Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Interview with Davis Bunn, author of 'The Damascus Way'

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Tomorrow, I will be posting my book review (plus a giveaway!) of 'The Damascus Way,' the latest release from the Dynamic Duo of Davis Bunn and Janette Oke. Today, we have some biographical information on Mr. Bunn, as well as a Question and Answer session.
The Damascus Way is the finale to the best-selling Acts of Faith trilogy co-authored by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke.
Book 1 is The Centurion's Wife
Book 2 is The Hidden Flame

About Davis Bunn

“Wise teacher.”
“Gentleman Adventurer.”
“Consummate writer.”
Renaissance Man.”
Reviewers, readers and friends use those phrases to describe Davis Bunn. An internationally-acclaimed author who has sold more than six million books in sixteen languages, Davis is equal parts writer, scholar, teacher, and sportsman.

Born and raised in North Carolina, Davis left for Europe at age twenty. There he first completed graduate studies in economics and finance, then began a business career that took him to over forty countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Davis came to faith at age 28, while living in Germany and running an international business advisory group. He started writing two weeks later. Since that moment, writing has remained both a passion and a calling.

Davis wrote for nine years and completed seven books before his first was accepted for publication. During that time, he continued to work full-time in his business career, travelling to two and sometimes three countries every week. His first published book, The Presence, was released in 1990 and became a national bestseller.

Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include The Great Divide, Winner Take All, The Meeting Place, The Warning, The Book of Hours, and The Quilt.

A sought-after speaker in the art of writing, Davis serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.

Q & A with Davis Bunn

How did you and Janette Oke originally establish your writing relationship?
Janette had read several of my early works and liked my sense of drama. I had read a number of hers, and was just amazed at her ability to weave in the fragile and beautiful emotions of a woman’s heart. We were at the annual gathering of Christian publishers when we first talked about writing together. Six months later, we met in Canada and began work on our first book. That was fourteen years ago.

What inspired you to write Acts of Faith, a series of three books set in the earliest days of the church?
Janette Oke and I have wanted to do a Bible-based series for years. Then health issues forced her to retire, and it looked like we would never have that opportunity. Three years ago, she came out of retirement, specifically so that we might do this final trio of books together. It has been an answer to a prayer for us both. We have so enjoyed this project.

How did you and Janette Oke flesh out people from the Bible and weave them into the Acts of Faith books?
The writing of The Hidden Flame carried a number of challenges, and building a character from the little we know about Stephen was one of them. There were several excellent commentaries that taught me a great deal, and it led to some truly beautiful discussions with Janette. That has been one of the unexpected gifts derived from this trilogy, how much I have learned from her own deep insights into the Scriptures.
As for Stephen’s fate, we started from the passage in Acts where the first martyr was named Stephen and worked back. There are very few such names given to those who sacrifice everything. We felt it happened here both because he was the first, and because he played such a vital role in this transforming moment in our church’s history. Stephen served as mediator between the congregation and the most vulnerable – outsiders who were also either widowed or orphaned. He was entrusted with their care and their provisions. And he sought to share his newfound faith with a group of outcasts – those who worshipped at the Freedman’s Synagogue.
Our biggest concern here was to have Stephen become married. First Corinthians names several of the apostles and church leaders who are wed. So we figured it would be okay, even if Stephen wasn’t – the Scriptures do not say. Thankfully, up to now we have not received any negative reaction to this.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
This is a huge question, and one we go through a lot with. In this series, we started with THREE lists of names – Judean, Roman, and Greek. In The Damascus Way, we added a fourth list, for early Christian names. We go back and forth and back and forth. It is like naming baby. Everybody gets involved. My wife, the editors, sometimes even the marketing people.

How much of yourself do you write into your characters?
The emotions are certainly mine. But the characters are themselves. Some of the things they experience, in the sense of growing through something, are very essential to me and Janette. But the characters are who they are, and the further along we go in the story, the further and further they grow away from us.

Were any of the stories in this series especially poignant for you?
Without question, it would have to be the third and final book in this series. The Damascus Way centers upon one of the most crucial components of the Book of Acts – the persecution of the early church and the miraculous confrontation between Jesus and Saul of Tarsus.
There is the beginning of signs and wonders within the growing church. The church expands at a rate that is astonishing and miraculous to everyone involved. The Judean Temple hierarchy and the Roman government grow hostile to the church. Stephen has become the first martyr.
It was a true growing experience to spend these days and weeks and months so deeply involved with the Followers of the Way.
For me, The Damascus Way is by far the richest book in the series. Other readers, especially women, have come in strong for book one or two, but Damascus for me holds the most powerful elements. Not just for this series, but for everything Janette and I have done together.
I heard a really nice thing yesterday. I happened to bump into a friend at the supermarket, and he told me how someone had stood up in the middle of the formal church service on Sunday – at a church on the other side of the county – and lifted Damascus over his head and said everyone in the church had to go out and read this book, that it was life-changing. What a huge gift.

What is the biggest personal lesson you have learned from writing the Acts of Faith series?
The greatest lesson I personally have gained from this series is how our world is reshaped through the vision of Jesus. This is a truth revealed time and again through the Book of Acts. We hope this same truth will shine within our pages. Our hope is that each of these stories will ignite in the reader a new hunger to enrich themselves through the treasures found in the Book of Acts.
Our first book, The Centurion’s Wife, dealt with the forty days between the resurrection of Jesus and the arrival of Pentecost.
The key component of our second book in the series, The Hidden Flame, was what I called the passing of the torch. Jesus left, and his disciples took over. They moved from the position of followers to leaders. What an enormous challenge that must have been, and yet how similar it is to the challenge any leader faces today.
In The Damascus Way, the third book of our trilogy, we create a story based upon outreach. We look at what it means to engage in evangelism, and seek a clearer understanding of the challenges and mysteries faced by those earliest believers. And we seek to enrich the glorious moment when Saul, the early church’s greatest enemy, was called to faith by our Lord.  

How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website, blog, and interactive discussion group are at www.davisbunn.com
Twitter: @davisbunn - http://twitter.com/davisbunn

The photo of Mr. Bunn is courtesy of Chris Kidler, Florida Today.

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