In a world where every emotion but fear has been eradicated, and the primary objective of every person is to follow Order, a vial of blood holds the key to life. From the minds and hearts of Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee comes Forbidden (Center Street), the first novel in The Books of Mortals series—a sweeping saga set in a grim, medieval future.

Already a best-selling author many times over, Ted writes adrenaline-packed thrillers and allegory-filled fantasies. “I’ve upped the ante and written this epic with Tosca Lee,” Ted says. “The result speaks for itself. We both wrote every chapter, which took twice the time, something I’ve never done before.”

Tosca’s novels Demon and Havah (B&H) shattered barriers in Christian publishing and she quickly gained a following. She says it’s the duo’s complementary strengths that make this partnership work. “Anyone who reads Ted’s books knows he’s particularly brilliant when it comes to pacing, plot, action,” she says. “Those are very classic Dekker trademarks. The things that I’m known for tend to be language, prose, description.”

“Her stunning prose with my native, no prisoners storytelling has created a singular voice,” Ted adds.

“It’s very difficult for us, even now, to go back and say, ‘I wrote this. I wrote this sentence, this is mine,’” Tosca put in. “Every now and then I can see a phrase or a word, and I can remember penning it, but it’s very, very difficult anymore to know who wrote what.”

Tosca shares how this unique collaboration came about: “If you look at the kind of things he’s interested in thematically, they’re very similar to the kind of things that interest me. The same kinds of stories move us.” Emails about their writing led to the suggestion of writing a series together. “The idea was to do something that neither one of us could produce alone. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

The adventure they created commences when a young artisan is given an ancient vial of blood and a cryptic vellum. Forced to flee, Rom drinks the blood and is flooded by unfamiliar passions. Wonder. Sorrow. Love. He realizes the rest of the world is dead, feeling only fear, and begins a journey to bring back that which is forbidden: true life.

“At the very beginning of this project, we started with the theme,” Tosca says—but each author came at the same theme from slightly different angles. “I know that this series is a chance for Ted to examine God’s greatest creation, which is humanity. What does it mean to be made in God’s image? For me, it was: What does it mean to be fully human? What does it mean to be truly alive?”

Ted elaborates on the series title, The Books of Mortals. “Mortal simply means ‘Alive’ and as such belonging to the world of the living, not the dead. It’s a provocative word, because it also can mean ‘severe’ or ‘dangerous’ and being truly mortal is a dangerous thing.”

“I am so grateful to Ted’s readers, for embracing me and this project,” Tosca says. “One note from one reader will carry me for days.”

The next two books in the series, Mortal and Sovereign, come out in 2012. “Initially we intended on delivering the series over three years,” Ted says, “but the enthusiasm has grown so quickly behind closed doors that the publisher called us, begging us to allow them to release all three in one year.”

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