As part of my adventure looking into the world of art and self-publishing I got to meet some very peculiar individuals; a swearing chef with a taste for art, a break dancing fox, a secret society I happen to stumble across which turned out to be a humble writers group, a class of super eager creative writing third year university students, an evil ‘Artificial Intelligence’ which builds websites, an Avengers type group of writers working on a seasonal magazine, I discover New Amazon-a multitude of probably 8 million fan girls and I embark upon a challenging league of writers scribbling to the death.
Have I piqued your interest? There will be more about my exploits, but for now let’s talk to Christian author Cleveland McLeish.
Question: Why writing?
Cleveland McLeish: Hard to say. I left High School not knowing where I wanted to go and started doing some odd jobs, until I was recruited at a surveying firm and trained as a CAD draughtsman. At some point in my Church wanted to do a play, and decided that we should get a script. I wrote it. The fact that I could write it, meant something to me, so I wrote some more. Eventually I caught the attention of a Christian Playwright in Ohio. I took some courses, got better and started to write in other genres. Movie scripts, Non-fiction and now Novels. It’s been an awesome journey.
Q: What inspired the title of your most recent publication to date?
CM: That would be the first in a series of books called Defeating Giants: Living with Anxiety. Of course, this is my personal testimony and struggle with anxiety. I realize that I’m not the only one going through this and I wanted to reach out to some of those who think there is no hope and may even feel like their world is ending. It made a difference to me reading of other people’s experience, so I wanted a medium to share my own.
Q: Where do you see yourself in two years?
CM: Writing full time and having at least one best-selling book on Amazon.com.
Q: Who inspires you more than any other as an author?
CM: It’s a tie between Randy Alcorn and Frank Peretti. I love everything they write and have been deeply inspired by their work and success.
Q: When is the best time to start writing if one plans to be a writer? is there a best time?
CM: I don’t think there is a best time, but the sooner you begin, the more likely you are to succeed before you’re robbed of your vigour and drive by old age. I find that as a potential writer, there is a great chance that even in high school, someone will recognize that you have talent, whether it is a short story written or a poem. I would encourage those who are fortunate to be complimented, not to ignore it (like I did)…but take it serious and never stop writing.
Q: How accessible are your works of art to people of a different or no religion or faith?
CM: I have a website that receives a considerable amount of visitors monthly from all walks of life…and faith. That’s my strongest point of accessibility now. Some of my works are also on Amazon and occasionally someone may find me there. I try not to preach through my writing, but embed a strong message in a compelling story that even non-Christians can be drawn to the stories I tell.
Q: What do you define as a good story?
CM: The kind that you wake up thinking about the next morning. A good story will make an impression that you will find hard to forget. It may even force you to change, or at least make you think about changing.
Q: What’s the greatest story you were ever told and what effect did it have on your writing if any at all?
CM: Chloe Cleopatra Taylor is my pet project. I love the story so much, I’m afraid to tell it with the fear that someone may steal the idea. It’s a story that has never been told, and I want to be the first to tell it. All my other writings have paled in comparison to this one.
Q: If you could give your younger self any piece of advice, what would it be and why?
CM: Keep writing. My goal is to reach one million readers, but I would be content if I can reach one. Writers have a great responsibility that some of us don’t really take very serious, but our work can save lives and cause change…so continue writing. Don’t break. Don’t stop! 10.If you could be born in any decade what would it be? I’m contented with God’s timing as it relates to where I fall in history, but if I really could choose I would love to be born when Jesus walked this earth.
Q: Jesus appreciated the genre of fiction more than any. His teachings were mainly transmitted through parables. As a Christian you’ve most likely read some if not all of these parables. which appeals to you most and why so?
CM: The parable of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. Both demonstrate doctrines that are still very much valid in our time and age. Doctrine of forgiveness and unconditional love that transcends class, race and religion. As a writer you stand between the rift of ignorance and knowledge- mention one of the bigger lesson’s you’ve learned as the bridge between the different states of mind. Some say knowing is half the battle. Scriptures say, people perish for lack of knowledge. Observation supports both ideas and this brings me back to my earlier point that we as writers have a great responsibility. My wife says I have a gift to make complex ideas sound simple. I don’t just desire for my writing to change lives, but to save lives. That is the power of the pen when weilded with understanding and care. We open eyes, where once there was blindness and that carries a value greater than money.