$5 off ‘The Pilgrim’ with Coupon Code

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:


(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’

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


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.


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?

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…

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“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?

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’?

The Mending of Lives: Key Focus of ‘The Pilgrim’

July 10th, 2015

The Pilgrim By Davis BunnI’m touched by the reader reviews of The Pilgrim that are coming in. Today, you’ll hear from:

  • Anne Rightler
  • Jared Beiswenger
  • Eddie Gilley
  • Jodelle Svenhard

Please click the link next to each reviewer’s name to read his or her full review.

Anne Rightler, on Goodreads

Not knowing what lay ahead her intent was to walk the path of Christ’s grief and suffering. Helena, rejected wife of a Roman emperor, mother of Constantine the Great, only knew it was the will of God for her to take this path.

Davis Bunn’s masterful historical novel, The Pilgrim, brings readers a glimpse in the life of a woman, now revered as a saint in some religious faiths…a woman who heard from God and would not be deterred. Helena admits to those she meets she has failed God more often than she wants to recall and is told God wants her to know and share in others’ suffering.

She finds solace in servitude; the Empress giving freely that others may live and see Christ in her. The story is replete with characters in need of her healing balm. Broken people who needed to know the forgiveness of Christ in their souls and in their body. Broken people like the readers may be, in need of seeing God at work in their own lives.

Bunn writes of hope and healing and the mending of lives.

Jared Beiswenger, on Goodreads

“…the book has a solid Biblical message throughout. I think the themes will most resonate with those who have suffered great loss in their lives. I can’t relate closely myself, but nonetheless, I was emotionally invested by the climax. The Pilgrim also sparked my interest in the history of the Roman Empire and the early Church. After reading I was inspired to research the true stories behind the novel.”

Eddie Gilley, on his blog

There is drama, action, character development, and the gospel woven intricately within the story lines… There are moral messages of peace and reconciliation…”

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Jodelle Svenhard, on Goodreads

The Pilgrim is one of those books that “picks up” around word two.

Effervescent with historical characters you swear you studied in college, but suddenly you find they have emotions and lives and are not remotely similar to the gaudy figureheads you took for granted on the white pages of that dorm-room textbook. They live and breath before you as if someone found a way for them to “string theory” through history and sit by your side. And, indeed, someone did. The author, Davis Bunn, is the spellbinder.

“Sit,” however, is something this book rarely does. The characters charge, banter, ponder, blunder and bluster…. The life of a pilgrim is never dull… At least, not this Pilgrim.

Ha. what an unassuming name. About an unassuming individual…. in an unassuming world… But, it cannot remain unassuming, there is too much warmth. Embers from a forgotten fire that blazed through the pages of history so brightly that even dusty canvas, slovenly habits and our modern digitalized age cannot starved it completely cold or still.

Davis Bunn has found that fire, fueled it with words and faith. In The Pilgrim an Empress, a long buried kingdom and one of the most famous Generals in the world LIVE again.

Enjoy meeting them! I did.

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

July 7th, 2015

QandA The Pilgrim Historical Accuracy

This is a more difficult question than it may first seem. The period when Constantine became the first Christian emperor is one about which so much has been written, and yet so little detail is known.

The Legends

For example, no one knows for certain where his mother, Helena – the main character in my story The Pilgrim – was born. There are three main legends, and I used the one that has the greatest sense of historical resonance, that she was British, and her father ruled one of the provinces taken over by the Romans. Her husband was a general who met Helena in the local market and fell in love at first sight.

So one problem was deciding which of the many legends to use as the basis for this story. The second problem was timing.

The Timing

Again, there were many different versions of when Helena had her own vision and felt called by God to take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In this case, I decided not to use the most popular one in today’s world, that she was a grandmother and her son was already emperor.

Instead, I brought all the major elements of their lives together into a relatively short time span. I wanted to create a sense of dramatic action that would resonate with today’s reader. This same problem, as a matter of fact, was faced 70 years ago by T S Eliot, the last major author to write about Helena.

