Davis Bunn’s latest novel, The Domino Effect draws on Davis’ business background. He fills us in on how his career as a businessman and a shared financial concern informs and helped develop his most recent book.
Your suspense/thriller The Domino Effect is a novel centered on the mysterious and often secretive financial world. How did you come to write about this, and why write about it now?
I have been increasingly concerned that banks and global hedge funds have resumed practices that brought us to the brink of economic collapse in 2008. In May of last year I had the opportunity to interview the head of Britain’s security oversight group, similar to our own SEC. When I mentioned my fears, what was to have been a half-hour meeting turned into an all-day marathon of shared alarms.
The following month, I met with the president of Bethany House and his editor-in-chief. Having delved further into the global issues developing as a result of tactics being used by the major banks and hedge funds, I laid out my concerns along with some of the evidence. Before our lunch was over, both the editor and the president said I needed to set aside the book I was working on—which was already contracted by Bethany—and write this book instead.
The problem was, at that point I had a theme, but I did not have characters and a plot thread. The next day I met with long-time colleagues and friends from the publishing world, described the issues, and confessed my dilemma. I told them I felt a need to write about this potential threat—I felt called to this—but I did not…
Even before I finished fully laying out my quandary, though, I had the answer: This should be an Esther story, the ancient “for such a time as this” mandate but in contemporary circumstances. As soon as I heard those words, the story began to fall into place.
The story’s main character, Esther Larsen, comes to realize that her need to warn the nation of this impending crisis is in fact her calling. As she rises to the challenge, many facets of her life that seemed very disjointed are brought into remarkable harmony. The word she uses to describe this experience is “pilgrimage.” Do you share this experience with your character?
This has definitely been the case for me, and in two ways.
First, I came to faith at age twenty-eight and began writing two weeks later. Within just a few days I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. But in order to make that dream a reality, I wrote for nine years and finished seven novels before my first was accepted for publication. It is only now, thirty years after beginning what indeed has been a pilgrimage of my own, that I can see the sense of divine direction and blessing during a time of hardship and challenge.
Second, my background prior to becoming a full-time writer was as a businessman. I studied international economics and finance, first in the U.S. and then in England. Following this, I taught at a Swiss university, worked for an Arab consortium, and then became director of an international business advisory group based in Germany and operating throughout Europe. This background, and the study that has continued during my writing career, has come into remarkable focus with the writing of this story.
Your previous novel The Warning, which also surrounds financial issues, was released over a dozen years ago. It has taken quite a while for you to develop another novel based on your business background. Is there a reason for this?
The Warning was more than a work of fiction, just like The Domino Effect is now. I felt genuinely called to both stories, dealing with the threat that debt—both personal and national—poses to America’s economy.
I genuinely write from a sense of calling with all my novels, but I believe the worldwide reach of undercover economic decisions being made by banks, businesses, and political leaders brings this one to another level of importance and, hopefully, impact, all wrapped in an engaging story!
What do you hope readers will take away from this story?
First and foremost, I hope readers feel more open to rising beyond what we might consider our present confines, and see the potential within each of us to impact our friends, church, community, and the world at large. God plants seeds, He instills hopes, and He fills our hearts with the knowledge that we are part of an eternal plan. Each of us holds the potential to become a “voice calling in the wilderness” of today’s world.