Reader Mailbag: Readers Encouraged by ‘Prayers of a Stranger,’ ‘The Turning’ & ‘The Presence’

November 10th, 2015

I love hearing from readers… and I hear from you often! Here are thoughts several readers shared with me, along with my responses:

Sarah writes:

I read Prayers of a Stranger while going through miscarriage, and it was so helpful and hopeful to read during that time. It really meant a lot.

Dear Sarah,

I am so very, very sorry to learn of your misfortune. Oh, how I wish it could have been different news that you brought. Just the same, I consider it a true gift from God that your heart found some measure of solace in my story. May the Lord bless you and your family, and bring to you both full healing and full peace.

Jane writes:

I finished The Turning last week. It was a fascinating book. I see so many of your other characters in that book. I especially remember The Presence. Although the two books are completely different, they are similar in some ways.

I don’t do much on Facebook, but I do follow you. The comment that the one lady made “God does not call the equipped, He equips the called” was one I had highlighted. That is how I have felt most of the time I have been married to my husband. When we were on the road with his music, I often felt that way. I had to learn to hear God’s voice a lot.

Right now I wonder if I can hear at all. I know that’s not true, but when things get really tough you wonder what’s going on. No one knows right now the extent of the struggles we are having, and I haven’t felt led to tell anyone and he hasn’t put anyone in our path to help. I think God is doing this for a reason and I’ll know eventually. Sorry about all that.

I am always amazed the directions you take with your writing. I’m not sure there is much God hasn’t equipped you to do when it comes to your writing. Hearing your voice I can sense the gentle yet strong spirit within you. I am just glad you listened to His calling. You have blessed many!

Dear Jane,

What a lovely, heartfelt note. Thank you so much for the response to my story, and for sharing this connection with your husband. Truly, this was a gift.

Margie writes:

I have a complete Davis Bunn Library with the exception of the books that have not yet been released! I was hooked when I read The Presence and have searched out every Davis Bunn book I could find since that time. I even have e-books of some of the paperback editions that I own. There are so many great stories in these books that I am surprised that more of them have not been made into movies!

Keep up the good work as long as the Spirit leads you, Davis Bunn!

Larry writes:

Linda and I just finished The Turning… or at least, that’s what we thought. But, “No!”  Now we are in Day 1 of 40 of the accompanying devotional, with great excitement and anticipation.

It is a blessing to be “invited” into such an experience as this with one who has become a good friend, despite the distance.

Thank you for being attentive, for listening to God, and for being a catalyst to propagate even more listeners.

God bless you in His work.

Elaine writes:

It seems I’m compelled to write after the completion of practically all your novels. When an impact of some kind has been made on my heart or my spirit, it’s impossible not to share it with the author!

The Turning replanted some hope in me at a time most needed. I’m one of those melancholy personalities, a complicated “C” in the DISC profiles, who all too easily fixes her eyes on what is seen rather than on what is unseen! One of the concepts most affecting me from the book was the joining together aspect. The drawing of the team in perfect unity under the Holy Spirit created a yearning in me that aches as I watch the atheists demanding their own military “chaplain” and a satanic black mass is scheduled on the campus of the formally God-fearing Harvard University.

The church we’ve belonged to for 14 years is being rent by humans bent on pleasing self rather than the Lord. This has been the #1 contributor to my loss of hope, because, even as every day the news shows America growing darker, the Church is supposed to be a safe place, a light in the darkness, a rock. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in an earthquake, but I’ve experienced three—the most serious being 6.9—and nothing is more disorienting than the ground underneath you suddenly being unstable.

Dear Margie, Elaine, Larry and Linda,

It is such a gift to receive this enthusiasm included in your words. I am currently working on a new project, and must take time out today to fly to Grand Rapids in order to present my new concept to the Baker-Bethany sales force. I carry the lovely sentiments of your email with me.

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

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

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

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:

Helena Encouraged Early Christians that Their Persecution was Not in Vain

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’

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?

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’

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

July 28th, 2015

The Pilgrim by Davis BunnThe Kindle edition of The Pilgrim has been released. You can purchase it here:

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

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.