Friday, July 11, 2008

Interview with Brenda Novak

I’d like to welcome our guest today, USA Today and NYTimes Bestselling author Brenda Novak. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have two new releases out--TRUST ME and STOP ME. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new books?

These books are part of my brand new romantic suspense series set in Sacramento, California. Together with WATCH ME, which will be out July 27th, they involve three women who met several years earlier in a victim’s support group. Although they experienced different kinds of trauma, they easily identified with each other and developed a deep and abiding friendship. But they’re still struggling to get beyond the incidents that sent them in search of a support group in the first place. So they decide to fight back, to try to heal by helping others who might be suffering as they’ve suffered. They do this by starting a charity together--The Last Stand, a non-profit organization where victims can turn when the police can’t offer relief or they’re falling through the cracks of the system. Through The Last Stand, Skye, Jasmine and Sheridan raise money for counseling and relocation. They help battered women go into hiding. They pay for investigators to assist with the prosecution of certain cases. They provide bodyguards for those who feel threatened. They even do a little investigating themselves.

In TRUST ME, Skye Kellerman learns that man who attacked her in her own bed is about to get out of prison. It was her testimony that put the supposedly mild-mannered dentist away in the first place, and she knows he hasn’t forgotten what it cost him. In STOP ME, widower Romain Fornier lost his reason for living the day his daughter was kidnapped and murdered. When the killer got off on a technicality, Romain used a gun to mete out his own justice. Now that he’s finally out of prison, free to return to his Cajun roots, the last thing he wants to learn is that he might've killed the wrong man. But that’s exactly what Jasmine Stratford of The Last Stand has come all the way from California to tell him.

TRUST ME/STOP ME are very interesting titles. How did you arrive at those names?

I came up with TRUST ME because so many people do trust Oliver Burke (the villain). As a mild-mannered dentist and a family man, he comes off like the guy-next-door. Also, trust (or the lack there of) is a reoccurring theme in the story. Skye must learn to trust David, and the other way around, in order for their relationship to develop.

I came up with STOP ME because the heroine receives a note in the opening pages from the villain. Her sister has been missing for years. She’s searched for so long, she’s all but given up. Then, out of the blue, she receives a box with her sister’s bracelet, the one she gave her sister for her sister’s 8th birthday that she was wearing when she was taken. With it is a note that is written in blood. It says, “Stop me….”

Did you have to do a lot of research for these books?

Definitely. Each new book requires research on police procedures, profiling techniques and what I call vocational training. LOL I have to know exactly what it is like to be whatever I say my characters are. The setting also required research. TRUST ME was easy because it’s set in Sacramento where I live. But much of STOP ME is set in Louisiana (Cajun Country), and I wanted to be sure I got the details of that environment right.

What character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I think I enjoyed Romain Fornier the most. He does something many of us would be tempted to do (kills the man he believes to have murdered his child), and so it was interesting working through those issues with him.

If your book was made into a movie, what actor would you like to fill your hero’s shoes?

Oh boy. I’m terrible at this question because I don’t watch any TV and see very few movies. I only know the really Big Name Actors and none of them seem to match the man in my imagination.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Lots! I really admire Susan Elizabeth Phillips for her amazing characterization. Diana Gabaldon and Philippa Gregory and Brenda Rickman Vantrease all inspire me. The list is really too long to name everyone. LOL

What do we have to look forward next?

WATCH ME, the third book in The Last Stand series, will be out July 27th. This is Sheridan’s story. She was just a teenager parked at the lake in Whiterock, Tennesse with a boy named Jason when a stranger wearing a ski mask shot them both. Sheridan lived, but Jason died—and the stranger was never caught. Twelve years later, by working at The Last Stand, Sheridan has learned a thing or two about investigating crime. She returns to Whiterock, intent on achieving answers at last. But someone doesn’t want the truth to come out. Someone unexpected. Someone who is willing to resort to murder. Again.

Thanks, Brenda!

