ABOUT AUTHOR: Davis Bunn is a four-time Christy Award-winning, best-selling author now serving as writer-in-residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
Defined by readers and reviewers as a "wise teacher," "gentleman adventurer," "consummate writer," and "Renaissance man," his work in business took him to over 40 countries around the world, and his books have sold more than seven million copies in sixteen languages.
I've read Emissary it was an engaging read with characters I instantly connected with. It reminded me of some aspects of Lord of the Rings with the Elves, wizards and magic. It also reminded me some of the movie Princess Bride with the crazy things happening in the forests and the magic. What inspired you to write this novel?
My first passion as a young reader was science fiction and fantasy. When I started writing at age twenty-eight, my first mentor was Arthur C Clarke. But it was not until two years ago that I finally felt that singular urge to turn from my 'tried and true' creative directions and take this on.
Leading up to this point, I had become increasingly frustrated by the constant negative directions that both fantasy and science fiction were taking. The hopelessness, the undead—many of these stories I devoured. But did they all have to be tainted by this same darkness? Was there no place any more for the same sort of heroic adventure that so thrilled me as a youngster? Finally I decided that it was time to stop complaining and do something different.
I enjoyed reading about Hyam and Joelle’s adventures. How did you go about writing this novel? What did you start creating first? The main characters? The worlds, realms or the sub-characters knights, elves, wolfhounds, Orb’s? Did you map it out? Or did you have beginning and an end then sat down and typed the story as your characters dictated?
Writing Emissary started from a point that, for me at least, was utterly new. One morning just before dawn I had an image as clear as one of my own memories, with emotions as strong as if I had actually been there. The image was of one specific scene where, about fifty pages into the novel, Hyam arrives at the Ashanta settlement known as Eagle's Claw. He meets his childhood friend by the Offering Stone, and realizes that she has undergone the change that signifies her entry into adulthood. With this small step, Hyam loses the last friend he had. He is utterly alone, and yet does not feel sorrow so much as the need to accept that his life has undergone a drastic shift of its own. One that, in truth, is as big as what has happened to his friend. Only with him, there is no formal ceremony, and no way of knowing what he is entering into. His former life is over. His new one remains a mystery.
I wrote that scene, and was so captivated by what the unfolding mystery might be, that I set aside the book I had been writing and surged into discovering Hyam's world for myself, and for the new readers.
I felt for Joelle the female lead in your novel. You have readers learn about Hyam and Joelle side by side in the novel. I liked that. Readers learn about Joelle, “The only part of her former life that the wizards had let her keep was her name. Joelle had loathed – Long Hall – the stone community at first sight. She had just turned fifteen (when she arrived there) and was to be their prisoner for life.” QUESTION: What was your inspiration for Joelle? What do you hope readers learn from her and/or discover about her or through her in your story?
One of the issues that defines our culture and society is growing diversity. Sometimes I feel that an unspoken desire within Christian church communities is to insulate themselves from what is, in the nation at large, a fact of life. We are a diverse nation, and growing more so with each passing day. This issue of joining together in peace, and breaking down the staid barriers of our personal comfort zones, needs to be addressed. As I was beginning this story I decided that here was the unspoken moral issue. Here was what the two heros – Joelle and Hyam – would help others face. That diversity is a fact of this day and age. We can learn from one another, we can grow through this change, and we can become better as a result.
Joelle’s one true friend at Long Hall was Trace – the Master who ruled over all wizards and their community.” QUESTION: I liked Trace - How did you come up with his character?
This is a really good question. Early into the writing process, far earlier than has ever happened for me, I began receiving enquiries from the film world. As a result, in a couple of places I actually structure scenes and a character that I really wanted to see on the screen. Trace was that character. I wanted someone who could be both powerful and a comic, playing a serious role and yet seeing the world through eyes and heart that never lost their sense of humor. The actor I had in mind as I wrote this, the person I actually saw in my head, was Billy Connolly. I'm happy to say that the producers agree, and are speaking with his agent. Fingers crossed!
