Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk Sept. 17, 2009 Guest: Renee Bernard

The lazy sun is just peeking out over the treetops on this brisk small town morn! The coffee's on and the scent of baking cinnamon scones fills the kitchen with an inviting warmth!

Now, I could get all fan girl and gush about this woman that I am blessed to call a friend. It's given that she is a brilliant storyteller (pick up any of her books--preferably all) and you will be smitten. Fantastic heroines, to die-for heroes--the works!  I am so pleased she agreed to stop by and chat this morning, so you can get to know her humor, wisdom and warmth.  In addition, Renee has some of the best covers going and you all know I'm a visual freak when it comes to bookcovers and research! Check out her upcoming release! This one hits the shelves MARCH 2010! Sweet!

Come on in, Renee and find a seat! The coffee's just about done-smell that heavenly aroma!  Heavenly! A warm white chocolate raspberry scone added to the plate and we're good to go...

Wow, I can’t believe I’m here… (I’m that woman who swore she’d avoid blogging since the idea of any silly thought in my head being permanently etched into cyberspace keeps her up at night in a cold sweat.) I am the queen of the faux pas (or fox pass as we affectionately call it in my household), so please be kind. Comedy is my life, but there are days when I wonder how that’s possible and why no one has contacted the authorities.

But for Amanda, I’d walk on burning coals. So having a cup of coffee and “hanging out” seems an innocent enough proposition, yes?

I think every author has strange conversations in their heads with their characters. We fall in love with them, we argue with them, we even have those painful moments where we just have to let them go. We have a unique relationship with every character on the page, even those odd little secondary characters that no one but us thinks about. Or maybe it’s just me. (Maybe I just want to believe that everyone else does this…anything to stay off medication, right?)

And lately, one thing that seems to be coming up in these ‘discussions’ is family. So many heroes are lone wolves, and romance often requires the painful isolation of an alpha male to make him more tragic or more compelling… But I find myself giving my heroes and heroines family more often than not. Though not always family in the traditional sense…I give them friends or a quirky butler that hovers, or nosy but well-meaning neighbors. I’m working on a new series for Berkley and it’s about a group of gentleman who have forged their own bonds through adversity and created an odd sort of family called The Jaded. I wanted to give them someone to talk to, someone to rescue or even to fight so that they could reveal a different part of themselves—outside of a boy-chases-girl scenario.

I want to give them dimension, so I suppose surrounding them with family (for better or worse) is a short-cut. How does the heroine deal with an alcoholic father or a dear and dotty aunt? I hope it would say more about her than any description I can provide.

And as my own situation in life unfolds (with a little touch of drama and comedy in good measure), I look at my family and hope that how I face each day says more about me than any bio I can write or someone’s memory of one of an endless list of embarrassing moments (ah, the fox passes!) In caring for the previous generation and nurturing the next one, I can’t help but hope that I’m giving my family as much as they inherently give me. I keep wondering if all the small moments of the day are defining me in “heroic” terms—and so I just try to keep my head up and do better. And pray that they enjoy humor in their lives…

As for those characters—they are my family, too. In a weird landscape, they’re as real to me as mountains. And despite all the torture I put them through before they can earn their happy endings, I do my best to protect them (usually from themselves). Good news, I’m never alone. Bad news, I’m never alone.

And while the characters are usually complete fiction, I’m guilty of stealing from my walking world now and then, if only out of affection. My first novel’s heroine was blind, inspired by my own grandmother. We’re losing her now as her health fails, and I can’t look at that book just now. I simply love her too much to think of what an imperfect homage that was…

And sometimes I get simple notes from readers…so heartfelt and complimentary, and they always seem to come on my worst days when I need them most. And those ladies’ names inadvertently find themselves on the page, because how do you say thank you when someone reaches out of the blue and reminds you about family?

Writing is a solitary act. I understand that. But for me, I’m inspired by the fabric of friends and family that surround the act and enrich it. Fiction and ‘walking’, my family is unique. And I can’t imagine a life without them.

*Get to know more about Renee at

* It is so true that writing is a solitary act in many ways. Which is why we appreciate so much all those emails of encouragement  and thanks, sharing what one of our stories meant, if it gave you a moment of reading pleasure. How have your friends and family encouraged you in a particular endeavor?  How did it make you feel when you accomplished your goal? Feel free to share your thoughts, or ask Renee more about herself or her writing.