Books of My Life: Brenda Novak

0a37f9ed-b99b-4236-99e7-0e721d5a33acToday for Books of My Life, I’m and featuring New York Times bestselling author, Brenda Jackson. Brenda is a prolific and award-winning writer. She’s even been nominated for the prestigious RITA Award (the Oscars for the romance writing industry) four times! She became a writer in a rather unique way. Brenda was a working mom (a loan officer) who discovered that her childcare provider was drugging her children with cough medicine and Tylenol during the day, to keep them quite. Can you imagine? She immediately quit her job to stay home and care for her children. After reading Jude Deveraux’s book, Knight in Shining Armor, Brenda wondered if she could write a novel.

After writing and publishing over 50 novels, I think it’s safe to say, yes she can.

a3bfc1f4-d702-4498-917d-f2eab30793faBrenda’s latest book, The Secrets She Kept, was published last week.

The things that happen in families are always surprising and sometimes shocking!

The rich and powerful Josephine Lazarow, matriarch of Fairham Island, is dead. The police say it’s suicide, but Keith, her estranged son, doesn’t believe it.

Keith bears scars—both physical and emotional—from his childhood, but he’s worked hard to overcome the past. After walking away from his mother and her controlling ways five years ago, he’s built a new life in LA. He’s also accumulated a fortune of his own. But as soon as he learns of his mother’s death, he returns to Fairham. He feels he owes it to his grandfather to put the family empire together again—and he’s determined to find his mother’s killer.

Problem is…coming home to Fairham puts him back in contact with Nancy Dellinger, the woman he hurt so badly when he left before. And digging that deep into his mother’s final days and hours entails a very real risk.

Because the person who killed her could be someone he loves…

You can order your copy of The Secrets She Kept by clicking here.

What was your favorite book as a child?

This question is easy for me because, unlike most writers, I didn’t, at first, enjoy reading. I honestly didn’t see what all the hype was about—until I found the shelf of classics in the school library when I was in fourth grade. That was when I really figured out the joy of a good story. One of the first books I read from that shelf was JANE EYRE, and it’s still one of my favorites today.

What was your favorite book that you read for school?

That would probably be THE GRAPES OF WRATH—because this has been the one to stick with me the longest.

What’s a book that really cemented you as a writer?

I’m not sure I can point to one book that cemented me as a writer, but I can point to one that served as my inspiration to start writing. After catching my daycare provider drugging my children with cough syrup to get them to sleep all day while I worked as a loan officer, I quit my job to stay home with them myself. I needed to help make a living, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to accomplish that, since I no longer felt safe trusting others with the care of my children. About this time, my sister sent me Jude Deveraux’s KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR. It was a fabulous escape at a dark time when I really needed a pleasant diversion, and I remember as I closed the novel wondering if I might also be able to write a book. I started the next day, and here I am twenty years later.

Is there a book that you’ve read over and over again? 

GONE WITH THE WIND. I glommed onto it when I was in eighth grade and simply fell head over heels in love with what Margaret Mitchell had created. But, interestingly enough, despite having read it many times, I’ve never once read the ending. I always skip that part. I don’t want Rhett to give up on Scarlett, even though she deserves it. I want her to change so that they can be happy together. (Yes, you can tell that I hail from the romance genre. LOL)

 What books did you read to your children?

I’ve read many, many books to my children over the years. All the Harry Potter books, of course. HOLES by Louis Sachar stands out in my mind. So does WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS (cried again as an adult as I shared that book with my youngest son). My favorite story for smaller children has always been LOVE YOU FOREVER. I just purchased that book again this year—and sent it to my son, who’s now in college. (He was a bit confused when he received it. “Mom? Did you mean to send me a children’s book?” LOL)

 What’s a recent book you wish you’d written?

I wish I’d written OUTLANDER. Diana Gabaldon has combined two things I really enjoy—a fabulous love story and excellent historical fiction. I’ve also been enjoying the STARS adaptation of her work. They’ve done a fabulous job casting the characters. (Who isn’t swooning over Jamie these days?)

What’s a favorite movie adaptation of a book you loved? Worst adaptation of a book you loved?

 I really enjoyed Jojo Moyes ME BEFORE YOU—both in book form and then again at the theater. As I just mentioned, I’m also enjoying OUTLANDER.

What was an illicit book you had to read in secret as a child?

I started reading Kathleen Woodiwiss’s novels at a pretty young age. I didn’t exactly have to hide them from my mother, but had she been more aware of the content, I’m sure things would’ve been different! (She’s never been a reader herself so I could get away with quite a bit.)

If there were only one genre that you could read for the rest of your life, what would it be?