“The Tinker pointed ahead and answered Hyam about the location of Long Hall in Havering, “its five days father on, the road forks. Then northern trail borders the forest on the mineral trace, then Gotha, and finally the provincial Capital of Calvert. The Southern route passes through Melcombe town, climbs the Galwyn Ridge, and heads straight as an arrow to Havening.” QUESTION: As I read this I wonder how you keep it all straight. Do you make up maps to refer to? What skills do you use to navigate the realms, worlds, forests so your characters and you keep it all going in the right direction?
Really this was a lot easier than I expected. It's the first time I've written a fantasy-where the world is created from scratch, so I decided to use an area that I know, but not so well that it would get in the way of making things up. I used the Iberian Peninsula, the region that contains part of France, all of Spain, and Portugal. Then in place of most of France I extended out a great desert called the Yellow Realm. So that gave me the basic framework. From that point, it was all in my head. And I did, I confess, make some fantastic mistakes. For example, I had Hyam going off in two different and totally conflicting directions at one point. What can I say? I could get lost in a round room.
I know you've been writing under the Pen name of Thomas Locke to write Sci-Fi type stories? How did that come about? What made you choose Thomas Locke?
Okay, to begin with, I need to confess something I have done my best to hide away for most of my writing career. I have written a minimum of four full-length projects every twelve months for eighteen years in a row.
I don't mean to criticize writers who hold to a slower pace. But writing is all I want to do professionally. I don't want to preach, I teach basically as an extension of this writing passion and a means of giving back to the community. Otherwise, what I really want to do is write.
So long as Janette Oke was writing, I could sort of mask my output by doing a book or two every year with her. Since her health issues forced her to retire three years ago, I've been scrambling. When Revell decided to accept these fantasy and sci-fy books and offered me this chance to write under a pen-name, I have been dancing across the ceiling. It is such a gift.
Thomas Locke is the name of an adventurer in my family genealogy, a gentleman I have admired for years and years. He was a successful silversmith and skilled furniture maker in Wales who uprooted his family and brought them to the New World – and not to New England, where so many skilled workers found employment. He set up shop in the colony of Carolina, and he thrived.
Out of all the sounds in the world what are your favorite? Why?
I am passionate about music. I have been all my life. Country, bluegrass, classical, jazz, rock, fusion.
If you had a day to yourself where you could do anything you wanted. What would you do? What would you see?
Three things would be required components of my perfect day—writing a wonderful new scene, surfing some really wonderful waves, and spending long and sweet hours with my wonderful wife.
What two jobs have you had that would surprise people?
Starting at age eleven, I worked for seven years as a dock hand and sailing instructor on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That first year I worked a sixty hour week and was paid the incredible sum of fifteen dollars a week. I was rich.
What books and/or movies have you inspired you? Encouraged you as a person and as a writer?
Film: Last night I went to see the final installment in the Hobbit series. Watching the credits was a bittersweet moment. Peter Jackson has done an excellent job bringing the Tolkein series to life, something I yearned to see for decades. But it is over now, there will be no more, and that was hard.
Books: The first author to rock my world was Robert Heinlein, a writer of science fiction in the fine classical and heroic sense. I am not speaking of his later works, those which followed Stranger in a Strange Land. If you want to know Heinlein as I knew him, check out the books that came before. Strong characters who were faced with impossible challenges and grew through them.
Nora: THANKS for stopping by Davis and helping us get to know you and learn more about this exciting new series. I am looking forward to seeing where you go with this. I'm THRILLED that Revell is giving away 5 copies of this book at The Book Club Network site www.bookfun.org It's Free and Easy to Join. Click the Book Cover on the front page to enter the contest all you have to do is answer one question. It's easy as that.
SEE YOU THERE!!
LINK TO REVIEW of EMISSARY http://psalm516.blogspot.com/2015/01/emissary-by-thomas-locke-reviewed.html
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com