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Romance Star is Born with Brenda Novak's debut novel, Of Noble Birth
the mother of five children between the ages of two and thirteen, Brenda Novak
knows all about the miracle of birth. However, this lady is excited about a different
kind of special delivery this month as her first novel, the aptly titled Of Noble
Birth, published by HarperCollins, hits bookshelves.
so thrilled. I used to walk the mall and let my eyes linger longingly on all those
covers in the bookstores. Now I'm going to be one of those authors. It's incredible."
more incredible is the way Brenda started writing romances. It was 1994 and she
just had her third child. "I caught my day-care provider trying to drug my
children with cough medicine. I came home one day from work and found it in one
of the baby's bottles, so that really frightened me. I quit my job and needed
to find some way to make money from home. I loved romances, so I decided to try
to write one. Of course, it turned out to be a lot harder than I expected."
Noble Birth was the first fictional work she ever wrote. It took her three years
of snatching time to write. When she finished, it was 800 pages long!
knew nothing about writing a romance. Then I found the RWA and went to a convention.
I was five months pregnant and I didn't know anyone. I learned so much, it was
information overload, really. But I understood the market much better. I went
back and cut Noble to a normal 400-page manuscript."
she began submitting it to several publishers. One house did express interest,
but Brenda was about to learn a hard lesson about the biz. "We got the call
that she wanted to buy it right before my anniversary. So we were celebrating
and thinking all of our dreams had come true and then we got a message from her
saying she wanted to know what I had for my next one." Brenda hadn't had
anything planned. She quickly conjured up a few ideas, but the publisher didn't
like them and decided to back off the sale.
So, Brenda got
herself an agent and started entering all kinds of writing contests. "I didn't
have a degree. I wasn't a doctor or lawyer. I needed to build a writer's resume.
I looked at the contests as a way of setting me apart."
it worked. Of Noble Birth earned second place in the Great Confrontations Contest
sponsored by Lake Country Romance Writers and reached the finals of RWA's Golden
Heart contest two years in a row. Three of her other books were entered in contests
as well, and Brenda reaped a total of 16 awards in just three years. It wasn't
long afterwards that HarperCollins made an offer for Of Noble Birth. "The
Golden Heart really kind of clinched it for me, I think."
this is just the beginning. Her debut novel has been reaping praise from romance
enthusiasts including RT's own Kathe Robin, who rated it four stars and deemed
Nathaniel, the book's hero who has a deformed arm, worthy of a K.I.S.S. award.
"Nathaniel is a very dark, tortured soul, but he's a little different because
he has a deformity," Brenda notes. "You don't see that much. Publishers
often shy away from that stuff, but I wanted the message to be that he could conquer
his obstacles despite his drawbacks. By the end, he learns nobility could only
be of the heart and has nothing to do with bloodlines."
does concede, however, that it's set in a time and place where bloodlines are
of the utmost importance: Victorian England. The plot begins when Nathaniel is
rejected by his nobleman father because of his deformity. Years later, he tries
to seek revenge by kidnapping his half-sister. Little does he know that the woman
he's struggling to control his unquenchable desire for is but a poor seamstress
and not his blood relation at all. Sparks fly when the truth is revealed.
longtime fan of historicals, Brenda's second historical is currently pending sale
at Harper. Yet surprising for an author so new, her next books will be contemporaries!
never had any intention of writing contemporaries, but I entered a contest for
a 7500-word contemporary short stor[y] and finaled. I liked the idea well enough
and figured if it won something, it was probably worth expanding on."
Brenda soon pitched her idea to a Harlequin editor at a conference, who passed
since she had bought a similar story recently, but who wanted to know if Brenda
had other ideas. "I said, 'sure, sure,' but really I didn't have any."
Undaunted, she went home, brainstormed and sent out a letter pitching five more
ideas. Sure enough, her persistence paid off. Brenda's first Harlequin Superromance,
titled Expectations and part of the "Nine Months Later" [series], will
be out in mid-February 2000. She's sold two more to Harlequin for the Superromance
line, and the books are already in the works.
Of course Brenda's
no stranger to hard work. Back in 1974 she was a business major at Brigham Young
University and she's helped husband Ted, an entrepreneur, start up several business
ventures in the 15 years they've been married. Still, she is a bit surprised at
the direction her life has taken.
"I never dreamed I could
do this. For so long I thought I was a left-brained, analytical kind of person.
I had no idea I could be creative. If, a year before I started, you had told me
I'd be a writer, I probably would have laughed at you. Now it's all I ever want
Well, they do say, the one who laughs last, laughs
Article by Tara Gelsomino
and Cover reproduced with permission of Romantic Times. Copyright 1999, Romantic
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