Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for Hidden in Dreams includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Davis Bunn. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Just when the world’s foremost expert on dream analysis, Dr. Elena Burroughs, thinks she is getting her life back under control after losing her position at Oxford University and the man she hoped to fall in love with, she is approached by Rachel Lamprey, the product manager of an innovative new ADHD treatment about to hit the market. Rachel asks for Elena’s help with a clinical trial participant who has had a disturbing dream foretelling a cataclysmic global financial collapse. But even more alarming is the fact that fifteen people scattered across the globe—including Elena herself—begin to experience the same repetitive, devastating dreams of economic ruin just as one bank crisis follows another, suggesting that these aren’t merely dreams.
As Elena searches for answers in her professional networks, she is forced to form an unlikely alliance with one of her most vehement critics and is drawn back into the spotlight as the public face of the so-called dreamers. Elena and her collaborators must race against the clock to find the connection between the dreams and the very real events threatening a financial meltdown.
It’s no longer about just dreams: it’s about survival.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Would you help a woman like Rachel when she first comes to Elena for help with her test subject? What questions would you ask her before proceeding? Do you trust her?
2. What kind of role did the Florida landscape play in the novel? How does the weather reflect the turmoil the characters are experiencing?
3. How would you react if you experienced one of these terrible dreams? How would you react when you found out that others had the exact same dream?
4. How does Reed serve as a spiritual guide for Elena? Do you think she needs his guidance?
5. Elena is drawn into the public eye in Davis Bunn’s novel, Book of Dreams, and is forced back into the spotlight in this sequel, Hidden in Dreams. Have you ever been forced or called to do something against your own intuition or choice? What did you do?
6. While Jacob’s faith journey is just beginning, his skepticism starts to fade as even he can no longer deny the existence of a guiding force in the world. What do you think changes him?
7. Writing is said to be the “cheapest form of therapy.” Is Elena right to agree to write a second book about her experiences?
8. How do the fears of a global financial crisis resonate with current headlines and your own personal experiences? Did any of the scenes or descriptions in Hidden in Dreams particularly resonate with you?
9. Have you ever had a dream that significantly affected you? Do you typically remember your dreams?
10. Which character did you connect with most? Which character do you share the most similar behaviors or traits with?
11. Elena and Stacy form a pseudo mother-daughter relationship. How does their relationship evolve? Do you think Elena is a good role model for Stacy? Is Stacy a role model herself for Elena?
12. Elena says, “At its best, religion is a matter of creating an earthly structure in which to express the wonder of connecting with the divine. At its worst, religion seeks to fit God into a safe and comfortable little box” (p. 111). Do you agree with Elena’s statement? Why or why not? Do any other characters offer a different perspective on religion in the novel?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Experiment with keeping a dream journal. Keep your journal next to your bed and record your dreams as soon as you wake up each morning. Dreams fade quickly, so it is important to write them down soon after you awaken! Look for interesting patterns or themes as you record more dreams and share them with your book club members. For help with decoding your dreams, visit www.DreamMoods.com or www.TheCuriousDreamer.com.
2. If you haven’t already, go back to the start of Elena Burroughs’s journey in the public eye by reading Book of Dreams, the prequel to Hidden in Dreams. Discuss the differences between the two books and how Elena has grown as a character.
3. Find out more about the author by visiting www.DavisBunn.com. Discover more about Davis’s upcoming projects and discuss with other readers in the web forums. If you submit a review of Hidden in Dreams, it might be chosen to be shared on Davis’s blog!
A Conversation with Davis Bunn
What inspired you to continue Elena’s story?
Two months after Book of Dreams was released, I had the call every author dreams about and yearns for—a vice president of NBC/Universal suggested we discuss the possibility of turning it into a television series. I was put in touch with one of their producers and over the next six months began working up the basic structure of what this program might look like. One of the ideas I found most appealing became the basis for Hidden in Dreams.
Who do you write for? Who do you picture as your audience?
The writer-to-reader relationship has become much more intimate with web-based communications. I communicate almost daily now with fans. Hearing what resonates with them about my work, and what thread they would most like to see extended into a new story, has meant the world. I love hearing from readers. The importance of this connection cannot be overemphasized.
How do you balance action-packed, suspenseful scenes with romantic relationships and meaningful faith experiences in your writing? Is this balance important to you?
This basically describes who I am as a person and a writer. I lead quite an active life, and at the same time my relationship with my wife is the second most important component of my day. I have loved balancing romance and action in my stories since I first began writing.
You have quite the knack for describing the tumultuous weather of the Florida coast. How have your own experiences with extreme weather affected your writing? Why is it important for you to set the scene with these descriptions?
We have lived through six hurricanes since buying our Florida home. But my connection to heavy weather goes back much farther. My first job, which I started at age eleven, was as a dockboy at a marina on the North Carolina coast. I worked a sixty-hour week for fifteen dollars and all the sailing time I could fit in. I considered myself the luckiest guy alive. Anyone who works around boats will understand the full force behind the word, nor’easter.
How did you approach writing about relevant financial and political themes? Why is it important for you to write about timely matters? What do you want readers to take away from your commentary on current economic preoccupations?
Economic uncertainty defines the world we live in today. As I explain at the end of this story, my background is in international economics and finance. I have relished applying my creative talents and my faith to these issues, though I wish for all of us that the circumstances were different. I feel it is important to show how the timeless and eternal messages are applicable to every aspect of our world and our lives. And how the gift of peace and wisdom can be used in every circumstance we face.
The personal profile on your website, www.DavisBunn.com, describes you as “gentleman adventurer.” Can you share one of your favorite travel memories?
Almost all of my current travel is either related to researching my upcoming story or teaching. Last year I had the honor of speaking at churches in India and lecturing at a national congress. My wife and I took time to explore the state of Rajastan before this began. What an incredible journey.
Cooperation is an important theme in Hidden in Dreams as Elena finds many allies to help her along the way. How have others helped you in your professional and personal pursuits?
One of the most amazing aspects of writing within the faith community is the strength of bonds forged through sharing the dual passion of Gospel and story. I am so very grateful for the trust these friends have shown me, and for the wisdom I have found, and the lessons learned. They make my work possible.
What part of the creative process do you find the most challenging? The most rewarding?
There are days in every writer’s life when it becomes just a job. The strain of the outside world threatens to overwhelm, and the pressures come from so many different directions, and there just isn’t enough time or energy or space. The creative impulse flickers, and the words are just not there. And then something happens. A prayer time with friends, a walk on an empty beach, a surf, a time with my wife, and I find myself able to take a step back from everything and just breathe easily. And in that instant, the miracle occurs, and the words come to life. The characters rise up before me, and they talk with their own voices, and the story rises in a field of wondrous illumination. And life is beautiful. And I am doing what I love once more.