To celebrate her book release, Brenda is offering a free ebook of TRUST ME to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around part of the day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

A NYTimes Bestselling Author, Brenda Novak has 25 novels to her credit. Visit her Web site at to learn more about her and her work, or to enter her “That’s What Friends are For Contest,” where you could win a Caribbean Cruise for Two.

Check out author’s website at


TRUST ME, RT TOP PICK, USA Today and NYTimes Bestseller, Available Now!


PamelaTracy said...

Wow, all three sounds great. Looking forward to reading them.

Terry Odell said...

Hi, Brenda -- Anal me is going to wait until the third release and then read them all back to back. At least there's not a year between books.

When you're writing such linked books for back to back releases, do you plot all 3 at once so you make sure you haven't set up something you regret because you can't change it?

Little things (I ended up with too many "J" names in a sequel because I didn't know one throwaway character whose name was mentioned one time was going to appear and need page time with another "J" character.)

Or maybe you wish you hadn't mentioned someone was married, or an only child, or used to be a rock star.

I have enough trouble remembering what my heroine was wearing at the beginning of a scene.

Brenda Novak said...

Hi Pamela--

I'm glad the books sound great. You can get a little sample at I wrote a prequal to the first book which they've got up on their site. It will be on my site in another couple of weeks. (It's also in the June issue of RT BOOK Review Magazine, if you happen to have that laying around. LOL)


Brenda Novak said...

Hi Terry--

I've had that same thing happen to me--where I name someone in a previous book only to find out they need space time with another character I didn't foresee and their names are too similar (or start with the same letter). LOL

Because I'm not a big plotter, I don't plot them all out at once. I establish who these characters are and then have to stick with that. Fortunately, you can give people reasons to change certain attitudes and behaviors (if you need that to happen in later books), but you can't change their name and age and details like that, so it's the later plot that must accommodate.

Fortunately, these books are more loosely connected than the Stillwater Trilogy. That was more difficult to write because all three books revolved around the same mystery (with more and more of it coming out with each story). These books are all centered around a victim's charity, but they deal with different cases. Also, I don't like it when authors focus too much on secondary characters. I really like sticking with the two leads and keeping the pace moving, so the interaction between the ongoing characters is there but doesn't take up a ton of the story.

Great question! I hope you like the new series....


Terry Odell said...

Thanks for the detailed response -- and I'm sure I'll like the series.

Cher Gorman said...

Hi Brenda!

Just wanted to stop by and say hi. The books sound awesome, can't wait to read them all.

Have a great day,


Kim Watters said...

Hi Brenda,
Thanks for blogging with us today. Two things for you. First, how did you celebrate when you made the best sellers lists? Two, thanks so much for your auction. I'm loving my new jewelry. People, make sure you check out Brenda's auction for diabetes that takes place each May. There's lots of nifty things to bid on and if you're lucky like me, you even win a few. Much Cheaper Than Therapy will be putting in something next year! Have a great weekend.

Brenda Novak said...

Hi Cher--

Great to see you! :-)


Brenda Novak said...

Hi Kim--

Thanks for plugging the auction. I'm already on the hunt for items I can auction off next year. I have a darling Trumpette basket (high end baby stuff). My neighbors own Trumpette, so they did it up nice. The piggy bank alone sells for $100 retail (and it's darling).

I know Lauren Hawkeye, my Canadian friend and fellow author, is already gearing up for her Treasure Trove section, too. It should be bigger and better than ever!

Thanks for having me on Much Cheaper Than Therapy. When you know what your donation for next year will be, let me know and we'll get it up for preview.


Brenda Novak said...

Oops, forgot to answer your question. This is going to sound really lame, but I didn't do anything. I've been so swamped with finishing up the auction and with trying to catch up on my current WIP that I didn't dare take the time. Also, I'd just returned from Europe, so I felt as if I'd already been pretty good to myself. LOL

It actually didn't feel real until I received a huge vase of flowers and champagne from my publisher. Then I had my daughter take a picture of me in front of the gorgeous bouquet. I just can't wait to see "NYTimes Bestseller" on the cover of my next novel. :-)


Brenda Novak said...

