BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

NORA INTERVIEWS CHERYL McKAY - Author of NEVER THE BRIDE



1. How did you come up with the idea for the screenplay of Never the Bride?



This story is based on me and my communicative relationship with God. The conversations between Jessie and God are based on my prayer relationship with God (including our fights). During a time when I was feeling “forgotten” in the love story area of life, I got inspired to tell this story about a girl who has trouble surrendering her love story to God to write. It’s based on my belief that God cares so much about this part of our lives that He would write our stories if we’d trust Him and let Him take over. I should clarify though, lest anyone think I’m a little nutty: God doesn’t exactly show up in my living room in his 30’s and cute.

2. I’m so glad that you made this into a book for us all to enjoy. There is so much in this book I loved. It made me wish I could sit down and talk to you a while. Since I can't I have a question. Ok, how much of you is in this story? If a lot of you was in this story did that make it hard to write? Or easier?

As I mentioned, there is a lot of me in this story. One exception is that Jessie starts off as a non-believer and I obviously am not coming from that point-of-view, as I’ve been a follower of Christ for a long time. But I thought that was the best choice for the character—to start off from a place of skepticism like many are in our society. She honestly doesn’t like God that much in the beginning and He has to grow on her.




I think it’s easier to write a story from personal experience. When I write stories, I always try to find a way to work myself in there somewhere. I feel like that’s the best way for a story to relatable to other people. They come across as a lot more real.

3. Have you ever had an encounter with God the way Jessie did when God asks her out for her birthday? I have to say I loved that scene it was so heartfelt, surprising, and felt like cheering the whole date!!





That is so awesome to hear because it’s my favorite scene in the script and book too. I really felt like Jessie needed to get to a place to see that God is enough, that she can walk into a room alone and not truly be alone. I love the cross cut between seeing her dance with God and then seeing her happy to dance alone with such a freedom that other singles want to join her on the dance floor. No, I haven’t had that exact experience. If anything, I wrote the scene to combat some of my own insecurities about going to social events by myself. I know there are many single people out there who face the same challenge and understand and relate.

4. What made you want to turn this script into a novel? Any ideas about making this book into a movie. I just kept thinking of the movie Evan Almighty and how God talked Evan into building an Ark. I could so see this as a really great movie.


The whole intention in me writing this was to make it a movie. We just happened to sell the story as a book first, when I partnered up with Rene Gutteridge after writing the screenplay version. I am still working in that direction and have some great elements in place thus far, toward making the feature film version.

5. What was your favorite scene to write in the screenplay? What was the hardest scene to write? Why?



Besides the dance moment, my favorite scene is the one on the beach when she’s with her best friend Blake and God shows up to interrupt her.

God wants her attention but she would rather focus on the guy she hopes God plans to write into her story. She playfully tries to get the purple pen back from God. She just wants to borrow it for a few minutes and help God along in His writing. It really made me laugh to write that scene.





One of the hardest scenes to write is when Jessie is accusing God of doing nothing to help her and wants Him to leave her alone. It hurts to say words like that to God. But I wanted to get into the honesty of the moment of how we sometimes feel He’s “asleep on the job” at answering our prayers. God is God; He absolutely holds the right to answer our prayers the way He wants to, when He wants to. But sometimes we act like He doesn’t hold those rights (a.k.a. the pen to our lives.) So I let Jessie have that weak moment with Him, where she can’t accept Him because He won’t do what she wants. (Even though what she wants is not what’s best for her, she doesn’t know that yet. And how often does that happen with us? God knows best and we often fight to have Him give us what’s “just okay” or flat out wrong or bad for us.)

6. Had you ever worked with someone before writing a novel? What surprised you about the process? What did you enjoy most?


Rene adapted my film, The Ultimate Gift, into a novelization. That’s how we met. I loved what she did with the movie version. Even though my script was based on Jim Stovall’s original novel, Thomas Nelson Publishers decided to write a novelization based on the film version. I’m so thankful they did or I may not have ever thought to do more of these novelizations with Rene. Once I saw how good she was at this type of reverse adaptation, I asked if she’d consider doing more. She read my script for Never the Bride, loved it, and we worked on a proposal together (as our first attempt to do this) and RandomHouse/Waterbrook Press picked it up! Now that this one went so well, we hope to do many more of these. I love how she got inside my head and wrote so in line with my thinking and voice and yet still added so much of her own flair and talent to the novel. The rules for writing scripts are the opposite of books. So I gladly turned that pen over to her because novels are her area of expertise.

QUESTIONS I KNOW YOU REALLY WANTED TO ASK CHERYL BUT WERE AFRAID TO SO I DID! :D

1. Do you enjoy live theatre? What has to be the most amazing show you have ever seen on the stage visually? What shows deeply touched your heart?



My favorite play ever was seeing Les Miserables on Broadway in NYC. I already knew and loved all the music and the story is amazing and poses interesting questions about what we do to take care of those we love.

