Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Thomas’ newest book, “The Golden Vial.” Winner will be announced in the next Author Spotlight feature. Congratulations to Patricia Barraclough for winning Valerie Fraser Luesse’s book, “Missing Isaac.” Please email my assistant christenkrumm {at} gmail {dot} com to claim your prize. 

Author Spotlight Thomas Locke

“A wonderful journey away from the real world. . . . A fine start to this intriguing series.”–RT Book Reviews, 4 stars, on Emissary

“A deftly crafted and highly entertaining fantasy action/adventure novel from beginning to end.”–TheMidwest Book Review on Merchant of Alyss

When a hidden evil threatens to destroy the realm, a young orphan, untested and untrained, could mean the difference between victory and total defeat.

Vulnerable and weakened by grief after a terrible loss, Hyam has been struck by a mysterious illness that threatens to claim his life. Seeking to help Hyam and restore the realm, Queen Shona travels to Hyam’s remote hometown to find answers and offer aid.

Dally has always had abilities far beyond those of a normal human—far-seeing and magic come naturally to her. Before the arrival of Shona and her army, Dally had always kept her abilities secret. But with an ancient evil bearing down on her village and the fate of the realm hanging in the balance, the orphaned servant girl steps forward to do what no one else can. Will the battle claim more than Dally is willing to give?

Purchase a copy of The Golden Vial
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Bunn_TDavisDo you have a day job as well? If so, what is it?

Writing is my day job. The other work is…other work. Mostly I teach. I use this as my means of giving back to the writing community, and do this as much as I can, both lecturing and working as mentor to writers. This year I’m teaching in the UK, the Far East, and the US.

When did you start writing your first book?

I was twenty-eight. I wrote for nine years and finished seven books before my first was accepted for publication.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did the genre choose you?

It’s a little of both. When I first started getting published, the restriction of one author/one genre did not exist. There were a number of best selling authors who leapt across boundaries with every book. Herman Wouk was one example, he had a huge impact on my early structure.

My, how times have changed.

Does writing energize you or exhaust you?

Writing energizes, teaching exhausts. Both are beautiful.

What kind of research do you do? How long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

My work is known as being carefully researched. But there is a secret, one I have never shared before: This does not mean, spending huge amounts of time pouring through books or traveling and hunting down the small details. The first question that must be answered, if an author is going to use their time well, is this—what is crucial to the story. Find these issues. Then find one answer. Everything else is pure indulgence, and can create an anchor that will sink an author’s creative output.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any advice you’d give to yourself? Or to aspiring writers?

My suggestion, which I urge you to seriously think and pray over, is to attend one of the major Christian writers’ conferences that take place around the country each year. Tell me where you now live and I will give you the one closest to you.

The primary issue, beyond determining whether your story has commercial potential, is having the chance to discover whether you should write the story yourself. And if not, the opportunities to meet with potential co-writers is really enormous.

By far the largest of these is the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference each April in the retreat center outside Santa Cruz, California. Google the name for more details.

Can you please tell us about your newest book, The Golden Vial?

The story centers upon life choices, and how so often what we see as a burden can in time become the source of our greatest opportunity. Dally is a lovely young woman who lost her family in an early attack on her homeland. She is reduced to serving in the kitchen of the town’s mayor, and faces the hardship of not belonging anywhere. Then a series of events occur that sweep her up and transform her world.

First, Dally discovers an uncommon knack for communicating with animals, most especially the wolfhounds raised by her patron. Gradually she discovers that this small gift actually is part of a much larger transformation, one that permits her to communicate with people she has never met. These events sweep Dally up, showing her that all the fragments of her life actually fit together in a powerful fashion. But in order to achieve her full potential, first Dally must cast aside all the reasons she has built within herself to fail. To succeed, she must accept the challenge of growth, and the responsibilities that come with exceptional gifts.

How did you become interested in writing fantasy?

My first passions as a young reader were fantasy and science fiction. When I started writing at age twenty-eight, my first mentor was Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly frustrated by the constant negative directions that both fantasy and science fiction were taking. Distopian fiction, hopelessness, the undead—Do 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.

Screen Shot 2018-01-07 at 8.00.38 PMWhat type of preliminary work was required before you began to write The Golden Vial?

A lot of good writing comes down to asking the right questions. This has never seemed more important to me than with Emissary. The empty page is open to any number of potential directions—how the characters see their world, what challenges will they face, how do they react, what they strive for…the questions are endless.

But in a fantasy, even the blank page is redesigned. All the normal rules governing human existence are thrown open. What makes a great fantasy is redesigning reality in a way that resonates with the reader. Helping them see life in a new way, but one they can still recognize within their own normal existence. It is such a wrenching challenge, and so beautiful when you get it right.

The first lesson I learned from Arthur C Clarke was to obey the laws of the world I create. The second was, the more outlandish the construct of my story, the more vital it becomes to create believable characters with emotions that resonated in the readers’ minds and hearts. If this book succeeds, it is because I have succeeded in following his instruction on these two points.

What do you hope readers can learn from your book?

Soon after my last Thomas Locke book was released, I received a really strong review from the national bookclub magazine. The reviewer then asked to speak with me by phone, and she revealed that she is going through chemotherapy. And she thanked me for helping her to completely escape from herself for three days. She said what was greatest to her was that she came away from the book with a new sense of hope. I have to tell you, that is just about the finest response I have received in my twenty plus years as a published writer. And it is exactly what I would love to learn other readers have found here, a chance to fly away with this story as their personal magic carpet, and return to earth with a renewed sense of hope.

What are you working on next?

Film rights to the first book in this trilogy, Emissary, has been acquired by a UK production company. They hope to begin filming in six months. I wrote the screenplay, and have become involved in redrafts to fit with the requests (demands) of investors. This will happen again when stars are signed. That takes up a good deal of my time just now.

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Thomas Locke is a pseudonym for Davis Bunn, an award-winning novelist with worldwide sales of seven million copies in twenty-five languages. Davis divides his time between Oxford and Florida and holds a lifelong passion for speculative stories. He is the author of Emissary and Merchant of Alyss in the Legends of the Realm series; Fault Lines, Trial Run, and Flash Point in the Fault Lines series; and Recruits and Renegades in the Recruits series.

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