Archive for the ‘Davis Bunn’s Novels’ Category

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?

Helena Encouraged Early Christians that Their Persecution was Not in Vain

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

The Pilgrim by Davis BunnToday I’m featuring four delightful reader reviews of The Pilgrim from:

  1. Amy Nowak
  2. Kevin Denis
  3. Lindsay Franklin
  4. Mark Buzard

Amy Nowak’s blog:

Are you interested in female strength, courage, and virtue?

Would you like to learn about a woman who enjoyed high stature but was thrust down hard from her throne?

Why she picked herself up?

And what made her follow a dangerous road with men she did not know to seek an impossible treasure?

The Pilgrim artfully tells the story of how the Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, believed God, sought to fulfill his vision, and thereby encouraged early Christians that their persecution was not in vain.

Enemies ordered to kill her are hampered. Soldiers ordered to protect her become supporters and friends. Yet as her following increases, so does her humility. There is brokenness, healing, miracles, and a bit of romance too.

I recommend The Pilgrim for anyone interested in early church history, but especially for young women who seek a role model of virtue during times of despair.

The Pilgrim Quote 7

Kevin Denis, on Amazon:

“I believe in miracles . . .”

The gospel song written by John W. Peterson kept running through my mind as I neared the conclusion of Davis Bunn’s latest historical novel, The Pilgrim, and for good reason:

The journey of Helena, mother of Constantine, as a pilgrim to Jerusalem after being divorced without cause and disgraced as a result, is nothing short of miraculous.

After Helena is exiled by her husband, she travels to meet her son. While on her way she is visited by God in a vision and instructed to take a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her journey is perilous with threats of death from Roman authority in Caeserea and the surrounding region. God’s hand is upon her, however, as she is joined by others on the way to Jerusalem.

The story casts Helena as the central character; however, three others – a young soldier, an experienced sergeant, and a bishop/pastor who no longer has a church – are as important to the story in their own way as Helena is.

The Pilgrim is neither a long novel nor a quick read, and Davis Bunn successfully proves that fiction doesn’t have to be without meaning. As fiction The Pilgrim is entertaining; however, the book doesn’t shy away from asking some deep questions:

  • Am I burdened with doubt?
  • Have I failed my Lord in any way?
  • Do I have a reason to continue living, a purpose for my life?

As the characters in the book come to understand, we will find the answers to our questions when we seek those answers from the only One who can truly provide them.

I believe readers will be blessed and encouraged by The Pilgrim. It is the best historical novel I’ve read this year, well worth the 5-Star rating I am giving it.

Lindsay Franklin’s blog:

I hadn’t really studied the history (and legend) surrounding Helena before, as most of my studies about this era in church history have been centered on her son, Constantine. But after reading The Pilgrim, I know I’ll be doing further research into the life of Helena.

Bunn does a great job of fleshing out her character as she deals with heartbreak and loss while she works to fulfill the calling she received directly from God. I enjoyed taking the journey with this woman of faith and courage.

Bunn does an equally great job creating an interesting cast of characters to surround Helena on her journey. As I said, I know little about Helena’s historical pilgrimage, and from what I understand, it’s pretty difficult to sift history from legend. So I’m not sure if any of Helena’s traveling companions are historical figures or if they’re wholly based upon Bunn’s research into the era and people who may have existed at that time. Either way, I know I enjoyed the inner journeys of these supporting characters, particularly the commander Anthony.

Bunn is often noted for his meticulous attention to historical detail, and he brings the fourth century alive with the ease befitting an author of his experience and acclaim.

Bottom Line: With overarching themes of grace, redemption, and the kind of faith that forces a person to her knees, Christians and history buffs interested in this time period should check out The Pilgrim.

Mark Buzard’s blog:

Davis Bunn is an excellent author who writes all types of novels and never disappoints. However, I wasn’t so sure of this book when it came in the mail. It isn’t a very long book, coming in at only 176 pages, and it is a very unassuming book in appearance. Armed with the knowledge that Bunn is a great author, I started reading it. And I couldn’t put it down.

I either had forgotten Helena was a real person, or never learned about her. Regardless, as I read it, I wondered if she was a real person. I Googled “Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine,” and sure enough. Just as the book said, she had led her famous son to Christ, and she had also taken a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and legend says she found the cross Jesus was crucified on. With that knowledge, the book became even more interesting to me.

It is historical fiction, so many of the events and characters in the book come from the author’s imagination, but he takes the reader on a fascinating journey from Caeserea to Jerusalem. The journey is filled with all sorts of interesting and miraculous events, and after finishing the book, it seemed to me the book was longer than just 176 pages. He packs a lot into those few pages.

It is an interesting and entertaining read, but there is also a great message in the book:

That there is always forgiveness, even we turn our backs on Jesus and do things that seem beyond forgiveness.

Although the people in the book that repented were fictional, it is not beyond the realm of possibilities that there were real life Christians who turned their back on their faith to avoid torture and death for them and their families.

The Pilgrim Quote 6

I would highly recommend this book. Davis Bunn can put this short but packed novel up against the best historical fiction there is and be proud of this latest work. It does not disappoint. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Video Trailer: ‘The Pilgrim’

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Hot off the press, here’s the video trailer for my new historical novel, The Pilgrim (would love to hear what you think):

To view the video on certain browsers, right click on the player and select “Switch to Flash.”

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.

