Thomas Locke

Q&A With Thomas Locke: Why is the ‘Emissary’ Protagonist Named ‘Hyam’?

Why is the protagonist in Emissary named HyamQ: The protagonist in Emissary is named Hyam – a Hebrew name derived from the word chayyim, meaning “life.” Was your choice of that name significant?

Thomas Locke: Yes. Hyam was used in 17th and 18th century England by the Jewish community. In 1655 the Protestant ruler of England, Oliver Cromwell, abolished all restrictions that had formerly governed Jewish life.

In response, many families of that generation named their firstborn sons ‘Hyam,’ for this new gift of life and freedom in their adopted homeland. It is a name that has always resonated with me, and I loved being able to apply it in Emissary.

Emissary by Thomas LockeMore Q&A

Check out more Q&A posts here at TLocke.com and also at DavisBunn.com:

Readers Weigh in on ‘Emissary’

Here are excerpts from early reader reviews of Emissary, my epic fantasy novel that releases January 6, 2015.

Emissary by Thomas LockeTracie Heskett, on her blog:

5 stars – excellent

Thomas Locke gives readers the ingredients for great fiction in his new epic fantasy, Emissary: characters we care about, an inward and outward quest for the hero, and meaningful relationships between characters.

The author’s signature writing style, in which every word counts, carrying action and emotion, only adds to the story. I especially love the character development of the three main characters and would read more about these three.

There is one thread left unresolved regarding the main character, although there are hints. This reading experience left me wanting to reread the other Thomas Locke books.

Mary Siversten, via Facebook:

Thomas Locke has become one of my favorite authors with his new book EMISSARY. I took this book along with me on a recent trip and found myself wanting to stay in the hotel room and finish reading. I was captivated from the very first page!

Thomas Locke creates characters and a world with amazing detail and utterly believable without being overly wordy. If you want a great book that’s totally clean and worthy of a spot on your bookshelf, this book is for you!

Linda Pusey, commenting on my blog:

Tolkien baffled me 40 years ago as a high schooler so I stuck to inspirational fiction. But when I came onto your books, I was absorbed both with the intrigue and richness in your writing. Now, almost halfway through Emissary, I am captivated. Every word paints another stroke; the hero remains pure while taunted by evil; supporting characters are bold and noble or threatening and unimaginably frightening.

I am thrilled to read your Q&A about your reasons for entering the sci-fi market! As a grandmother of 6 and school volunteer, I will champion your efforts to restore gallantry and integrity, and you are doing it very, VERY well.

Danny Douglas, commenting on my blog:

The story is written in the way only a few authors can accomplish In this day and age. The characters are well defined and you had me from the beginning. I had trouble with the book aspect, since I only read on my Kindle, I actually ask my wife how to “use one of these” referring to the book.

I am happy to say this is the only problem I had. Fiction fantasy is a favorite of mine and I now consider Thomas Locke my favorite fantasy writer. As Hyman continues his adventure, I know that the creator of his character is guided by the creator of the universe. This makes it easy to look forward to further adventures.

Edward Arrington, via Goodreads

Thomas Locke has set out to write an epic fantasy similar in nature to “Lord of the Rings.” I don’t typically read fantasies but I am familiar with this author’s other works. I was not disappointed in the least. I found this book so well-written and riveting that I expect to be reading more fantasy fiction in the future. A real strength of this book is that it proves that an author can weave a story of such magnitude without using vulgarity in words or actions as so many authors seem to think is necessary now in order to sell books. As a grandfather, I do not want books in my home that I would be embarrassed for any of my family to pick up and read.

…There are a lot of amazing and unexpected twists throughout. Whenever I thought I was starting to figure things out, a new wrinkle would get added that took things in a different direction. The characters continued developing as the story progressed. When they think they have gone as far as they can, they find they have just a little more in reserve…I strongly recommend Emissary to anyone who enjoys fantasy in particular as well as anyone who simply loves a good story of good versus evil.

Janelle Faulk, via Facebook

5 stars

Thomas Locke hit a home run with Emissary! …The characters are well written, and Locke keeps his scenes somewhat fast paced, but not so bogged down in description that you lose interest.

If you have ever felt like you never belonged, just for a moment, and you like fantasy, I recommend this book! If you are a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, I recommend this book!

Q&A With Thomas Locke: Does ‘Emissary’ make any political statements?

Does Emissary make statements about hot button issues

Q: Does Emissary make any political statements about hot button issues?

