Thursday, January 16, 2014

Featured Screenwriter/Novelist: Cheryl McKay

Cheryl McKay has been professionally writing since 1997, as "Purple Penworks",  the banner under which she works on creative projects, penning film and television projects. She also now works as a producer on scripts she writes.

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She has also written a script called Greetings from the Flipsidecommissioned by Art Within, after winning a year-long fellowship. It’s been adapted into a novel for B&H Publishing (with Rene Gutteridge) and released in 2013. Her screenplay, Never the Bride, has been adapted into a novel for Random House Publishers and was released in 2009. The film version is in development. She also wrote the screenplay for A Friend for Maddie.

Cheryl lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Chris, who is a photographer and a musician. 


The following is a January 2014 interview with Cheryl.

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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
AT THE END OF THE INTERVIEW


Be in to win a copy of
Greetings from the Flipside
by Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay


One print copy to be won

Contest open to entrants with USA addresses only.

Contest runs from 10 - 24 January NZDT


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Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m originally from Boston, MA, but lived in North Carolina a lot of my young life until I moved to Los Angeles, CA in 2000 to pursue my dream of becoming a screenwriter. I live there with my long-awaited, hard prayed for husband. (Any fans of my book with Rene Gutteridge, Never the Bride will understand that comment!) I’ve been a Christian since I was a little kid; I grew up in a Christian home. I originally thought I wanted to be an actress, but am quite thankful God redirected me to writing.


How did you become a screenwriter, and did you always want to write?

I wrote my first play when I was five, my first book soon followed (handwritten of course). When I was younger, I was rather shy, especially when it came to talking about difficult things in life. Instead of talking about them, I would write. I started this at a very young age, turning any angst I would experience into a character’s life. That practice never stopped. My favorite thing now about being a writer is that every experience in life—especially painful ones—can be used and redeemed and can help other people experiencing similar challenges.

I started off writing kids materials (books and audio dramas) and then my first feature film was The Ultimate Gift (James Garner, Brian Dennehy, Abigail Breslin).

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What do you think is significant about movies told from a Christian viewpoint? 

The film and television industry today shapes culture—for good or bad. There are plenty of people out there who would never step foot into a church. But they will step into a movie theater or watch a show on television. If this type of media can be used to shape culture in a bad way, why not also use it to have some good influences out there? I definitely don’t want to turn “entertainment” into preaching. But I believe through this industry, we can certainly weave good messages and themes into an entertaining platform and make a difference.


How do you hope your viewers react to the movies you write? 

That answer is going to be different for each film. It was amazing to read the ways in which The Ultimate Gift changed people’s lives. But every story was different. That movie featured 12 different gifts about what is important in life (like family, friends, the gift of a day, the gift of work.) So each person took something different away from the story. Whether I’m writing a movie or a book (non-fiction or novels), I pray through my messages and spend a lot of time praying for future readers / viewers that they will be able to take away whatever God wants them to take away from it. Like with Never the Bride, I really wanted our readers (and hopefully one day viewers of the film version, when we make it), to understand that God wants a real, active, alive relationship with us and that He cares about our love stories. I got a lot of letters from readers telling me our story did just that, that it gave them hope. With Greetings from the Flipside, I hope people will see that it’s worth it to make it through the tough times and trials. That life is worth living, no matter how much pain sometimes comes with it.

Rene and I shot a video talking about the heart of this story:

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What responses to those movies have affected you the most and why? 

I read a story about how after watching The Ultimate Gift, a woman decided to donate her kidney to save someone else’s life. That was so astounding to me, that a movie could that. The book author, Jim Stovall, once sent me a package of about thirty letters from high school students who all viewed the film and wrote essays about what gifts meant the most to them. That was really profound! To see that teenagers could be affected by our story.


How has being a screenwriter impacted your relationship with Christ? 

I love to use the Lord as a co-writer. I love to pray through everything I work on, and ask Him what He wants it to be. This involves Him in my work in a way that is very active. So often I feel like I spend all day with Him. It’s not like I have a morning devotion and move on with my day. He gets to spend all day with me. He’s also helped me appreciate the difficult times because of the ways they can be used in my writing. Writing makes those times very redeeming.


Other than writing great screenplays, what other goals do you have for your life? 

My husband and I have a heart for singles who are hurting because they are still waiting to find love, especially since we both had to wait so long to find each other (with a lot of help from God, that is!) Our hearts are to minister to singles as well as married couples. We desire to see married couples live in a thriving relationship, not just surviving. We are just in the early stages of starting this ministry though. We want to co-write a marriage book together. And our goal in the future is to grow that ministry. It’s called Finally One (www.finallyone.com). So far we’ve enjoyed playing a role in book clubs with ladies who go through Finally the Bride, my non-fiction book for singles (that I wrote almost all of while I was single and frustrated.) My husband got to write the final chapter. Eventually we also hope to make our own films through Purple PenWorks, my production company so we can keep control of the content in the scripts.


