Q&A for Davis Bunn’s The Damascus Way

The Damascus Way, by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke
Book 3 in the Acts of Faith series
Bethany House Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0866-9
ISBN-10: 0-7642-0866-7

Young Julia has everything money can buy—except for acceptance by either Gentiles or Judeans in Tiberias. When she discovers the secret her beloved Greek father has kept all these years, she is devastated. Julia and her Hebrew mother are indeed less than second-class citizens. Her future is dark with clouds of uncertainty.

Jacob, Abigail’s brother, is now a young man attempting to find his own place among the community of believers. Does it mean trading away the exhilaration and adventure of his current profession as a caravan guard?

Hired by Julia’s father to protect a wealthy merchant’s caravans on the secretive “Frankincense Trail,” Jacob also reluctantly takes on the perilous responsibility of passing letters and messages between communities of believers now dispersed across the land. He is alarmed to discover that Julia, hardly more than a girl, is also a courier. Can their initial mistrust be put aside to accomplish their mission?

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:

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.

“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.

Christy Awards
The Meeting Place (co-authored with Janette Oke)
 Best North American Historical fiction, 2000
The Great Divide – Best Suspense Novel, 2001
Drummer in the Dark – Best Suspense Novel, 2002

Q & A with Davis Bunn

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 (Book 2 in the series) 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.

Many – in fact, most – of the characters in the Acts of Faith series are not believers. Why did you focus the books on them?

Janette came up with this idea. We wanted to get away from an inspirational book where all the characters were either of faith or moving in this direction. Life then, and now, was very different for a lot of families, and we wanted to reflect that in our characters.

How did you choose your characters’ names?

This is a huge question, and one Janette Oke and I 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.

Why do the characters in the Acts of Faith series drink so much tea? I thought people who lived during the first century typically drank watered wine.

Yes, we agree with this, though tea was often drunk as well. There are some Bible scholars who actually suggest that the watered wine was mentioned specifically because it was rare. And only the Romans drank it regularly. There is just no telling. But tea – indicating any herb placed in boiling water – has been a staple drink of this region for at least a thousand years prior to Jesus’ coming. And we did not want to upset some of our most conservative readers, such as the Mennonites and Brethren.

What do you hope readers will take from the series to enrich their faith and their lives?

At its heart, this story is about the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. This power has the ability to change the hearts and minds of believers, and confound the powers opposing Jesus, both now and at any time.

There are many parallels between the fears and oppression known during the church’s early days and the grave concerns facing many believers today. The temptation, both then and now, is to seek earthly answers instead of relying upon God’s divine powers.

Tell us about The Damascus Way

Without question, The Damascus Way – the third and final book in the Acts of Faith series – is my favorite. 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.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website, blog, and interactive discussion group are at www.davisbunn.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Davis-Bunn-author/134762129885578
Twitter: @davisbunn – http://twitter.com/davisbunn

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  • http://blog.amykittel.com/ amyfishgirl

    Awesome interview. thank you. Imay eventually read thoae based on this interview I never knew janette oke retired. I’ve missed reading her books. hers were my first Christian fiction books.
    amyfishgirl´s last blog post ..A Review &amp Giveaway for unPLANNED by Abby Johnson- DVD

    • http://www.CreativeMadnessMama.com CherryBlossomMJ

      It’s interesting for me to look back and see that most Oke books are so short in length compared to most of what I read today.

  • Pingback: Creative Madness Mama Interviews Davis Bunn « Davis Bunn()

  • Ros Shirley

    Is there a study guide for leaders of The Damascus Way??

    • http://rudedog101st@yahoo.com donna

      Did you ever find a study guide. I am leading a women’s group, and we have read the first two and used the study guid for them but can not find one for this one the damascus way?

      • http://www.CreativeMadnessMama.com CherryBlossomMJ

        Hey Donna, I checked with the publicist and she checked with Davis and it looks like no in this case. Quote:

        I checked with Davis Bunn about whether there is a study guide for The Damascus Way.

        His reply:

        I thought there was one, Laura, but I cannot put my hands on it. Which probably means I’m thinking about a RQ (reader questions) for a different book. Sorry.
        Warmest, db

        Laura