The Research

The Pilgrim By Davis BunnWhat can be said is that the era and the people were carefully researched. When I first came to study about this crucial moment in our Christian heritage, I was granted a position as Postgraduate Scholar at the University of Oxford. My two tutors during this wonderful period were Bishop Kallistos, head of the Orthodox Church of England, and Reverend Donald Sykes, president of one of the Oxford colleges and a Roman historian.

So the answer is, the facts have been studied, the legends too, and then I tried and make a story from them that would ignite a sense of passion in today’s reader.

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

Question for my readers:

When you read a historical fiction story, how accurate do you expect the story to be?

Next in this Q&A Series:

What qualities did you read into the character of Saint Helena?

‘The Pilgrim’ Causes Reader to Reflect on Sorrow, Miracles, and Christ’s Grace

July 3rd, 2015

The Pilgrim By Davis BunnI want to share a beautiful review of The Pilgrim, from reader Sue Stevens:

Complete disclosure here – I am admittedly a big fan of Davis Bunn’s writing – whether history, thriller, fantasy or other. If Bunn wrote it, I’m going to read it.

When I received THE PILGRIM in the mail, I was intrigued and at the same time disappointed that it is shorter than most Bunn novels. When I read a bit about the book and discovered it was based in history, a re-telling of the story of St. Helena, mother to Constantine and a key figure in early Christian history, I was doubly intrigued – I’m a bit of a history geek. And I dove in.

But this is not dry as dust, completely remote, has-nothing-to-do-with-me history. Bunn uses his substantial imagination and story telling talents to practically create out of whole cloth individuals about which there is little detail, if any, in ancient historical texts.

We come to know – and journey along side of – three individuals in particular, all of whom are struggling with horrendous grief and loss: Helena herself, former empress, now divorced, abandoned and stripped of everything she knew in life; Anthony, young Roman soldier who is looking for death to relieve him from his grief of losing his wife and child; and Macarius, former bishop of the now destroyed and scattered church in Jerusalem and crippled for his faith.

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Helena is on a quest, responding to a vision she received from God and seeking to walk the yet-to-be-named Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem and bring the news of The Edict of Milan, that all Christians are no longer to be treated as criminals. So that’s the set up. But again – this isn’t dry history; this story is a page turner. I wanted to know what happens next, what danger – and what miracle – lurked around the next bend in the journey.

And yet at the same time, I was brought to my knees, reflecting on my own falling-short, my own griefs and sorrows, on Christ’s grace that reaches even me, on the miracles that God works in simple and wondrous ways.

I’m considering sharing it with some friends who are going through some very tough times right now – I believe it will be a comfort, not because the parallels between their experience and Helena’s are so exact, but because the journey we all take in life is so eloquently spelled out in these pages.

Timing: The Christian Blogger’s Key to an Effective Book Review

June 30th, 2015

I recently received a review from a blogger who reviewed a book I’d published 12 years ago and is out of print.

While it’s wonderful to receive such support from readers and to have such treasured stories revisited, I have suggestion for bloggers who post reviews of my books: focus on the timing.

Bloggers who regularly review books are pressed by the PR people with whom they link to review books in advance of their publication. The aim of this is to generate that all-important whirlwind of initial interest.

This helps new titles to be placed in the minds of readers in those crucial early days. Small privately-owned Christian booksellers limit their shelf-space for fiction titles these days. Which means if a title of mine is to be widely read or even sold, it must garner the attention of buyers in those early weeks.

In order to have a genuine impact, and help your favorite authors, it would be great if your first focus was upon reviewing the most recent titles.

Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

P.S. If you’re looking for a book to review, may I suggest The Pilgrim? It releases July 17, 2015, from Franciscan Media.

First Reader Reviews of ‘The Pilgrim’

June 25th, 2015

The Pilgrim By Davis BunnIn my upcoming historical novel, The Pilgrim, I recreate an important “scene” from the life of one of Christian history’s most important women: Helena, the mother of emperor Constantine.

