Ted Dekker is never one to shy away from the hard questions of life. He looks at the darkest parts of us and shines light on that darkness in novels such as Blink of an Eye (Thomas Nelson, 2012), THR3E (Center Street, 2010), and the four books in the Circle series published by Thomas Nelson.

Now Dekker, who has sold more than 10 million books, has a new publisher and a new, two-book series. The 49th Mystic is first in the Beyond the Circle series being published May 15 by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. It takes readers back to the Circle universe. In the original series, Thomas Hunter, hero of the Circle books, must bridge two worlds, one threatened by a lethal virus and the other threatened by dark powers held at bay by a resistance group known as The Circle. This time Samuel of Hunter, Thomas’ son, is part of the fight against evil in his world.

It’s the first book in two years for Dekker. He told PW, “I came to a point where I realized I needed to let go of my identity as a writer, husband, father and search for my identity as a human. This is a natural progression of the journey I’ve been on for decades, to understand who I am and why I’m here.”

The 49th Mystic is also the story of Rachelle Matthews, a blind girl in Eden, Utah, who dreams of another world. She wonders which world is real and which is the dream as she wakes up in one place or the other, sometimes blind and sometimes seeing. Soon, Rachelle finds out she’s the 49th Mystic, the one prophesied in the Books of History, the scripture of the Circle society, who must recover five ancient seals hidden in both worlds before her enemies find and destroy her.

“This is a continuation of the Circle series, but a standalone,” said Dekker. “They are independent stories that intersect. The whole device in this novel is a girl who is dreaming of a reality that feels real, and when she falls asleep in that reality she wakes up in this one. It begs the question that if we’re living in a dream, what makes reality more real than the kingdom currently at hand. What makes spiritual reality less or more real than physical reality?”

The second book in the series, The Rise of the Mystics, releases in October. He wrote the first drafts of both books in a motor home he purchased for the occasion. He’d fill it with food, then drive from his Nashville home into the Smoky Mountains and stay for 12 to 14 days. He made the trip multiple times.

“The three-hour drive over there was my wardrobe into Narnia, into the world where I became the protagonist and all the characters,” said Dekker, who watched documentaries, studied quantum physics, and read books from all religious traditions to learn about the nature of reality.

The 49th Mystic is his 40th book and “the culmination of everything I’ve written,” Dekker said. This new book, he added, is written to show Christians that “we spend most of our lives completely blind about who we are.” Dekker equates Rachelle’s harrowing journey to find the five seals with a Christian’s journey to find true perspective on who they are in God’s eyes.

However, The 49th Mystic can be read “by anyone interested in awakening out of fear into the light of love,” said Dekker. “We’re all on the same journey. I’m writing authentically about my (journey), my audience’s, and every human being’s journey. We need to know that the journey from fear to God’s love is possible, and it’s the only thing that matters.”