Date Published: November 17, 2018
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Newly widowed and on the threshold of seventy, Lizzie Warton questions the value of her remaining years. Uncharacteristically, she decides for the first time in her life to do what she wants, instead of what everyone expects.
Against the wishes of family and friends, she sets out for Africa to work at a Ugandan middle school. When she lands at night in the Entebbe airport, her hosts are not there to meet her. Near panic, she hires a local taxi. The driver drugs her, steals everything, and dumps her limp body in a slum. Waking in the dark, she feels someone tugging off her shoes.
Without money, a passport, clothes, or medications, Lizzie is forced to start over and find a way to survive.
Soon she learns that nothing in Africa is as it appears. The grind of daily life in the third-world is beyond anything Lizzie imagined. Nevertheless, encouraged by budding friendships in surprising places, and against every sensible instinct she’s ever developed, Lizzie’s own personal search for meaning becomes the grand adventure of a lifetime.
What is the hardest part of writing your books?
The most difficult sections for me to handle are the ones that contain a lot of exposition. As a former screenwriter, I love writing dialogue and action, but give me scenes with a lot of information to impart and watch me sweat. In STILL BREATHING, the meeting with the travel clinic consultant was one of my most difficult assignments. Yes, the information was important, and it even set up some major plot points, but it ran the risk of becoming dreary. I’m probably overly sensitive, but I revised that scene more times than any other part of the book. I’m always relieved when my readers leave that moment behind them.
What songs are most played on your Ipod?
For me, music is a distraction. Sorry. When I write my initial drafts, I crave quiet. Not silence, but it’s best if nearby sounds are low. I don’t write well in coffee shops or fast food malls. In fact, the world is getting noisier, and even libraries have lost the knack for shushing.
So, why don’t I write at home? I’ve found I write first drafts better when I’m out of the house. Maybe it's a holdover from years of working at an office, I don't know. Thankfully, I discovered a small horticultural library where few people go. The beautiful tables are fashioned from slabs of wood, chairs are handmade, tall windows overlook ponds and meadows, and best of all, the rooms are wonderfully quiet. No, I won’t tell you the location.
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
Yes. I have a small clutch of faithful beta readers who provide me with an ongoing sense of how I’m doing at different stages in my books. They keep me honest. This was never more critical than in STILL BREATHING because the genre is women’s fiction and the main character is an older woman. Virtually the entire story is experienced from her point of view. Since I’m a man, I depended on my beta readers, all women, to be frank about the accuracy of my characterization. I’m pleased to report that they were as captivated by Lizzie as I was.
What book are you reading now?
This week I finished the novel ALTER by Jeremy Robinson. The main character is an American doctor on a medical outreach who becomes stranded in the Amazon rainforest. In his desperate fight for survival, he discovers a frightening capacity for evil within himself. The first half of the book was utterly compelling but in the second half, I felt the author lost control. The story grew so bizarre and unbelievable that I quit reading. I skimmed to the end just to check the finish. Sad. The premise was catchy, the writing was good, but the conclusion spun totally into the ditch.
How did you start your writing career?
Initially, I saw myself as a poet. Through college I wrote poems until I was swept into the visual poetry offered by motion pictures. I pursued movies for many years both in college and in Hollywood. It turned out, I had a knack for script writing.
Only recently did I try my hand at books. I belatedly realized that writing novels gave me the ultimate freedom. I was no longer hemmed in by restrictive screenplay formats or producers with short attention spans. I could take my time with the characters. I could fully develop plots, fill in the background info and even add additional scenes. My imagination wasn’t limited by budget or length and the only people who mattered were my readers. I only wonder now what took me so long to do it.
Tell us about your next release.
WHITE EYES is my current work in progress. The setting is a struggling cattle ranch in South Dakota during the 1950’s. The story focuses on an emotionally broken family and what it will take to heal them. Separated from his wife and son for 12 years, a rancher receives a lawyer’s letter informing him that his wife has unexpectedly died in Chicago. With no other options, his city-raised, 14-year-old son is being sent to live with him. Father and son haven’t seen each other in more than a decade and all the boy knows is that his dead Mom hated everything about the ranch and the people who live there.
About the Author
Originally from South Minneapolis, Gene Fournier earned a BA in Philosophy & Literature from St. Louis University followed by a Masters in Film from USC. Gene is a member of the Writers Guild of America West (WGA) and worked as a screenwriter and editor in Hollywood, but sadly, he never got that big break.
Seeking a return to his roots after twelve years in California, he accepted a Director of Media position with a multinational company headquartered in the Midwest. For thirty years he wrote, directed, edited and distributed corporate video programs around the world, managed live presentations, and orchestrated the creative elements for national and international meetings.
Retired now, with his seven children grown, and a dozen grandchildren to distract him, Gene is finally able to write down the stories he’s been carrying in his head all these years.