Archive for the ‘Author Q&A’ Category

Q&A: Is ‘The Fragment’ a Cinderella Story?

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

The Fragment by Davis Bunn

Q: The Fragment feels a bit like a Cinderella story: young woman who wants more out of life is swept into a world where she feels like a fraud. Please comment.

Davis Bunn: It is so true. There are certain types of stories that just never seem to grow old.

The structure fit so well here – Muriel’s coming of age in an era where the world itself was coming of age – growing into so many of the dilemmas and challenges that shape our world today.

The Cinderella construct was hardly new with Cinderella, and it was wonderful to use that model here.

Q&A: How I designed parallel themes in two stand-alone novels

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

The Fragment, by Davis Bunn

Q: Although The Pilgrim and The Fragment are stand-alone stories that take place many centuries apart, the quest for The True Cross entertwines the plots. Tell us about your thinking/plotting process in designing these parallel stories.

Davis Bunn: My intent was to create parallels within the story of the artifact. This whole issue of reliquaries and what they represent has been a divisive factor between parts of the Christian community for 700 years.

Within the Protestant world, we tend to forget that for tens of millions of worshippers today, within the Russian church and Greek and Armenian and Catholic, these are still considered holy.

Because of my mother’s and my sister’s strong Catholic faith, I wanted to try and bring this story to life. Not just the controversy, but what this entire aspect of our shared history could mean.

Click book cover images to learn more about each book and to order from your favorite online bookseller:

The Pilgrim by Davis Bunn The Fragment by Davis Bunn

Q & A with Davis Bunn: Why take a naive woman on a clandestine mission overseas?

Friday, March 11th, 2016

The Fragment by Davis Bunn

Q: Why would a U.S. senator choose to take such an inexperienced and sheltered young woman as Muriel with him on such a clandestine and dangerous mission?

Davis Bunn: The twenties marked a dramatic turn in the rights and freedom of women. Suffrage had finally resulted in women receiving not just the vote, but legal recognition of their status.

As a result, a number of avenues were opening for them, including opportunities to do what for their mothers’ generation would have been considered utterly impossible.

Senator Bryan had, in effect, been grooming Muriel for this adventure since she entered university. He did this with her father’s approval.

Plot inspiration from my life

A personal event from my own life colored the emotional side to Muriel’s adventure. When I was twenty I left the United States for England. I graduated early from university and went to the UK to do a masters.

It was the first time I had ever traveled any distance, much less by myself. A lot of the emotions that Muriel experienced were based upon my early days.

Back to you

Tell me about a time you sensed God calling you to do something you’ve longed to do, but was outside your comfort zone.

How did you respond? What were the results? (This could be something that’s happening now, too – a tugging on your heart that you are prayerfully considering.)

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Q&A with Davis Bunn: Is photography one of your hobbies?

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

The Fragment by Davis Bunn

Q: Muriel Ross, the 23-year-old protagonist in The Fragment, is an amateur photographer. Is photography one of your hobbies?

Davis Bunn: When I entered junior high school, I met, by what I now call divine chance, a teacher who supervised the school newspaper. He was a passionate photographer, and had managed to equip a school darkroom.

Large format (4 x 5) press cameraHe chose one student from each class to serve as photographer for that year’s newspaper and yearbook. I had no experience with cameras and did not even know what I was letting myself in for. But for the next two years, I had the joy of working under a quietly passionate artist, and learned to handle myself behind the lens.

The two cameras I worked with were the precise instruments that Muriel handled. The Grafex 3 ¼ x 4 ¼
was for decades the workhorse of professional news photographers and still-artists alike. It was a monster of a machine, weighed over seven pounds, and required a series of steps to operate that at the beginning I never thought I would master.

The negatives had to be put in place by hand, in complete darkness, by feel alone. They were the size from which the camera got its name, 3 ¼ inches wide and 4 ¼  inches tall, that were fitted to either side of a glass plate which was slid into the back of the camera.

Then the protective sleeve was pulled out, the picture was shot, the sleeve put back in, the glass sheet pulled out and flipped over, then the second shot taken.

Leica cameraI carried the camera in a massive wooden case, and a second case that held a dozen glass sleeves.

Added to this was the smaller Leica and a light meter slung from cords around my neck. I looked like a complete and utter geek.

One of the high points of my junior high school career was having a photograph of our team’s center dunking a shot that ran in the local city newspaper.

What about you?

Are there any fellow photography buffs out there? Tell me about your first camera! What inspired your shutterbug love?

