Interview with writer Leona Evans

My special guest today
is writer Leona Evans. We are
talking about the non-fiction self-help book, The Evolving Peacemaker: A Commitment to Nonviolence she co-wrote
with her son Matthew J. Evans.
Let me introduce them:
Leona Evans
is the author of The Evolving Peacemaker:
A Commitment to Nonviolence
. She holds a Master of Arts in Religious
Studies and is an ordained Unity Minister, spiritual counselor, and former
Chair of the Metaphysics Department at Unity School for Religious Studies. She
is the co-author, with Carol Keefer, of two books: Nothing Is Too Good to Be True! which was also translated and
published in Russia, and Spirituality & Self-Esteem. In addition, she co-authored
and narrated a two-CD set, Meditations for Transformation: Awakening the Soul
through the Enneagram.
Ordained in 1985, Evans
has been the minister at Unity of San Luis Obispo, California, for the past
twenty-two years, during which time she has taught numerous classes on the
power of the mind to shape our destiny. Leona is an accomplished speaker and
teacher, and her positive messages have been heard on radio and television
stations throughout the world.
She is a former Broadway
actress, recording artist, and cabaret performer, whose theatrical career of
more than thirty years began when she was a small child. Eventually she was
guided to study world religions and chose the ministry as a way of helping
people understand that nonviolence among religions begins with the realization
that the same God of love indwells all people.
Evans is the proud mother
of musician, filmmaker, and actor Matthew J. Evans, whose rich contributions to
this volume have added “author” to his considerable list of accomplishments.
Leona is available to
present her workshops and seminars at business conferences, spiritual centers,
and educational venues.
An accomplished actor,
musician, and award-winning young filmmaker, Matthew J. Evans was born in 1996 and is a native of San Luis
Obispo, California. He played a feature role in Columbia Pictures’ comedy Bad
Teacher, for which he received a 2012 Young Artist Award in Los Angeles. A
frequent guest star on a number of network television shows, Matthew appeared
on the Disney XD series Lab Rats in 2014, for which he won another Young Artist
Award. In 2015, he played a dramatic role in the feature film Dismissed.
A professional musician,
Matthew sings and plays double bass, acoustic guitar, and bass guitar. He is
also a documentary filmmaker whose mission is to produce movies and videos that
entertain, educate, and inspire audiences to find value and meaning in their
lives and in the world.
In 2010, Matthew produced
and directed a short film called A War Story, A Love Story, which won Best
Documentary and Best in Festival at Interlochen Future of Cinema International
Film Festival.
In 2011, Matthew produced
and directed a documentary short film called Poetic Justice Project, which won Best
Student Documentary at the Spirit Quest Film Festival in Pennsylvania, Best
Young Filmmaker Documentary Short at the Red Rock Film Festival in Utah, and,
in 2014, the Gold Jury Prize at the Social Justice Film Festival, Youth Visions
Competition in Seattle.
In 2012, Matthew produced
and directed a documentary short film called A Quest for Peace: Nonviolence
Among Religions, featuring interviews with Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma
Gandhi. During 2013–14, the film won awards at nineteen film festivals throughout
the country.
A highlight of Matthew’s
filmmaking career was receiving the first Teen Art of Making Peace Award in
September 2014 from the Peace in the Streets Global Film Festival, presented to
him at the United Nations third High Level Forum on a Culture of Peace by
Former Under- Secretary-General Anwarul Chowdhury.
Welcome, Leona. Please tell us about your current
release
.
The Evolving Peacemaker, based on the Gandhi philosophy of nonviolence,
contains a set of principles and practices designed to guide the reader on a
powerful journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. It opens with the premise
that peace is not a one-time achievement but a lifelong practice that starts
with our willingness to “be the change we wish to see in our world,” one
thought and one action at a time.
What inspired you to write this book?
In these troubled times
people are seeking hope for our future – ways to communicate with one another
in healthier, more effective ways. As a Unity Minister for the past 30 years, I
have taught that real peace begins within our own consciousness. Recently, I
began to question how I could frame this message in a way that would make a
powerful and positive impact on a wider audience.
Four years ago my son,
Matthew J. Evans and I had the honor of spending time with Arun Gandhi,
grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. We engaged in several meaningful discussions on the
Gandhi teachings of nonviolence. These meetings resulted in Arun’s
participation in an award-winning documentary short film which Matthew produced
called “A Quest for Peace: Nonviolence Among Religions.” After earning numerous
awards at film festivals throughout the country, Matthew received the Teen Art
of Making Peace Award at the United Nations third High Level Forum on a Culture
of Peace. Inspired by this event I began studying the Gandhi teachings in
greater depth and concluded that his philosophy of nonviolent action is more
relevant today than ever. With valuable contributions from Matthew and a
foreword by Arun Gandhi, I wrote this book hoping to help people understand
that nonviolence is more than a method of conflict resolution – it is a way of
life. There is hope for our future.
Excerpt from The
Evolving Peacemaker: A Commitment to Nonviolence
:
“From the great pyramids
to walking on the moon to finding cures for diseases using advanced technology,
humanity has proven, time and again, to possess an unwavering tenacity and a
potential for greatness that goes beyond anything we could possibly imagine. No
matter how hopeless the circumstances might seem, humanity has always prevailed
and risen above adversity.
Yes, I believe the human
race can and will make the necessary choices to create a safer, more
compassionate world for our future generations. The blueprints for success
exist in every soul and are written in every scripture. They have been voiced
by great visionaries whose lives and teachings are powerful examples of how
high humanity can soar when we choose to value the best in ourselves and
others.”
Chapter 2, page 10
What exciting story are you working on next?
Before I make that
decision I would like to hear feedback from readers and see which concepts from
The Evolving Peacemaker could benefit
from further discussion. The topic of nonviolence is a passion for both Matthew
and me. As peace activists we plan on delving deeper into these ideas.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been writing since
1986. My first book, co-authored with the late Carol Keefer, is called Nothing Is Too Good To Be True! It was
translated and published in Russia, where I spent several months teaching these
ideas of personal transformation in St. Petersburg and Moscow.
My second book, called Spirituality and Self-Esteem, was
published in 2000. A chapter was published in the new millennium edition of
Unity Magazine and I taught workshops and classes using concepts from the book.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day
like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to
write?
I am not a full-time writer.
I have served as minister at Unity of San Luis Obispo for the past 22 years. I
am motivated to write a book only when I feel passionate about the subject
matter. For the most part I teach classes, conduct Sunday services, and
recently have become an Action Team Leader for the Peace Alliance, a national
organization which promotes nonviolence.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My best hours for writing
are between midnight and 4am. I have always felt more focused and productive
during those times. I would love to be more creative during daylight hours, but
so far that has not been the case.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a child I
wanted to be an actress. I began working in the theater when I was four years
old and continued to work in musical theater and cabarets for the next 25 years.
My son, Matthew, also began working in the theater when he was four years old
and switched to television and film at the age of nine.
Anything additional you want to share with the
readers?
The Evolving Peacemaker is not only the title of a book, it is a state of
mind – a way of life. The cover of our book shows a person planting a seed in a
wheat field. Every great idea begins as a seed. Moving from a culture of
violence to a culture of peace is not something that is accomplished overnight
or even in a lifetime. However, as Gandhi has stated, each act of compassion,
no matter how small, plants a seed that blesses the planet. May the words in
this book plant seeds that inspire all who read it.
Links:

Thank you for stopping by today, Leona.
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