When you’re a NY Times and USA Today bestseller and award-winning author of more than 60 contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels, it can sometimes feel like living you’re living in that ivory tower. That is, quite unreachable.
But, Brenda Novak is the exception. Not only is she a brilliant and unstoppable author, with a passion and a focus that are seemingly unending, she’s also warm and generous. With a list of best-selling novels under her belt, she unquestionably pioneered the contemporary romance and romantic suspense genre.
In an almost harsh and competitive world, Novak had become a true friend to other authors, gracious and generous, and encouraging and promoting and generally making writing world a better place. And reader world too–she has legions of devoted fans, world-wide, who clamor for her books and her reading boxes and to be part of her life. Career Authors, she’s the success–personally, professionally, and philosophically–yup- definitely the things that we would like to attain.
What made her decide to become an author? Her career as a bestselling author started when she caught her day-care provider drugging her children with cough syrup to get them to sleep all day. “When I first got the idea to become a novelist, it took me five years to teach myself the craft and finish my first book,” Brenda says. But she sold that book, and the rest is history.
Becoming a great author means that you have to read one. When it comes to sharing the book that changed her life, Brenda had to admit that she hated reading when she was a kid.
That is- until she found a row of classical in the school library during her third or fourth grade. As Novak gushed “I devoured everything on that shelf and became enamored with the magic of being transported into an entirely different world by combining my imagination with a talented author’s.”
Novak cites Jane Eyre as her favorite book, giving her inspiration when she started out her first historical set entitled “Noble Birth”.
Her first book was also the first manuscript that she wrote. It was published by Harper Collins in November of 1999. However, she’s unsure it’s really the first manuscript she had written because just like any other authors, she had to revise it several times! Admittingly, Novak describes dit as a process of “trial and error” especially when she moved from an 800-page manuscript down to a 450-page book!
Unlike other authors such as Stephen King, Novak actually sees the beginning of each book as the easiest! “I love developing a new set of characters and plunging them into a series of intriguing conflicts,” Novak said.
The hardest part?”
Novak said that it has to be the ending! She explains “I like to write with so much conflict that resolving it all releases that tension and makes the denouement sort of boring for me, so I have to be careful to allow my readers the chance to glory in a hard-won resolution before I wrap things up too quickly.”
She also reveals that she’s a “pantser” or someone who doesn’t necessarily plot the entire thing out. For Novak, it’s about letting your characters grow. She believes that when she knows the story all too well, the writing process becomes a little more boring. Instead, she lets her subconscious mind guide her, and served well for her more than sixty books.
Like most writers, she understands how to use a difficult writing day.
“Over time, I’ve learned that the pages I turn out on a bad day can be just as good as those I turn out on a great day. “
Novak thinks that it’s just a matter of using a different lens to view it. But if things go way too tough, all she had to do was go through a heavy day of editing and rewriting.
Most importantly, Novak admits that she is a pleaser. While she sees every criticism as an opportunity to work on her book, each negative review is still painful for her. “I do. If several bad reviews say the same thing, I need to take a look at what’s going on there and use the feedback to improve my craft. That said, I’m a pleaser and I put my very best effort into each book so, early on, criticism was incredibly painful for me. After almost twenty-five years in the business, criticism still stings, of course, but I can be a bit more objective about it now.”
Moreover, if she finds feedback that was way too hard, Novak advice that “When I’m hurt by critical feedback, I’ll read the bad reviews of my favorite authors. That always puts into perspective the fact that there will be some readers who won’t like how I handle a story, and the same is true for every storyteller.
Her greatest piece of advice for writers out there? One word- Believe.
“If you truly believe in yourself and your dream, you will do whatever it takes to make it come true–study craft, persevere through rejection, figure out how to market your work”
When asked what her favorite book on writing was, she claims that she never read one. Her reason? “I’ve always been intimidated by them. The few I started just seemed to take what I do intuitively and shlep it all over onto the side of my conscious brain, at which point I would get overwhelmed and start thinking I’m doing it all wrong. So I try to keep it simple.”
Well, it really did work.
Today, Novak and her husband, Ted, live in Sacramento and are proud parents of five children–three girls and two boys. When she’s not spending time with her family or writing, Brenda is usually raising funds for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). So far, Brenda has raised $2.6 million.
Over the span of her career, she won several awards including eight Rita nominations, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Book Seller’s Best, the Silver Bullet and the National Reader’s Choice Award
This content was originally published here.