Leighton Kramer - An Author in 3D
By Carin Chea
Leighton Kramer holds many titles: Minister, Pastor, Leader, Motivational Speaker, Theologian, and now, Published Author.
An avid and passionate preacher at heart, Kramer has managed to channel his naturally captivating oratorical gifts onto paper. His foray as a novelist is a beautifully poetic prose that chronicles one man's spiritual, worldly, and deeply personal journey.
Bolivar Heights: When Failure is Not Final is one such tale that reminds us that the human spirit is deeply sacred and astoundingly resilient.
You have a successful career as a claims adjuster. What led to your transition to author?
Coming out of Bible school, the churches I went to couldn't support a full-time minister, so I had to have a dual career to support myself. Going into being an author, I left my 2nd pastorate position.
I could never have written Bolivar Heights with my schedule as a full-time pastor. I sometimes preached as many as 14 times a week when preaching school revivals. There was just no time [to write the book] because I was always writing messages and articles.
How has your experience in leadership and claims adjustment affected your work as a writer?
I love to meet people, from the richest to the poorest. I've always enjoyed that aspect of the job and it was my professional life that enabled me to make ends meet.
The expectation is that when I finish my master's degree next year, I'll re-enter ministry full time again. It's just too much to pastor and also be a full-time student, but my heart's in ministry.
I'm anxious to say the least; I just can't wait to go back. I have hundreds and hundreds of messages just waiting to be preached.
Tell me about your new book Bolivar Heights: When Failure Is Not Final.
I do not consider myself a novelist, and yet I am a well-read man. I read 47 books last year. I'm constantly reading.
That being said, I never read novels with the single exception of the Sherlock Holmes series which I read as a sort of therapy to put my mind on cruise control and relax. It was like literary candy. You might even catch a glimpse of Sherlock Holmes in Bolivar Heights sometimes.
Writing it as a novel gave me flexibility as an author. Also, writing an autobiography would require that I have a perfect memory, and strikes me as a tad vain. I don't consider myself that interesting and so I was not about to do that.
Is your protagonist (Clay Keane) in Bolivar Heights based on someone you actually know?
Clay Keane is a play on words. Clay speaks to the word "clay" being molded in the hands of the Master [God]. I think the beauty of the characters is that they don't reflect just one individual. I use characters to bring events, groups of people and situations to life.
I did take portions of my spiritual journey and used Clay Keane as an instrument to portray them. I started Clay out as a boy and chronicled his spiritual journey from that time- his rise, his fall and hopefully his restoration.
Whether you're an atheist or spiritually minded at all, I like to think it's a compelling story.
I'm also looking at his story through three worlds. The first is the spiritual or supernatural realm. I'm operating under the premise that there is a spirit realm.
The second lens is the ecclesiastical one. It's the church world. The church has its own subculture. The third one is a personal lens. I don't think anyone can read Bolivar Heights and not see themselves somewhere in there.
I think for everybody, no matter who or where they may be, there are certain philosophical, spiritual, and theological applications that are universal.
I think everyone on this highway of life, at one time or another along the way may wrestle with the question, "Why are we here? Is there a God? And, if there is, is He active in the world today and how does that relate to me?"
What is your source of inspiration as a writer?
I'm a preacher before I am anything else. I can't help but view the world through a spiritual lens. As it pertains to Clay Keane there are three primary crises that he faces in Bolivar Heights, and I call them the three Cs, which I think are equally paramount in most everyone's life.
The three most important questions that anyone is ever going to answer in the one life they're ever going to live is first: Conversion. Everybody worships something, whether a person or deity. I think there's a God-sized void in the heart of men. Who am I going to serve? Clay faces a crisis hour and he's brought to his knees.
Instead of going to drugs or alcohol in his hour of greatest need, he instinctively goes looking for a living God.
The second is Calling or Career. In this story God gives Clay Keane a call to preach and now he must answer that call and thus faces a Rubicon of sorts. He wonders, "If I answer that call, what implications will that have on me, my family, my future and all of those around me?"
The future in question transcends this life - there are eternal ramifications attached to his response. One person offered perspective this way, saying "What we weave today- we wear forever."
The third one is Companion. When I think of this third crisis, I think of Sister Rosa [from the Bible Missionary Institute]. She used to tell the preacher boys at Bible school: "You'll never maximize your potential in the ministry without the right lady by your side."
Then, she'd council the ladies exhorting them to look beyond the suave personality: 'Girls, if you want to know where a man's heart is, follow his wallet. A man who is stingy with his money will be stingy with his love."
The choice of your companion is for life and a lifetime is a long time to be wrong." Clay Keane, spiritually speaking, will have his third crisis regarding women and some choice he will have to make regarding them- choices he can't afford to get wrong.
There are several prominent and formidable women in the book who will have a significant impact on his life and ministry.
What message do you hope to send across to your readers in Bolivar Heights?
Bolivar Heights has so many lessons. One of the beauties of peaching with my pen is that I'm able to take practical life lessons and insert them into the book.
One of the main stories in this book pertains to having a broken heart. To go back to Sister Rosa, she used to say, "Son, a man's never any good until his heart's been broken." A broken heart is an expanded heart.
What do you do with a broken heart? A lot of times, we think of it in terms of being an end. Bolivar Heights offers perspective for the broken hearted. The idea being; You never have a better opportunity to shine so bright as when you find yourself in the dark of the night!
I also think that in the 21st century, people are more educated than they've ever been. Technologically and medically speaking, we are so advanced and blessed.
But spiritually speaking, I believe the church world as a whole has become stagnant, cold and apostate in this Laodicean age in which we live. We have beautiful buildings with which to worship, fancy clothes, amazing organization and programs by the legion- too often we just don't have the presence and sanction of God whom we claim to represent.
This ecclesiastical world is dripping with religion but sadly has little reality. Too often the people within its sphere know scripture and often eloquently expound its theology, all the while never having made the acquaintance of its Divine author.
In the case of Clay Keane- our young preacher has a spiritual life and navigates life's highway while holding the hand of a supernatural Deity- at least for a time anyway.
Trying to be deeply spiritual without keeping step with another world through prayer, obedience and faith is like trying to fly without wings.
Another important theme BH speaks to is: Anyone can serve God when the sun's shining, the job is paying, my health is good and everybody loves me. But, show me the man, woman, or young person who will mind God when all the decks of the universe are seemingly stacked against them.
Show me that individual and I'll show you a person who will shake the very gates of Hell. Anyone can root for the Yankees when they're winning. Clay is no a fair-weather Christian.
Do you have any upcoming projects you'd like your readers to know about?
My next book project will not be a novel. It'll be more of a devotional, almost like sermons on paper.
That being said, I do want to keep the character of Clay Keane alive and suspect you may not have read the last of him. If you're not a theologian, you're most likely not going to read extensive theology unless there's a story.
To be in the loop with all things Leighton Kramer-related, please visit (you guessed it): LeightonKramer.com
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