February 2001's Author of the Month

Brenda Novak
(Chosen by reviewer, Suzie Housley)

Why Brenda Novak?

About Brenda


Her Harlequin  Books



Why Brenda Novak?


Why is Brenda Novak one of my favorite authors?  Brenda is an author whose books will captivate her reader.  Her books reflect what it is like to suffer tragedy and come out in the end with triumph.   I have yet to pick up any of Brenda's books and become bored with them.  In fact, whenever I pick up her newest release I always set aside a good amount of time because I will not move until I have read the very last page.  I feel she is a true master to use readers emotion to become  so attached to the story and characters.

Suzie Housley


About Brenda

Born in 1964 in Utah, Brenda Anderson Novak attended Brigham Young University on academic scholarship where she studied business. She married Ted Novak in 1984 and moved to California where she has helped Ted establish and run several businesses.

Brenda has also worked as a commercial real estate agent, an aide for Senator John T. Doolittle, a loan officer, and an antiques dealer--all prior to 1994 when she realized what she wanted to be when she grew up: a writer.

Obviously deciding to become a writer was an excellent career move, as Brenda has won several awards pre- and post-publication . She holds the title of finalist in Romance Writers of America's prestigious Golden Heart contest for unpublished authors in 1997 and 1998. Since publication of her first novel by Harper Collins in 1999, the accolades keep coming, as Brenda is the winner of the Beacon Award for Published Authors with her historical romance, Of Noble Birth.

In her spare moments, Brenda is an active participant in several writing organizations, including Romance Writers of America and it's chapters. She has served as the Vice President of RWA's Sacramento Valley Rose Chapter, and as Contest Coordinator for The Golden Network Chapter of RWA, as well as holding general membership in RWA's Kiss of Death Chapter.

While raising five children, ages three to fourteen years, Brenda works out of her home in Sacramento, writing both historical and contemporary romantic fiction.

Her Web Site - www.brendanovak.com or www.members.aol.com/BreNovak/
A list of her AWARDS



SRH:   Could you tell us something about you and  what motivated you to start  writing?

BN: When I was working as a loan officer and had three little ones at home, I caught my in-home daycare provider drugging my children with cough syrup and Tylenol to get them to sleep while I was gone. After I found the cough syrup in my baby's bottle, I couldn't trust anyone with their care, so I quit my job. At the same time, my husband's business was failing (he was a residential developer and the market hit a big slump) and I needed to do something to help out. So I decided to start writing in hopes that I could make some money from my home. Of course, it wasn't the quick fix we were looking for. It took me four years to write my first book, and another year to sell it, but it saved my sanity during a difficult time, and has been a real blessing in my life.

SRH:   How do you organize your writing day? Are you sternly disciplined or easily distracted? Roughly how long does it take you to write a novel?

BN: I'm pretty structured with my writing and not easily distracted. Because I have a lot of kids, which equates to a lot of interruptions, I have to be able to get back on task right away, or I'd never finish a book. I shoot for 7-10 pages per work day, but I don't work in the evenings or on weekends. I reserve those times for my family. On that schedule, I can write a Superromance in three months. The historicals take a bit longer--more like 5-6 months, because of the research and the higher word count.

SRH:   Who are your favorite author(s)?

BN: My favorite writers are Janet Evanovich (mystery), Susan Elizabeth Phillips (romance), and Caleb Carr (historical thrillers). My favorite historical writers are Dorothy Dunnett, Jane Austen, Margaret Mitchell, and Charlotte Bronte. I found a shelf of classics when I was ten years old and used to hide out under the dining room table so I could read uninterrupted. Those books will always be my favorites. Nothing has ever captured my imagination so completely.

SRH:  Do you feel any of your favorite authors have influenced your own writing? If so, which one(s) and in what way?

BN: Hmmm...I would say that my favorite writers have definitely influenced me. They've given me a love for the written word and the art of conveying a story, and that love has left me with a desire to create my own novels. Susan Elizabeth Phillips influenced me more directly by teaching a workshop at RWA's national convention last summer. She said some things that really inspired me and helped improve my work-in- progress.

SRH:   In all of your books, your characters and story lines are so well developed I have to ask: Where do you get the ideas for your story lines and characters?

BN: I get the ideas from one main concept, usually the theme. For instance, with my first book, OF NOBLE BIRTH, I knew I wanted to write a story about a handicapped hero who championed over incredible difficulties. I wanted to show the human spirit's ability to overcome and shine and be happy in spite of hardship and setbacks, and the story evolved from that. My first contemporary, EXPECTATIONS, is a story about coming full circle. The hero leaves his high school sweetheart and his small hometown to experience the world and to find his place in it. He becomes very successful in his business but realizes how empty financial success can be without love. When he returns home for a visit, he realizes that he had what was truly important in life from the start, but must work to recapture the things he took for granted. I liked the idea of a hero discovering the meaning of life--wanted a second chance at love story--and EXPECTATIONS grew out of that concept.

