Randy: My boss brought Thr3e over and we quickly got hooked. We really enjoyed that. Blink is another favorite of mine.
Ted: Blink's being made into a movie. We just came to terms on Friday. So, we're supposed to start filming February or March next year.
Randy: Are all the movies through the same company?
Ted: No, this one's different. Actually, the people making this one, it's going to be their first secular movie, and it's going to be Every Tribe-which is the people that did End of the Spear. Bill Ewing, Mark Green. That group. I'm excited to work with them. They're really good.
Randy: Is Thr3e done as far as post-production?
Ted: Thr3e's still in post-production. It's supposed to be done within thirty days. Just the final stages of sound design. It's supposed to come out January 5. I just found that out today, actually.
Randy: Great. Moving along, let's talk about your background a little bit. I know you're from a missionary family. Was it Indonesia?
Randy: Okay. Did you read a lot as a child?
Ted: Oh, yeah. We didn't have television. I pretty much lost myself in novels and comic books. A lot of comic books. The first novel that really impacted me as a child--teenager, I was probably about fourteen when I read The Stand by Stephen King. I was a missionary kid, here in the jungle, reading The Stand.
Randy: That's the one that comes to Boulder, right? The Colorado one?
Ted: Yeah. Mother Abigail. I totally lost myself in that story. I go back and read it now and think, "Oh my goodness, I read *this* when I was fourteen?" This is horrible in many respects. Really violent and a lot of bad language and all kinds of stuff. It didn't seem to phase me that much back then. When you grow up and have your own kids, it's like, "Aaahh!!"
Randy: Yeah, you're more protective of them than of yourself. How many kids do you have?
Ted: I have four. I've got a twenty-year-old in college, and all the way down to nine.
Randy: Just married off our twenty-one-year-old a week and a half ago, and they're coming back to Colorado tomorrow. My nineteen-year-old's leaving in two weeks to be a nanny in Switzerland, Michael's fifteen and we've got twelve-year-old twins.
Randy: We did it in four pregnancies, got five kids out of it.
Ted: Pretty good spread age-wise.
Randy: Yep. How did you end up in Colorado?
Ted: I ended up coming out here from California, used to live in California. Came out here just to get away from the big city.
Randy: When you left the mission field, did you go to California?
Ted: I went to college in Missouri, got married when I was 21 and then moved out to California.
Randy: What part of California?
Ted: Long Beach, Huntington Beach, San Diego. Southern California.
Randy: Before Michael was born we lived in the San Diego area. We moved out to Denver when my wife was pregnant with him. He just knows Colorado. Well, I know you may deeply resent this personal question based on the Mask, but who are some of your favorite authors?
Ted: (Laugh) I like colorful spines.
Randy: Yeah, I got that. I wanted something that was a little more unique to my interview. Here comes the music. (see Ted Dekker.com if none of that made sense)
Ted: I've actually got that mask with me somewhere. I brought it with me today and walked in with the mask on, like "Where's Ted? I'm looking for Ted."
Randy: The green one?
Ted: Yeah, the green one. I'd say Dean Koontz is my favorite author.
Randy: I haven't read his new one yet. It looks good.
Ted: I'm about two thirds through it. I read most of his stuff. I don't like all of it. I really like some of it. It's a very subjective thing.
Randy: I think the first one I read of his, I really enjoyed. It was the one with the dog and the intelligence stuff. I forget the name of it--where the dog has the super-intelligence but I can't remember the name of the book. I read it years ago. But it was a fun read.
Ted: With the guy named Christopher Snow? Was he the--anyway.
Randy: Anyway, some good stuff. But I can see some influences there, with some of the similar kind of things. I enjoyed House a lot. Michael and I both read that obviously recently because we just got it, but tell us a little about how the whole collaboration with Frank Peretti came about, how you got to know him, how that was put together.
Ted: Well, we were friends before and we were actually approached by a producer saying, "You both are getting involved in movies, why don't you guys collaborate on a movie?" And I had this idea, so I approached Frank with the idea for House, the plot. I said it would make a really cool movie. He liked the idea. Then it expanded from just being a movie to being a novel. I wrote the first draft, and he came back and modified parts of it, ended up re-writing a certain big chunk in the end. We said, "You know what, why don't you just re-write this part."
We thought, how do we work together? My stuff is edgier than his. It's more graphic. And so I said, "Okay, well, the only way for you to really have your voice in this novel is for you to write a big chunk of it yourself." So we actually divided the novel up and he wrote one chunk and I wrote the rest.
Randy: So did you get together for some planning meetings?
Ted: Oh yeah. We pretty much agreed on direction. After I wrote the first draft then we got together and said, "Let's change this, compromise here." So in the end I think it ended up being less, I think intense than the way I would have seen it playing out. At the same time it was probably...some of the characters were more developed because of his influence. It was kind of a trade-off.
