Melissa: The Progeny feels like it must have been a really fun book to write. It’s fast paced, with energetic characters, and goes from the US to Croatia, to several other countries. It has a little bizarre culture and a lot of mystery; it was fun to read and therefore felt like it was fun to write. What are your thoughts about writing this novel?
Tosca: Thank you, Melissa! It was super fun. Fun because I’ve been wanting to do a thriller like this for some time, and also because my then-fiancé—now husband—is really good at brainstorming. We had so many great conversations about how to get out of impossible situations through The Progeny and its sequel, which comes out in February. These books represent such a great time in my life—getting engaged, married, and becoming a mom—that when I look back at them, I not only see the stories, but the events in my own life that unfolded during their writing.
Melissa: The Utod have court—sorta like a giant party. When I was reading Emily’s experience as she arrives as court and the description of the event as well as her emotional thoughts, I felt like I was there. I was tired by the time Emily stumbled into bed. Court felt like it might be a mix up of several different type of gatherings. What all did you draw from to create court?
Tosca: Raves! Underground masquerade raves. Just because it sounded like a blast. This is a generation—a race—of younger people who are chasing life and chasing it hard, because they don’t know when their lives could end. I just wanted them to have these scenes where they are thrumming with life and burning all that Progeny adrenaline, and getting to dress up in elaborate outfits and costumes along the way. (Because who doesn’t love a cool costume??)
Melissa: I’ve always been impressed with your characters; they’re so rich and deep. My favorite so far in this series is Luka. Really interesting guy that kept me guessing as to his allegiance. Which character is your favorite so far and why?
Tosca: Thank you! I have to say I probably enjoyed Audra the most, just because I got to be in her skin. She’s smart and nerdy and snarky. And she throws a heck of a punch.
Melissa: You visited Croatia as part of your research. Tell us a little about your visit, the fun stuff, the weird stuff, and the fodder for this series.
Tosca: The most fun part of that was getting to take my mom everywhere with me. We have a history of globetrotting—from India to Ixtapa, Transylvania to Peru. My mom loves to travel and really instilled that love in me. So when I asked her to come with me, she was already packing her bags. We ate Istrian beef in Croatia, and walked along the Adriatic in Croatia. We sampled pizza and wine in Trieste, Italy, tromped through castle ruins in Slovakia, visited “ruin pubs” in Budapest and wandered churches an hour from the Ukranian border. (When you tell anyone in Hungary that you’re going to Nyirbator, they inevitably say, “Why would anyone want to go there?” It was obscure even for Hungarians!) It was just really fun—and she loves to eat as much as I do, so it was a food tour as much as anything for us.
Melissa: Most of your books to date have been Biblical fiction and consequently, the basic storyline has already been laid out for you. Probably most of your readers are going to know what happens. However, with The Progeny, much of it is a mystery and piecing together various clues and trying to decide friend from foe. What kind of challenges did you come across while writing this one?
Tosca: It was really different and fun not knowing the outcome. As you said, most of the bones of the plot are already there when you write biblical historical fiction—the fun part is finding out the insider, historical context that throws everything into three dimensions. This time, it was all the twists and turns of figuring out what comes next in this crazy roller coaster. I loved that.
Melissa: If you found yourself in the position of having your memory erased to protect someone, what would you leave in the letter to yourself and where would you choose to start over?
Tosca: I would write volumes. Tons and tons. Because I’m the kind of person who asks too many questions and would probably get in trouble. And Greenville, Maine, seems like a good place to start over… though given the choice I’d probably pick Bora Bora.
Melissa: What’s next?
Tosca: Right now I’m in edits for the sequel to The Progeny, Firstborn. Where all the questions get answered, and the action amps up even more. After that, we’ll see. I’m having a lot of fun in this genre, so might stick around for a while!