Thursday, September 16, 2010
That depends on the story. The Black Madonna is special in that two of the main locations are very dear to me. For a number of years I lived and worked in the Middle East. It was actually where I started my journey to faith. This was the first time I have ever placed scenes in the West Bank. And my wife is first-generation American, her family come from Poland. They are truly amazing people, and knowing them has enriched my life and my spiritual walk. Their story is the basis upon which much of this story is shaped.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Quirky. Hmmm. That is a very interesting word. When I first read this question, a dozen or so different images flashed through my head. Most of which I would rather not talk about. Basically, most of my quirky events have also included some element of danger, since a lot of my life has been centered around travels in areas that don’t show up on most tourist agendas. And there is of course the matter of the sports I love, such as surfing, and glacier hiking, and so forth.
The first image that came to mind was from my honeymoon. Isabella and I went to Kauai. We had been there for six days, when the first of the big winter swells hit the island’s northern shoreline. I am an east coast boy, where waves tend to gradually build in size. Even in hurricane season it takes many hours, or days, for the waves to grow significantly. That day on Kauai, I was surfing the largest waves I had ever seen, possibly twelve to fifteen feet high, and I was scared every time I took off. Then out of nowhere a new set arrived, and suddenly I was facing a twenty-five foot wall. From one set to the next, the waves doubled. It looked like the Matterhorn was about to land on my little head.
Is that quirky?
Quirky enough for me. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I was twenty-eight years old and living in Germany. I had come to faith about two weeks before. I had gone to Frankfurt for a meeting, and was seated in a hotel lobby waiting to pick up some business officials who had flown in for this meeting. For several days leading up to then, I had this story idea running through my head, waking me up at night, following me everywhere. I decided to try and write it out. Soon as I started, I knew I had found what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. More importantly, I knew this was something that had come from beyond myself. It called to me in a way that only could have come from God. It was a gift then, and has remained so ever since.
It's wonderful to be doing what God created you to do, isn't it? Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read everything, but story remains my passion and has been all my life. I have heard that there are two types of readers in this world. Readers of nonfiction read to engage with the world. Readers of fiction, on the other hand, prefer stories because they can replace the real world with this new invention. I am first and foremost a fiction reader. I also think this comes from my love of writing that includes a strong emotion. I want to be drawn into what I am reading, be it biography or science fiction or mystery romance. I want to feel for the characters, and be uplifted by their triumphs. That is also what I seek to write.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I have been a published author now for nineteen years. In that time I have published some forty novels. Those still in print are named on my website, where there is also a synopsis and cover art. The web-address is http://www.davisbunn.com/
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Isabella and I started going on retreats soon after we became engaged. Our favorite place is a Discalced Carmelite monastery in the Oxfordshire hills. We generally go for three days, and during that time we do not speak. But for us, the concept of ‘silent retreat’ draws us beyond the use of words. The focus is upon silent communion, both with each other and with God. The closer we come to mental silence, even for a few minutes, the more we discover the ability of our Lord to communicate with us at a level far beyond speech. Instead of words, the language He uses is love. And peace. And healing grace.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
What is your favorite food?
If you get one, be sure to bring enough for me. It sounds yummy. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Learning the lessons of disciplined story-telling. I wrote for nine years and finished seven books before my first was accepted for publication. During that time, I worked as a business consultant based in Germany, but working all over Europe. This was a very hard time for me, and I had a lot of reasons to quit. But the yearning to achieve what I felt God wanted me to do with the rest of my life won through in the end. Much of this period was spent in isolation, learning how to adapt this raw talent, this driving internal quest, to fit what the readers wanted to discover on the page.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
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 below. 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.
Seven main Christian writers conferences are as follows:
The American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, each September, location varies
The Write to Publish Conference, Wheaton College, Illinois, each June
The Christian Writers' Guild conference, Colorado, each February
The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, Santa Cruz, every April
The Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference, each May
The Glorietta Christian Writers Conference, New Mexico, each October
The Florida Christian Writers Conference, each February
Thank you, Davis, for the interesting time with you.
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