Reader Question: Which Davis Bunn Books are Appropriate for Young Readers?

Saturday, October 24th, 2015

Heartland by Davis BunnJulie writes:

My son is 10 and he borrowed one your books (Imposter) from his school library last week. I tried to search online to make sure his age is appropriate to read your books but no luck.

He’s still into Jackson Percy kind of books. Please advise.

Dear Julie,

I have a number of teen fans, but ten might be a little young for Imposter, which deals with some sensitive father-son issues and is a suspense novel. Two suggestions: Heartland is a teen favorite, if it’s available.

Also, I have a fantasy series that I am writing under my Thomas Locke pen name. I have made a clear separation between the Davis Bunn and Thomas Locke brands so that those evangelical readers who don’t like fantasy aren’t drawn in.

The  series, called Legends of the Realm, is being published by Revell. Emissary (book 1) was released in January 2015 and Merchant of Alyss (book 2) comes out January 5, 2016.

 Merchant of Alyss by Thomas LockeGeorge writes:

I just wanted to say thank you for your books.

My wife and I homeschool our kids and try to raise them with Christian values. We have a 15-year-old son who just devours books, and it is always a challenge to find wholesome, interesting, and inspiring books for him to read. I also have that challenge.

I just finished reading The Lazarus Trap, and I loved it. I grew up reading Tom Clancy novels, and I spent several years as an officer in the US Navy, working on some intelligence things, etc. However, after becoming a Christian, I don’t read many of those types of books anymore because they are too filled with vulgarity and other things that I just don’t want to read about, and I certainly don’t want my kids reading.

Your books seem to fill a void in this area, where they are exciting and inspiring, and clean and I really appreciate them.

It is also good for my son, because his dream is to write Christian novels; and he’s a very good writer at this young age. I’m sure your books will help him along his journey. He started The Lazarus Trap last night, and couldn’t put it down.

Trial Run by Thomas LockeDear George,

Please tell your son that having new readers of his generation is a genuine honor for me.

He may also be interested to know that I have started a new line under the pen name I have used in the past—Thomas Locke—the name of one of my Revolutionary War-era ancestors. There are two genres of books here, both aimed at his generation of readers, and seeking to instill Christian moral values into these genres. The first series is Legends of the Realm, C.S. Lewis-type fantasies.

The second series, Fault Lines, includes Michael Chrichton-style thrillers.

Book 1 in that series is Trial Run, which released August 4, 2015.

Book 2 in the series, Flash Point, will debut during the summer of 2016.

Q&A: My blooper at the University of Oxford

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

Q&A with Davis Bunn: Prior to writing The Pilgrim, you researched the story at the University of Oxford. But you almost didn’t make it past day 1 of your “Economics of the Late Roman Empire” class.

Q: Prior to writing The Pilgrim, you researched the story at the University of Oxford. But you almost didn’t make it past day 1 of your “Economics of the Late Roman Empire” class.

Davis Bunn: True! The course was taught by a don – a full professor – on the theology faculty. On the first day of class he walked in wearing his robe. Very few lecturers wear the robe to class; you usually see faculty wearing robes only at formal dinners.

He wrote something on the board in script I’ve never seen before.

Then he turned around and asked, “Am I correct in assuming that everyone here has a working knowledge of Aramaic?”

I almost got up and walked out that instant. And I thought seriously about dropping the class.

Later, when I shared my reservations with the don, he kindly said, “You can stay, Davis. Everyone in this class knows how many books you’ve sold.”

Also in this Q&A Series:

Q&A With Davis Bunn: The appeal and challenges of writing about a historical figure

Friday, August 21st, 2015

QandA The Pilgrim Appeal and Challenges

Q: Much of your writing has been based upon fictional characters. What is the appeal of writing about a historical figure? What was one special challenge you faced in doing so?

Davis Bunn: First and foremost, Helena is a saint in the eyes of the Catholic church. Helena was the mother of Emperor Constantine, the first Roman leader to convert to Christianity. His death marked the moment when Christians were freed from persecution. Constantine was led to faith by his mother. The Pilgrim is her story.

While I am a fervent evangelical Protestant, my wife is Catholic. My mother is a Catholic convert. As is my sister, who has raised her two daughters as Catholic. So part of what I wanted to do here was to grow closer to the heritage that these dear people treasure. Their faith has had such an impact on my own life. It was important that I use this story and this opportunity to create something that would honor their perspective on faith. I also wanted to share with readers the enormous life lessons we can learn from the lives of the saints.

