Apr

30

2012

Blood, Guts and Peanuts: What it’s Like Writing with Ted Dekker

Guest blog by Tosca Lee

Our guest today is Tosca Lee, author of Demon: A Memoir and Havah: The Story of Eve. She is also the co-author with Ted Dekker of the NYTimes bestseller Forbidden. The next book in that series will be out this Summer. A sought-after speaker and former Mrs. Nebraska, Tosca was a senior consultant for a global consulting firm until turning to writing full-time. She holds a degree in English and International Relations from Smith College and also studied at Oxford University. Please visit her web site at www.toscalee.com.

__________

People ask me often what it’s like writing with Ted. “Is he weird?” they say. “Does he really paint his nails/eat small children/write from a dungeon?”

Of course he’s weird. As weird as anyone else who grew up with cannibals. As strange as your average seven million bookselling novelist who lives mostly on peanuts and barbeque in Texas and, you know, speaks an obscure language known only to remote tribes in Papua New Guinea.

Or as weird as you and me.

And yet, the questions persist. “He scares me,” author friends confess in low tones.

He scares me, too. Because, you know, it’s just not healthy to eat that many peanuts.

***

Snippets of the work day, below. It’s up to you in most cases to guess who’s saying what.

“So, I accidentally killed ___ in this scene.”
“WHAT? That’s not on the outline.”
“Dude. It was his time.”
“But—”
“You gotta let him go, man. Let him go.”

On iChat:
“What’ve you got for lunch?”
“Um, sandwich (holds it up).”
“Oh man. That is way better than my V8/Greenfood shake/Cheetos.”
“You seriously live on that?”
“So far.”

“Look. This is what I think we need to do.”
“I don’t like it.”
“What? Why not? It’s brilliant.”
“Because.”
“Why not?”
“Because I don’t.”

“Okay, this is what needs to happen now.”
“I don’t want to do that.”
“But it’d be cool.”
“Okay.”
“What?”
“I said let’s do it.”
“You’re supposed to defend your position.”

***

Some days, Ted’s wife, LeeAnn, comes up to talk to her husband. She leans in to say hello, waving at the screen. She’s always gorgeous, put together and made up.

Without fail, I’m wearing the same t-shirt I wore yesterday. And, truth by told, the day before. Except that I had one of my ever-present polar fleece tops on, so no one knew it. At least no one can smell me.

***

 Ted: “Check out the UK version of Forbidden. Look! It’s so cute!”
Me: “You said ‘cute.’”

“They have to kiss here.”
“Is this a kissing book? Can we skip that part?”
“They have to kiss.”
“I hate it when they kiss.”
“You write it.”

“I think ___ should happen here.”
“No.”
“Yes. Or I’m going to say you pick your nose in my status update.”

“You’re being difficult.”
“No I’m not.”
“You are.”
“No I’m not.”
“I’m calling your wife.”
“Okay. Okay, okay.”

 Ted: “Every time I talk to you you’re eating.”

“I have to go. I have a workout.”
“Me, too.”
“I don’t want to. It hurts.”
“Let’s call in sick.”

“Why’d you change that? It was great!”
(Silence.)
“Hello?”

“We’ve been talking about TV shows for 45 minutes.”
“Yeah. We need to work.”
“Yeah, let’s work.”
“Did you see The Walking Dead?”

“That last scene you did was really cool.”
“Yeah?”
“Yeah. Except that you kind of went on and on.”
“What?”
“And then you used a semi-colon.”
“So?”
“And you have this habit of—”
“I thought you said it was cool?!”

“You’re eating peanuts again.”
“No I’m not.”
“I can hear you crunching.”
“That’s not crunching.”
“Crunching!”
“I always make that sound.”
“Because you’re eating peanuts.”

“It’s hard work making stuff up.”
“I’ve written 30 books. Don’t talk to me.”

“You done with that scene yet?”
“No.”
“You done yet?”
“No.”
“You done yet?”
“I’m hanging up.”

“So, listen. I need to ask you a really uncomfortable question.”
“Um. Okay.”
“I’ve been wondering this for a year and a half.”
“Okay?”
“So I know you grew up with cannibals.”
“Yeah?”
“Did you uh, ever eat anyone?”
“Not that I know of.”

“No. No no. I know who we need to kill. It’s ___.”
(Stare)
(Choked up)
We got so choked up we had to come back later.