The novel releases July 17, 2015, and early reader reviews are streaming in. Below are excerpts from seven reviews. Please click the link next to each reviewer’s name to access the full review.

Click the link to read Chapters 1-3 of The Pilgrim, free!

Tina Hunt, on Goodreads:

This is not a long book, but it’s deep. It’s not a difficult story, but it is rich and full.

Passionate and submitted. Regal yet humble. Life-changing. Hope filled. These are words that come to mind when I think about how Davis Bunn unfolds this story. There is a power that leaps from the page.

The characters in this story each make a pilgrimage, a journey of faith, whether it is across the sea or from behind a tree. There is the presence of evil and the battle to overcome fear and even find forgiveness.

When I was done, I was ready to go buy a gray traveling dress.

Judith Barnes, on Goodreads:

…It is the story of grief turning to a faith to forgive and to rebuild… The book is appropriate for Lenten reading. Believers and seekers alike will find a solid Christian message in this book while enjoying a lively tale.

Dave Milbrandt, on Goodreads:

…In The Pilgrim, we are introduced to Helena, mother of the famed Roman emperor Constantine, who travels to the Holy Land to fulfill her own destiny and help others to do the same. The charm of The Pilgrim is how Davis takes a timeworn story sitting on the edge of our collective memory and breathes new life into the tale through his flowing, almost lyrical prose. This is a concise, well-told tale that likely will inspire you to seek your own purpose in life.

Tracie Heskett, on Goodreads:

…This gripping story has a strong theme of forgiveness and serving God. It gave me something to think about even after I finished reading…

…The ending was a little disappointing, in that it read more like a biography and less like the story I had just read. I still give the book 4 stars, though, because Bunn does a good job incorporating research to tell this story of a little known piece of history. For lovers of historical fiction, The Pilgrim delivers that fresh taste of something that hasn’t been overdone.

Sherry Arni, on Goodreads:

…The characters are one of the strongest aspects of the book. Their enemies are powerful, overwhelming, though I expected a little more from them at points in the book. Still, The Pilgrim allows us into the lives of Christ-followers in a most difficult period of history. It delights as Bunn’s novels invariably do.

Cindy Eberle, on ChristianBook.com:

I love history, and learned of Helena’s contributions when we visited Rome.  But unless you are willing to plow through the long historical documents, there is little available about the believers of this era.  This book fills the gap AND is an enjoyable novel with memorable characters… My only wish?  I would love a summary, at the end of the book, to know which events are historical fact and which are filling in artistic details.

Shelley Walling, on Goodreads:

…This book filled my spirit as I pictured Empress Helena traveling to Judea and saving countless Christians along the way. I know for a fact she angered Satan in her quest to follow God’s plan for her life.

Is Davis Bunn Biased Against Catholics?

June 23rd, 2015

The Meeting Place by Janette Oke and Davis BunnAn anonymous reader writes:

I want you to know that I am having to throw away the Song of Acadia series of books that I purchased. It didn’t take too much reading in the first book to see that you hate your fellow Christian brothers and sisters who are Catholic.

I have seen this same cutting sarcasm in other books by other authors and I am perplexed at how one can consider themselves to be Christian yet use the power of the published word to put down other Christians because of differences in beliefs. Is that not a sin in your Bible?

Do not all Christians believe in the One, True, Triune God?  Is there not “Power in the Word”?

Do you think what you are doing is pleasing to the God that we both believe in?  I don’t!
I am 57 years old and I have been a Catholic all my life. I attend Mass every Sunday and then some. I have lived in several states and many cities and have attended many different Catholic churches and not once in those 3,000 to 4,000 Masses has a priest ever spoken in a cutting way towards our fellow Christians. They may speak of our differences but never in an uncharitable way.

When we use the “word,” written or spoken, we bring life or death. To bring death is a sin against the 5th Commandment.

I read the work of many different Christian writers. I often learn good lessons from them as they open my eyes to new things about God. How sad that you emphasize hatred and consider yourself a Christian writer. Just using the word God here or there doesn’t make up for the unkind words.

