It’s Friday! And this interview concludes Rene Gutteridge Week. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
Word Lily: Listen isn’t the first book you’ve written that’s focused on the power of words (Ghost Writer, for one). I’m a lover of words and language, and I’ve often seen the powerful impact of words. The instances that stick in my head, though, are kind of the opposite of those in Listen. Where did that story come from?
Rene Gutteridge: Listen came from many places for me. I watched in the news how people have been obliterating each other with words on the web, everyone from adults to children. It broke my heart. I also saw it in my personal life, how much words hurt, how it caused hate, and how my own words affected other people. Listen was a culmination of what I felt was going so wrong in our society. I wanted to bring a magnifying glass to the subject matter.
Word Lily: Per your website, in 2011 you’re working on your first nonfiction book, a novelization called Heart of the Country, and another suspense novel. (Whew, busy!) This after your last two releases have fallen more along suspense lines, as well. Will you return to humor, at some point? Also, care to elaborate on any or all of these projects?
Rene Gutteridge: I will always return to humor! And yes, I will be returning to humor alongside my writing buddy, Cheryl McKay. We’ll be announcing more details soon, but I am very excited about our upcoming projects. I’m also in the rewriting stage of Heart of the Country and I’m so eager to get this into the hands of readers. Many readers may not know that my second book, Troubled Waters, was a family drama, and that’s what I’m returning to with Heart of the Country. I love a good family drama, and readers who love drama too won’t be disappointed. I’ve teamed up with filmmaker John Ward (I Am) and Tyndale House publishers to bring John’s script into novel form. This will be out sometime this year. My next suspense will be from Tyndale as well, but I don’t want to release details about that yet. However, I think I am going to have an absolute blast writing it, while also scaring myself spitless. Can’t elaborate yet on the nonfiction book, but I will tell you that I think it may be the most important book I’ll ever write. I’m thrilled to be on the project and am currently working on it.
Word Lily: Any recommendations for other humorous Christian fiction?
Rene Gutteridge: You can never go wrong with Kristin Billerbeck. Her dialogue and knack for timing on the written page is impeccable. Laura Jensen Walker also has some great humorous Christian fiction offerings.
Word Lily: Thanks! Tell us how you went from writing comedy sketches for churches to novels.
Rene Gutteridge: I had actually written novels before I started sketch writing. But I hadn’t published any of them yet. Writing church sketches was probably the single most influential writing exercise I’ve ever done or ever will do. I had a live audience, so I could see their immediate reaction to my writing. I saw what worked and what didn’t. This was particularly helpful writing comedy. Before writing sketches, I hadn’t attempted any comedy. But I quickly saw how impacting comedy can be, and so I gave it a shot. I failed a lot, but that just helped me succeed later with it. I also used to direct, but I was a horrible director because I was so focused on everyone getting their lines right, since I wrote them, that I neglected everything else. My actors were always asking, “Where should we stand? What should the blocking be?” I was like, “Just stand there, don’t move, but make sure you get that line right.”
Word Lily: How can I get my hands on your plays and sketches?
Rene Gutteridge: I am working on that. I have over 500 sketches and one full-length play. I’m hoping to get a website up this year that will offer all these sketches.
Word Lily: That sounds great! A couple more general questions now. Why do you write?
Rene Gutteridge: I write because God gave me the gift. I am so glad He did. I enjoy it so much. It’s really the business side of writing that frustrates me the most. But God’s got to get us out of our comfort zone often so we continue to depend on Him. But the business side of writing (taxes, contracts, etc.) is truly the thorn in my side.
Word Lily: What are you reading?
Rene Gutteridge: Right now an advance copy of an Alison Strobel novel and Decision Points by George W. Bush.
Word Lily: Thank you so much for your time, Rene!
Other (rare) interviews with Rene Gutteridge
Thanks to Tyndale, I have three copies of Gutteridge’s latest, Possession, to give away this week. And one of those giveaways is now! Enter to win a copy of Possession by Rene Gutteridge by leaving a comment on this post. (One entry per person per giveaway; sorry, U.S. only.) I’ll accept entries through today, Friday, January 28, 2011. The other two giveaways are still open, as well.
Edited to add: This giveaway is now closed. See who won.
I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.