|Coming August 31st|
Did you know that Brenda has a Fan Club? You can check it out on her web site by clicking the title of this article. There are certain questions that fans ask a lot, so we're sharing the most frequent...
Q. How long does it take you to write a book?
A: The longer romantic suspense novels generally take me four months. Superromances take two-three.
Q: What is the typical writing day like for you?
A: I write five days a week and start as soon as I get my kids off to school (they range in age from junior high to college). I try to produce ten pages a day, or I write until the afternoon carpools start.
Q: Does your schedule change when a deadline approaches?
A: Not usually. With five children, I have to budget my time very wisely and pace myself. Also, I don’t write well under pressure. I have to get in my “groove” and stay there.
Q: Where do you get ideas from?
A: My ideas come from everywhere--things I read, things I see, things I hear, things I remember. For instance, the idea for TAKING THE HEAT came from hearing the experience of a good friend of mine. She said her husband was whisked away from his office on a Friday afternoon and taken to a federal penitentiary for “Tampering With a Federal Witness”--something he didn’t even know he had done. This is a man with no record or criminal intent. Hearing how frightened he was, mixing with thieves and murderers and rapists, got me to thinking about what it must be like for an innocent man in prison. What if he had no hope of getting out? How would he learn to cope? How would he deal with the disillusionment? I thought he’d have to learn to fight, and he’d have to remain mentally tough. My hero, Randall Tucker, is the character I created as a result of pondering this situation.
Q: How do you interact with your characters?
A: Sometimes I know my characters well before I ever start writing; sometimes they reveal themselves to me as I go along and I have to go back and make sure they’ve been consistent (that I haven’t forced them to do something they would never do).
Q: What is your writing process like?
A: I know it sounds strange to some, but I don’t really feel as though I “create” a story or its characters. My
process is more like sculpting--I chip away until the true form is revealed.
Q: What made you decide to write?
A: I never dreamed I’d be a writer, never aspired to it. I majored in business and thought I’d always be involved in the business sector. But then I caught my daycare provider drugging my children with cough syrup and Tylenol to get them to sleep while I worked as a loan offi cer. After that I couldn’t trust anyone with my children. I quit my job to stay home with them, but still needed to help out fi nancially. I decided to start writing because it was something I could do from home. Little did I know where that decision would lead me…but I’m grateful I was forced into it. I love what I do, and now I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Q: What do you like most about writing?
A: I love the creative process. I love building and shaping a story--revealing it. Because every story is different, I’m always thinking ahead to what will come next and feeling that eager anticipation. The challenge keeps it interesting, as well. I’m always searching for ways to write the best story I can.
Q: How did you get started writing?
A: I read Jane Eyre as a child and LOVED it. It so thoroughly captured my imagination that I set out to write historicals. OF NOBLE BIRTH was 800 pages long when I first finished it, and it was a straight historical. Then someone told me about Romance Writers of America. I showed up at their yearly conference (in Houston that year), fi ve months pregnant with my last child and not knowing a soul. The women at the conference welcomed me and included me and I learned everything I needed to know to become published. I went home from that conference so excited I couldn’t relax for weeks. I felt as though I had just tapped into the motherlode of publishing information! LOL
Q: How did you sell your first book?
A: I finished OF NOBLE BIRTH (and rewrote it at least three times), then I entered it in contests for the unpublished before submitting it to any publishers. I needed something to set me apart, to lend me credibility as a writer; otherwise, I felt as though I’d languish indefinitely in the slush pile. Fortunately, that credibility came by way of contest success. After I’d finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart twice, I found an agent who subsequently sold my first book to HarperCollins.
Q: What is the most interesting research you’ve done?
A: My visit to Florence Prison, which is the Old Territorial Prison, was probably the most fascinating research I’ve done. I found the town of Florence to be unique. Its economy is based largely on its seven prisons (seven!), and it has such a great “Old West” history (hasn’t really changed much--LOL). Also, I found my research into polygamy for SANCTUARY to be particularly interesting. I visited Colorado City, the polygamist community that has been in the news so often.
Q: What advice do you have for writers seeking to publish?
A: One word: Believe.
Q: What do you like to read?
A: I’m an eclectic reader. I like the classics, romance, mystery and suspense. I’m not a big science fiction fan.
Q: What made you decide to start writing romantic suspense?
A: I like a strong plot with the emotion of a good romance. Also, I watch so many true-crime shows that stories just started popping into my head.
Q: What do you like most about writing romance?
A: To me, romance affirms my core belief--that love conquers all. And male/female relationships are very intriguing. Men and women are so different from each other and both so integral to family. I love exploring the differences and the similarities between the sexes and how we learn to live together and get along.
Q: What’s the best/worst thing about writing for a living?
A: The best thing: I get to create something that others enjoy and get paid for it. The worst thing: It’s pretty tough to budget when you get paid (for the most part) only -twice a year.
Q: How has your life changed since you’ve been published?
A: I often speak in public or give writing workshops, which was an aspect of this business I never anticipated--that you have to be a good speaker and promoter as well as a good writer. Also, I attend several conferences a year, which is a wonderful experience for me. It’s a time to get away and enjoy a new city and my writing friends--and stop being “mom” for a few days.
Q: What is one thing everyone assumes about a writing career that isn’t true?
A: Most people think authors have an unlimited supply of their own books and that they get them for free.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: Determined to see a cure for diabetes before my son turns 25, I spend my extra time gathering donations, advertising and administrating an annual fundraiser--an online auction for diabetes research at www.brendanovak.com that runs May 1 through May 31st every year. Not only is this a fun “coming together” of authors, publishers, readers, friends, family, and diabetes advocates--it’s starting to bring in a very significant amount. I truly believe we can beat this disease!
Other than philanthropy work, I mountain bike, read, watch Kings Basketball, shop--and hang out with my husband and kids, who are always involved in some sporting event or school activity.