I always love sharing books that I love written by friends that I love. Rene Gutteridge has been a special friend for years. After being roomies one year at a writers retreat, my love for her personally grew. But with each book she comes out with my love for her talent grows. She is witty, kind and a person you would want as your friend. And I wanted to share a recent project she worked on that I thought our friends on the porch might enjoy.
Renee, can you tell us how this opportunity came about to write the book adaptation of the movie “Heart of the Country?”
Tyndale acquired the rights for the novelization and asked me to read the script to see if I was interested. I loved it. I identified with a lot of the characters and I felt the story was well-written. I knew I’d have a lot of fun adapting it. The movie had not gone into production yet so I worked solely from the script. Now the movie and the book are both available and it’s really exciting to see this entire project come together. I’m blessed to be a part of it.
How does the process of writing a book based off of a screenplay differ from your normal fiction writing?
Well, obviously you have parameters, but they’re more helpful than anything, I think. The basics of storytelling are the same, but you have to really implement all those fiction tools you have in your basket. Scripts are very technical and mostly bare-bones. They’re designed to let each artist involved (director, actor, costumers, etc.) interpret, so in that way, they’re extremely fun. They’re like a guideline. I think screenwriters are some of the most generous writers around. Their work is the basis for the entire movie, and they have to let each artist do what they think is best in the telling of a story they created. Novelists, I can assure you, don’t play that nice!’
Can you share just a snippet of how you got started writing.
I was that kid that was always writing. It’s just been in me for a very long time. I got interested in screenwriting as a teenager and studied that in college, but it was a novel that gave me my first break so that’s where I’ve been now for almost fifteen years.
What are you working on next?
I’ve got a lot of fun projects coming up. I’m promoting my new thriller Misery Loves Company. We’re in post-production for my movie SKID, based on my comedic novel of the same name. That was a great experience and I’m looking forward to getting the film finished and to audiences. I’ve also got a new comedy that released in October with screenwriter Cheryl McKay. If you liked Never the Bride you will love this one too! It’s called Greetings from the Flipside. And I’m currently finishing another family drama called Just 18 Summers which is another novelization! I’m always so thankful to be working. It’s not always the case as a freelance writer. Each project is a blessing.
Rene, we know that Moore, Oklahoma suffered tremendously in the spring tornado of 2013 that destroyed the Plaza Towers elementary school. What was that day like for your family? And how is your community coming back from the rubble?
I’ve actually written the account of what happened to my family on May 20th on my blog. http://www.renegutteridge.blogspot.com/2013/07/may-20th-2013.html It was a day of truly testing my faith in God. It was by far the scariest day of my life. My entire family was in danger and we were all separated. I’ve written down my thoughts on what God taught me that day.
Moore is a really great town. I love it and I love the people. They have a lot of fortitude and spirit and heart. They’ll make it through this. But the devastation is incomprehensible. It’s just baffling to see an entire stretch of a city simply gone.