SRH:   "Of Noble Birth" was your first novel, it being a historical, does the  future hold any similar historical novels?

BN: I hope the future will hold some more historicals. OF NOBLE BIRTH did really well. It placed in several contests and won the Beacon Award for Published Authors, the Heart of the West and the Aspen Gold Award for Best Historical of 1999. But my editor at Harper was fired in the merger with Avon and my work doesn't really fit Avon's program. My agent says my stuff is "different." Anyway, we're working on finding my historicals a home, so hopefully we'll have some luck there.

SRH:   Your characters often are faced with obstacles and challenges which you  normally don't see in other novels.  Do you plan to put these elements in  purposely or do they just fall in naturally as the story develops?

BN: The obstacles my characters face grow out of their personalities and decisions. I don't purposely plant them, except for the main conflict. I choose characters who will naturally be in conflict with each other because of their backgrounds, beliefs, and/or goals, and let the plot grow from that.

SRH:   Which is your favorite out of all the books you have written and why?

BN: OF NOBLE BIRTH will always hold a special place in my heart because it's the first thing I ever wrote and is the story that fulfilled my dream of seeing my work in print. BABY BUSINESS, my latest, is probably my second favorite. I had so much fun creating those characters and loved imagining the "what ifs" that went with the heroine becoming a surrogate mother.

SRH:   Can you tell us anything about your future writing plans?

BN: I'm really enjoying writing for Superromance and plan to continue writing for them indefinitely. I have two books coming out this year, DEAR MAGGIE, which is a romantic suspense due out in May, and COLE FOR CHRISTMAS (this title might be changed), which will be out in November. I'm currently working on three proposals for Harlequin, so I hope to have three books out in 2002. In addition to the contemporaries, I'm hoping to sell a couple of historicals, as I mentioned earlier.

SRH:    Do you have any advice for the legion of aspiring writers out there?

BN: Dogged determination is probably the most important ingredient in getting published. Also, joining RWA really helped me, because it put me in contact with others who were doing the same thing. The exchange of information shortened the amount of time it took me to reach my goals, and made the road I was traveling a lot less lonely. There's no one as sympathetic to rejections and other difficulties associated with getting published as a fellow writer! :-)

I'd like to thank Brenda Novak for her time.

Suzie Housley


Her Books

Baby Business
(Harlequin - December 2000)

Snow Baby
(Harlequin - September 2000)

(Harlequin - February 2000)

Of Noble Birth
(HarperCollins November 1999)



BABY BUSINESS by Brenda Novak
Harlequin Superromance, 95
Harlequin Retail Inc - December 2000
ISBN: 0373709552 - Paperback
Reviewed by Suzie Housley

Brenda Novak is a writer who writes with gut-wrenching emotion. The characters she creates will quickly become a part of your everyday life. Her latest, Baby Business, is set in Salt Lake City. The hero, Thad Winter, a widower of 18 months, still mourns the death of his beloved spouse and unborn child. His late wife and unborn child were tragically taken out of his life by a drunken driver. Thad decides to have the child he was denied and give him something to live for once again. He offers a hundred thousand dollars for a woman to accept artificial insemination, carry his baby to fruition, and to stay out of their lives after delivery. He is convinced he can never love anyone as much as his late wife.

Thad has many applications trying to collect the hundred thousand dollar prize. Most are very bold and eager to assure their place as the selected candidate. Tactics they use to entice Thad only turns him off until he meets Macy McKinley. Macy is a mystery to Thad. She is neither bold nor aggressive in her pursuit of the hundred thousand dollar check. She refuses to tell him why she is in need of such a large amount of money. However, during a background check, Thad learns that the divorced Macy needs the money so that her beloved five-year-old daughter Haley can receive a life saving bone marrow transplant. Thad and Macy reach an agreement that includes him safeguarding his investment by a temporary marriage. As Macy and Thad remain in close proximity, they fall in love. However, she mistrusts love after her former spouse deserted her, and he feels guilty for betraying his first wife by falling in love again. Love may not be enough to heal the deep wounds of either one of this deserving pair.

Baby Business is an emotional read that will keep the reader turning the pages until the end. Her characters are so well developed you will long remember them long after you finish one of her novels.
2001's Honorary List


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