I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fiction Friday Q & A with Davis Bunn

Heidi here, trying to stay cool in Spokane Valley! Today I'm sharing a Q&A with one of my favorite authors of Christian fiction: Davis Bunn. Ten years ago I purchased The Warning and The Ultimatum (The Reluctant Prophet series) bound together in one hard cover book.  It was the first I'd heard of Bunn, but once I started reading, I was hooked. 

I soon discovered that Bunn wrote a variety of faith-based fiction genres, from historical romance to modern thrillers to tender holiday novellas. Needless to say, whenever I see a new release, I immediately add it to my “must read” list. This month I hit the jackpot with not one, but TWO new Davis Bunn releases, and the opportunity to review (and blog about) both books. It’s good to be me!

Today we're talking about Rare Earth, the second book in the Marc Royce series by Davis Bunn. It's hot off the presses, as it was just released by Bethany House on July 1st. Normally, I wouldn’t blog about a sequel, but in this case, Rare Earth honestly stands on its own.

I'll admit, at first glance, I wasn't sure how much I'd like Rare Earth. I'm so glad I took the time to read it! Not only was it well written, but it reminded me to look outside my little corner of the world. As usual, Bunn has thoroughly researched back story and presents a fictional plot within actual events. I've never been to Africa, although after I finished reading it, I actually felt like I had. The main character is a solid hero, one I admired so much I am passing this book on to my teenage sons. They will love it, since it's packed with action, danger, and intrigue. It even has a little bit of romance, but not so much that my boys will hate it. In my opinion, one of the best parts of Rare Earth is that the ending left room for Marc Royce to return!

About Rare Earth 
Marc Royce stares out of the helicopter, a sense of foreboding rising with the volcanic cloud. Below, the Rift Valley slashes across Africa like a scar. Decades of conflicts, droughts, and natural disasters have left their mark.

Dispatched to audit a relief organization, Royce is thrust into the squalor and chaos of Kenyan refugee camps. But his true mission focuses on the area's reserves of once-obscure minerals now indispensable to high-tech industries. These strategic elements—called rare earth—have inflamed tensions on the world's stage and stoked tribal rivalries. As Royce prepares to report back to Washington, he seizes on a bold and risky venture for restoring justice to this troubled land.

But this time, Royce may have gone too far.

(Read the first THREE chapters of Rare Earth here for free!!)
Q & A with Davis Bunn                   
When you finished writing Lion of Babylon (book 1 in the Marc Royce series), did you just keep going with the storyline and wrote Rare Earth at the same time? Or was there a time gap in between?
Normally by the time I complete a story, I have been living with the characters and the tale for about a year. What I need more than anything just then is a break. I don’t need to stop writing; I just need to write about something else. The emotions for a new book have to be fresh. The characters are not just continuing on. They are starting over. The emotions and the concepts and the tension and the theme are all brand new. The names stay the same. The rest of the universe shifts on its axis.

Marc Royce is not your typical hero. Where did you find your inspiration for his character?
As I started researching the first book in this series, Lion of Babylon, I took a flight where I was seated next to this very remarkable woman, an amazing combination of hard intelligence and great gentleness. She was reading a pocket New Testament. We started talking, and it turned out that she was a special operative, formerly with the State Department intelligence division, and now working with the Department of Defense Intel. I found myself drawn by this incredible paradox of ruthless focus and very intense calm.

Soon after this flight, I had an opportunity to meet a senior figure in the CIA. I had never had any contact with the intelligence community, and all of a sudden I was finding one door after another being opened, because both of these people—the DOD Intel officer and the CIA agent—took it upon themselves to help introduce me to their worlds. I have found this happen on a number of occasions, and these ongoing miracles humble and astound me. I drew on these people as the basis for structuring my hero.

What can readers expect to find in Rare Earth?
All my books hold to one key aim—to create a story that carries a moral, and together result in an impact or challenge or inspiration or comforting assurance that remains long after the book is set down. That, to me, defines a worthy effort.

What kind of character is Marc Royce?
 He carries his faith into a world that likes to think Jesus no longer plays a role. He sees himself as the ultimate outsider, wounded by the loss of his wife, searching for a place he can call home, and an ideal worth living for—or giving his life for.

What type of research did you do for this series?
I worked in Africa for four years early in my adult life. I was not a believer at that time. I came to faith four years later. I taught in Kenya last year, the first time I had been back to sub-Sahara Africa in almost twenty years. Going back to Africa now, as a believer, has opened my eyes to many things. Seeing with the compassion of sharing faith and seeking to serve means that I do not merely observe, I share with them. I hope this comes across in my story.

Research is a huge component of all of my stories. But with Lion of Babylon and Rare Earth, the situation was quite different. In both these Royce novels, I was combining knowledge gained in my previous business life with the perspective gained from my walk in faith. It has been quite a fulfilling experience, personally, to revisit these lands and see them through the eyes of our compassionate God.

Which character was the most difficult to write?
There is a Luo chief in Nairobi, a strong leader who has had everything stripped from him except his faith. He is the uncle of another great man, another leader. To have two people from the same tribe, and create individuals that stood out as unique portraits, was very challenging. I feel that I have done a solid job with them. I look forward to hearing what my readers think.

