Brenda Novak
August 2010
Author of the Month
Suspense Magazine Review on
“White Heat”
Tendrils of barely contained
tension fight to escape the pages
as Novak—an expert in romantic
suspense—introduces readers to
her newest trilogy in “White
Heat”. Building on the delicate
balance of pressure, the layers
seem to effortlessly slide into
place creating the intricate
balance required for excellence
in suspense.
The stage is set as Rachel Jessop
and Nate Ferrentino—private
security contractors with
Department 6—receive their risky
assignment. Tasked with
infiltrating a secretive and remote
religious cult where one escapee
claims to have been stoned and
another is missing, the clear
drawback for both is that they
must go undercover as husband
and wife. With their intimate past,
the proposal is almost physically
With limited communication to
the outside world, Paradise,
Arizona is the ideal base of
operations for the Church of the
Covenant and its imposing
leader, Ethan Wycliff. Leading
his sheep of more than two
hundred strong, his charismatic
convictions coupled with sharp
good looks have allowed him to
present himself as the messiah
and his followers don’t dare
question him. No deviance is out
of bounds as long as the Alpha
and Omega has commanded. Not
fully prepared, Nate and Rachel
don’t realize that they are soon
slated for the highest honor in
Ethan’s twisted world.
Infusing her creation with
distinctive characters and a nail
biting plot, Novak’s “White
Heat” is flawless and easily a
Best of 2010 contender.
Reviewed by Suspense

Brenda Novak (BN): I caught my daycare provider drugging my children with cough syrup to get
them to sleep all day while she watched TV. At that point, I couldn’t trust anyone else with their care
and quit my job to stay home with them myself. But we were going through a really bad time
financially. My husband’s business was failing and we were losing everything. I felt as if I had to work
and yet I couldn’t leave the kids. The solution? What so many other mothers do—work from home.
But doing what?

Fortunately, I was reading a great book at the time, Jude Devereaux’s “A Knight in Shining Armor”.
Not only was it a great escape, it got me excited about the possibility of trying to pen a novel. I sat
down and started—and I haven’t looked back since!

S. MAG.: After Jamestown and Waco, did you model Ethan Wycliff after anyone specifically?

BN: No, but I definitely researched cult leaders. I kept thinking that no one would ever allow a leader
to get away with X, Y and Z, but my research soon proved me wrong. Many of the leaders I studied
were just as bad, if not worse, than Ethan! LOL.

S. MAG.: Who did you read when you were growing up?

BN: I loved the classics. When I was in fourth and fifth grade, I read Jane Austen, Charles Dickens,
the Bronte sisters, Margaret Mitchell and whoever wrote “The Secret Garden”, among others. I
remember hiding under the dining room table so that my mother wouldn’t see me and ask me to do
something that would take me away from my book. Then in high school, I found Harlequin books
and read a lot of them. I couldn’t believe they had a romance—just what I was looking for—in every
one. LOL. From there, I started reading Sidney Sheldon and Danielle Steel and grew into a very
eclectic reader, picking up everything from Michael Crighton to John Grisham to Mary Higgins Clark
to Kathleen Woodiwiss. Now I read a lot of true crime, too.

S. MAG.: When you started “teaching” yourself to write, was there one author you went to over and
over to study?

BN: There wasn’t one particular author I used as a model, but I did draw on the excitement other
books generated inside me, if that makes sense. I remember reading “Zemindar” and “Forever
Amber” and being completely whisked away. Wanting to write something that could capture someone’s
imagination like that provided the impetus to keep learning, to keep trying, to keep writing.

S. MAG.: I see by your website, you like watching sporting events. Which ones? Favorite team?

BN: I love sports events, but you won’t recognize the names of the teams because they’re usually the
ones my kids are playing on. LOL. Our kids have played softball, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer,
football and tennis. They’re always involved in something. Other than that, I love college football and
professional basketball. I watch just about anything my husband likes because I enjoy hanging with him
and my boys, since the girls have all left for college.

S. MAG.: What was it like to win your first award? What was it?

BN: My first award was probably…placing in the Golden Heart two years in a row before I was
published. I still remember getting that first call. It was as if I’d won the lottery. LOL. I didn’t actually
come home with the award, but just being a finalist created enough momentum to help me secure an
agent, who then sold my first manuscript to HarperCollins. That was quite a leg up, so probably one
of the more important events in my career.

S. MAG.: You are involved with diabetes. I read your son Thad has the disease. As a mother, that has
to be difficult and scary. What advice can you give to parents who just find out their children have

BN: This is a tough question! So much goes through your head—all the heartbreak associated with
learning your child has such a serious disease. I’d probably suggest they give themselves time to grieve
and adjust, and then learn all they can about managing the disease. It’s one of those that is really hard
to manage—but not impossible (at least most of the time). Then I’d tell them to join with me in
fighting back by getting involved in my annual online auction for diabetes research, which is held on
my web site ( every May. So far, we’ve raised over $1 million—and hope to
make that $2 million.

S. MAG.: Reading about your helicopter ride was so funny. You’re very witty and that makes for a
great read. Do you plan on writing something a bit on the humorous side?

BN: I’m funny? Really? No one’s ever told me that before! LOL. Maybe it’s because I typically write
dark, angst-ridden material. I feel as if I have a good grasp on sarcasm, but sarcasm is easy. I doubt I’
ll ever attempt to write anything funny—I’m just not confident in that area.

S. MAG.: “Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those
that sang best”--Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933) and “Being defeated is often a temporary condition.
Giving up is what makes it permanent”--Marilyn vos Savant, writer, are two of the many favorite
sayings you have on your site. Do you have something you’ve been known to often utter or perhaps
you have a personal mantra?

BN: My personal mantra is just one word: believe. That’s pretty much all you need to get anything

S. MAG.: What is your motivation in life? What motivates you to live the way you do; driving you to
teach your children as you have and draw pictures with your words?

BN: My motivation in life? Hmm…another hard question. I hope this doesn’t sound trite because it’s
one hundred percent sincere, but I want to do my part to make the world a better place. I want to
provide a strong foundation for my children and for everyone who comes in contact with me. In my
opinion, that’s the measure of a life. I believe that you can never have too much integrity, and building
more integrity and accomplishing more and more positive things—that’s my goal.

Fan Question: I saw on your website while perusing your pictures that you were able to witness a real
autopsy. What was that like? Did it help you in writing a scene in one of your stories or will you use it
somewhere eventually?

BN: The trip to the morgue was general research. Because I write suspense, there’s always at least one
dead body in my books, so I needed to witness exactly what happened when someone was killed in
various situations. Phelan, the gentleman who showed us through, was a wealth of knowledge. He
answered very specific questions that will filter into all my books.

The autopsy I witnessed was of someone who’d been murdered (stabbed several times in the back). It
was fascinating, but after several minutes I began to grow dizzy. Then I slid down the wall and nearly
passed out. LOL. It was pretty embarrassing because my mind was totally willing to continue to learn
and observe—it was my autonomic nervous system that refused. So...I can imagine an autopsy;
actually observing one didn’t sit too well with me. They were also performing an autopsy on a baby
that day. I said no thank you to that one!

Suspense Magazine thanks Brenda Novak for taking a few moments of her valuable time to talk with
us. We found her to be warm, sincere and inviting, and we are honored and humbled by her
philanthropic work and her written word. She is truly an artist in her own right and we are proud to
have her featured in this month’s issue. For more on Brenda, you can check out her website at