Novelist, screenwriter, and producer—Rene Gutteridge
talks about all of her roles as well as her new book,
Misery Loves Company (Tyndale House), which tells the story of a
widow who is kidnapped by her favorite author.
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
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
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!
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