Rough Way to the High Way

Kelly Mack McCoy

Book Cover

GENRE

DRAMA.

    Core Theme

    FAITH.

    TIME PERIOD

    Contemporary

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, DO YOU BELIEVE?, TENDER MERCIES.

    CHARACTER LIST

    GEORGIA. WIFE. DEAD.

    GINGER. BOSS.

    BEN GARZO. TEXAS RANGER/ANTAGONIST.

    RICKY. HITCHHIKER/ALLY.

    SUGAR DUMPLING. GANGSTER/ANTAGONIST.

    Logline

    Mack's quest for solitude and windshield therapy following his wife Georgia's cold-blooded murder becomes a high stakes adventure as a Texas Ranger and FBI agent seek to track down her killer.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 55+,35-54,18-34

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Trucker's journey from the Texas Panhandle to Chicago

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Elm Hill (HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

    Year Published: 2019

    Starting Description

    Trucker turned preacher turned trucker is confronted with a mysterious hitchhiker, smugglers, and a determined killer after he sells everything he owns and buys a new Peterbilt truck, returning to the trade he learned decades earlier. His troubles begin when he picks up the hitchhiker in Texas.

    Ending Description

    A bomb squad, FBI agent, and Texas Ranger arrive at the scene of Mack's delivery to a warehouse in Chicago. A bomb that would have destroyed half of Chicago and trigger a world war is defused at the last second. The mysterious hitchhiker no one but Mack has seen appears at the end.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    978-0310103721

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Meaningful Message,Happy Ending,Philosophical Questions,Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain,Internal Journey/Rebirth,Quest

    Main Character Details

    Name: Mack (Robert Lee McClain)

    Age: Mid Fifties

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Masculine,Strong Moral Code,Religious,Selfless,Empathetic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Barb

    Age: Early Fifties

    Gender: Female

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Charming,Empathetic,Sexy,Outspoken,Funny,Romantic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Captain Garza

    Age: Mid Fifties

    Gender: Male

    Role: logical

    Key Traits: Heroic,Honorable,Leader,Strong Moral Code,Unapologetic,Masculine,Selfless

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Dr. Hashim

    Age: Mid Fifties

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Villainous

    Genre

    THRILLER, DRAMA, RELIGION

    Brief

    When ex-pastor Mack’s wife is murdered, Mack, crushed by grief, embarks on a trip across America, meeting many odd people along the way and rediscovering his faith and his passion for preaching it to others.

    Overall Rating

    GOOD

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: GOOD

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    It is accurate.

    Draw of Story

    ROUGH WAY TO THE HIGHWAY is an incredibly inspiring story about one man’s journey away from and then back toward his faith in God as he grows from being someone torn apart by grief to rediscovering the man—and pastor—he once was while traveling across the States and encouraging the people he meets along the way. The writing is clean, clear and concise, and Mack’s journey as a complex protagonist is impressively drawn, making him at once relatable and easy to empathize with even despite the highly specific life he has lived.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The story drags a little in the middle, as many stories do, and the thriller subplot feels a little jarring against the slow-burn character-based main plot focused on Mack’s crisis of faith.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS.

    Primary Hook of Story

    There is not quite a hook; this is a fairly typical premise of a pious man experiencing a crisis of faith following a tragedy, and then rediscovering such faith as the story progresses. However, the execution here is done better than most.

    Fanbase Potential

    It would not have a large fanbase, perhaps quite a niche fanbase, but it would be a passionate fanbase, and this could also become a sleeper hit, gathering momentum following release as word of mouth spreads or awards recognize its achievements.

    Awards Potential

    Yes, this character-based spiritual journey is the kind of film the awards community tends to favor.

    Envisioned Budget

    LOW BUDGET.

    Similar Films/TV Series

    HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, DO YOU BELIEVE?, TENDER MERCIES.

    What’s New About the Story

    Not much about this film is original exactly; this is a fairly typical story of a pious man experiencing a crisis of faith following a tragedy, and then rediscovering such faith as the story progresses. However, the execution here is done better than most. This film could be made more unique if it dropped the thriller element and committed fully to exploring Mack’s complex character in detail.

    Lead Characters

    Mack stands out for his complex, even sometimes paradoxical behavior. Impulsive as he is careful, Mack is inspiring and likable, but sometimes frustrating. In other words, he is a great protagonist—layered and human.

