**AUTHOR PEEK** Interview with
Before we get started talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do for a living (if you’re not a full–time writer) what hobbies you have, etc. Whatever you’d like to share to introduce yourself.
I was born in Utah, raised in Arizona and have lived in California since I married my husband in 1984. I’ve been a full-time writer since I was first published (by HarperCollins) in 1999. That was fifty books ago, and yet I still love to get up and go to the computer each day. Beyond writing, I enjoy socializing with my five kids, mountain biking, hiking, traveling, shopping and reading. I also love to play with my daughter’s dog, Simba.
1. What genre(s) do you write and why?
I’m an eclectic reader. I love so many genres and sub-genres that it inspires all kinds of stories. So I guess you could say I’ve turned out to be an eclectic writer, too. I write contemporary small town romance, women’s fiction (my first trade paperback will be out this August—THE SECRET SISTER), romantic suspense (four new romantic suspense novels coming from St. Martin’s Press beginning with WHITEOUT in February 2016) and historical romance. I also have a series of straight historicals running around in my head that I’d like to write someday. But I think I’m juggling enough at the moment. 😉
2. If you were to choose one superpower, what would it be?
I’d freeze time and never grow old. Not only would I be able to avoid the aches and pains of old age, when it happens, I’d be able to stretch out a day for as long as I needed to.
3. Do you ever get stuck when you’re writing a book? What do you do to get “unstuck”?
There are definitely days when I get stuck, when my story seems to be turning to drivel or I can’t get it to hold any emotional tension. But that’s a good thing. That’s when I know something is wrong. I’ve taken the story where it wasn’t meant to go, for lack of a better way to describe it. Fortunately, there are ways to get myself “unstuck.” Experience has taught me to mentally step away from the manuscript and look at it from a macro perspective, always asking myself, “Where did I go wrong?”
I start from the beginning and check the story as a plumber might check a series of pipes for leaks. I feel my way along, testing the story to see if it’s still “holding water.” I read, consider, read, consider and read some more until I find the “break” or part that isn’t in harmony with my intuition. Maybe I’m forcing my characters to do something these types of characters would never do. Maybe I’m ascribing a certain trait or pathology to my villain that isn’t ringing true. Maybe I’ve veered too far away from my “core story.” It’s a bit of a hassle to go back, and definitely risks some unraveling and rewriting, but if I take the time to do this I always find the point that’s troubling my subconscious and interrupting my ability to proceed. Then I can fix it.
Sometimes my production will fall off not because the story isn’t working but because I’m too distracted to concentrate properly, or I’m emotionally exhausted. At these times, I need to “refill the well” by listening to music I find deeply stirring and emotional, or reading quotes or poems that resonate with me, or watching movies. The musical score from Les Miserables fires me up every time. Same with Phantom of the Opera. Or I watch my favorite movie, Last of the Mohicans. That emotional scene where the hero (played by Daniel-Day Lewis) is forced to leave the heroine (played by Madelyn Stowe) behind at the waterfall never fails to rejuvenate me. Taking a break to be with people helps, too. Laughter is a general cure all.
I’ve learned not to overreact when I run into a difficult patch, because panic only makes it more difficult to fight through it. Occasionally, all I need to do is sleep. Somehow, my subconscious continues to mull over the problem–and when I get up in the morning, the path is once again clear. Hallelujah!
4. What is your least favorite part of writing?
I’m honestly not sure I have a least favorite part. I absolutely love what I do. Maybe I’d have to say…revisions? I like them after I’m done with them, because they never fail to improve the story, and that’s always my goal. But they can be daunting if I’m behind or if I’m not sure how to accomplish various parts.
5. If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Something from my new cookbook, LOVE THAT! BRENDA NOVAK’S EVERY OCCASION COOKBOOK (all the proceeds of which go to diabetes research). Maybe I’d do my Mexican Steak Dinner, since it’s a favorite of mine and very healthy!
6. What is your typical day like?
Work, work, work! LOL Now that my kids are all out of the house, I don’t have homework or sports to break up my day. I don’t even really cook anymore. So, as a workaholic, I just keep mowing through that to-do list. I get up and handle email, and then I start writing. I usually don’t get off my computer until my husband comes home around eight. Then we exercise and spend a little time together.
7. What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?
I love all three of those. What’s difficult for me is the RESOLUTION of a novel. I love building the conflict, but unraveling it can be a challenge because I don’t want it to sound too trite.
8. A penguin walks into your office, right now, wearing a sombrero. What does he say to you and why is he here?
“Hey, Chicka. Want to go get a burrito?” And he says this because I’ve been working all day and haven’t eaten. A burrito sounds delicious, even if I have to eat it with a penguin in a sombrero. (Hey, as long as he’s buyin’!)
9. If you could wave a magic wand, what ill in the world would you solve and why?
I’d cure diabetes. My youngest son has Type 1, so I’ve been fighting for a cure for over a decade. (And thanks to all those who have so generously supported my efforts, I’ve managed to raise $2.4 million so far. Here’s hoping 2015 is another big year.)
10. Tell us about your next book & when is it being published?
HANOVER HOUSE is the digital prequel to my new suspense series with St. Martin’s Press. On May 1st, it’ll come out in a box set with 12 other thriller writers—some of my favorite authors—and all the proceeds will go to diabetes research. Look for “Hanover House” in SWEET DREAMS (that’s the name of the collection).
Links to Brenda’s website, blog, books, etc.
Amazon Print Edition:
Barnes and Noble Print Edition:
BE SURE TO COME BACK to read more about Brenda, her release, and an excerpt from THIS HEART OF MINE on Wednesday’s Karen’s Killer Book Bench. Happy Reading!
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Brenda is giving away an autographed copy of the first three Whiskey Creek novels, WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES, WHEN SNOW FALLS, and WHEN SUMMER COMES in a cute little Brenda Novak mini-tote (US or Canada only; outside US or Canada, she’ll provide digital copies of the three books) to one lucky reader who comments on her *Author Peek* Interview or Karen’s Killer Book Bench blogs. Don’t miss the chance to read these books! Thanks, Brenda, for sharing your stories with us!