So many, many different issues came up as a result of this quest. It proved to be a beautiful and intense growing experience. Although this book is not particularly long, the actual writing took as long as some of my much bigger books. Part of this was honing the story so their faith, and their history, was honored, but done from a foundation that reflected my own personal walk in faith.

My hope, my fervent prayer, is that the story will resonate with readers from both faith communities.

Question for my readers:

If you could write a story to honor the most important people in your life, what would the story be about?

Also in this Q&A Series:

Q&A: Is there a Catholic Saint With Whom You Viscerally Connect?

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Q: There is a tradition in Catholic discipleship training of seeking out a saint with whom you viscerally connect. I understand this happened to you in selecting both Saint Helena and her son, Constantine. Could you please tell us about this experience?

Davis Bunn: I was introduced to the tradition in the early days of my walk in faith. At the time I was working as a consultant and trying to carve out the time and the discipline to write, which I already knew was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I started going to a monastery as an act of desperation, trying to quiet the struggle in my head, create some space to work through all the impossible questions over faith and these conflicting calls on my time and my life.

The Pilgrim Quote 4

My favorite retreat became a monastery run by the Discalced Carmelites (men and women who devote themselves to a life of prayer). One time while up there I read the autobiography of their founder, Theresa of Avila. I was deeply moved by her ability to create a very real and concrete structure from her experiences of silence.

But much as I felt drawn to her, I also found that her life and her aims were just too distant from my own. She wanted to draw increasingly away from the world in order to focus exclusively upon God. I wanted to draw God into the world, or at least do my best, through my creative efforts.

And yet, it was this internal dialogue with Theresa that led me to study other saints. And it was this study that brought me to Helena and her son, Constantine. Who struggled from the moment of their faith-awakening with the conflicts between their hunger for God and their positions within the world.

The Pilgrim released July 17, 2015, from Franciscan Media.

Question for my readers

What person has played a key role in helping your faith grow?

Previously in this Q&A Series:

Publishers Weekly FaithCast: A discussion about ‘The Pilgrim’

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

PW PodcastI had the opportunity to chat with Lynn Garrett, Senior Religion Features Editor for Publishers Weekly.

We discussed the writing life, and why I chose to write about Helena, the mother of Constantine, in The Pilgrim. 

Click here or on the graphic to listen to the 11:33 podcast, called PW FaithCast.

Would love to hear your thoughts about the podcast.

Q & A: What qualities did you read into the character of Saint Helena?

Monday, July 13th, 2015

QandA The Pilgrim Helena Flawed Woman

Q: Helena, the protagonist in THE PILGRIM, is a strong and determined, yet flawed and hurting woman. She’s someone anyone – particularly women – can relate to. When you researched, did you discover some of those elements about her “real life” character, or did you “read in” those qualities as you recreated her fictitious persona?

Davis Bunn: There were a few character points that all of the legends about Helena agreed upon. She did live on what is now the Dalmatia coast while her husband the general went off with the Roman army.

He did divorce her, and then retired to a villa filled with young maids. As the husband vanished from history, the disgraced wife, a woman without title or future, grew into a figure that still holds power today.

Another element on which all the legends agree is that Helena had a vision, just like her son Constantine, only hers said that she was to go to Judea on pilgrimage.

From that point on, almost everything is in disagreement. So I picked and chose. And to this I added three questions:

The Pilgrim By Davis BunnQ 1: What could create an atmosphere that would make a woman destined to become the first Christian empress of the Roman empire seem relevant to today’s reader?

Answer:  She traveled as a real pilgrim would. Without entourage.

Q 2: What internal state might reflect this outer atmosphere?

Answer: I decided to make the timing of her journey be while she was recovering from the divorce. As a Roman woman of means, she was expected to hide herself away in disgrace. Instead, she travels to the ends of the empire on a quest from God. And she takes with her all the emotional baggage that makes her human.

Q 3: How does this woman respond to God’s call at such a time of crisis?

Answer: To me, this was the biggest challenge in the story. Creating a woman obeying God, and yet doing so in utter human frailty.

This has been my own personal experience: that God does not call us when we are content and life is good. God calls us when he wants us to act, and the most important part of this act is relying on God for guidance and strength.

In other words, Helena needed to be weak. Just like us.

The Pilgrim releases July 17, 2015, from Franciscan Media.

Questions for my readers:

Has God given you a quest? How are you responding?

Previously in this Q&A Series:

How historically accurate are the people, places, time period, and events in ‘The Pilgrim’?