Randy: Nice little collaboration. Well that's what it should be right? A little give and take.
Randy: Let's talk about the movie aspect a little bit. Your wife mentioned I believe it was Poland where you just were recently with Thr3e.
Ted: I was in Poland last year with Thr3e. I'm going there again in four days. We're starting the filming of House, which comes out next fall.
Randy: Is that being filmed over there also?
Ted: Yeah. That's in Poland.
Randy: So what's the advantage of Poland? Lower costs?
Ted: Yeah, economics and some really great talent over there in terms of production, director of photographies, crews, at substantially lower rates than here. A lot of movies are actually being shot in different places.
Randy: So is there any talk about The Circle?
Ted: You know what, that's the big dream, isn't it? I'd love to see The Circle Trilogy done. But that's a big budget movie.
Randy: Sign on WETA Workshop, good special effects.
Ted: It's a big budget movie. We're going to have to prove ourselves with some of these other ones.
Randy: Yeah. Maybe have some success with those then you'd get some interest.
Ted: That's the plan. We'll see.
Randy: Call the Walden people andů
Randy: The Disney bucks for something a little edgier.
Ted: There's a huge commitment that comes with making a movie, you know? I mean, obviously, financially it's a huge commitment, and a lot of risk. When you're making a movie for a hundred million dollars, which is what The Trilogy... I mean, even if it was sixty million dollars, that's still a huge chunk of change.
Randy: If it was only 50, that would be different.
Randy: Let's talk a little bit about the new one, Saint. Of course, it's funny, because when I was writing down some of my questions, I'd read little blurbs, now I've read a third of it, since I--
Ted: Oh, you're a fast reader.
Randy: Yeah, pretty quick. I got it at what? 3:30?
Ted: You've read already a third of it in an hour and a half? (begins to flip through book)
Randy: They gave it to me as consolation when you weren't able to come to the interview time at 3.
Randy: They rounded it up and so I started at 3:30.
Ted: That's amazing. You actually read that much?
Randy: I read every word.
Ted: That is amazing. You know how long it took me to write this? That's unfair. Do you read that fast? (to Michael)
m: Not quite that fast.
Ted: So what do you think so far?
Randy: I'm enjoying it. I wouldn't put it down, right? I've got other stuff I could be doing, but I'm enjoying it.
Ted: Yeah, obviously.
Randy: When I read a book it's literally a page-turner.
Ted: Yeah. This is really an exploration of one person known as Saint. He was a guy who was kidnapped and taken deep into the woods in Europe. Hungary, actually. There, he's completely stripped of his identity.
Randy: In the movie it'll be Poland.
Ted: (Laughs) Yeah, probably. They turn him into something very different than who he once was. He becomes a brilliant assassin. Best sniper in the world. Hands down. But later on, as the novel starts picking up pace, he gets thrown into this incredible mission. He begins to discover who he really once was, and it completely throws him for a loop. It freaks him out. And now he's got everybody in the world after him and he doesn't know who he wants to be. Really, it's a story of each one of us who are born into the Kingdom. And having been born into the Kingdom, after many years, often time the world beats the Kingdom out of us in many ways. We become someone different than when we were first born again, and we forget what it was like. It's kind of like losing your first love. And then, being reminded of what you were, we're no longer even sure that we want to be that person. We're confused. We're not even sure who we want to be in the end, as we continue life. This is an examination through one character of that same struggle that we all face, but in a very unique way, obviously.
Randy: I enjoyed and pointed out to Michael when I got to the first reference to Project Showdown. So, I've got some of the threads, tying some of the facets together, and enjoy seeing that. From what you said on your website, we can expect a few more books that have threads of the whole Project Showdown thing.
Ted: There's going to be a number of stand-alone books that have very--some more significant, some very limited--links to Project Showdown. So it'll be stand-alone--if you've never read Showdown itself, it won't make any difference.
Randy: If you have read it you'll pick up on the links.
Ted: If you have. And then at some point I want to write a novel that ties the whole thing together.
Randy: How many novels do you tend to plan out at a time? It sounds like you've got a lot of ideas going.
Ted: Well, actually, my next three novels--I have about six novels in my mind right now.
Randy: Can you keep them straight?
Ted: Well they're contracted for with the publisher.
Randy: Oh. Six that are contracted. They told me they're going to slow you down a little bit.
Ted: They are. Saint comes out in September 2006. My next novel's called Skin. It's already finished. It comes out April 2007. And then I won't have another novel until March of 2008. Skin they're going to do something different with. They're really going to push it throughout the mainstream market. As well as in CBA. They're doing all kinds of stuff they've never done before. That's going to be exciting. It really is kind of a mainstream novel, very strong--you'll read it, and you'll say "Yeah. Ted Dekker." The truth is there, right below the skin of this novel, so to speak. No pun intended. It's a novel about beauty and love.
