Interview with Cheryl McKay (Book Author / Screenwriter)
Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I tend to write very personal stories, either in fiction or non-fiction format. If I can find a way to put myself or my personal experience into what I’m sharing, I am much more
passionate about it. I also feel like I’ll be a lot more relatable to readers (or viewers, in the case of movies.) I love to write heartfelt dramas or romantic comedies. You can bet if it’s comedic, like Never the Bride, I am making fun of myself.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
My wedding day last year. Sorry to be a cliché but as readers will learn in Finally the
Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting, I waited a long time to have God bring love into my
life. It was a day of promises fulfilled and dreams come true. Having the wedding at my
in-laws home, just like I penned Jessie doing in the script version of Never the Bride, was
extra cool! We got married on a ranch of 10 horses at a house that my hubby helped build
for his sister. It couldn’t have been more personal and beautiful. Every person who stood
up for me, except the groom’s sister, I’ve known since I was fifteen years old or younger.
So, it was great to be surrounded by such good, long-time friends and family members. It
was also really special to have all of my mom’s siblings there, as the last time we all got
together was for my grandmother’s funeral the year before. I’m wearing her engagement
ring now as my own.
How has being published changed your life?
There is nothing more meaningful than hearing from people you’ve never met, saying
you’ve changed their lives. One of the comments I get most often is that people feel like
I somehow got inside their head and wrote their thoughts. Apparently, all the ups and
downs I felt during my long journey as a single person is very relatable to others on the
same path. Being able to help others makes putting my personal life on the line worth it.
What are you reading right now?
Katie Ganshert’s Wildflowers From Winter. I participated in a blog hop with her, when
her book first released, where a bunch of authors blogged about how God works through
This is a theme I wholeheartedly believe in (and was the #1 theme I embraced when
I adapted Jim Stovall’s novel The Ultimate Gift into a feature film.) Another novel
I recently reread for the third time along the same themes was Confessions From a
Farmer’s Wife by Caroline Way. It’s truly an extraordinary novel, modern day version of
Job from the wife’s POV. I love stories that show redemption in pain.
What is your current work in progress?
In a couple of months, I’ll be releasing my original autobiography that has been about
ten years in the making. It’s called Finally Fearless: Journey from Panic to Peace. It’s
geared toward those who struggle with fear, panic, and anxiety attacks, and those who are
tired of fear ruling their lives. It ruled my life for over twenty years, but no more.
We’re also hard at work putting together the production for Never the Bride. That
novel was a script first, then adapted into a novel (with the awesomely amazing Rene
Gutteridge.) We want to shoot a movie version of that story, then write the sequel,
Finally the One. (It will be so fun to follow Jessie into marriage, while God goes to work
on her sister next.)
Rene and I are also working on our next script-to-book adaptation called Greetings From
the Flipside, for B&H Publishing, due out Fall 2013.
What would be your dream vacation?
Any vacations that bring me together with family. I moved 3000 miles away from my
family about 12 years ago. So most of my vacations involve getting home to see them.
And that’s the way I like it!
How do you choose your settings for each book?
They’re often based on places I’ve visited. For example, my husband and I got to visit
the Danish town of Solvang, CA when it was all decorated for Christmas. That place
is beyond adorable. (I’m working that into a future romantic comedy.) I love choosing
places I can go visit or those accessible to tons of photos and research. I also like to dig
into work settings. If my character has a particular job, I try to observe that job in action.
For example, I got to visit a 9-1-1 call center for an upcoming project an about a 9-1-1
operator. I won’t mention that a murder happened the night I was there.
What three things about you would surprise readers?
I hate feet. Always have. I have a terrible addiction to Chapstick. And you will likely
never see me anywhere without a bottle of water.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
Scrapbooking and going out to fun places and taking either beautiful or kooky photos
with my husband—which later go into those scrapbooks. We love to act out silly scenes
wherever we go. Does watching 80s sitcoms count as a hobby? I’m also learning to
cook. I love experimenting with my breadmaker.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it
If I ever feel dry creatively, I pull out my color coding method to get myself excited
about working on an idea. It’s my favorite way to brainstorm and sometimes I can get my
creative juices flowing if they’re stopped up.
Readers can read more about this fun method on my blog:
One time, when I had a hard time figuring out how to write a scene into The Ultimate
Gift, I went to a cemetery and pretended to be the lead character, Jason, visiting his
grandfather’s grave. It helped get me into the emotional state of the character.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Write every day. Stay in practice. Don’t be afraid to publish independently to get started.
You have a voice and a story. Don’t let a lack of an agent or a publisher stop you from
getting your message out there.
Tell us about the book.
Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting was written almost entirely while I was
still single and waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And did I mention annoyed with the
wait? I had no idea when I started writing it what its ending would be. But God was clear:
He wanted me to write this book during my waiting journey as one to give hope to those
who are losing hope. He had to show up and help me during that long season, so I could
share His counsel with others. It’s written in “real time” of the journey. It seems to really
hit home with singles, but also with some married people who have trouble surrending
any particular area to God. It’s like the non-fiction companion book to Never the Bride.
What do you want readers to take away from the book?
I truly desire for readers to find hope in the reading of my story, to find meaningful things to do with their lives while they wait for this area of life to change. I want readers to feel like, finally, they are not alone in their struggles.
What one question would you like us to ask your readers?
What book have you read that has not been made into a movie that you’d like to see?