Thomas Locke: I had not even considered that until you asked! One potential hot button issue is the concept of lines of power deep inside the earth that can be tapped. It’s a bit like what Native Americans talk about when they describe the connection between medicine men and the spirit world. I’m waiting with my breath held for someone in the conservative community to complain. But there were no ulterior motives; it just seemed like a good story concept!

A New Kind of Review for a New Kind of Story

I’d like to share three reader reviews of Emissary from Emmanuel James Boston, Dave Milbrandt and Steve Hilton. I suspect you’ll enjoy each reviewer’s unique style as much as I did!

Mystery embedded in mystery

Emissary by Thomas LockeBy Emmanuel James Boston, originally published on his blog

Thomas Locke delivers something to his readers that, by all measures, is really quite good. Mystery embedded in mystery. Adventure in fantasy. Love in trust. Story in words.

Instead of giving you a book summary like many of the other reviews, I’ll give you a more analytical/critical review to help you gauge (not whether it will be a riveting story, but) whether you want to read this philosophy over-against competing philosophies.

Book Philosophy:

Greater good can be had in denying myself, even being willing to sacrifice everything, and pursuing the cause of the outcast and the downtrodden; in pursuing good for goodness’ sake.

Main Point:

Sacrifice self, pursue good

Supporting Points:

  •  There are greater things at stake
    People follow whom they can trust
  •  Every individual needs others
  • There are mysterious, guiding forces at work

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Setting: Medieval world, undefined universe

Plot Flow: Ascending, monochronic; Rags-to-riches; quick-paced

Additional literary elements:

  • Self-discovery, community building, battle
  • The primary characters presented offer the antitype Hero-Leader, Chaos-Villain, comforter, and sage

Cultural Target: youth, young adults, fantasy

A few mechanical corrections need to be made—there were several times in the first 50 pages that a sentence felt cumbersome or lacking in a word. But after these first few, the writing style and sentence structure was flawless. So perhaps it was simply that I needed to get accustomed to the way Locke was writing, but nonetheless: there were a few times I had to reread a sentence because I couldn’t distinguish subject from object or distinction of antecedents.

Along a similar vein, there were several times in the book that I thought the plot developed too quickly—almost like there were gaps in the plot development (not to be confused with plot holes!). It occasionally thought: “There wasn’t enough time for Hyam & Co. to determine that course of action. He didn’t even have a chance to think through the events.”

Hyam seemed to respond too quickly and adeptly—he’s not done these things before, but he is somehow the perfect leader in every situation and knows how to react to things that are coming his way. If it were intended in Hyam’s characterization, he would appear haughty and presumptuous, but the characterization of Hyam was humble and compassionate (albeit holding grudges).

And occasionally it seemed like Locke didn’t spend enough time staging and describing the scene—this critique I know will be dismissed by most because many people want to ‘get to the story/action’ and find description overbearing, but I sometimes found myself rushed from one area to another without ever getting a chance to ‘look around’ as it were, and experience. Now this was not always the case, but I think more often than not the pace of the story was too quick for enjoying the world… and to be honest it was never quite clear in the story why there was such a rush. It seemed like Hyam ‘just knew’ that everything had to be done as expeditiously as possible without a clear plot element that gave cause.

And yet! All these critiques being leveled, the story was so good that all was quickly forgiven. The problems didn’t really even matter because the whole package was so enjoyable the whole time. In fact, all you have to do is read other reviews to understand the things that are so excellent.

I give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to any fantasy readers as young as age 10.

Visiting new lands

By Dave Milbrandt, author of Chasing Deception, originally published on his blog

One thing I have learned as an author is that once you have drawn readers into your type of storytelling, they are hungry for more. There is a reason John Grisham uses the same structure in most of his novels: it sells really, really well.

But sometimes as a writer you want to explore a new type of story or different genre altogether. The fear, of course, is that people won’t join you on this journey. I have a manuscript in the works that is a significant departure from my first book and I am pondering how to market the project. I even briefly thought of using a nom de plume to separate it from the sequel I also am planning to Chasing Deception.

Speaking of assumed identities, one of my favorite authors who I had a chance to meet at a writers conference a decade ago, has written a new mythic fiction book under a pen name. While I normally don’t write book reviews on my blog, I thought I would make an exception here because I admire how this award-winning author bravely is striking out in a new direction with this work, thus encouraging me to do the same.

Locke was wise to publish this title under a different name, as it is a departure from what people expect from him. His other works are distinctly Christian in nature and Emissary, while not anti-Christian, stays true to the mythic fiction genre in a way that might make his regular readers uncomfortable. In particular, there are mages who use spells to battle evil forces. While this might upset some in his traditional audience, he would not be true to the body of literature he is joining if he ignored such elements.