2. What is a special quality, talent or event you’ve experienced that would surprise people? Please explain.




This was just a neat experience I got to share. I got to interview 13 survivors, widows and orphans of the Springhill mine disaster of the 1950s. I hobnobbed around Springhill, Nova Scotia with my father doing these interviews in preparation to write a script about this beloved town that experienced such tragedy and yet also experienced great and miraculous rescues from God when two groups of men were found still alive underground after being trapped for six days and then eight days. Spirits were kept alive underground through signing hymns while those waiting for news were praying. My grandfather survived “The Bump,” one of the biggest coal mining disasters in history (1958). That’s what inspired me to chase this story. And after Never the Bride gets made into a film, I would love for this one to be my next one.

3. If you could hang out with anyone alive or dead for 48 hours who would you pick and what would you do?


Rachel Joy Scott, the first teenager killed at Columbine. I’ve always been so inspired by her story, and the way she left behind journals of prophecies about how she’d die young and knew God would use her life to inspire many people. I’ve read so much about her, that I feel like I already know her, yet realize that I don’t. And I’d love to get a chance to hear her speak from the heart. I’d want to talk to her about her communicative relationship with God and her strong desire to spread compassion and kindness.

4. When you were a kid what film did you see that most impacted your life? Why?


I loved the Star Wars movies, and then the fun teenage movies that showed that teen angst could take front and center, like Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club and anything John Hughes wrote.

5. What TV shows were you passionate about when you were a kid? You know the ones that you just couldn’t miss seeing each week?


It might sound corny, but 1980s sitcoms (Family Ties, Growing Pains, Who’s the Boss, Facts of Life) and the show Fame.


I wanted to be an actress in Fame. I loved shows that featured teen characters. That was around the time I had started writing what I called stage plays but really, they were screenplays (because the locations jumped around all over the place.) I wrote ten plays during study hall of my 10th grade school year. It was a great training ground. I wrote my first play when I was five years old and performed it with my sister for the neighborhood kids.

6. You find yourself in a life threatening situation and you have to call on someone to save you. Who would you pick and why? (you can pick anyone in movies, TV, books etc. the sky is the limit).


I have to say my dad. I always call him in a crisis and he knows how to fix just about anything. Both he and my mother are so positive and uplifting that when I have a challenge I’m facing they are usually the first I want to talk to. I know they’ll have reasonable advice and encouragement to offer. They’ve always been so supportive of everything I do.

7. What is the last movie you saw at the movies? Did you like it and what goodies did you eat?


Slumdog Millionaire is very inspiring. But probably my favorite, most recent memory at the movies was taking my four-year old nephew Jake to see Disney’s BOLT in 3D. We were the only ones in the entire theater and I got him a kiddy tray of popcorn, lemonade, and candy. He was so content the entire time to hold his tray and watch the screen through the purple glasses, mesmerized by it all. It’s fun to watch little kids experience new things in life. It’s a very cute film, too, with some nice messages.










On the topic of goodies: you will never find me without a supply of dark chocolate covered raisins from Trader Joes. I’m a little obsessed. (Dark Chocolate M&Ms are a close second, which is why Jessie is obsessed with them.) Naturally, they don’t sell these at the theater. If I have friends over to watch movies at my apartment, we always have a chocolate feast.

ANY FINAL COMMENTS YOU WANT TO LEAVE MY READERS WITH?

I would just like to encourage anyone who’s struggling to surrender any part of their lives, not just singlehood, to read this book. It’s an example of how God can be trusted with the pen of our lives, even when we believe He is doing nothing for us. It depicts how God works behind-the-scenes.



I also want to encourage anyone who is still single and losing faith, that they can have hope in the wait if they are willing to trust God. It beats getting into the wrong relationships due to our impatience. The heading on your website: Finding Hope Through Fiction, is exactly what I want to give readers through this story.

Lastly, I like to encourage people to seek God about their purpose in life and live according to Ephesians 2:10. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” I believe firmly that God still speaks to us today through a variety of ways, and I hope you’ll press forward to hear His voice and what He wants to say to you.


Thanks Cheryl for stopping by today and letting us get to know you better. LOVED Never the Bride I'm praying the Lord's will be done about making it into a movie. I'll be first in line to see it. May the Lord continue to Bless you with His stories Cheryl. This story has touched my heart deeply.

All the Best to you. Remember if you are ever in the Atlanta area I'd love for you to meet my book club ladies.

Sincerely,

Nora :D

5 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fantastic book! I can't wait to read it.

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  2. Wow! I love the part of walking into a room alone and not truly being alone because God is enough. Since recently becoming a widow, this is very hard for me and this really made me think that God is always there and I'm never alone. Thanks for that Cheryl! Can't wait to read the book!

    Gail Mundy

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  3. sounds like an amazing book. I hope it comes out here in South Africa.

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  4. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this interview. And Gail, your comment made me cry. I so appreciate hearing that and am glad you are comforted in God's presence.
    Blessings!
    Cheryl

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  5. Gail, that is what I am always telling myself since becoming a widow. I was afraid I would get scared by myself at night, since I had never really been alone. I asked GOD to help me remember that HE was always here with me, so I am never alone. It's worked, and it's been 15 years now.
    Bet this book will be good, and would like to see her movies. Haven't heard of them before now.

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