    Uniqueness of Story

    It’s almost a rare gem, but the premise is one we’ve seen a thousand times and the thriller element of the plot feels jarring against the spiritual character-based main focus of the story.

    Possible Formats

    Film: Indie, Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    CONSIDER

    Justification

    ROUGH WAY TO THE HIGHWAY is a well-written, inspiring story about one man’s journey back to God—and back to life. If adapted into film, it could have a niche but passionate audience, and is the kind of film that, if done well, could gain momentum at awards season, with a main character A-list actors would love to dig their teeth into.

    Brief

    When ex-pastor Mack’s wife is murdered, Mack, crushed by grief, embarks on a trip across America, meeting many odd people along the way and rediscovering his faith and his passion for preaching it to others.

    What We Liked

    ROUGH WAY TO THE HIGHWAY explores the workings of God’s grace in the troubled and extraordinary life of a former pastor who majorly deals with unbearable losses. The story is sprinkled with spiritual insights, exploration of human nature and the nature of regret and grief in an exceptional manner. In this inspirational novel, the reader is hooked by Mack’s personality, tension and excitement, interspersed with incredible plot twists and unexpected revelations. The book creates a lot of suspense, especially during Mack’s journey to Chicago. Firstly, he picks up a hitchhiker even after the warning on the signpost; he later experiences a strange attempted robbery, then a flat tire from his new car. Even though many things are going against him, Mack continues with his mission on the road. Each person he meets on the way receives words of
    encouragement from Mack as he wills them to go on with God, vicariously willing himself on in the process. Although he is no longer a pastor and still grieving his wife, he loves people and wants to help them, doing his best to lead them to God.

    Film: A feature film is the ideal format for adaptation of ROUGH WAY TO THE HIGHWAY. Like
    many films that have won Oscars and become beloved the world over, such as TENDER MERCIES, this story is primarily an inner journey for the protagonist as he struggles to come to terms with the loss of his wife, after which the protagonist stopped being a pastor and turned away from God, until, as he travels across the States and meets many unusual people, he gradually rediscovers his faith and his passion for preaching it to others. The story follows a strong sense of structure easily adaptable into a film, with a strong climax and character arc for the protagonist. While the audience may be niche for this kind of film, it could nonetheless be a passionate audience, and, if done well, this is the kind of inspiring, complex film that tends to do very well at awards season.

    TV: TV is not an ideal medium for this story because the story focuses less on plot and much more on the internal crisis of faith that the protagonist experiences and endures. For this reason, a TV series would likely struggle to generate enough material to carry the show across multiple episodes and seasons. However, a limited series adaptation of a small number episodes could work very well if each episode explored a new period in Mack’s life as he loses his faith following his wife’s murder and eventually finds it again as he travels across the country. The right network/studio would be key for this project as the audience for this kind of project would likely be niche, though passionate.

    Key points:
    1) A complex protagonist undergoes an inspiring spiritual journey back to God.
    2) Strong sense of structure.
    3) Blends powerful character-based drama with a thrilling plot.
    4) Strong contender at awards season.
    5) Excellent, economical writing.

    Synopsis

    ROUGH WAY TO THE HIGHWAY explores the workings of God’s grace in the troubled and extraordinary life of a former pastor who deals with unbearable losses. During Mack’s journey to Chicago, he picked a hitchhiker even after the warning on the signpost; he later experienced a strange attempted robbery, and a flat tire from his new car. Even though many things are going against him, he continues with his mission on the road.

    About The Author

    Kelly Mack McCoy traveled the highways most of his adult life gathering a lifetime of material for his books. He chose to pursue a life-long dream of becoming an author after a life-altering event changed the trajectory of his life. He teamed up with author John Floyd Mills, a former writer with the now defunct San Antonio Light Newspaper to write a series of novels about a pastor turned trucker who hits the road after his wife’s death. The two never wrote the novels due to quite different writing styles. John went on to write his second novel alone. Kelly Mack McCoy continued with the pastor turned trucker project on his own, but it took another life-changing event for him to be motivated to see the project through to completion. That event was the death of John Floyd Mills. The completed project would become the highly acclaimed novel, Rough Way to the High Way.