Friday, November 17, 2006

Scoop - Interview with Rene Gutteridge

As I've gushed through the week, I happened to really like Scoop. If you're up for a read with great characters, a bunch of laughs, and coffee breaks, then you need to check out this book.

If what I've said has intrigued you, then check out what Rene Gutteridge herself has to say. She was kind enough to conduct an email interview with me, so her answers are below!

1. Scoop is the third book you're releasing this year, according to your website. How do you manage such production?

Carefully! And sometimes not all that well! It's usually just two a year. I took on a special project to write the novelization of a motion picture, The Ultimate Gift, coming out in March.

2. How did you come up with the concept for the Occupational Hazards series?

It started with an idea to a series of books on undercover officers, but then I decided, why not explore other occupations, too? So I decided to create an entirely new series. It's been fun to pick the occupations.

3. Can you give a hint on the next book in this series? It's Mack, isn't it?

It is! And she goes into undercover work. I'm completing the rewrites right now. It's called Snitch. The third book, Skid, will be about transatlantic pilots and crew. I just came back from Atlanta where I spent several days researching for that novel.

4. I loved the humor in the book. I don't always see a lot of that in the novels I read. Is there a "method to the madness" on putting humor in a book? How do you test to make sure it is, in fact, funny?

Good question! I don't know if there is an actual method. Madness is a requirement. Comedy is very subjective, so I think that is the real challenge. To write comedy you have to be an observer of people. Comedy writers are often times the quietest people in the room because they're constantly studying people. To test if it's funny? Well, my standard is that if I'm not laughing, nobody else will either. My years in drama ministry really helped me cultivate my comedy writing. I would write comedy sketches and saw immediate reaction from the audience, so I learned what worked and what didn't.

5a. Have you found it hard to switch from comedy to suspense in your writing?

It's actually harder, for me anyway, to switch from suspense to comedy. Comedy takes way more of my brain power and concentration, and I have to be in the right frame of mind. But I do like to put a lot of humor in my suspense books too. It's just that it doesn't have to be on every page. However, suspense does require a lot more attention to plot.

5b. Also, some authors feel they need to stick with a "brand". What do you think about that?

I think it's a good idea. I think the idea is to find something that you're good at and do it. I happen to really love writing both suspense and comedy, and my diversity most likely comes from my studies in screenwriting, where genre really isn't as important as it is in literature. It's difficult to build a brand while writing different genres, and if I writer wants to do that, he or she should be prepared to do a lot of extra work. Or wait until you're a bestseller and then you can write what you want!

6. I specifically loved the part where Ray was with his Christian singles group discussing an outreach. It seemed you were able to tweak some ways the church does things without authenticity. Do you find humor is a better vehicle for bringing out these issues?

Sure! We are all better able to hear something if it's fed to us with humor. If we can laugh at ourselves, that is when we are most likely to see, and accept, our flaws. I think humor is a powerful device, which is why I use it so much. It can bring out the truth in a much less painful way.

7. A lot of people who read the blog tour are aspiring writers. Any tips for them (besides buying all your books to study the wondrous prose)?

Ha! Well, my advice is to write as much as you can, and save up money for a big writers conference. Writers conferences are incredibly valuable. I encourage writers to do one or two. But don't get caught up in feeling like you have to do them all the time. Most of your free time needs to be spent cultivating your craft, which means setting down all the books you're reading on the craft and actually start writing. Finish what you start. Write one entire book before starting something else.

8. One last question: pants or plotting? (For those that don't understand writer lingo, "pants" is someone writing "by the seat of their pants", just winging it. Plotters carefully outline everything.)

Pants. Most definitely.

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