It was a cool, crisp day in 2008. Regent University’s School of Communication and the Arts (SCA) alumnus Charles Martin 00’ was hiking up Mount Mitchell in North Carolina with a friend. Roughly two to three miles out from civilization, they reached an exposed slope and came under an intense barrage of snow, ice, and winds gusting up to 60 and 70 mph.
Martin didn’t realize it in the moment, but that storm of nearly ten years ago would spark the story behind the feature film, The Mountain Between Us, which premiers Friday, October 6.
Fortunately, Martin and his friend were able to set up a tent and hunker down. But it was a close call.
“We were fine. We had clothes, we had sleeping bags,” Martin said. “We weren’t going anywhere, but we were fine.”
Although he was mainly focused on getting through the storm, Martin began asking himself, “What if you were caught in something like this?”
Less than two weeks later, the thought became the inspiration for a story when he was passing over the mountains in Utah on a flight to California.
“What if you were in a plane and you crashed into that? And what if you were with a woman who wasn’t your wife, and what if you encountered conditions like we did on the mountain a week ago?” Martin said. “From there that story bubbled up.”
Martin turned that story into the novel The Mountain Between Us, which was released nearly eight years ago.
Martin’s editor at the time of his book’s release was friends with a producer from 20th Century Fox. She passed the book on to the producer, after which the company began the process that led to the rights of the story being purchased and made into a movie.
The process took more time than Martin initially expected, but through the experience, what was first a dream come true turned into a testimony.
“The thing that’s been cool for me and [my wife] Christie is I’m 20 years into a writing career. 18 or 19 years ago, she and I started specifically praying, ‘Lord would you please take my stories and put them on the big screen?’” said Martin.
“It’s fun for us, spiritually, to look across the time that has passed and see what the Lord has done, and that it is a faith builder in the eyes of my children,” he said. “He really does answer big, audacious, crazy prayers.”
Martin graduated from SCA with a Master of Arts in Professional Writing and a Ph.D. in Communication Studies.
He said his time at Regent was formational for him as a writer, and that he truly “fell in love with school” for the first time.
“They [professors] caused me to learn to think critically in a way I had never done,” he said. “[They] forced me to think well, and at the root of writing well is thinking well.”
Martin has written 12 novels. He said sharing messages of redemption motivates him to keep writing stories.
“My circumstances don’t dictate the nature of my God who loves me, who really calls me son,” said Martin. “While the world shakes in fear at what is going on around us … I believe in writing stories, which, at the end of the day, reflect the hope and the love that I have. Period. That’s why I do what I do.”
He’s received letters from a wide array of people who’ve been impacted by his work. Although he’s glad his book is now a film, Martin said those sort of responses are much more significant.
“In our culture, we’re handed a daily dish of hopelessness. The world says, ‘Here, eat this,’” he said. “I react strongly negatively to that. Hope is worth writing about, and I love writing stories which I think reflect life and are true and pretty and difficult but that reflect that in the end, hope and love win.”