What was your favorite scene to write in Rare Earth?
It is very rare that a first scene holds such a powerful connection for me. Generally it is one where there is a revelation between characters, or a defining moment when a person’s eyes are truly opened to the eternal for the first time. 
But in Rare Earth, when I shut my eyes and envision the story, it is that first scene that blazes into light. Travelling on the UN chopper from Nairobi, watching the volcano take shape upon the horizon. Marc Royce has been sent out there to fail. And to die. I really am pleased with that opening sequence.

I’m giving away a free copy of Rare Earth and a copy of Hidden in Dreams, which I've spotlighted in my August blog post. Leave a comment below and I'll enter you to win Rare Earth. Leave a comment on my August post, and I'll enter you to win Hidden in Dreams. If you comment on both, I'll enter you twice! I will draw names on August 24th.

Legal stuff: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.


  1. Oh.My.Word. (to borrow Beth's phrase) Amazing book. Thank you so much, Heidi, for introducing me to Davis Bunn. And this is the 2nd time this week I've heard about this area of the world. Church members just got back from Tanzania and gave us a report on the conditions there. I hope I win the book, but if not, I'll buy it!

  2. I've read Davis Bunn's historical fiction but not his thrillers. I can't wait to get this series. Thanks for the great interview!

  3. Great interview. I've read a number of Bunn's books and thoroughly enjoy his work. Guess Lion of Babylon is my next purchase so I'm ready for Rare Earth. (I like to read books in order.)
    My sons would love these books too.
    Look forward to reading the review.

  4. I think I've loved every book Davis Bunn has ever written. Looking forward to this one!! Thanks for the Q&A, Heidi!

  5. Wow, I have to get this book!

    What really hooked me was the words, "Royce has been sent out there to fail. And to die."

    I think people who are living their lives to die to self, get that.

    Well done.

    Thanks Heidi, for another wonderful post and the for introducing me to an author I will love reading :)

  6. Great interview! I've never read suspense by Davis Bunn, though I have read a few of the books he co-wrote with Janette Oke.

  7. Lots of Good information in your post, I favorited your blog post so I can visit again in the future, Thanks.

  8. Heidi, thanks for the great blog post and intro. to good stuff. I was not aware of Davis Bunn but have added both books to my must read list. How fun that one's in Melbourne and one in Kenya (I've taught students from there.) Looking forward to getting acquainted and also sending blessings to you and yours!

  9. I read Lion of Babylon and very much enjoyed it. I'm sure I'd enjoy reading Rare Earth as well. I like the wide range of books that Davis Bunn writes. I've never been disappointed in one of his books.
    Thanks for the chance to win a copy of Rare Earth and for the interview with Davis.


  10. Barbara Moses8/14/12, 12:19 PM

    Another fine interview! I have also loved Davis' writing for years and am so looking forward to reading this one! Thanks for the chance to enter both of your drawings!
    b-moses at swbell dot net

  11. I love every book by Davis Bunn I've ever read - excellent writing, interesting stories and not a lot of "junk".I'd love to win this new book - international intrigue, mysterious Africa, strong personalities, what's not to loke?

  12. Pat~ I know, right?! So incredibly good!! I always love it when I hear about someone, something, or some place in a book, then begin to hear about it from other sources. I think this is an area that needs our attention! And, now you know about Davis Bunn...he's written a ton of really books, in a wide variety of genres for you to add to your To Read pile!! (My favorite: The Reluctant Prophet series.)

  13. Roxanne~

    I'm so glad I introduced you to his thrillers! You will not be disappointed!

  14. Bev~

    I like to read books in order too, but for this one (and my Hidden in Dreams review for August) I read them out of order to make sure they stood alone before posting. They do stand alone, but both made me want to read their predecessors! They are both currently in my Amazon cart. =)

    And yes, I think your sons will like it! Thanks for stopping by. I'm drawing for the winner on August 24th.

  15. Melissa~

    Me too!! I've NEVER been disappointed. I want to be that kind of writer...the kind of writer that people know will give them something wonderful in return for their investment and who can successfully write in many different genres. Like Susie. =) (I've set my goals HIGH!)

  16. Ginger~

    It was my pleasure to introduce you to Davis Bunn's work. Royce is an awesome hero, and that line grabbed my attention as well. He's the kind of character that makes you want to be a better person.

  17. Julia~

    Thanks for stopping by! If you like suspense, or action, you'll like this one. I've actually never read any of his books with Oke, but I've heard they're good. I'll have to add one to my To Read tower of books.

  18. Straight razor~

    Thanks for stopping by! And thank you for making us one of your favorites. I am proud to blog alongside some pretty amazing writers. You won't be disappointed!

  19. Paul~

    Thanks for visiting this review, too! You are the first one to get FOUR entries (two in each drawing) for commenting on both posts. I'm with you--I love knowing I won't be shocked by a bunch of "junk" when I pick up a book. That's what I love about Christian fiction...it's safe. And in Rare Earth, safe certainly doesn't mean boring! It is seriously action-packed.

  20. I just finished reading "Rare Earth" and was unable to put it down! Davis Bunn writes wonderful books with fascinating plots and facts, but what I love most are some of the Christian ideas and teachings that widen my faith. It was especially true for me in "Heartland" -- I was awed by his description of miracles and free will.