Having said that, I must note Emissary is quite well structured, blending character development and conflict to engage the reader throughout the tale. The work is reminiscent of Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon series in that it embraces the mythic fiction genre but avoids some of its darker elements. You may have the use of magic, but the force is more of a weapon against evil than a blueprint for the reader channeling such powers for his or her own use. There are battle sequences and a romantic subplot, but Locke refrains from the graphic narrative techniques so popular today. Game of Thrones, it is not.

In Emissary, Locke reinvents himself, writing in a grand style evocative of his earlier work. He takes us to a new land resplendent in rich detail and introduces us to flawed heroes driven to impact the world around them in a powerful and dynamic fashion. Locke dives deep into the world of mythic storytelling, creating compelling characters readers would follow on a grand quest to fight the forces of evil.

Sign me up for the next adventure!

There’s more to Hyam than meets the eye

By Steve Hilton, on ChristianBook.com

The e-mail I received inviting me to review THE EMISSARY by Thomas Locke informed me:

This is a new kind of story that focuses on the positive aspects that come from our life walk: courage in the face of hardship, growth, and change.

Every one of us must wrestle with these issues as we make the break between choosing to live our lives according to principles of the kingdom of hell, or by the principles of the kingdom of heaven. The Lord Jehovah, through his servant Moses, declared: I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, (Deuteronomy 30:19, HCSB)

Life is not about choices, life is a series of choices, and living ones life in light of the ramifications of the choices that we make. And that message is declared on every page of Scripture.

Enough preaching. On to the story itself.

Hyam, the hero of our story, is much like the crops that he grows; the fruit on the surface is abundant, rich, and varied . . . and yet there is more to him than meets the eye. The roots run deep; deeper than even Hyam knows. His mothers dying request is for Hyam to return to Long Hall, where he spent five years as an apprentice . . . and where his extraordinary capacity for mastering languages came to light. It was also a place that holds bitter memories for Hyam, and the one place to which he had vowed never to return. But how can one deny his own mother? When Hyam dares to seek out the Mistress of the Sorceries, her revelations rock his world to its very core. An encounter with an enchanting stranger reminds him that he is part hero and part captive. As Hyam struggles to interpret the omens and symbols, he is swept up by a great current of possibilities–and dangers.

Thomas Locke writes with an attention to detail that doesn’t bog one down with the details. The action varies as the scenes change, but is intentionally directed to the final resolution. The characters are complex, and yet one doesn’t really see them as characters at all. From the opening pages, one is swept off ones feet and taken where the stories, and dreams, and aspirations . . . and the dangers, and the heartaches, and the losses . . . take one.

I’m reminded of the preface to HUCKLEBERRY FINN:

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

Because Mark Twain desired the reader to join in the adventure not psychoanalyse the author, or subject the story to the typical literary critique. As Thomas Locke desires in EMISSARY.

Q&A With Thomas Locke: How do you hope to encourage ‘Emissary’ readers?

How to you hope to encourage Emissary readers

Q: Is there any lesson or encouragement you hope to instill in readers of Emissary?

Thomas Locke: I most want to take readers back to the type of story that meant so much to me as I was growing up.

During our formative years – up until around age 30 – we are reinforcing our world view when we read for entertainment. But much of the fantasy that’s being published today doesn’t offer that sense of courage and inspiration that used to be prevalent in fantasy and science fiction novels.

Of course, not all of the “classic” authors wrote uplifting work. Ray Bradbury is one example. But even Bradbury’s writing gave me a sense of mind-bending escape and the opportunity to dream and envision more than what was available in world around me.

The books I loved most offered hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for growing into someone who could have these sorts of adventures. I want to infuse that hopefulness into my characters, and not give in to the temptation of creating characters who are only bitter and cynical.

In Emissary, key themes include courage in the face of fear, travel to unknown destinations, and new personal avenues of growth and development. I’ve tried to bring each of these into a story structure that’s applicable to today’s culture.

Christian Fiction’s Growing Mainstream Appeal

I am so impressed with an article in Library Journal by Julia M. Reffner. In “Crossing Over,” Reffner examines the multitude of changes in the fiction market, and explains the growing mainstream appeal of what used to be called “Christian fiction.”

In the section, “Testing new waters,” Reffner writes:

Also seeking new opportunities is best-selling CF author Davis Bunn, who is set to release a completely new brand of novels, published by Revell Books, under the pseudonym Thomas Locke.

