Monday, October 20, 2014

MY GUEST TODAY IS ALAN LESTER ~ DROP IN AND SAY HI!

No other explanation for the continuing life of Alan Lester exists, except the grace of God. Grateful for the privilege of a caring family, into which he was born in 1970, and with whom he lived in the small farming town of Ermelo in South Africa, and then in Kempton Park. Military service as an operational Medic followed high school, and then a few years as a paramedic in Johannesburg, the busiest ambulance station in the Southern Hemisphere. After making a profession of faith in Jesus Christ in 1981, Alan experienced a strong work of grace in his heart in 1998, sharply changing the entire direction of his life. Theological studies, focusing specifically on Biblical Counselling occupied the next ten years. He gave seven-and-a-half years to managing a rehabilitation centre for young men, interlaced with street preaching and evangelism. From this experience sprung his first title, Unending Hope for the Exhausted Addict. He has, by the kindness of God, served in several churches in different capacities, and now functions as a founding member, elder and pastor with Dr. Joshua Mack at Living Hope Church, Sunnyside Pretoria. Alan married Charleen in 1993, a 19-year marriage from which he is the father of two deeply loved daughters. His wife Charleen died suddenly in 2012, the subject of his second book, Hurting in Hope.


What five words describe you?
Laid-back, friendly, grateful, convictions, consistent.
What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?
I’m in the process of publishing Hurting in Hope, memoirs how a 19-year married romance came to an end through the sudden death of my wife, Charleen.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Kirk Cameron and Danielle Bisutti (from No Greater Love). Wouldn’t that be wonderful!
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? 
It would have to be Pilgrim’s Progress. John Bunyan’s book has been a powerful source of blessing to me from since childhood, and I have even studied it extensively as an adult, teaching more than 70 hours on it. It was Pilgrim’s Progress that God used to bring my grandfather to salvation, from a life of drunkenness. As far as actually being the author is concerned, if God used me as powerfully as He has used John Bunyan and his Pilgrim’s Progress over the centuries, I too, would consider 12 years in prison a worthwhile hardship. What a remarkable book; the best selling English book next to the Bible, of all time. 
What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing for me is to find a stretch of time long enough to write uninterrupted in the world I am creating with my words. It takes time to get in, but a second to be pulled out. This is a constant challenge.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block? 
I have a couple of remedies that I use when I just can’t write: 
1. I get up and walk away from my work. Take a walk outside, spend some time with other people. Deliberately forget about what I am writing. Come back later.
2. I spend time in prayer, asking God to help me think clearly and understand the logic of my story so that it will grip me.
3. I write something completely different for a while. Even if I don’t intend to publish it.
4. What I have found most invigorating is the practise of opening my Bible to a chapter I am currently studying, get old-fashioned paper and pen, with computer off, and I look closely at the text and begin to write observations. I write everything I am thinking. I think of how the entire context fits together, how verses relate to each other. I think of the who, what, why, where, when, and how of the text. I think of the fallen condition focus of the text and spend time thinking through the redemptive focus. I continually ask questions of the text and write down my answers. In this way, the Word stirs my heart, thrilling it an exciting it. I can’t write quickly enough or contain the joy of how thrilling the Word of God is. This stretches my mind, engages my heart, and before I even realise what is happening, my mind is racing even faster than my pen, and I have forgotten that my mind was stuck in a sluggish mode from which I couldn’t write.
Where would your dream location be for writing? 
I absolutely love the ocean. If I could write in the ideal place, it would be on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, South Africa, in a house overlooking the sea crashing on the rocks.
When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?
I seldom base characters on people I know. In my current work, because it is a true story, this does not apply, but in my fiction work, I like to imagine my characters and avoid writing them in as people I know. It destroys the sense that I am creating something truly original, mysterious and exciting.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Yes, I read my reviews. I am encouraged by the kind reviews, yet have a two-stage method of dealing with the negative ones. I read bad reviews and consider what elements of the review are true of my work and to what degree. I do question what would have motivated a person to write a bad review. After I have turned these things over in my head, I learn from them, try to thank the critic for his/her scathing review, and move on. The second thing I do is remember that reviews are highly subjective and personal, and that it really only amounts to a personal opinion. I am just grateful that the majority of reviews are kind and not caustic. I can take negative reviews quite casually, they don’t bother me much.
If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?
I love to write, but I also love my other major passion, pastoral work. So if I couldn’t be a writer, I would remain in the care of souls. I don’t believe there is a single greater calling or purpose for human life.
What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your writing career?
Read a greater variety of books, on a more regular basis. It doesn’t help to cram as much as you can in when it is desperately needed. I would stick to one of the rules I try to apply in these areas, “A little a lot, and not a lot a little.” A consistent diet of good and bad literature forms the mind to think from a mature literary mindset.
Where can we buy your work?
www.graceunlimited.co.za/Books/HurtinginHope.aspx
How can we keep up with you? Blog, Facebook, etc......
All my connections are listed in the website above.

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