An Interview with Brenda Lilly

Two Christy fans (Lisa Koretoff & Dee Jellicorse) recently interviewed Brenda Lilly, Christy: Choices of the Heart-Part 2 (A New Beginning) Screenwriter.

The interview with Mrs. Lilly took place at the Southern Grit Festival at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro on April 21, 2001, where she was the guest lecturer. More of the interview can be found at, but here are the questions from yours truly that Lisa & Dee so kindly worked in for all of us who want to swoon over Christy and MacNeill.

Brenda Lilly on Christy and MacNeill


LISA: Brenda, when you sat down for the first time to write scenes between Christy and Neil, is there one particular scene in the book that you use as your point of reference?

BRENDA: Yes, that was when Christy went into his cabin and was left there. This is after she falls in the river. David has left her, and then she walks into Neil's world. She's only seen him as this sort of mad doctor (up to this point) and in this dramatic setting. And then she gets in there, and she sees these pictures and his world, and it's such a dichotomy from the other things that she has been exposed to from the other mountain people. Here's someone who's of there, but at the same time, he's so different. I think that it is at this point that he becomes incredibly interesting to her. And (laughing) the fact that he has these women's clothes around; that's a little odd and yet intriguing.

LISA: We talk about swooning a lot (on the forum). Swooning is big for us! What is your definition of swooning?

BRENDA: I think it's basically when you see someone and your stomach drops out! (laughing) Like Kaboom! And it's gone. I think it's a real thing!

LISA: Well, Stewart sure does it for us!

BRENDA: Yeah, no kidding!

LISA: How often do you think MacNeill makes Christy swoon? How often do you think she affects him in the same way?

BRENDA: I think it's about every time they see each other. You know, I really do. There is definite chemistry.

LISA: What do you think it is about each other that invokes this?

BRENDA: I think that it is the chemistry. For her, as with many women, it's the danger that exists in this man. He's unpredictable, he's stark, and he's complex.

DEE About, the webmaster has a swoon meter for every episode!

BRENDA: (Laughing) She will swoon about my episode, I promise you! It will be off the chart in swooning!

LISA: Do you have a swoony moment from the book?

BRENDA: I didn't really have a swoony moment; any time that they are together, there is this sort of romance and intensity between them. At the same time, you feel for David. Here is someone who has really fallen in love with this girl and has deep feelings for her and this invokes feelings in her that I think are unusual. She's very young when all this happened.


LISA: Tell me the defining scene or lines that you wrote for Christy and also for MacNeill that you feel nails them to a "tee." And if you can't answer this question at this time because the mini-series hasn't aired yet, that's O.K., just give us a hint.

BRENDA: Neil leaves the cove. I don't know if that's been told or exposed yet or not, but he leaves. It's clear that Neil leaves because of these feelings he has for Christy. Then, in my episode, he comes back, sort of on the spur of the moment, unannounced. Through circumstances that occur, Christy ends up in the woods, sprains her ankle, and Neil has to get her out of there. David has been separated because of other circumstances. He's also in the woods looking for her. David doesn't know what's happened to her.

Neil is carrying her because she can't walk and they see each other and then this struggle that happens between these two men to physically take this woman out of each other's arms was great fun for me to write (laughs very gleefully).

And I think then, as that's going on, you hear "adult Christy" saying that, "All of a sudden, she's 'seeing' these two men, and she's got to make a choice." She looks at them and says, "I saw before me two paths, one that's harsh and rocky, and that's not travelled and one that is more graceful and familiar and straight." In that moment she makes up her mind and so she gets up and walks!

LISA: Tell us your favorite Christy swoon moment?

BRENDA: I think, for me, in this episode that I wrote, Christy is all aflutter because of her wedding plans. She doesn't know that Neil is coming back, and she's running around and her mother is calling her and she's doing all of this stuff. She turns around and Neil is standing there. And it's like the (very) first time that she just smiles. And thinks, "Oh my God!" And you see that even in the midst of these wedding plans with David, that this is someone that still has a piece of her heart. And you see it in both of them.

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