Today I am very pleased to welcome the master of thrillers, Ted Dekker to Interviews & Reviews. Ted is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of more than forty novels, with over ten million copies sold worldwide. He was born in the jungles of Indonesia to missionary parents, and his upbringing as a stranger in a fascinating and sometimes frightening culture fueled his imagination. His 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.
Ted, welcome to Interviews & Reviews!
You are well-known for stories that explore truth and the world through a different perspective. How do you come up with the themes behind your books?
I grew up in the jungles of Indonesia among cannibals—a white face in a sea of noble warriors whom I tried my best to emulate. As such I was an outsider and, coming to the United States, an outsider there as well. Looking in from outside the cultural bubble gives one a unique perspective of the people and beliefs inside the bubble, and it was from this perspective that I began to write. Having said that, my primary purpose in writing has always been to understand my own identity in this world because I wasn’t deeply rooted in any particular cultural identity that made sense to me. Thus, all of my stories, whether involving serial killers or other worlds, are a quest to discover truth in a world of shadow.
Your new series, Beyond the Circle, includes two books, The 49th Mystic (May 2018) and Rise of the Mystics (October 2018), which are in the same universe as the Circle series. How are these two titles related to that series?
The 49th Mystic is a whole new story in the same universe as Black, Red, White, and Green (the Circle series) and ultimately is the fulfillment of that series. But it reads as a stand-alone without requiring anyone to have read the Circle. The two stories intersect and complement each other, like how Batman’s story intersects Wonder Woman’s, but they aren’t dependent on each other. For those who have read the Circle series, The 49th Mystic will bring a whole new layer of meaning and fulfillment to what they think they know. It’s a wild, wild ride.
Seals play a huge role in both books. Why are these important to the overall plot?
We are all on a quest to discover light in darkness, love instead of fear, meaning where questions persist. The 49th Mystic is about a blind girl named Rachelle who is tasked with the quest to find the Five Seals of Truth before her enemies destroy her. In many ways, these five seals are what we’re all searching for in our own lives. We find ourselves on the same wild quest for seals of truth that Rachelle is on.
Your main character is a young blind girl named Rachelle. How does her vision affect the story line?
The story asks a critical question: What if we are all blind and don’t know it? Perception is at the very heart of this story as much as our lives. So we, along with Rachelle, take the journey of blindness to sight in staggering fashion. The greatest challenge Rachelle faces isn’t seeing but retaining her sight, because the forces aligned against her easily blind her over and over. Just like us.
You have described these books as “the most important novels I have ever written.” Why are these books so personal to you?
I’ve learned much about life since I first penned the Circle series fifteen years ago. The 49th Mystic is the culmination of all I have written. Interestingly, Allen Arnold, the publisher of that first series, said the same thing after reading The 49th Mystic. It is said that our challenges become our greatest teachers, and I would say that this story most closely resembles all the challenges and all the breakthroughs I’ve experienced in my life to this point. It’s very personal, but it’s also universal. We all share the same essential journey through life, from blindness to sight, from darkness to light, from fear to love.
What do you hope readers will learn from The 49th Mystic?
The true nature of love and how we might walk in that love. Everything else means nothing without it.
Amen! How can readers connect with you?
At www.facebook.com/teddekker or firstname.lastname@example.org.