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How was the process of writing the screen play into a book? Was it harder than actually writing the book from the ground up like you usually do? What do you love best about the process?

It was actually a very fun and easy going process for me. When I write a book I have to come up with all the characters, plots, twists, setting. That was done in this situation! Cheryl’s story was so intact that I didn’t need to do any “fixing.” So I took her screenplay and just applied my imagination to it, and my understanding of how novels have to work, and put it on paper.

Also, Cheryl’s a very giving writer, meaning that she was very open to some of the changes I needed to make for it to work as a novel. To make it a full-length novel, I had to add scenes, and it was always delightful for me because she got such a kick out of things that were added. I think the best part of the process was the collaboration. Novel writing is so solitary, so it was exciting to have a teammate. I always thought I wouldn’t like collaboration, but I was wrong.

What surprised you most about this screen play (the story)?

I think it surprised me by how much I related to it! I’ve been married almost fourteen years and I thought when I heard the story idea that I wouldn’t be able to relate. But the truth is, whether single or married, there is something in our life we have to trust God with…some purple pen that we must hand over. And some disappointment that we’ve had with God that we are sometimes afraid to express. I was surprised by how much of this was my story too.

You mention in the back of the book that ..”Never the Bride tested my ideas of God’s love for me, and I had to dig deep in myself to find the courage to understand how much God really loves me.” What was a gift God gave you while writing this screen play into a book?

I’ve been a Christian a long time, but I’ve not dug deep enough, I believe, to find God’s love for me. I found myself willing to accept that He’s there for the big moments. But I wasn’t tuned in to the idea that He is there. Period. And that He pursues me. I may have been the right writer for this project, but by God’s great wisdom and grace, I was also the right reader.

How was this different than writing The Ultimate Gift? Was it harder or easier for you? What surprised you?

There were many differences between The Ultimate Gift and Never the Bride. The Ultimate Gift was a very fast project, something like ten weeks, and I was hired by the publishing house to adapt the movie in partnership with the producers. But it’s what introduced me to Cheryl and her writing. I remember watching a copy of the movie they sent me to see if I wanted to do the project, and I finished watching and thought, Who is this writer? I had to find out because I was so blown away by the screenplay. Also, The Ultimate Gift had to be adapted exactly as is, so I didn’t have much wiggle room as far as adding or deleting scenes. So it turned out to be the length of a novella. For Never the Bride, we adapted the screenplay before the movie has been made, which I think is a first. At least I’ve never heard of anyone doing this. Because this adaptation wasn’t part of a deal with producers, I was able to work a little more freely in my adaptation.

Both were fun, though, and both, incidentally, life changing. When I saw the movie The Ultimate Gift, I cried for about thirty minutes afterward. It touched me that deeply. I was going through a lot of hard things in my life at the time and I saw that there was a plan for it. A good plan. It gave me hope.

I have to tell you I was hooked from the very first line, “You don’t know me yet, so there is no reason you should care that I’m stuck on a highway with a blowout. But may be we can relate to each other?” I laughed out loud. How long did it take you to come up with that? It’s priceless.

I don’t remember how long it took me, but I do remember thinking that when I chose first person present tense to write the book in I would have a challenge! It’s so right there, in the moment. But I felt it was right to help give it a visual feel and proper pacing like the screenplay. I loved the scene where Jessie is changing her own tire in the screenplay, so I wanted to open with that. And then the great thing about novels is that we get to jump inside the characters’ heads. So I just dove in and fished around to see who Jessie was. Her voice was pretty clear from the start for me. I felt I’d known her for years.

Jessie thinks she hears clearly from God and His plan for her life when she quits her job and starts a company doing proposals. She steps out in faith in a big way. Has God ever asked you to do that? If so, what did he ask you to do? How did it turn out?

(Rene's children John and Cate)

I had to give up writing, before my career ever took off. I had worked very hard trying to get published and nothing was happening. I kept getting rejected. I was pregnant with my first child at the time and I thought, “I know what God wants. He wants me to be a mom. He wants me to concentrate on that and that only.” I was so exhausted trying to pursue writing. I’d tried it every which way and I hadn’t moved an inch. I didn’t have any more hope or energy for it.

So I knelt down on a cold February night, big and pregnant, and said, “I can’t do this anymore. I give it to you. If you want this for me, then You have to do it. I’m done trying.” It was such a relief to give it to God. Honestly, I felt the weight of the world off my shoulders, and intended on giving all my attention to my son.