This is a tough one. I’m such an eclectic reader I’m not sure I could ever be satisfied with just one genre, but if I HAD to pick, I’d say historical fiction similar to Philippa Gregory’s work.

What was the last book that made you laugh out loud, and what was the last one that made you cry?

As far as I’m concerned, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is always good for a laugh. I love her voice and her characterization. Susan Elizabeth Phillips has some great humor in some of her books, too. As far as crying? I completely lost it while reading Jojo Moyes’ ME BEFORE YOU. But a person would have to have a heart of stone NOT to cry while reading that story, right? <G>

 Books or eReader?

 Both! It depends on where I’m at and what I’m doing. I love taking my eReader along when I travel. I can bring an entire library of books—far more than I could ever carry in print, and I love having that selection at my fingertips. But there is something about knowing where I’m at spatially in a novel that contributes to my enjoyment of a story, so I read print books when I’m at home.

 Do you keep books or pass them on?

I do both. I keep my favorites (because I can’t part with them) but pass along those that were only mildly entertaining to me.

Do you have a favorite 155f61ff-d371-4875-af1c-bc081488bf2eplace to read?


Bloom Coffee & Tea.





Brenda, the story about your children is horrifying. I’m dying to know how you discovered what the baby-sitter was doing. It’s funny, I too decided to become a writer after reading a book that blew me away. I bought a copy of The Grapes of Wrath after Oprah raved about the book. I was all in, or so I thought. It’s still in my book-to-read shelf. Shameful. I love Gone with the Wind, but I don’t think I could read it a second time. One, it’s very long (although definitely a fast read). Second, I read it when I was on bedrest and pregnant with my twins. It was such a scary and stressful time. I think reading it would take me right back. But the movie? I could watch that over and over again. I haven’t seen the movie Me Before You yet, but I loved the book (and cried like a baby). I’m so relieved to read that you liked the movie. Finally, I’m a paper book girl, and only read ebooks when I HAVE to (usually for review). I could never quite explain why I don’t care for the reading experience, other than the typical “I like the feel of the book.” Your explanation of needing to know where you are spatially in a novel really resonated with me. I’m the same way. I like page numbers, not percentages, and when I close the book I like to see where my bookmark lands!

Brenda, thank you so much for answering my questions. Readers, you can learn more about Brenda and her books by visiting her website or social media pages. You can click on the links below to follow her. Please leave her a comment below.

Brenda Novak’s Website

Brenda’s FaceBook Page

Brenda on Twitter

Other Books of My Life Posts:

TBOML: Allie Smith

TBOML: Dana from Kiss My List

TBOML: Tamara from Tamara like Camera

TBOML: Author Jane Porter

TBOML: Allison Barrett Carter

TBOML: Author Aidan Donnelley Rowley

TBOML: Lindsey Mead

TBOML: Stacey Loscalzo

TBOML: Nina Badzin

TBOML: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

TBOML: Mary Kay Andrews

TBOML: Samantha Brinn Merel

TBOML: Allison Winn Scotch

TBOML: Lynda Cohen Loigman

11 thoughts on “Books of My Life: Brenda Novak”

  1. I am going to admit here that I have yet to see Me Before You the movie, because I absolutely loved the book just that much and was afraid that the movie wouldn’t hold a candle to the book, but nice to hear that Brenda had good things to say about it and may now have to reconsider. Still loved learning more about Brenda here today and just added another book to my long list thanks to you today, Allie as I think we truly have similar reading tastes and get excited to see your reviews here :)

    1. Thanks Janine. I didn’t see Me Before You because June was so crazy and I’m pretty sure it’s not in theaters anymore. As soon as it’s out on Demand, I’m going to grab a box of Kleenex and watch.

  2. I love Brenda Novak! I have her Whiskey Creek series all lined up on my shelves. Thank you so much for featuring her on these pages. And obviously I’m always game for a shout-out to my beloved Susan Elizabeth Phillips :)

  3. I lost it bad while reading ME BEFORE YOU!
    We have the same taste in children’s books. Harry Potter, of course, but Louis Sacher! I love him so. Holes is great, but he’s made me cry with quite a few books in my day.

    1. I remember reading Me Before You the day after Christmas (I had an ARC) and balling like a baby. Rich and the kids were freaked out. From the high of Christmas Day to a blubbering mess the next day…

  4. Great interview! I might be the only person who hasn’t seen Me Before You. I think I’m too emotionally fragile! While I can’t imagine the horror of what Brenda went through with her childcare provider, the story of her becoming a successful writer is very inspiring. Thank you Allie and Brenda!

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