I’m so excited that Davis Bunn’s publicist included this Question and Answer interview in the materials released with his latest book, “The Damascus Way” with Janette Oke. Get the inside scoop on his thoughts about the project.
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.
Do you have a favorite character from the series?
It is more a favorite scene. Two different elements came together during Saul’s and Jacob’s journey to Damascus that have deeply impacted me: the struggle that young Jacob goes through, and the means by which he comes to a stronger faith through this struggle.
And his witnessing the conversion of Saul of Tarsus plays a role in the amazing events that unfold upon their arrival in Damascus. For me, these two characters portray such an immense transformation, I carry the emotions and the impact of that scene with me still, months after I wrote it.
What is your favorite part of the story writing process?
There are moments in each story’s creation when I just go away. I do not know how to describe it any better than that. My thought processes grow as quiet as in the most intense moments of prayer, and my hands are merely extensions of something that is beyond me. The act of creation is complete. I am merely an open window, and the flow is from somewhere beyond my puny self, through my eyes and hands, and onto the page. Time ceases to matter. The work is all. My spirit sings until the energy is depleted and the voice upon the page is reduced to a mere whisper, a solemn intonation of thanks. I walk away exhausted, and very close to the divine.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
That is redefined by each new project. Truly. Right now, I am living testimony that God is the creator of time. I have just completed a feature-film screenplay in five weeks and three days. No one thought it was possible. What is even more amazing, it was a smooth and joyful process. The only time I felt any pressure at all was in the final week, when I came down with pneumonia. But my writing partner took over what I could not myself complete, and the work was done on time. It is wrong to apply the word, pride, to this, because I genuinely feel that God was the leader, the guide, the Maker of this deed.
As a writing instructor, what’s the most important thing you teach your students?
It remains a great pleasure to work with new would-be authors. Truly. I wrote in the lonely wilderness for nine years and finished seven books before my first was accepted for publication. Anything I can do to assist other authors to avoid some of the pitfalls I struggled through is a genuine pleasure.
The most important advice I can possibly offer a Christian author is this: Attend one of the major five-day Christian writers’ conferences. Seven are listed here. I have selected these because they are large enough, and so well-established, that every major publisher and agent will attend at least one of these each year, and perhaps more. This is a crucial component of a successful conference. Do not be swayed by one that is quicker, closer, or cheaper. You need to have the connection to the commercial world, and see your work through the eyes of those people who have the power to offer you a contract.
There are a number of significant differences between one of these Christian conferences and the mainstream counterparts. Most of these began as church-based ministries, and ALL of them see their work as a service to our Lord. The same is true for the teachers. We come in order to serve God and further the Kingdom’s work.
The days are basically split in two. In the mornings are ‘major tracks’, ongoing classes designed to cover the basic nuts and bolts of your chosen direction—fiction, non-fiction, song and poetry, magazine articles and greeting cards, and screenwriting. The afternoons are focused upon the commercial side of the writing world—meetings with agents and publishers, classes on pitching and presentations and marketing, and so forth.
Two other advantages come from attending such a conference. The first is, you have the opportunity to discuss your work with other authors, and know what it means to translate a private dream into a commercial reality. The second is, you are granted a set of realistic expectations and tools for change. Both of these are vital components to growth and success.
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.
Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist whose audience spans reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings. He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write.