He was five weeks old when I got the call from a publishing house that they wanted to publish my first novel. I was so floored. I couldn’t believe it. And I knew then that God had asked me to give it up on purpose, and that I had to take that step of faith to trust Him no matter what He decided. I think the story of our faith with God is so defined by those moments. We all have them. It boils down to the question, “Do you trust Me?”


1.What movie had an impact on you as a child? Why?

OK, this is going to sound weird, but I was impacted by extra-terrestrial movies. E.T. Close Encounters. The Abyss. And I say I was impacted by them because they helped me understand how legitimate my imagination was. That I was allowed to dream this big and wide and deep. I don’t believe in aliens, but these movies set me free in a way that no other movie has. I thought to myself, “I can write about anything. I can imagine and that’s okay.” Sometimes when you’re the kid with the imagination, it can feel isolating. As a kid you don’t understand why you have this and other people don’t. You just feel a little alone and afraid of the fact that you can spend hours in a tree with only your mind to entertain you.

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

Probably most people don’t know that I was at the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. I was in college and working for First United Methodist Church next door. I was running late for work that day. I was supposed to be there at 9 a.m. and I had to stop by my mom’s office, which put me behind. It actually saved my life. Had I not stopped by her office, I would’ve been right in front of that building when it exploded. I arrived just minutes after it happened and it still, to this day, is the most surreal thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I remember standing there looking at that building, the whole face of it blown off, with computers dangling from the fourth floor and paper floating down like snow. People walking out covered in gray ash. I mean, it was so crazy. An interesting side note: Every window in our church was blown out except the stained glass picture of Jesus, which was completely intact. I remember standing there looking at that window in the middle of all the chaos and thinking, God is still in control here.

3.If you had 48 hours to hang out with anyone two people in the history of the world, alive or dead. Who would those two people be and what would you do?

Probably someone from my lineage, like eight generations back, just to see where I came from. We don’t have a lot of information on that in my family and it would be so interesting to me. I think it would be cool to enter into his or her life for a day, see what they do, how they lived, where their faith was. And then the apostle John.

4.It money isn’t an object and you can eat breakfast any where you would like where would it be?

Disney World with my whole family at one of the really nice restaurants there. What would you order?Something like Mickey Mouse French toast.Same deal with dinner.

Where would you go and what would you order? I think I’d like to eat somewhere really famous, that is known for having the best and most unique food in the world. I love trying out restaurants in cities I go to. But it’d have to fill me up. Can’t stand the little bitty meal and the one spear of asparagus, where you have to go through the McDonald’s drive thru afterward.

5.If you had to be a superhero for 48 hours, who would you be and why? (you are the author here you can be creative about costumes and powers)

For sure, Tony Stark/Iron Man. Love that character. By far my favorite. I just want to play with his robots and live in his mansion.

6.You’ve found a magic lamp and the genie wants to grant you three wishes? What would your wishes by?

I just have one. That I’d own the magic lamp. Cliché, yes. Dumb, no. But knowing the genie’s lawyers, there’s probably a contract somewhere that prevents that.

7.You find yourself in a life threatening situation and you need someone to save you. Who would you pick? (You can pick anyone from TV, Movies, books Etc. the sky is the limit).

Probably Cheryl McKay. She’s very organized and self-sufficient and I’m pretty sure she’d figure out how to get me out of the situation. Plus it’d be good material for our next book together.

8.You have an opportunity to be on any TV show? Which one would you pick and why?

24 for sure. I’d want to be some smart chick who may or may not be a double agent. And is somehow connected to Jack’s past.

9.What were your favorite books growing up?

I read like crazy, so pretty much anything I picked up.

10.What TV shows were you passionate as a kids? You know the ones that you couldn’t miss each week.

Magnum P.I. and CHiPs.


Thank you so much for this interview! You’ve asked some great questions! I enjoyed it very much. I see you put the fifth member of my family in your interview. Brodie our dog- we love him - he's so cool! How fun! Thank you for helping us promote NTB.


Thanks so much Rene, I couldn't resist putting a picture of you and your dog. I totally loved the book Never the Bride. It deeply touched my heart. I'm excited about future books that you and Cheryl write. Remember if you are ever in Atlanta we’ll definitely have to do book club. I so want my ladies to meet you!!

Blessings on your writing adventures.


Nora :D


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