Brenda Novak introduces her new Evelyn Talbot series

Brenda Novak

Brenda Novak introduces her new Evelyn Talbot series which starts with HER DARKEST NIGHTMARE

Posted on August 18, 2016 in Guest Author
Tags: Author Content, Brenda Novak, thriller

Whenever I tell someone I’m a writer, several questions almost invariably pop up. The most common is: ‘Where do you get your ideas?’

When I first started writing twenty years ago, I had THE GREAT IDEA. It was based almost entirely on a title that popped into my head one day – OF NOBLE BIRTH. This title lent itself to a very specific theme: nobility depends on the heart and not the pedigree. That was the message I wanted to deliver, and I knew the best backdrop for a story with such a message would be a historical setting where the caste system was firmly in place. So I decided that my book would be a historical romance set in Victorian times. But I soon realized that if I wanted to make my living as a novelist, that idea was NOT the only idea I would ever need. In order to build my career, I had to write another story, and another, and another. In other words, I had to develop my imagination, turn it into a deep well of ideas from which I could draw time and again.

I didn’t know how I was going to do that but, fortunately, our brains are very adaptable. The more I demanded that my imagination deliver IDEA NUMBER TWO, the harder it began to search. Before long, my mind turned into a ‘sifter’. It sifted through everything that came my way, every conversation I overheard, every funny anecdote I was told, every movie I saw, every newspaper article I read, every true crime show I puzzled over – until I could pull an attitude from one character I’d come to know via a TV show, mix it with a situation my mother had mentioned the week before last, throw in some of my own personal experience and . . . I was off and typing.

Now I’ve written over fifty books in a variety of genres – historical romance, contemporary romance, women’s fiction and suspense – and I am under contract to write many more. Finding and developing ideas that are stimulating and engaging has never been more important, but I’m still getting those ideas in the same way. The genesis of the idea for the Evelyn Talbot Chronicles, for instance, came from a non-fiction book titled THE PSYCHOPATHY TEST by Jon Ronson. I received the book as a birthday gift – thanks to my fascination with human behavior and the psychology of psychopaths, in particular – and devoured it. I was stunned to think that psychopaths aren’t psychopaths because they’ve been neglected or abused. There are some people who are simply born without a conscience, without the ability to connect with and truly care about others, which goes against everything our society would like to believe. Cause and effect are so much more comfortable. Then we feel as if we can treat the problem, when, in reality, we can’t. So far, psychopaths cannot be rehabilitated, and the efforts that have been made to ‘socialize’ them have only proven to turn them into better killers.

The fact that psychopathy can be so inexplicable made me want to know more. And yet there isn’t a lot ‘more’ out there. We have so much to learn. I thought, if I want to know why a psychopath acts and thinks as he does, imagine how much more intensely one of his victims would crave that knowledge. That was when I knew my protagonist had to be a survivor, someone who has stared into the eyes of a serial killer and lived to talk about it—and not just to ‘talk’ about it. To fight back. To take a stand against the conscienceless and to try to answer all of the questions we don’t yet have answers to.

That was how Evelyn Talbot was born in my mind. She’s a character who was abducted, tortured and eventually left for dead by her boyfriend when she was only sixteen (he, seventeen). The betrayal she experienced was almost worse than the physical pain and privation. So, once she escaped him, she was driven to find out why such an unlikely killer could or would do such a thing. After becoming a psychiatrist, specializing in the behavior of psychopathy, she advocated for a facility where she could devote her time to trying to figure out the ‘worst of the worst’, and her passion and drive helped make Hanover House, the first institution of its kind, possible.

Why did I put Hanover House in Alaska, you might ask? Because I like the challenges such a remote location would add to the story as Evelyn struggles with the decision of leaving her friends and family to pursue her passion, and to the locals, who look upon her and what she’s doing with a certain degree of skepticism. That she must move to Alaska, and consider staying there, also creates a nice conflict between her and the one man who can love her the way she deserves to be loved – if only she can trust him enough to let him do so.

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