1) How did you go from painting photo-realistic portraits to writing books?
I like to say I fell out of the womb an artist and built my career around painting billboards and large outdoor murals, eventually adding three-dimensional projects and electronic spectaculars to my repertoire. After years of hanging hundreds of feet in the air alone, I’d gotten to the point I could paint and do something else mentally at the same time so I started making up stories to amuse myself.
In 2001, during flights back and forth from Atlanta to Boston where I was working on a big project, I started writing down my ideas, thinking I could give them to a “real” writer. It didn’t take long before I had every bit as much passion for writing as I’d always had for art and could not get enough when it came to learning the craft. Getting published took a while, but I’ve never looked back.
2) I’ve always wanted to write a book. How do I start and what do I do?
The single best suggestion I can offer starting out on your first book is – read, read, read in the genre you intend to write. After that, join a professional writing organization for the genre you’re interested in and absorb all the information you can about writing craft and the business of writing. Beyond that, keep writing. Answers to more questions, and lists of resources are available here.
3) Could I send you something I’ve written to get your opinion?
No, I spend pretty much every waking minute either working on a new story or dealing with the business part of writing. Then there’s squeezing in time for my husband who is wonderful about supporting what I do. Find a critique partner (this is another good reason to join a writing organization) who also writes so you can read for each other. And be sure to check www.BrendaNovak.com every May where you’ll find an auction (proceeds go to find a cure for Diabetes) with many opportunities to have someone in publishing read your pages and donate to a good cause at the same time.
4) How do you come up with all those twists and turns for your stories?
It’s just the way my mind works. I complicate everything I start to do and love a lot of action, so my people are usually in some sort of bad trouble…or I put them there. I just love puzzles, and once I have the puzzle set up, the twists and turns in the story are my way of working it out.
5) What did you like to read as a kid, and who are your favorite authors now?
I was a big suspense reader from way back, anything with a lot of action – what was then considered “boys’ books.” Tom Clancy was an auto buy for me. Later I found historical fiction, romance, sci-fi, urban fantasy and more. Now I read across all genres but there’s always a suspense element involved. I like the twists and turns of complex stories. I want to be surprised. I like to read historical stories such as Joanna Bourne and Joanne Rock when I’m writing because that is so far from the genres I write it won’t bleed over into my writing, but in my off time I like Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jim Butcher, Karen Marie Moning, Harlan Coben, Steve Berry, Brenda Novak, Catherine Mann, Tom Clancy, Jodi Picoult…we could be here all day so I’ll stop there.
6) What’s it like to write with #1 NYT bestseller Sherrilyn Kenyon?
It usually involves a lot of laughing and snarking at each other. We’re an unusual writing team. I’m a plotter and she’s a panster (writes by the seat of her pants). She works until 4:00 in the morning and that’s when I get up. But the one thing we have in common is a huge respect for each other’s ability and an agreement that the story is ultimately the most important thing. Working things out is fairly easy since we’re often on the road together and only live four hours apart.
7) I’ve heard you’re a fishing fanatic. What’s your favorite place to fish and what kind of fishing do you like to do?
I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida, so I’ve always loved saltwater fishing. We lived near the water in Tampa. My dad would take me fishing after school during the week to catch fish just to feed our family of seven. I’ve deep sea fished quite a bit, but my favorite is inland light tackle fishing. My husband grew up freshwater fishing and introduced me to that sport as well. Spending a day on the water with my husband or family – all the women in my family are fisherwomen – is a great break for me.
8) If you could go anywhere in the world where you’ve never been, where would it be?
Being an artist, I’d like to go to Rome and see the Sistine Chapel plus a bazillion other works of art. Thankfully, my husband enjoys art as well. We rarely visit a new city that we don’t go looking for a gallery with local art. Sometimes I just throw a dart at the map and we take off on our motorcycles to investigate a new place in the US we haven’t seen.