What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Scrapbooking (sometimes even over Skype with my mom and sister. It makes me feel like we’re scrapbooking together in the same room.) My husband and I love to travel or even just take day trips to interesting places. My husband is working on a video blog to start showing our travels with day trip suggestions for others. We always take tons of photos that go into those scrapbooks.


What can you tell us about your latest projects? 

Rene Gutteridge and I just released Greetings from the Flipside, based on my script of the same title. Also this year I released Finally Fearless: Journey from Panic to Peace and the Workbook, a non-fiction project about my own battle with panic disorder and fear and how God healed me. 

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What projects can your fans expect from you in the days ahead? 

I’m currently working on a novel adaptation of Song of Springhill, a screenplay about the true-life mining disasters that happened in the 1950s that my grandfather survived. That town suffered some serious tragedies but also experienced some of the most astounding miracles of God. I want to share that story in book and movie form. I wrote a blog about how my grandfather was rescued here:

http://purplepenworks.com/2013/05/03/rippleeffect/

We’re busy working on trying to get funding for some of the films, including Greetings from the Flipside and Never the Bride. We also hope to shoot a movie next summer called Love’s a Stage, a fun romantic comedy that hopefully will show why marriage is actually a good thing. It’s a script Rene and I hope to adapt into a novel in the future.


What would you like to say to your fans in New Zealand, and others worldwide?

I so appreciate every one of you who chooses to read my work or go see my films. I hope that you get something out of the experience, that the stories will touch your heart in a special way.


Do you have any parting words?

I have what I consider two benchmark messages of my life. The first is that God still speaks today. He wants an active relationship with us. And second, that according to Romans 8:28, God can take any situation and use it for our good.

Feel free to connect with me online. My blogs are Purple PenWorks and Finally One. I have a Facebook page with Purple PenWorks and also one with Rene Gutteridge, and my new hobby is Pinterest.


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Never the Bride

Eleven Bridesmaid Dresses Don’t Lie
Since she was just a little girl, Jessie Stone dreamed up hundreds of marriage proposals, doodled the romantic ideas in her journal with her treasured purple pen, and fantasized about wedding dresses and falling in love.  She’s been a bridesmaid nearly a dozen times, waved numerous couples off to sunny honeymoons, and shopped in more department stores for half-price fondue pots than she cares to remember.

But shopping for one key component of these countless proposals hasn't been quite as productive–a future husband. The man she thought she would marry cheated on her.  The crush she has on her best friend Blake is at very best…well, crushing.  And speed dating has only churned out memorable horror stories.

So when God shows up one day, in the flesh, and becomes a walking, talking part of her life, Jessie is skeptical. What will it take to convince her that the Almighty has a better plan than one she’s already cooked up in her journals?  Can she turn over her pen and trust someone else to craft a love story beyond her wildest dreams?

Purchase Never the Bride
[Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | 
The Book Depository]


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Greetings from the Flipside

Hope Landon has been rewriting other people’s greeting cards since she was six years old. There’s always a funnier caption in there somewhere. She’s ready to chase her creative dreams in New York City with her fiancé—until he leaves Hope at the altar.

That may give her something to write about . . .

Hope disappears for the time that would have been the couple’s month-long honeymoon, and upon returning learns of her own funeral. Everyone concluded Hope must have killed herself after being jilted. Needing a fresh start more than ever, she heads for the Big Apple only to discover it isn’t easy to rent a place when you’ve been declared dead.

Taking shelter at the YMCA, Hope lands a job at an inspirational greeting card company assisting Jake, the guy who shut down his organization’s humor department. She has lost her faith in love; he needs to find something or someone that will make him laugh again.

Fun and faithful, Greetings from the Flipside will keep turning over in your mind.



Purchase Greetings from the Flipside
[Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | 
The Book Depository]


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Cheryl's Internet Movie Database Profile

Buy Cheryl's Books at The Book Depository

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

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Be in to win a copy of
Greetings from the Flipside
by Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay


One print copy to be won
Contest open to entrants with USA addresses only.
Contest runs from 10 - 24 January NZDT



Please comment about the interview, or leave a message for Cheryl when making a blog post comment. Simply commenting about entering the draw or wanting to win the books does not qualify for valid entry into the draw. 

All entries must be made using the Rafflecopter contest to be eligible for drawing. Winning entries drawn will have their entry options validated before being accepted - if incomplete another entry will be drawn. 


DOUBLE BILLING

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Read an Interview with Rene Gutteridge and enter the draw for a copy of Misery Loves Company

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Previous Featured Author Interviews


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