‘The Pilgrim’ Now Available for Kindle

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

The Pilgrim by Davis BunnThe Kindle edition of The Pilgrim has been released. You can purchase it here: http://amzn.to/1DJx80E

Amazon has five editions of The Pilgrim:

  1. Hardcover
  2. Paperback
  3. Audible, Unabridged
  4. Audio CD
  5. Kindle

$5 off ‘The Pilgrim’ with Coupon Code

Monday, July 27th, 2015

The Pilgrim by Davis BunnFor a limited time, get $5 off my new historical novel, The Pilgrim, when you purchase it at the Franciscan Media bookstore.

The one-time discount code, applied at checkout, is:

12BHVRP1SZBS

(Expires August 3, 2015)

Their bookstore has loads of other great books, too! If your order is more than $20, shipping is free.

You Could Win a Copy of ‘The Pilgrim’

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Are you ready to travel with Empress Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine the Great, on a perilous journey through ancient Judea to Jerusalem?

I hope so, as my new historical novel, The Pilgrim, released today!

The Pilgrim Quote 2

ONE-DAY GIVEAWAY

To celebrate, I’ll be giving away copies of the book on my Facebook page during the next few weeks.

Our first giveaway is today. To enter, simply LIKE this picture on my Facebook page @davisbunnauthor.

PilgrimLikeToWin_1200x1200

I’ll announce the winners this evening after 8 p.m. EDT on my Facebook page, so be sure to visit to see if you won.

Get notifications of my future giveaways in your Facebook News Feed

  1. Click here to go to my Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/davisbunnauthor
  2. Like the page (if you haven’t already). If you’re already a fan, click the downward-pointing arrow in the “Liked” tab (located in the bottom righthand area of the large cover image).
  3. Check “Get Notifications” and “See First.”

Facebook See First** See First is a new Facebook feature that you can use to see new posts from your favorite pages and friends at the top of your News Feed.

To What Pilgrimage is God Calling You?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

The Pilgrim By Davis BunnI’m excited for the release of my new historical novel, The Pilgrim, on Friday, July 17. In these two reader reviews, Judith Ingram and Debbie Phillips beautifully reflect on their own journeys as pilgrims.

Judith Ingram, on Goodreads

Davis Bunn’s historical novel, The Pilgrim, reads like a poem—lyrical and layered with spiritual meaning. The plot moves slowly, allowing the reader to savor the characters’ subtle introspections and heart changes that are the real story.

The title at first seems straightforward, “the pilgrim” being the empress mother of Constantine, recently divorced and shamed, on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. As her journey progresses, however, the troubled young Roman soldier assigned to accompany her reveals himself to be a pilgrim, also, on a journey to recover his lost faith.

By the end of the novel, I realized that I, too, had become a pilgrim, following their journey in faith, waiting for God to act and recognizing His movement in factual church history, which Bunn artfully embellishes with fictional details.

I recommend The Pilgrim to readers who enjoy a thoughtful read that is rooted in historical fact and finished off with vivid descriptions and piercing truths that will linger long after the book is laid aside.

The Pilgrim Quote 9

Debbie Phillips, on her blog

Wow, what a book. This is a GREAT historical fiction novel by a favorite author, Davis Bunn. A wonderful, touching tale about Helena, the mother of Constantine; her companions; and her pilgrimage to fulfill the call of God on her life and to walk in the steps that Christ walked while on his way to Calvary. Constantine, her son, has found the Lord and is beginning to change the world. Helena has been given a noble quest, through a vision from the Lord.

Oh, what wonderful characters. Oh what glorious descriptions. A quest that would lead the characters not just to Jerusalem, but to a deep spiritual place that helps them to find a reason to live, a way to forgive themselves for their failings and their past, and a way to join together to make the world a better place, especially for the Christians under Roman persecution.

I love how Bunn weaves a tale and brings me along and helps me to travel with each character on their journey. I felt with each character. I empathized with them. I wished that I could join them on the journey. I wish that I could go now and travel the Via Dolorosa.

This book helped me on my journey to forgive myself; and forgive others who have wounded me in the past. This is a difficult thing for me to do. It is something I have struggled with for the past 3 years. I have not finished my quest. I have not fully forgiven, but I am making progress and this book was one tool that Lord has used on my path to forgiveness.

I have for you two of my favorite quotes from the book…

The Pilgrim Quote 5

“She had to forgive herself.

On one level, it was ludicrous. What had she done to deserve her fate? She had every right to be hurt, wounded, angry and even to seek vengeance.

On the other, she knew the truth of this matter. She did not need anyone to be hard on her. She was harder on herself than anyone else could possibly be. Nothing she did was ever good enough. She had spent an entire lifetime striving to do better, to rise further, to be more. Which, of course, was one reason why she remained so upset with her husband. Because he had both failed to live up to her expectations and dragged her down as well.” pg 63

“Helena sat apart and argued with herself. Personal forgiveness meant accepting that she was flawed. Imperfect. Destined to miss the mark, time and again. She doubted whether she was able to actually, honestly, take that step.” pg 64

“I have a world of reasons to worry. I know I am frail. What I want is to look beyond all that.”
Slowly, Macarius turned back. His good eye gleamed as he observed her in silence.

“I want to be ready to serve at God’s command. And I can’t do this if I let fear and regret and anger dominate my life. I want to turn from all that. I want to focus on God. But I don’t know if I can.”

Macarius took her hand and he had the previous night. “Let us pray on this. And keep praying. And trust God both to answer and to give you the strength to hear.” pg 73

I completed this book and find myself inspired, hope filled, forgiven and more ready to forgive others, more aware of this time period, and deeply grateful for the opportunity to read and review it.

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’?