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David Carlson was born in the western suburbs of Chicago. His grade school years were spent in Springfield, Illinois, where the numerous Abraham Lincoln sites initiated his lifelong love of history. His childhood hope was to play professional baseball, a dream which died ignominiously one day in high school. He attended Wheaton College, where he fell in love with theological thinking, and earned a doctorate at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, where he learned that research is a process of digging and then digging deeper. He believes the same process of digging and digging deeper has helped him in his non-fiction and mystery writing. Franklin College, a traditional liberal arts college in central Indiana, has been his home for the past thirty-eight years. David has been particularly attracted to the topics of faith development, Catholic-Orthodox relations, and Muslim-Christian dialogue. In 2007, he conducted interviews across the country in monasteries and convents about monastic responses to 9/11 and religious terrorism. The book based on that experience, Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World, was published in 2011 by Thomas Nelson and was selected as one of the Best Books of 2011 in the area of Spiritual Living by Library Journal. He has subsequently written a second book on religious terrorism, Countering ISIS: The Power of Spiritual Friendships. Much of his time in the last three years has been spent giving talks as well as radio and TV interviews on ISIS. Nevertheless, he is still able to spend summers in Wisconsin where he enjoys sailing, fishing, kayaking, and restoring an old log cabin.
His wife, Kathy, is a retired English professor, an award-winning artist, and an excellent editor. Their two sons took parental advice to follow their passions. The older, Leif, is a photographer, and the younger, Marten, is a filmmaker.