Author Talk: July 2012
Undercover agent Marc Royce is back on assignment in RARE EARTH, Davis Bunn's latest suspense novel. As war breaks out in Kenya over valuable land, how far will Royce go to bring peace? In this interview, Bunn talks about his attraction to spiritual fiction, the role of the missionary church in today's world, and the difficult balance achieved in creating good faith-based fiction.
Question: The missionary church plays a vital role in your new series based around the character of Marc Royce. What can you tell us about their role in today’s world?
Davis Bunn: First and foremost, the missionary church is alive and well. What is more, it is growing. Most of the news about worldwide evangelical communities has to do with persecution, which is sadly on the rise. But one crucial reason for this is the simple fact that faith communities are growing. This is often discussed in hushed tones, for fear of making the persecutions worse. With respect, I disagree. The church is on the rise, and missionary organizations are at the forefront of this growth. The persecutions are already fierce. This growth is certainly not a secret in the nations being impacted by revival. We should shout this from the rooftops.
Q: The first novel in this series, LION OF BABYLON , garnered very strong praise, both from within the Christian community and the mainstream critics. It was named a top book of the year by several groups, including Library Journal and Booklist. How are you able to infuse religion concepts into a suspense drama, without sounding like you are delivering a sermon?
DB: The most important component here is, restrict your story to one moral. This is both the key restriction, and the greatest beauty, to good fiction. Whereas solid non-fiction carries a new lesson with each chapter, a good novel can only have one. And yet this one can be revealed over time, so that the reader shares in the discovery. They have time to emotionally invest in this realization, and the tension over whether the main character will discover this in time becomes part of the plot’s driving force. Also, you can explore facets of this moral through the different characters, something that a non-fiction book simply doesn’t have the scope for.
Q: So what is the lesson to be gained from this second book in the Marc Royce series, RARE EARTH?
DB: I wanted to portray the beautiful experience I myself gained from working with the Kenyan faith community. A new generation of spiritual leaders is coming to the forefront of the Christian community in East Africa. They are powerful pastors who seek to heal the wounds of their nation. They are bringing Jesus into many facets of their political and cultural worlds, aided by a number of US-based missionary organizations. Together these groups are having a major impact on the nation at large. Where there has been strife and the threat of civil war, these groups are fostering a new peace, one based upon the Scriptures and prayer. Witnessing these events has had a major impact on my personal walk.
Q: You have had considerable success writing both for the mainstream and the inspirational markets. What draws you to Christian fiction?
DB: I came to faith at age twenty-eight. Two weeks later, I began writing. I did not even know what a ‘calling’ meant at the time. I only knew this was it. This was why I was here. This was the first time I had ever looked beyond my own selfish drive in business, the first time I had ever picked up a pen. My writing and my faith are intertwined. When I write for the mainstream, it is still with a moral concept at the forefront of my mind and heart. When I teach a class where I am the only believer, it is still to represent my God in my craft.