Tosca Lee

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Tosca Lee
Tosca Lee.jpg
Born (1969-12-01) December 1, 1969 (age 53)
Roanoke, Virginia, U.S.
Education Smith College (BA)
University of Oxford

Tosca Lee (born December 1, 1969) is a bestselling American author known for her historical novels and thrillers.



Lee was born in Roanoke, Virginia, United States to a Korean father and Euro-American mother. Her father, Professor Emeritus Sang Moon Lee, [1] who had early aspirations of an opera career, named Tosca for his favorite Puccini opera.

As a young classically trained ballerina and pianist Lee pursued an early career in dance until injuries derailed hopes of a successful career.

Lee received her BA from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts in English language and literature. She also studied international economics at Oxford University. While at Smith, Lee wrote her first novel—a story of the Stonehenge people of Salisbury plain (unpublished). [2]

She began writing professionally in 1992 for Smart Computing Magazine, during which time she co-authored two computer books. In the 1990s, Lee held two pageant titles, Mrs. Nebraska America 1996 [3] and Mrs. Nebraska United States 1998, [4] and placed first runner-up to Mrs. United States. For her philanthropic work and advocacy of health, women's, children's, ethnic, and cultural groups, she was awarded an admiralship of the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska by then-governor Ben Nelson. During this time she wrote as a freelancer and penned the majority of her second novel (unpublished).

After setting the pageant world aside, she went to work in 2003 for the Gallup Organization as a senior consultant to Fortune 500 companies.


Lee penned the novel that would become Demon: A Memoir around 2000. It sold in 2006 in a multi-book deal after nearly six years of rejection. Once published it immediately garnered critical acclaim, including a Christy Award nomination.

Lee wrote her next novel, Havah: The Story of Eve , while traveling internationally as a consultant for the Gallup Organization. Havah received a starred review from Publishers Weekly , [5] 4.5 stars from Romantic Times, [6] and solidified Lee's reputation for meticulous research and scriptural interpretation. The two books weren't without controversy from conservative readers--Demon for its darkly spiritual subject matter and Havah for its sensuality in the portrayal of Eve's relationship with Adam.

In 2010, Lee left her position with Gallup and signed on to write the post-apocalyptic Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller, Ted Dekker. Forbidden, the first novel in the series, debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list in September 2011, as did the second installment, Mortal, in June 2012. Sovereign, the conclusion to the series, released June 2013 and became a bestseller in the Christian market.

Iscariot, Lee's highly anticipated novel about Judas, the disciple and infamous betrayer of Christ, released February 2013 after three publisher changes, three years of research and writing, and a five-year lull after the release of her last solo novel, Havah. Iscariot became a bestseller in the Christian market [7] where it also garnered starred reviews. [8] Publishers Weekly praised Iscariot as "mind-bending Biblical fiction that dares to put readers in the mind of the most infamous character of Christian history" calling Lee's research and writing "impeccable and masterful." [5] In 2014, Iscariot won Christian Book of the Year in fiction. [9] It was also named a Best in Christian Fiction Title of 2013 by Library Journal . [10]

Lee's novel about The Queen of Sheba, The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen, released September 2014 to starred reviews. [11] It was named a Best of Christian Fiction selection by Library Journal [12] and also became a bestseller. [13] In 2015, it finalized for the 2015 Christian Book Award for fiction, won by Lee's Iscariot the year before. [14]

In 2015, Lee turned her attention to new adult thrillers but continued her study of historically significant, maligned characters in her House of Bathory duology (The Progeny, Firstborn)--a pair of supernatural suspense thrillers centered around the fictional descendants of the "Blood Countess" Elizabeth Báthroy. In 2016 The Progeny landed on the IndieBound bestseller list. [15] In 2018, Firstborn won Ream Makers' paranormal book award as well as Book of the Year. The duology is currently in development for TV by Radar Pictures and Ed Burns' Marlboro Road Gang Productions. [16] November 2018 Deadline Hollywood announced the CW Network had bought the series, with CBS TV Studios joining production and Orphan Black's Chris Roberts attached to show run and write. [17]

The Line Between , Lee's apocalyptic thriller about a young woman ousted from an Iowa doomsday cult as a pandemic breaks out across the United States, entered development for TV by Radar Pictures and Marlboro Road Gang Productions prior to its release, as reported by Deadline Hollywood. [18] The book debuted January 2019 as Amazon's #1 medical thriller, won a silver Literary Titan award September 2019, [19] and was a Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist for best mystery/thriller of 2019. [20] The sequel, A Single Light, released September 17, 2019.

Recurring themes

Lee's historical fiction is known for her depth of characterization and sympathetic rendering of traditionally maligned characters. Reviewers praise her lyrical prose, emotive settings and historical detail. Her thrillers, which feature female leads, are consistently praised for their strong heroines and breakneck pacing.

Personal life

Lee lives with her husband, Bryan, and three of four stepchildren still at home. [21]


In addition to English, Lee's novels have been published in Dutch, Portuguese, Indonesian, Spanish, Korean, Slovakian, Turkish, Estonian, Hebrew, Russian, Bulgarian, German, Italian, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, and Croatian.

The Books of Mortals

with Ted Dekker:

Awards and recognition

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