While I'm here, I thought I'd tell everyone about a couple of fun things I have going over at my Web site. First, I'm sponsoring a That's What Friends are For Contest. The winner will receive a 7-Day Royal Caribbean Cruise for two, and all you have to do to enter is drop by my web site and write a short paragraph telling me why your friend deserves to win this trip. I pick a semi-finalist each week, which I post on my site. Come August 15th, the general public will be able to vote on the grand prize winner. Don't miss the fun!

The other thing I wanted to tell everyone about is my Fan Club Offer. If you purchase WATCH ME the first week it comes out (July 29th - August 8th) and send me the receipt, you'll be entered into my fan club, for which you'll receive an autographed copy of a book from my backlist, a cute Brenda Novak mini-tote, Brenda Novak lip balm, Brenda Novak Band-aid/sunblock dispenser for your purse, autographed bookplates to make The Last Stand series autographed, and $1.00 off coupons for your friends. You'll also be eligible for monthly drawings exclusive to the fan club, which has a much smaller pool than the other contest I run on my site.

So if you've been thinking of giving my books a try, this might be the best time!


Tia Dani said...


I love suspense and I will definitely be looking for all 3 of your books. They all sound wonderful expecially WATCH ME.

Kathryne Kennedy said...

Great to have you here at MCTT, Brenda. Big congrats on achieving the NYT bestseller list! I'm looking forward to reading your new series. :}

sashagirl said...

I like all three ideas for the long have you been writing, how many books have you published and in what genres; who do you publish with these days? Kate (Kathryn Meyer Griffith)

Shelley Mosley said...

Hi Brenda!

Your books are so good!

I want to congratulate you on all the money you've raised for diabetes research. Having a diabetic sister as well as losing two friends to the disease makes your successful fight against this insidious problem very special to me. Thank you so much.

Keep writing, and keep fighting! 8-)


Jill James said...

Brenda, yet again such interesting stories and awesome titles. Can't wait to read these.

Tina LaVon said...

Thanks for stopping by MCTT.
I love the premise of your new series. Can't wait to read it.

Pat Cochran said...

I'm waiting for the last book to hit the store shelves since, like Terry,
I prefer to read a series back to
back. Thanks again for the wonderful
auction which I enjoy every year!

Pat Cochran

Carol Webb said...

Hi, Brenda. Thanks for stopping by MCTT. I can't wait to read all three books.

I had the chance to here you speak at the Romantic Times Convention, and I wanted to thank you for such an informative and entertaining workshop.

Wishing you the best in your career!

Carrie Weaver said...

Brenda, I loved TRUST ME! As usual, your characters just drew me in. And the suspense kept me turning the pages. No need to enter me in the drawing, since I already have the book. ;-)

I'd also highly recommend the Stillwater (Dead) Series to anyone who hasn't yet read it. You're in for a treat!


Anonymous said...

Okay y'all this is a tad late but i wanted to let Brneda know I read TRUST ME and I am fixing to read STOP ME. Thanks to my niece Laura who purchased the second book for me. Kathy Crouch

Connie Flynn said...


It's nice to see you again, if only virtually. We'll probably bump into each other in San Francisco. In the meantime, I wish you over the top sales for your series. TRUST ME sounds mesmerizing.

Kim Watters said...

Congratulations to Terry O'Dell, who has won a copy of Brenda's book. Thanks for joining us.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks so much! I'm thrilled to get the book! I was staring at it in the bookstore yesterday (mostly because Brenda's books are very close to mine alphabetically and I still get a thrill from seeing mine on the shelf, since usually, you have to go to customer service and ask them to order them.

Looking forward to starting the trilogy. It's a long plane ride from Orlando to San Francisco!