And, Mr. Bunn, like so many of my fellow Christians who hate Catholics, might I suggest that instead of hating our religion based on bias from those who have educated you to be so, that instead, out of curiosity, you study what we Catholics believe about ourselves from OUR point of view. You will find there is no need to hate us. Of course our enemies speak ill of us. Therefore, what they say is biased. Seek truth.

Dear reader,

While I do understand your sensitivity to the issue, I must tell you that of the 2.5 million readers we have been blessed with for this series, you are the first to form this impression.

My wife, mother, and sister are Catholic. I am writing a series based upon the early church for the largest Catholic publisher in the US.

There are indeed people within the evangelical Protestant community who hold to this bias, I am sorry to say. I am not one of them.

What we tried to do in the Song of Acadia series is demonstrate the extreme tension between two communities in Canada’s early days.

The Turning By Davis BunnMary writes:

I was so blown away by your second devotional for The Turning, “Our Protestant Heritage,” that I haven’t figured out how to react.

I don’t have a Protestant heritage. I have a Catholic heritage. I thought the devotional made it sound like my faith didn’t count. You weren’t talking to me. But, I love Jesus, talk to Him personally, daily; I read the scriptures; I tithe and I listen to God. I felt like your characterization was exclusionary. I don’t understand it.

So I stopped reading the book for a long time. I picked the book back up and finished it on Easter. It was wonderful. But I haven’t figured out how to process this Protestant discussion.

Dear Mary,

I have wanted to address this very issue since completing The Turning and the accompanying devotionals, but I was not sure how. Your email, in truth, is an answer to a prayer. By far the best way to speak about this is in response to a reader.

Let me begin by saying that I am married to a Catholic, a wonderful woman who has taught me more about faith than any person alive. My mother and my sister have both converted to Catholicism. I have recently been asked to write a series for the largest Catholic publisher in the United States.

But this particular book, and the devotional lessons, were written for a conservative US Christian publisher. And the reason why I felt called to write on this subject – the one specific intent above all others – was because far too many evangelical Protestants have lost all touch with the contemplative aspects of our faith and our Christian heritage.

Too often these days, such people see the whole issue of spiritual contemplation as being a “Catholic” concept. And this simply is wrong. It hurts me to hear it referred in this way from the pulpit, because it reflects a “majority opinion” within many churches that just does not jibe with who we are and what has formed a foundation of our Christian heritage from the very beginning.

This devotional is first and foremost aimed at the Protestant believer who (and I mean this quite sincerely), has most likely never had contact with the message of contemplation. In order to break through this barrier, it was necessary to specifically address their incorrect assumption that the discipline of attentiveness is Catholic in nature.

First of all, the majority of lessons that shape Christian contemplation predate what we today refer to as the Catholic church. I suppose the better way to speak of this is by referring to today’s structure as the Roman church, as opposed to the Eastern church or Orthodox church. If you are interested in how this issue specifically relates to the discipline of contemplation, may I suggest you read a truly wonderful book by Phyllis Tickle, former Senior Religion Editor of Publishers Weekly, titled The Age of the Spirit. In any case, the whole concept of Christian contemplation is grounded in the Old Testament and given its first formal shape in the time of persecution during the second and third centuries.

But what is far more vital for today’s Protestant audience, the people who in my opinion need these lessons the most, is that the discipline of attentiveness—what today is referred to in the Catholic community as contemplation—was a vital component of the Protestant movement from the very beginning.

That is why I wrote the second lesson as I did. My intention was never to exclude the Catholics. In later lessons more than half the examples I used in describing life-changing revelations came from Catholic believers.

But there are any number of wonderful texts from Catholic sources, including many contemporary writers, about the wonders of spiritual silence. And yet these are simply not known or discussed in many Protestant churches. It is tragic and unnecessary, in my opinion. Their walk would be richer for including this. Mine certainly has been. And in order to reach these people, I addressed their incorrect assumptions at the starting gate. The founders of the Protestant denominations both practiced contemplative prayer and urged it among their followers.

We should all do so today, and learn to listen better.