Blissfully unaware that Atlantica Flight 1945 from Atlanta to Amsterdam is about to make aviation history, First Officer Danny McSweeney focuses his energies on navigating the turbulent personalities of an eccentric female captain, a co-pilot with a talent for tactless comments and conspiracy theories, and a lead flight attendant with an outsized attitude that definitely exceeds the limits for carry-on baggage.On the other side of the cockpit door, the unscheduled in-flight entertainment includes a potbellied pig, a jittery diamond courier, and the recently jilted Lucy Meredith, whose personal mantra of “What Would Oprah Do?” will be challenged by the sudden appearance of her ex and his new traveling partner. On her left sits Hank Hazard, whose unusually polite but constant requests-prompted by his covert role as a spy for the airline-test the limits of the crew’s customer service.
But as Lucy and the rest of the crew discover, Hank’s odd behavior is linked to a quiet faith that may play a key role in the fate of everyone on board. Especially when an unexpected traveler sets this already bumpy flight on a course toward the unfriendly skies.
Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series and The Occupational Hazards Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers). She released My Life as a Doormat and The Ultimate Gift: the novelization for WestBow Press.
Published over forty times as a playwright, Rene is best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the “Excellence in Mass Communication” award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writers conferences and in college classrooms. Rene lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.
Q: Do novelists write out of their own experience?
A: Sometimes, but not always. Many readers assume that a writer is writing about a topic that they’ve lived through. I think most of the time, novelists write about things that interest them. They develop characters they can both relate to and can’t relate at all to. Our ideas and inspirations come from many, many different sources. Sometimes we do extensive research. Other times it’s a small, insignificant detail that can spur an entire book.
Q: How do you write with children at home?
A: By the grace of God! I have many people who help me, including my husband, and some pretty awesome grandparents! I write when I can, but I don’t obsess about having a schedule because when I start that, then it’s bound to get disrupted. I write during nap times, on weekends and sometimes at night, though that’s my least creative time.
Q: What makes your novels “Christian”?
A: That’s a good question. I don’t think it’s any one thing. There are many elements of the Christian faith, and my novels explore many of them. Salvation, of course, is the most obvious, and that’s explored in GHOST WRITER. But I think when we try to “make” our novels Christian, we lose the fine art of story telling. Simply using Jesus’ parables as an example, we can see how many different things he showed us through his stories. I tend to tell people my novels are Christian because I’m Christian. I write from a Christian world view and therefore my stories reflect that. But I don’t feel the need to make my stories blatantly Christian just so I can feel good about myself. I’m comfortable writing a story that reflects Jesus’ heart and life with subtlety, because often times, it’s that still, small, subtle voice that is the most powerful in my life.
Q: Do you have any advice for writers who aren’t yet published but want to be?
A: Yes. First of all, study the business of writing. I know that sounds irreverent in a way, but you must understand that publishing houses need to make money, and therefore you must understand things like the market. Novelists tend to be very selfish about our work and our creativity, but when we balance that talent out with the idea that a publishing house wants to not only promote our work but to make money from it, then we’ll have a better understanding of how to approach them.
Of course, another tip is to continue to improve your writing. You must be able to look at your work objectively, or let others do it for you. Even published authors should have that same goal. I HIGHLY recommend going to a writer’s conference. You’ll learn more at those things than you ever thought possible. I credit a writer’s conference for my “break.” There, you’re able to meet one on one with editors instead of waiting for your manuscript to get to them by mail and then through the slush pile. You’ll also learn ways to improve your writing.
Most importantly, though, pray. The Lord will guide you.
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