Via text:
“Are you up?”
(Nothing)
“Are you awake?”
(Silence)
“Awake yet?”
(Blank)
“I’m going to kill Rom.”
“I’m here. I’m here. Don’t touch anything.”

“I think we should have the old guy pick his nose.”
“We can’t have him pick his nose.”
“Everyone picks their nose.”
“He can’t pick his nose.”
“You pick your nose.”

“I’m writing this thing about what it’s like to write with you. Wanna read it?”
“Yeah.”
(Screen-sharing ensues)
(Laughter)
“This is great. Just make sure they know it’s you picking your nose and not me.”
“Uh huh.”

22 Responses to “Blood, Guts and Peanuts: What it’s Like Writing with Ted Dekker”

  1. Heather Day Gilbert April 30, 2012 at 6:18 am #

    This is hilarious! I’ve wondered what it would be like to write with someone (I couldn’t do it. I kill who I want to kill…hee). I’m sure it’s cool to be on the same wavelength as your plot comes together. For now, my husband just has to listen to me rant around about my characters, and sometimes cry about the ones who have to die.

    Loved this running dialogue!

  2. Jessica Thomas April 30, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    Sounds like a blast!

    My stomach hurts just thinking of all those peanuts. Bleh.

  3. Brad Huebert April 30, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    Reality check?
    Check.
    I’ve found new freedom to be the time travelling pastor.

  4. JennyM April 30, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    I loved this! But ohhhhh poor Tosca. Writing with Ted Dekker would be like going camping with Bear Grylls!!!

  5. Jeanne April 30, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    So fun to read this today. It’s a good thing no one’s at home to hear me laughing out loud. It sounds like you two work well together. And have fun together. :)

  6. Casey April 30, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    Wait a minute, the Rock Star of Christian Fiction said something was cute?! Or was that you, Tosca…?

    Too funny! I loved it. Though I *really* wish you’d have used dialogue attributions or tags or EVEN he said, she said…. ;)

  7. Lindsay Harrel April 30, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Oh my goodness! This is hilarious!!

  8. Jennifer Dyer April 30, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    :-)

  9. Davalynn Spencer April 30, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    Loved this. Especially both pictures, Tosca.

  10. Pegg Thomas April 30, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Sweet! I want to try co-writing some day. A comedy.

  11. Michelle Sutton April 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    You are such a funny writer, Tosca. I rarely stop and read this kind of stuff because I’m too busy writing (and reading) but whenever I see your name I read what you say and it ALWAYS makes me laugh. Sheesh. Can you write something drab and uninteresting for once? I know, I know, it’s not in you. I remember your voice mail that said your dog Attila couldn’t pick up the phone and I’d snicker every time I heard it. Even your voice messages are funny…

  12. Nikole Hahn April 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    My eyes began to tear up. Was that the migraine or the choking laughter at reading the exchange between Tosca and Dekker? LOL.

  13. Lynn Mosher April 30, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    LOL Oh, this is too funny! I needed a good laugh today! Thanks so much, Tosca!

  14. Dona Watson April 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    What great fun! Thanks for this post.

  15. Amelia April 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    What a riot! I’ve always wondered what he’d be like in person!!

  16. Ruth A. Douthitt April 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Too funny! Thanks for the glimpse into the lives of two amazing writers!!

  17. Ruth A. Douthitt April 30, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    Just bought Forbidden and Demon: A Memoir for my Kindle!!

  18. Natalia Gortova May 1, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    I’m starting an ancient adventure story with a friend of mine who’s a doctorate archaeology student and wondering how working with someone else works.
    This post was totally completely…unhelpful.

    But hey, I’m laughing my head off!
    (That’s what counts, right?)

  19. Ellie Kay May 1, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    Love it, Love it! The background this collaboration is fun to read about. Ireally enjoyed Forbidden as well as Havah and Demon: A Memoir. These are two of my favorite authors and I’m so glad they teamed up.

  20. Morgan L. Busse May 2, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    Too funny :)

  21. Peter DeHaan May 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    I’d be laughing too hard to have time to write. Oh wait, it takes two people to have a funny dialogue. Maybe I’d have time to write after all.

  22. Tracy Krauss June 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    Just great! Kudos to both of you since it sounds like you can both dish it. :)

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