Posted on 06/27/2018 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
In many ways, Brenda Novak’s journey to becoming an author was fairly typical.
Like many of the writers we’ve interviewed, she didn’t expect to publish novels, as someone who majored in business, then worked in commercial real estate before becoming a loan officer.
And like those other authors, something out of left field sent her on the path to writing success.
Here’s where her story diverges, though. It wasn’t a dare or midlife crisis ... it was a terrifying child-care experience.
Novak discusses the nightmare that set her on the path to bestselling novelist. (Everyone gets out safe, don’t worry.)
SADYE: When you decided to try a new career, what prompted you to choose writing?
BRENDA: I was reading a book — Jude Deveraux's A Knight In Shining Armor — and loved it!
It swept me away and took my mind off of our current financial crisis. When I closed it at the end, I remember thinking, "I wonder if I could do this."
I had three children, and after catching my daycare provider drugging them with cough syrup and Tylenol to get them to sleep all day, I'd quit my job as a loan officer because I couldn't trust anyone else to take proper care of them.
After that, I knew whatever I did to contribute to our family financially would have to be done from home.
Writing fit that bill perfectly.
SADYE: You said in your bio that you would’ve sworn you didn’t have a creative bone in your body — what changed
BRENDA: I think something did change, but it wasn't my level of creativity.
I just didn't have an accurate assessment of my own abilities. As I began to apply myself, I was surprised to find that I had the creativity I needed.
I was also surprised to realize that being a successful writer wasn't about writing only one book, though.
I soon realized that, in order to make a living at what I had discovered I loved to do, I would need to turn my mind into a well from which I could draw many, many ideas.
Once I made that demand on my brain, it turned into a sort of sifter, looking at everything I encountered (movies, books, music, interaction and conversation) with a critical eye, always evaluating and searching for that next great story idea.
SADYE: You emphasized the importance of reading when it came to learning how to write. Which author(s) were most influential?
BRENDA: It was the classics that gave me my love of reading.
I actually hated to read until I discovered that particular shelf in the school library when I was in fourth grade. Once I read The Secret Garden and Jane Eyre, I eagerly went back and read everything else on that shelf, too.
I'll never forget how disappointed I was when I ran out of those books and realized that the rest of the books in the library weren't nearly as good!
So I'd have to say Charlotte Bronte was probably the author that influenced me the most, because she was the one who finally got me excited about the power of story. (I think that's also why my very first book was a historical set in England.)
SADYE: Have you incorporated the terrifying daycare experience into any of your novels?
BRENDA: No, I haven't. I think that might still be coming.
It was too close to home — a little too real for me. But now that my children are all grown and safe, I might tackle it.
I think a psychopathic daycare provider might be interesting for my psychiatrist protagonist to study at Hanover House in my Evelyn Talbot series.
SADYE: Fussy loves bikes almost as much as books, and it seems you feel the same! How do your daily bike rides affect your writing process?
BRENDA: Writing is so sedentary. I can't overemphasize the role cycling has had in my career.
The mountain biking part of my cycling has taken me to many wonderful places, where I've seen some truly gorgeous canyons and arches and other natural formations (which feeds the soul, in my opinion).
Even the many hours I've spent inside on my Exercycle has been productive. That's where I edit my own work, and I seem to do a much better job there than anywhere else.
Not only am I locked in for a solid hour, I'm working from hard copy and can't switch over to the internet!
SADYE: What has been the proudest or most satisfying moment of your writing career?
BRENDA: By far, it has been the $2.6 million I've raised for diabetes research.
You may wonder how that relates to my career, but it was the reading and writing community that provided the fabulous items I put up for auction and showed up to shop and bid on them.
Without the platform I'd created as a writer and the contacts I'd made in publishing, that would not have been possible.
From the day my youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1 sixteen years ago, my dream was to raise a million dollars over the course of my lifetime.
That was a figure that seemed big enough to make a difference, and I was always trying to devise a new way to make it happen.
That's why it brings tears to my eyes whenever I contemplate that $2.6 million figure — it constitutes more than twice my original goal, and I couldn't be more grateful to all those who supported me.
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Categories: Author Interview