An interview with Ted Dekker

By: Andrew Lovgren

Author Ted Dekker is an expert at melding drama with spiritual warfare, highlighting the personal struggles of the human experience. His new book, The Sanctuary, was released on October 30, and it continues to showcase a broad understanding of personal relationships and societal issues.

Just after the release of the most recent addition to his varied and exciting collection of novels, I had the opportunity to learn a bit more about this complex writer.

All of your books, from the Circle Trilogy to the Books of Mortals, there’s a theme of flawed characters, battling through their personal darkness. How do you develop the relationships between the characters and themselves?

Dekker’s latest book, The Sanctuary, is available in bookstores now.

Ted Dekker: Characters have a way of taking on their own life once the story begins. It’s the writer’s job to simply be their mouthpiece and stay out of the way as much as possible. The way I do it is by immersing myself in the story and allowing the characters to show me what the relationship should be.

Growing up in Indonesia, your childhood was in a different culture than most Americans have ever experienced. How did your childhood among the tribes adjust your worldview? How does it continue to shape your writing?

TD: Growing up in two cultures—the jungles and then in America—has given me eyes to maybe look at life with more openness than if I had simply grown up in America. In the west we compartmentalize life into false dichotomies of “secular” and “spiritual”. Most other cultures see all things as spiritual and the unseen is as real, if not more so, than the seen. That worldview has always informed my writing, and will for the rest of my life.

Continuing with your more grounded thrillers, Sanctuary is an exciting follow-up to Priest’s Graveyard. It also has a strain of social commentary on America’s prison system. What brought on the idea of investigating the system and what did you discover?

TD: Our societal structures reflect our values. We’re a society that values justice, law and rightness. Violate any of those principles and there are consequences. These same values are reflected in our beliefs on every level, including spirituality. Our system is woefully ineffective and our unwillingness to love prisoners is having severe consequences.

The Books of Mortals series poses an important question on emotions and what makes humanity. What inspired you and Tosca Lee to investigate the relationship between anger, love and fear and the human experience?

TD: It really started with my own personal questioning of what makes us human and what is the true nature of love and fear. Can love and fear in the same place or does perfect love cast out fear? And if it does, why is our personal experience usually so different from that belief?

Your writing career started with blatant Christian elements. Though your recent work has been more overt, it is still evident in your themes and characters. What do you think the Christian journey adds to the thriller genre?

TD: The greatest teaching of all is Love. It’s the point of all stories because Love is the story. That’s really what this journey adds to the genre—it makes words become flesh in a way that is very unique. The thriller genre is simply the stage on which I tell my stories.

A sequel to Priest’s Graveyard, The Sanctuary is available online and in bookstores everywhere. Check out Dekker’s other books and learn more about him at


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