Davis Bunn is Thomas Locke
A joyful smile and youthful enthusiasm greeted me upon meeting Davis Bunn. We sat to talk about his writing, when with an ecstatic smile he asked, “Would you like to hear about my two new series?” A fan and author of sci-fi and fantasy myself, how could I resist? He explained at the time, since this was the first interview in regards to these books that I’d have to sit on our conversation until now. But the time has finally come when we can discuss the author and his exciting new identity as Thomas Locke.
In 2015 Davis Bunn, writing as Thomas Locke, will release inaugural novels in two new series:Legends of the Realm and Fault Lines. And so Davis Bunn and I sat and discussed our mutual appetite for these two genres, sci-fi and fantasy, and his series that will fill them with light and hope.
He explained that growing up he had a passion for science fiction and fantasy books, but as of late he’s become increasingly distressed about the growing darkness that predominates these genres. “Last year I had an epiphany about what had been lost in fantasy in particular,” Bunn said. He clarified “This isn’t so much the case with science fiction, because it is a relatively new thing, so it doesn’t have the same legacy.” He explained that fantasy has been around since the Greeks, but the amount of authors writing the classical structure and the number of books being published has decreased.
When people hear ‘epic fantasy’ they automatically think of a long book with many pages, but Bunn pointed out that the Hobbit is a relatively short book, yet it is an epic fantasy. Epic fantasy follows the hero’s journey and that’s what makes it such, not a large word count. Bunn explained, “The hero’s journey is about the dilemma that the character faces inside and is a reflection of the dilemma the character faces on the outside. The only way they will arrive at a positive climax is if the main character learns the definition of right action, right vision, and right moral structure.”
Bunn smiled as he gathered his next thoughts. It energized me and caused me to want to hear more. He has this gift for explaining the depths of his passion for writing, that causes you to draw knowledge and excitement as he reveals the inner workings of his art form.
Bunn began again, “A year and a half ago there was a real feeling of being impacted by an invitation to do something about the change in styles.” Simultaneously he had been talking about this issue in literature with a dear friend who is the head of the largest publisher in Italy. He decided then that he was going to try to right a classical fantasy for the modern reader. He started by taking the heroic structure and built the classical fantasy around the idea of a contemporary suspense.
Davis explained about this first book, Emissary (Revell), “The story is not contemporary suspense, but the writing style is so that it has quick description, strong point of view, and two very powerful central characters that are inexplicably bound together long before they ever meet. With a dilemma that gradually grows to the point that either they learn what they need to learn or the world is in great peril.” He stopped and thought, I wouldn’t have guessed it possible, his eyes got brighter and his smile larger, “I had such a great time. It was a ball; I had such a great time,” he said of writing Emissary.
And though Bunn is a well-established author with more than 8 million copies in print, finding a publisher was a bit harder than he expected. “This is so far away from what I normally write,” he added. But he loved the book and the genre so much he actually started writing the sequel before placing the series with a publisher. But then he was struck with a new idea, one based around the same core moral construct, so he stopped writing the sequel and moved to this next project. In the end he had a completed fantasy novel and a completed science fiction novel.
He clarified that this sci-fi novel is called more specifically “near time science fiction.” This brand of sci-fi is set in the contemporary world, but includes an area of cutting edge scientific research or in some cases events like an alien invasion. The advantage for near-time-sci-fi is that it’s not sold in the science fiction section of the bookstore, but the mainstream fiction shelves. Davis pointed to one of his (and mine) all time favorite authors, Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park (the first one only). The timeline was current, but the science was cutting edge and resulted in a change to what exists at this time and place.
So in June of 2013 Davis was sitting on two completed novels one sci-fi and one fantasy, with no publishing home. He chuckled, “They were just orphans, little globules, of electronic data sitting in my computer. Just lonely lost diamonds and I was so pleased with them, thought they were incredible.” He showed them to a couple of his publishers, but they thought he was nuts. The stories were so far away from his fans’ expectations.
Then Revell stepped up and decided to take the books, with two conditions. One, the books would come out under a pen name and Davis Bunn would not be attached to the physical book in any way, only on the web would the connection be known. Second, he had to write two books a year, one sci-fi and one fantasy, with six books total spanning three years. The fantasy books will come out each January and the near-time-sci-fi will release each August. He explained that these books are not overtly Christian novels. While they contain nothing that would turn away a Christian reader, they will appeal to a much broader audience, much like Lord of the Rings has. Indeed the fantasy, Emissary, has a Tolkienesque heroic structure, while Trial Run is a mainstream near-time-sci-fi.
I asked Bunn to explain more about the six books. Would each series be one long narrative, or would the novels be stand-alone? He explained that all have a central theme and central characters, but each story brings in new characters and places, the question asked in each book is different. Again he mentioned, Michael Chriction, as an example. “The problem with the sequel to Jurassic Park (Lost World),” he began, “was that it asked no new questions.” His books will be different, each asking a new question to be answered. For example, Trial Run, will ask the question, “What if we arrive at the time where privacy became a myth, what happens?” It is a relevant topic with recent revelations about data mining by the NSA.
Lastly I wanted to know how he expects his fans to respond to his new venture. He explained while he hopes many will enjoy these new books, he does expect to engage with a younger, new audience. He will also continue to write other family-friendly fiction under Davis Bunn.
Stay tuned in the upcoming year for the launch of the career of Thomas Locke. His series are sure to be engaging, thought-provoking novels capable of appealing to a vast audience.
This article was originally published in FamilyFiction Edge December 2014. View the full issue here for FREE!