Q&A: Rene Gutteridge (Misery Loves Company)
Q: Where did you get the inspiration for this story?
One of my all time favorite stories is Misery by Stephen King, so I drew my inspiration from him, putting the twist on it that it’s the author, this time, who kidnaps the fan. For my characters, I wanted two opposing personalities to explore grief and doubt together under a lot of duress. I wanted iron to sharpen iron and have them ask some hard questions about life and death and faith.
Q: What do think are the ingredients of a great suspense story?
Sometimes writing is so mysterious to me. I wish I knew the perfect formula for suspense, but it’s rarely that easy. I think the most important element is a connection to, or at the very least an interest in, the characters. You’ve got to care about them in order to fear for them.After that, you have to keep the story going rapidly and intensely, and that goes for the outer conflict and the inner conflict.
There’s a false notion that the story is a failure if the reader figures out the ending before it’s over. I think you can see the ending coming from a mile away and still be on the edge of your seat. Take the story Argo. Everyone knew how it all ended because of the tie to the true story, but man, that was a nail biter. So even though the big twist is important and should be there, to me it’s the little twists and turns that keep the reader engaged just as much. Couple that with engaging characters and interesting plot lines and there’s a good chance you’ve got a winner.
Q: You also do a lot of screenwriting. What's the difference between writing for film and writing a novel?
They are similar in that they both must abide by the ABCs of good storytelling. After that, they’re vastly different.Screenwriting is very technical, for one thing, and the screenwriter must consider all sorts of different variables, such as budget and setting, that a novelist never has to think about. Screenwriters would love to have just an ounce of the freedom the novelist has. They’d give anything for just a little interior monologue. To put it simply, screenplays are told visually and novels are told inwardly. Writers who change from one to the other have to flip a big switch in their heads. Screenwriters I know who’ve tried their hand at fiction love it. They’re screaming, “I can blow up anything I want!I can have tons of characters! I can see what she’s thinking! I can set this in Paris and Canada!” It’s really fun to watch them embrace the process. Novelists, generally, have a harder time dialing everything back and coming to terms with the restrictions that screenwriters face. When I switch over to screenwriting, I’m generally parenthetically challenged. I’m always tempted to use those little parentheticals to explain to the actor exactly how the line should be said because in my novels, I’m in absolute and complete control over what and how all dialogue is said. I am writer and director and cinematographer. If I want more dramatic engagement from a character, I just write it in.If I want richer colors in the countryside setting, I just write it in. Novelists don’t appreciate the freedom they have until they dive into screenwriting.
As I’ve worked closely with screenwriters in novelizations, I’ve come to realize they are incredibly generous writers, willing to have their work interpreted by other artists. I’ve grown to love the collaboration process because of my work with other screenwriters.
Q: What can readers expect from your newest book?
I hope they’ll embrace this adventure and the suspense that comes along with Juliet’s pursuit to find out why she’s been kidnapped by a world famous author. Perhaps readers will wonder what they would do if they were kidnapped by their favorite author. What would they say? How would they pass the time? I also think they are going to love getting to know Patrick Reagan, the author. He’s not someone you’ll soon forget.
Q: What future projects do you have in the works now?
In just a few weeks, my novelization with director John Ward will release in paperback along with the movie, Heart of the Country. We’re really excited about this collaboration. I know viewers and readers alike will enjoy this tale of betrayal and the healing power of family and love. I was on set to see part of it filmed and was so absorbed by the entire process. I wrote the novelization before the movie was filmed, so it amazed me to see some of the scenes we’d written in the novel bloom right there in front of the camera. When I met some of the actors who played the characters I’d spent so much time with, it was surreal. The book is the same story as the movie but told in a very different way. I think the combination of the movie and the novelization will give readers and viewers a very unique experience. I’m eager to hear from everyone once they’ve read the book and seen the movie!
Other upcoming projects include a hilarious new romantic comedy co-written with Cheryl McKay called Greetings from the Flipside and a movie I produced and wrote, based on my novel, SKID. I hope everyone will come visit and like my author page on Facebook, which will give information on my upcoming projects. I’ll also give away books and run contests, so come join the fun! Readers can also follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads and at my website, www.renegutteridge.com.