Born and raised in the Midwest, Dennis Dunivan graduated with a Journalism degree from the University of Missouri. During an overseas work program, he met Viet Nguyen in London. After hearing Viet’s story about escaping from a communist prison camp, he decided it was a story the world needed to hear. He moved to Viet’s neighborhood, which was a Vietnamese community on London’s East End. This is where the foundation of Escape from Communist Heaven was formed during months of interviews with Viet and some less extensive interviews with other refugees.
In 1994, before it was feasible for Dennis to conduct research in Vietnam, he was sponsored by U.S.A.I.D. on a mission to help Ukrainian farmers commercialize their businesses. This gave him firsthand experience in a country that was transitioning out of communism. Several years later, he finished the novel after traveling to Saigon and through the Mekong Delta of southern Vietnam. Although thousands of miles and the Atlantic Ocean have separated them for many years, Viet has always remained his best friend.