“These novels will provide the same suspense and intrigue that his readers have come to expect, but with story lines targeted to the general market,” explains Revell publicist Claudia Marsh.

His first Locke book, Emissary, is an epic fantasy (Jan. 2015), something new for Bunn, although he is an avid fan of the genre. In June arrives the second Locke title, Trial Run, a technothriller that launches the “Fault Lines” series.

Reffner mentions over 50 books in her article; I’m considering adding many of them to my must-read list!

I’d love to hear your thoughts about her article in the Comments section.

First Reader Reviews of ‘Emissary’

Emissary by Thomas LockeMy publisher generously provided Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) of Emissary to a number of volunteer reviewers. As these reviewers receive their books, they’ve been emailing me their first impressions. I thought you might enjoy their comments:

 

“I already read it! Incredibly compelling speculative fiction! It warrants great reviews!”

-LaVonne Svenhard

 

“I received my copy of Emissary and LOVED it!  I will be writing my review over the Thanksgiving holiday. On my blog I’m going to gush because I really did enjoy this book and can’t wait for the sequels.”

-Cindy Anderson

 

I finished reading “Emissary” early this morning. Even though it does not fit with what I normally read, I found it very interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

-Edward Arrington

 

“I received my copy of Emissary and I finished reading it this morning. Wow!

I have never read much fantasy but I decided to give this a try because I’ve never been disappointed by anything written this author. Emissary was no exception. The story cast a spell on me and I couldn’t put it down. And I can’t wait for more.”

-Tina M. Hunt

Official Reviews

Here are excerpts the first “official” reviews from readers. Click the links to read the full review.

Sherry Arni on Goodreads:

Emissary takes place in a world that is often frightening and dangerous. Ominous forces threaten the realm, and most of those who have the wisdom and power to stop these forces have been hidden away, their powers forbidden.

Hyam, a young man with a mysterious lineage, turns his back on all that is familiar to become the reluctant leader of a brave, loyal group of mages, soldiers, and a beautiful, equally mysterious young woman, all of whom are dedicated to freeing the realm from the terror that threatens to destroy the realm.

Characters are well-drawn, action moves quickly and urgently, and the writing transports the reader to the realm. It has been awhile since I last read fantasy; this novel was a good journey back to that genre.

 

Kathleen Smith on Goodreads:

…The character development was very well written and with each chapter I could see the characters forming in my imagination! Some of the writing could be better written with explaining how Hyam got from one town to another as in the beginning. It skips a bit without much detail on how the main character gets from one place to another.

Hyam, Joelle, Bryna as well as a flock of other interesting characters fill the pages with a deep sense of sorrow, wanting, and a lust to be free. The main characters could each have a separate book written about them and their races that would be just as fascinating as this book was. I will leave that to the author…

I rate this book a 5 out of 5 stars and would recommend anyone who loves mythical, magical science fiction and fantasy! I can’t wait for the sequel and once again this author has found a true treasure in this book lover’s heart!

 

Jan Jonaitis on Facebook:

…In the beginning I was a bit confused with all the descriptive text, but it did not take too long for this old lady to figure out what was going on.

Emissary centers around a young man who is raised on a farm. When he accepts the wish of his dying mother his life changes drastically. He makes numerous discoveries regarding his heritage. In the first few chapters your head is spinning trying to figure it out.

But as Hyman (hero) cannot figure out his heritage you just decide to fall into the story and allow Hyman to grow. The story involves a number of wizards who are: young, old, crafty, honest, gossipers, witty, proud and learned.

All the soldiers are shown in their true colors of either honest or untrustworthy. The other characters flow through the story and at times I felt a bit overwhelmed with the descriptions, idiosyncrasies and personalities of the characters.

The nemesis is unnamed throughout the story. This I enjoyed. There are only so many names of characters in a story to keep remembering who and where they fall in to the plot. Knowing the nemesis had no name actually made it a better story for it allows the imagination to kick in.

You will not be disappointed with your choice of reading “Emissary” by Thomas Locke.

 

Sue Stevens on Facebook:

… I was very interested to see what my favorite author would do in the fantasy realm – and I wasn’t disappointed. As hoped for, the pacing keeps the heart pumping… even when we are just meeting and getting to know Hyman, Joelle, Trace and others whom we come to care about quickly.

New races of Ashanta and Milantian are introduced and in the early stages of the novel, it takes a bit of time to get adjusted to who they are, their history and characteristics. But it’s a fascinating journey.

