One of Christian Book Previews' reviewers, Dian Moore, interviewed Ted Dekker about his latest book, Obsessed.
Dian: In Obsessed, we once again take a journey whose ultimate destination is the fulfillment of a great romance. Youíve managed to keep each story unique while still getting across the message that God leaves no stones unturned as He seeks our love. Your passion for conveying this message seems to leap from the pages of your books. When did you first understand Godís obsession to win us over, and how did that defining moment occur?
TED: I donít think there was a defining moment in which Godís obsession for us became clear to me. My realization of this fundamental truth came over time as I reflected on the purpose of Godís creating us. Why did he create beings in his own image? To what end? Follow these questions to their end and youíll discover a Creator who is Obsessed with a romance.
Iíve told my whole story on this matter in The Slumber of Christianity, a non-fiction title due out this July.
Dian: Your well-developed characters tell me you not only observe human nature, but you also seek to understand that nature. I was not surprised to read that you embrace the role of being an observer of life. Where do you like to go to observe, and who do you like to observe Ė how do you observe?
TED: Like most people Iíve observed all my life and I now pull from many past observations. My observation was perhaps more intense than most because I was essentially abandoned when I was 6 years old through no ill-intent on my parentís part. Without a family or a culture of my own, I had to watch others, change my skin to adapt to theirs, and become like them to fit in, not just once or twice, but constantly. This made me a passionate observer of human nature.
Dian: Youíve a great talent for portraying evil in its vilest forms. How do get into the head of these seriously creepy characters?
TED: Ha! Getting into the head of seriously creepy characters is surprisingly easy. After all, we all are or were at one time seriously creepy. I find unique ways to express that creepiness, but I certainly donít embellish it.
Dian: How did you research the historical aspects of Obsessed Ė the Holocaust.
I chose the Holocaust because it represents a period in history when ordinary people seemed to demonstrate their horrific creepy natures nearly overnight. How could a whole nation have fallen in lockstep behind such evil? Yet we know it will happen again.
As for the research: Books, Movies and documentaries, Internet.
Dian: Iíd like to see Stephen again in another book. His somewhat bumbling attempts to save the day added charm to his efforts and made the story come alive. I laughed when he cut the hole in the garage. Did you practice that scene?
TED: Thereís a running dialogue on my website about readersí favorite scenes in the book. Stephenís antics are leading the list, particularly the scene when he dresses as a woman. I will swear to you that I practiced none of these scenes.
I knew going into this novel that my plans to blend the horror of the Holocaust with the humorous antics of Stephen would present a significant challenge that would raise the brows of some more traditional readers. For me the humor undermines the horror and I find that terribly appropriate. Now Iím happily learning that most readers have the same take.
Dian: Obsessed made my heart pound, my heart ache and tears to fall, as your words evoked sadness, anger, desperation, joy and longing in the depths of my being. Without giving away the story, one of those emotional scenes was that of the past, when Ruth gave birth. The tension that scene creates actually had me holding my breath, then dissolving into tears when the baby, Esther, is held by the different women, in turn, at Ruthís command. She knew that small, newborn baby, was a gift of hope from God, and she was compelled to share that hope.
How do you prepare to write those scenes? And how do they affect you?
TED: Scenes like that make me choke up even now, when I read your question. Iím not known as an emotional person by my friends. Iím the logical, levelheaded kind, they say. But deep down inside we are all blubbering children, weeping and raging, and laughing as we have in our brightest and darkest moments.
I have found a way in my writing to go deep and mine those emotions by casting scenes that unveil them for both me and my readers. Iíve been going deep so long that I really donít know how I do it. I suppose itís a form of meditation, fingers clicking away while my mind searches out the light at the end of dark tunnel. That light is Christ, always, but He reveals himself in many ways.
Dian: As I read Obsessed, I again felt a sense of worship coming through your words; a desperation maybe to introduce the true character of God to anyone who reads the book. How do you define worship?
TED: Worshiping God is simply doing what He created you to do, which includes many things including seeking Him, discovering Him, and loving Him.
Dian: Iíve found that the veil between heaven and earth means different things to different people; and through your books, including Obsessed, I feel that we, as a society of ďChristiansĒ are missing the true joy of heaven thatís within our grasp right now. What are your thoughts on that subject?
TED: In a nutshell, our lives on this earth exist primarily for the intoxicating life that awaits us in the next life. This is a truth that has gone missing. Itís also the primary topic of The Slumber of Christianity, due in July. The benefits of our faith were never meant to bring ultimate satisfaction to this life. Any form of Christianity that preaches this fails us. We were created for far more than we experience here and now, mark my words.
Dian: If you were able to issue a challenge to writers of all genres, what would that challenge be?
TED: I would say that if your novel doesnít engage the great questions that face all humans, it will fail to pluck those chords in every reader longing to resonate with a greater truth than they can now readily experience. Write fantastic stories that keep the reader glued to the pages and remember that the most fantastic story of all is the battle for manís soul. That battle between good and evil, in all of its chilling, terrible, wonderful redemptive detail is what life is really all about, isnít it?
Dian: Youíve said, in another interview, that if you could wish for anything to be inscribed on your tombstone, if would be, ďHe Wrote about God.Ē What do you hope Godís words to you will be when you enter Heaven?
TED: Never thought about that. Maybe these words, delivered with a smile: ďYou wrote about me.Ē