four teenagers stretches them to the breaking point. They’re written for today’s young adult reader much like Harry Potter, spanning the ages of 12 to 40.

For those who’ve read the Circle Trilogy, what can they expect in this series?

The Lost Books series tells the story of four young fighters from another reality who are in a bitter battle with the Horde. For readers of Black and Red, this story takes off in the time between the fall in Black and the opening of Red, but it’s a totally different story

Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels review

The four, Johnis, Silvie, Billos, and Darsal, are pulled into a hair-raising quest to find the seven original Books of History which have gone missing. A nasty character named Teeleh is after them as well. Expect to see difficult choices, death, romance, and for those who have read Showdown, the return of the worms.

Adam by Ted DekkerLet’s talk about your next full length release, Adam. What can readers look forward to in this book?

Adam is one of the most important books I’ve ever written from where I’m sitting. Ultimately it deals with a question that we might have all considered at one time or another: What would happen if you, an agnostic but well reasoned person who resents religion, invited an evil sprit to sure, why not, come on in?

As the priest I’ve written says: Give me one hour in the dead of night with a man who is possessed and I will turn the staunchest atheist into a believer. Adam is the story of a serial killer and the FBI behavioral scientist obsessed with bringing him to justice, but more than that it’s the story of our own society’s loss of faith in the raw power of Jesus.

I’m told it will be a divisive book, more than any book I’ve written, but I think it’s a critical read for any and all who think faith is for old women who like Sunday potlucks. This is a book you might dare those lost in apathy to read.

And your next novel after that, Sinner, is considered the final chapter of the Project Showdown series, correct? Could you elaborate on that a little and give us a sneak peak into this book?

Sinner isn’t so much a sequel to Showdown and Saint, as Showdown is a prequel to Sinner. Honestly, if asked, I would say read Sinner first, and if you’re interested in learning more about how Johnny, Billy, and Darcy came to have their power, go back and read the story of when they were kids.

Sinner takes place in the near future and tells the story of how our country comes to despise those who follow Sinner by Ted DekkerJesus. Set against this backdrop comes three very gifted individuals. One from the desert and his name is Johnny. One from the city and his name is Billy. One from a small town in Pennsylvania and her name is Darcy. They will forever change the world, and not in the ways readers of Showdown or Saint might expect.

It’s the first novel in some years that I have a very hard time talking about without crying. The days I’m writing about are coming, you do realize that… Oh what fools would follow Christ. Run for the hills, save your lives, we are hated because they first hated the one we follow.

Dear Johnny, if you are reading this it is because I am dead. I beg you, find Billy. Find Darcy. Stop Black.

You’re considered one of the more edgy writers in the Christian publishing industry. How do you keep the “edge” in your stories as far as violence/adult situations without going too far?

I don’t know. I’m sure I’ve crossed the line in some readers’ minds now and then. My desire is to write only that which screams the truth in a world that once screamed it with me, then began to speak it, then to just whisper it, then settled for a gentle nod of agreement, and has now become silent about that truth. Soon I fear they will turn against the truth.

For now I feel I must continue to scream.

I don’t write about sex. I don’t use offensive language. I’m not gratuitous with my descriptions of violence. But I must paint the canvas with colors that properly demonstrate the conflict between good and evil and that can get a bit ugly at times.

Skin by Ted DekkerWriting very dark novels like House and Skin have left me yearning for the light, and I’m finding it in Sinner. It’s a whole new kind of story, one I haven’t yet written, which brings into conflict the light and darkness in a way that makes me cry, not for fear, but for gratitude. Adam will drive you to your knees. Sinner will make you dance around the room. Both are very edgy. Both are adult. Both are food for the soul and should be read by young adults as well as the elderly because they both scream the truth.

What has been your most embarrassing or unusual experience as a writer thus far?

I was invited to speak at Catalyst one year and in good story-telling fashion broke my talk into two segments, the first being a set up, the second the climax. I set up my story, an interactive lesson about us all being puppet masters, then left a room of 5000 people hanging in complete confusion, expecting to come back that afternoon to deliver the climax and the moral to my story/lesson. But things went long and, not understanding how story works themselves, the staff, in their infinite wisdom cut my second address.

I left Atlanta with a paper bag over my head, reminded just how worthless we all are short of God’s grace. I still meet people today who are scratching their heads over the crazy writer who got up, lifted his hands high, cried for all to hear, “We are all Puppet Masters,” then walked off the stage never to return.

What would you love to write someday but haven’t yet?

A historical novel that looks at the life of Jesus from a completely new perspective.Chosen by Ted Dekker

Who’s your favorite author and why?

Dean Koontz. He has a unique way with words and is not afraid to explore the adventures and questions of life through the most unusual stories.

Do you ever find it challenging to head to your keyboard every day? What do you do when the words don’t seem to come?

Writing, like most things that are valuable, comes at a price. I think Adam is to blame for that. Or was it Eve? At any rate, yes, birthing a story is much like birthing a child, I’m told. It’s not all fun and games, but the making of that child is a wonderful thing. When the words don’t seem to come, as you put it, I break out in a cold sweat, pace around the computer, and make something up. Happens most days. It’s the ah ha! moments in each day that make the experience worth while. Each ah ha! moment translates into a reader’s wow, moment. Worth every drop of cold sweat.

Where is your favorite place to write?

In a closed room with music on, not a single distraction. My office.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started writing?

A ton of storytelling technique that has to do with heart. But writing isn’t as much about getting better at technique, it’s about changing and growing yourself. I read some of my older stuff and wish I could change some bad habits I had, but the heart was all there and I’m sure there are plenty of readers who like the old as much as the new. Though your technique may change, what really matters is your heart and the way you put heart into your story.

Of all your books, which was the hardest to write and why?

Every time I write a book I’m blown away by how hard it is. Adam was terribly difficult, I remember all the days alone, pulling the story from my mind. But now that I’m onto Sinner, I tend to forget the pain Infidel by Ted Dekkerof that novel and find myself agonizing over this one. It’s a tortured life in many ways, novel to novel. But it’s also addictive and a great pleasure.

It would be much easier to write a straightforward linear plot like so many other books, but that bores me, so I’m condemned to write what feels impossible to write.

Who Is Ted Dekker?

The Mask.

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

Watching movies. Trying to decide what to write. Riding motorcycles.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Sugar free Vanilla Latte.

What’s left unchecked in your “goals for life” list?

Finding the Mask.

When was the last time you cried?

Last night, watching Friday Night Lights.

Three words that best describe you:

Selfish. Forgiven. Grateful.

What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?

Muse.

C.J. DarlingtonC.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.