The descriptions of this world and the magic once again at work in it are cinematographic and spectacular… sweeping you along. Fans of great fantasy like J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Stephen Lawhead and others will be eager to jump into this realm and join the fight against Evil.

Q&A With Thomas Locke: Define ‘Epic Fantasy for Modern Readers’

What is epic fantasy for modern readers

Q: Why did you choose to write epic fantasy and technological thrillers for the mainstream market, when many of your recent books have been contemporary suspense for the inspirational market?

Thomas Locke: For the past several years I have grown increasingly concerned over the all-pervading darkness that nowadays forms the core of both character development and story within the fantasy and science fiction genres.

Last autumn, Publishers Weekly held a global forum on where science fiction and fantasy were headed. A panel that included some of the largest New York publishers and editors in these fields brought several key elements to light. Here are the four points I found of crucial importance.

First, in this last publishing cycle—from January to June 2014—not one book has been released in either fantasy or science fiction that hearkens back to the classical heroic structure of by-gone days.

Second, both of these genres have become redefined by the electronic game industry, which is soon expected to top Hollywood films in terms of both profit and revenue.

Third, the key impact of e-games on both character and story theme was described as “grey-scaling.” This means there is no longer room for either heroes or villains. This is important in e-games because the player is offered the chance to take on every role. None are deemed wrong, or bad. All are equally valid.

Fourth, the classical story structure has been deemed passé. This structure formed the basis for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and for C.S. Lewis and the Narnia series, and has its roots in the ancient Greek heroic structure, many of which were told as fantasies.

Q: Do all readers want dark, hopeless stories?

A: Long before this conference confirmed my growing suspicions, I felt the question these NY publishers overlooked was, “What has happened to the readers of classical fantasy and science fiction? Are readers satisfied with the direction that these publishers have chosen to take?”

I do not disagree with the new direction as a concept. But I fundamentally dispute this mind-set of exclusively focusing on the new, the dark, and the hopeless.

Twenty months ago, I began working on a new project so far removed from anything I had ever done before, I feared there would be no chance of finding a publisher. But the idea ignited me to the point where I needed to follow this creative passion.

Epic fantasy for modern readers

Emissary by Thomas Locke

Emissary (book 1 in the Legends of the Realm series) follows the original Greek concept of ‘epic.’ Nowadays the term has been redefined to basically mean nothing more than, long. Originally, an epic tale was one where the principal character sought to achieve a quest. The hero’s journey, both externally and the hero’s need to conquer inner demons, formed vital life-lessons for the audience.

My aim with this fantasy was to fashion an epic that would suit modern tastes. I threw out what has become the standard format for fantasy novels, with their long-winded descriptions and elaborate settings. Instead, I used the sentence structure and pacing of a mystery. It is tight, with what I hope will be seen as a smooth and seamless action-flow that leads to a satisfying crescendo.

This project adheres to the original Greek structure of inherent value, what Hollywood refers to as ‘leave-behind.” In Emissary, the principal character rises from nothing to forge an alliance that has profound and far-reaching impact, simply by accepting the challenge of his own self-worth.

Free eBook Short

Free eBook The Captive

Get a taste of the Legends of the Realm series with The Captive, a free short story excerpted from Emissary. Visit http://tlocke.com/ for handy links your favorite online bookseller.

Let’s Network!

I’m active on several social networks. Hope you’ll join me!

Q&A With Thomas Locke: Who Are Your Favorite Fantasy Authors?

Q_A_Thomas_LockeWelcome to Tlocke.com! I’m so excited about the development of the Thomas Locke brand, which I’ll use to promote my epic fantasy and techno-thriller stories.

For over a year now, a tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes planning has been coordinated by my publisher, Revell. They’re partnering with public relations firm Edify Media, and with Blogging Bistro, who has managed my online presence for years (Blogging Bistro developed this website).

I know you have questions about why I’m using the pseudonym, Thomas Locke (my real name is Davis Bunn), and why I’m writing fantasy and techno-thrillers for the general market, when I’ve published primarily inspirational fiction for many years.

Through a series of Q&A blog posts, I’ll answer those questions and more. If you have a burning question about the new Thomas Locke brand, please ask it in the Comments, and I’ll respond in an upcoming blog post.

Do you read a lot of fantasy? Who are some of your favorite fantasy authors/books?

Throughout my childhood, my first passion as a reader was science fiction and fantasy. These stories have remained of vital interest ever since. In the early days of trying to learn writing as a new career path, my first mentor was Arthur C Clarke.

Let’s Talk!

Do you enjoy sci-fi and/or fantasy? Who are your favorite authors? Your favorite books?