Randy: Is that part of Project Showdown also?
Ted: It may or may not be. You'll have to read it.
Randy: (Laughing) Okay.
Ted: I'll have novels where you read the whole novel, like Skin, and you'll say "This has nothing to do with Project Showdown." Then you'll find out in another novel two years from now, "You mean that character was actually, that?" You don't know.
Randy: You're trying to mess with our minds, aren't you Ted?
Ted: That's the whole point. That's what makes it interesting, isn't it?
Michael: Like in Thr3e.
Ted: Yeah, like in Thr3e.
Randy: Thr3e, that's why I got hooked. The twists in Thr3e, I figured out some of it, but definitely didn't have it all figured out. It had some really good twists in it.
Ted: And the movie really is faithful to the book in that way. The revelation at the end of Thr3e, Samantha, Slater, and Sam--I mean Samantha, Slater, and Kevin really works in the movie. It's like the moment there where you gasp, you don't know what's coming. "You've got to be kidding!" That totally works in the movie.
Randy: Do you enjoy any of the movies by M. Knight Shyamalan?
Ted: Oh yeah.
Randy: Some of those twists, like in The Village was the first one I've seen, my daughter got it for me for Father's Day--tells you what my daughter's like, I get The Village for Father's day--but that cool twist with the current day, and that kind of stuff.
Ted: I like his movies. We'll see what Lady in the Water...
Randy: I saw kind of an extended preview on TV the other day, watched that, and it looked pretty interesting. It was about ten minutes, instead of a two-minute trailer.
Ted: Was it an interview?
Randy: No, it was like a ten-minute trailer.
Ted: I want to know whether or not in that movie, he'll really come out and instead of bailing on the viewer, like setting things up, and then "Oh, just kidding, it was just this," I wonder if he'll really deliver. It looks like he really will deliver with something very strange and supernatural happening.
Randy: Yeah. Let's talk about the website briefly. Obviously in this day and age, websites are huge, and that's what we're doing this for, is a website. I've been to several authors' sites, and it looks like you take yours a little more seriously than a lot of authors, by seriously I mean putting effort into it, obviously things like The Mask are a lot of fun, but you're taking seriously the idea of just delivering more than a list of books that you can click on to order.
Ted: Honestly, I'm really interested in developing a relationship with people like Michael. You know, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, because they're going to grow up with me. That whole market, the emerging market, emerging culture, really reacts differently to things like The Mask than the older generation. The older generation looks at The Mask--when I say old, I'll leave that up to you to decide, like my publisher, Allen Arnold, he's standing right over there, he's a good guy. No, Allen totally gets The Mask. But some of the older generation, they look at The Mask, it's kind of like the way they responded to Napoleon Dynamite, like, "That's funny? What? What's wrong with this generation?" Ask the Mask is kind of like that. The website for us, is really an important way to communicate and develop a relationship--
Randy: It's a web generation.
Ted: Right. It's a web generation. We just found out that this site, Ted Dekker.com, is actually the seventh highest ranked website for mystery and thriller writers in the world. Michael Connolly is right there above me...most writers don't take it that seriously.
Randy: Who does your web design?
Ted: Just the company. They started it out, and then I took it over. Bob Strachan is someone I've hired full time. He runs the whole thing.
Randy: Do you drive a lot of the content, or do they run ideas by you, or do you kind of originate a lot of it?
Ted: You know, I originate some of it. We're getting ready to do a lot more stuff.
Randy: What happened with The Mask is I watched it first and then told Michael, and he didn't see it until this morning. I said, "You've got to watch The Mask stuff, it's hilarious." So this morning I get out of the shower, and I hear him laughing, watching it.
Ted: We're developing a street team now. It will be limited to two hundred people who are part of the Guard. The Forest Guard. They'll get special t-shirts, armbands, and they'll be given missions. We'll be arming them, for example, with the comic book. And at the end of the comic book, there's this deal where you give it to someone, they read it, it ends on a cliffhanger, and says "If you want ten dollars off on this novel when it comes out, register." And let's say it was Michael, they'd put in his guard number online. And that assigns him certain points, and over time he raises in rank. It's called a street team. A lot of music companies do it.
Randy: I do a lot of music reviews, so I'm familiar with that.
Ted: Yeah, there you go. Street teams are very common.
Randy: What does he have to do to try signing up for that?
Ted: We'll send out an email to the entire list to open it up to people. To remain a guard member, you actually have to get 10 points, or something like that.
Randy: Or maybe they put a bunch of black hornets in with them.
Ted: There you go! That was kind of cool, wasn't it? He's talking about a scene from the book (to Michael).
Randy: It was great meeting you, Ted.
Ted: Yeah, it was fantastic. Thanks Michael. Appreciate it. Good to meet you.
Thanks to Michael Brandt for transcribing this interview.