1. Tricia: First of all, you’ve written many novels in a few different genres. What do you hope a reader takes away from any Rene Gutteridge book?
Rene: You know, there’s something to be said for the entertainment of a story. I know the message is important, and I certainly hope the message in all my books comes through, but it works best if it’s carried with a heavy dose of interest from the reader. So I hope that readers come away with a message that they don’t have to wade through mud to get to. And I hope I make them laugh. And ponder.
2. Tricia: I know you have two young kids at home and it’s always a challenge balancing work and family. What benefit do you feel your kids/family receive from your writing?
Rene: Well, first we’re big storytellers in our family. On long trips we’ll take turns telling a story that we make up. They already appreciate what it takes to build a story, including character and plot and conflict. I also think it shows them how much work goes into writing a book. I think it’s good for them to see me work, so they’ll have an understanding that the world doesn’t always revolve around them. I make sure to balance that in their lives. I want them to feel important and that they come above my writing and whatever else I’ve got going, but I also think kids will suffer later in life when parents are at their beck-and-call 24/7 now.
3. Tricia: And what benefit does your writing receive from your kids/family?
Rene: Well, anyone who is a parent knows how much guilt comes from it, and how much you learn about yourself in the process of being a parent. It has certainly stretched me as a writer, because the world opens up wider when you see it from the perspective of a parent. My writing has also benefited from the generosity of my husband, who has made a lot of sacrifices over the years so that I could do this.
4. Tricia: Say you’re flipping through the TV channels. What do you find cringe-worthy?
Rene: Nearly everything. I was watching America’s Got Talent the other day, thinking it was a good family show, and then “the half-naked guy with feathers” comes on and it instantly becomes inappropriate. It’s so sad, because that could’ve been a great show. I think television would really benefit from taking a hard look at how little they have to offer families. We need a time to come in our generation when families can sit around and watch television together. That’s why I love the Fall…all those Charlie Brown specials start coming on.
5. Tricia: Throughout life our dreams and desires change. For example, your dreams at age 25 weren’t the same as when you were ten. How have your dreams changed recently?
Rene: Well, I don’t know if they’ve changed a whole lot. I think a lot of my dreams have become a reality, which has been amazing to watch. There are some dreams that haven’t been realized yet, either. I have big dreams for other people besides myself now, which is nice. I think the difference is that I have a better perspective now. I’m more grounded, more calm, more patient than I was in my twenties. There have been times when some really big opportunities have come knocking and I am able to pray and release it to God. In my twenties, I would fly into a frenzy and pray, pray, pray that something would happen.
6. Tricia: You happened to be “on scene” at a well-known national tragedy. How has that affected you and your writing?
Rene: Yes. I was at the Oklahoma City bombing. I saw a lot of horrible stuff that day. I haven’t quite figured out how that has affected my life yet. I know that sounds weird. It happened over ten years ago! And I know it’s a part of who I am, but I don’t know how exactly it has affected me or my writing. Probably the one thing that I realized immediately was how close I came to possibly being killed and how God put me out of harm’s way that day. It gave me a feeling of purpose, that God needed me here for some reason. I probably draw upon it on a subconscious level when I write, too. I have vivid images of people and things that day. I hope I don’t lose that over time. I want to remember it.
7. Tricia: You grew up in a time when MTV took the world by storm . . . how does music affect your life today?
Rene: That is a great question, but not very applicable to me. We didn’t have cable and I never watched MTV. When I was a teenager, I mostly listened to movie soundtracks. I did listen to the radio and still, to this day, love 80s music. Music affects my life today through my husband, who is a musician. And, according to my children, the only person worth listening to, so everytime I’m the car, all they want to listen to is Daddy. Although we did have a bit of a reprieve recently when I introduced them to the Superman soundtrack. They loved it. But it got scratched so now we’re back to Daddy.
8. Tricia: Which would get your heart beating quicker . . . a 10-lb. chocolate bar delivered to your front door or a 75%-off clearance sale at any store?
Rene: With no question, the 75% off clearance.
9. Tricia: Avocado or beets?
Rene: Avocado all the way! I recently had a terrible knife accident while making guacamole. I had to have surgery and it was a real mess. Everyone was asking, “Are you done with guac?” No way!
10. Tricia: Finally, in practical terms, how do you live out God’s will for your life, with your words?
Rene: The more I listen, the more I live out God’s will. I make my living with words, but I enter into God’s will by being quiet and listening. The more I listen, the fewer words I need and the more words God is able to use through.
Thanks, Rene! To find out more about Rene’s writing (which I love!) go to: www.renegutteridge.com