ABOUT AUTHOR: Thomas Locke AKA 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.

What was your favorite scene in THE MERCHANT of ALYSS? Which was the most fun to write? Why?

LOCKE/BUNN : I began work on Alyss before Emissary had been accepted for publication.  I had no idea anyone would accept these stories, since they were so utterly different from what I had been writing up to that point.  Even so, I was so captivated by the concepts and the emotions that, basically, I had to write it.

My wife was speaking at a conference in San Francisco, and I had come along to play spouse.  Supposedly I was working on a story for which I did indeed have a contract, and which also had an approaching deadline.  I rented a bike and was cycling around the city when I was struck by the image of a guard standing on the parapet in a fierce winter storm, watching a new crimson image.  Who then turns away from the city, walks down to the magic grove protecting Hyam's home, and attacks?

By the time we returned home, I had the first quarter of the book mapped out.

Nora: Fun! Thanks for sharing. I don't normally read this genera but I was quickly drawn to the world your created and your main character. I felt for his situation. Emissary was a powerful story. I look forward to reading The Merchant of Alyss.

You mentioned on your website that author Michael Crichton has been an inspiration to you? Can you elaborate on that? What do you love about his books?

 LOCKE/BUNN: When I was first starting off as a writer, I read how ninety percent of a professional athletes’ exercise time was spent on strengthening the ten percent weakest part of his or her abilities.  Every author has weak points.  Part of my early years, as I struggled to learn this new craft, was spent coming to terms with what these weaknesses were.  Before I could correct them, I needed to identify them.  Which was very hard indeed.  The creative work is not something 'out there'.  It is visceral.  It is at the heart of who I am.  Which means I was not criticizing a work external to me and my character.  This went to the very heart of myself and the life I yearned to begin.  But it was also essential.

One issue I identified was a need to craft my characters more swiftly.  How to merge this hunger I had for living breathing people who literally rose from the page, to a swift-moving story.  I felt Michael Crichton was a master at this.  His dialogue and his descriptions both carried great depth, while being very terse, very taut.  Like his plots.  I modeled my early work on his example, and gradually learned how to form my own voice as a result.

Nora: Your characters are believable, do quickly grab my attention and most times touch my heart in unexpected ways. I like how you pace your stories!

Who is the ideal reader for The Legends of the Realm series? What audience did you write this novel for?

LOCKE/BUNN: I find that increasingly the younger generations within the faith community are moving away from the mind-set of their parents.  I am not suggesting that they are abandoning their faith.  What I mean is, they are abandoning their parents' concept of church. 

Many of the younger believers are trending towards a faith that dwells inside the larger mainstream world.   Their lives no longer center upon a church so large it contains its own sense of community.  They worship in home churches, or smaller centers that are focused upon outreach.  They accept a multi-cultural and multi-racial lifestyle, and seek a church that reflects this. 

And their entertainment is being drawn from this wider arena.

At the same time, they are not comfortable with much of the darkness that dominates so much of current television and movie trends.  They listen to Christian artists whose music is mainstream-oriented.  With this Thomas Locke brand, I seek to join a small but growing number of believers who are doing this with books and film.

The preliminary response, both from within the younger generations in our faith community, and from the mainstream, has been more than wonderful.  It has been a gift.

Nora: That's very interesting and very true! Thanks for putting into words what I thought was happening. I do hope they find your book. They are awesome!

There is the element of magic to the story. The main character discovers that it’s real and doesn’t know how to handle it. What do you hope readers take away from the “Magic” element in the story?

LOCKE/BUNN: It is wonderful to be asked this.  The issue of using magic was something I grappled with for quite some time.  I found such immense guidance from the works of C S Lewis and J R R Tolkein on this issue.  And here is what I determined.  Thank you so much for the chance to share this.

Four thousand years ago, when the concept of 'epic' fiction originated, there was a specific purpose behind stories where magic and mythical beasts played major roles.  The Greeks sought to create worlds that were bigger than life, with challenges and obstacles that were completely and utterly beyond the reach of mortal man.  And they did so with a specific purpose in mind.

The authors sought to portray through story that a normal human being can grow beyond the impossible challenges of life.  They wanted to show normal people, with flaws and weaknesses as great as those we all carry today, can in fact rise up.  They can triumph. 

That is what I seek to do here.  I want to return to the original aims of fantasy fiction.  I want to re-insert the concept of heroic struggle, and challenges greater than life, and triumphs over evil and darkness. 

Nora: Thank you for taking the time to answer this important matter! I think you've done what you set out to do.

What keeps you sane in the middle of craziness? Hope in the middle of stress and Life’s storms?

LOCKE/BUNN: I am going to skip the two obvious answers, my faith and my wife.  These are essential to me.  But I really feel the crux of this question is, what else offers these positive elements in hard times that might be of benefit to others?

The first for me is a positive mind-set.  Sometimes I feel as though we as a community of believers use the intimacy of shared faith as an opportunity to moan.  Where is the eternal hope here, where is the promise of the eternal gift?  Remaining anchored in the harsh times begins for me by lifting my gaze above the elements seeking to bring me down, and searching for that kernel of divine truth, the opportunity to serve, the issue that I can too easily be blind to because of stress or hardship.  But God is there, and often he is speaking to us in the midst of the whirlwind, offering us an opportunity to turn this into an act of service.  It is hard, but when I manage this the outcome is a tremendous sense of, not just accomplishment, but of hope through Him who strengthens us all.

Nora: Amen! Amen!

Out of all the interviews you’ve ever done is there a question you wished someone had asked you but didn’t? If so, what is the question and what is your answer?

LOCKE/BUNN: What a beautiful question.  There is always one such question with every book.  With Merchant of Alyss, it would go something like this:  

How did you develop such a sense of natural flow out of a realm that actually doesn't exist?  How did you manage to structure a fantasy where the logic and surprise fit together so powerfully?

LOCKE/BUNN: I feel this is a crucial element of both Emissary and MerchantAnd with these two books, the answer is extremely different. 

With Emissary, it came together as naturally as breathing.  This happens sometimes.  I wish it happened more often, but that is really in God's hands.

With Merchant of Alyss, it was the exact opposite.  I burned with this story.  I had to write it.  I began work on the first draft before I had a contract to publish the first book.  The passion and the joy were immense.  But it was still such a struggle.  And the first draft reflected this.  So I completed the work.  Then I set it aside.  Six weeks later I did a full-bore redraft.  Then I set it aside again.  Six weeks later I did another total redraft.  Then I sent it to the editors, who actually said it was great, don't change a thing.  Then I did the entire process a third time.  It went into line edits.  And I did it a fourth and final time.  A lot, lot, lot of work.  To make it smooth and simple like Emissary was at first draft.
Met Davis this summer at the ICRS Conference Orlando Florida

Nora: Wow, Thank you for sharing your journey and discoveries!

Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. 
I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN started the 20th of DECEMBER at LAST DAY to enter Dec 30th. Scroll down the front page of TBCN. CLICK on the link and answer one question to be entered!

Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows.


Nora :o)

Nora St.Laurent
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