- by Dara Girard
First off, I don’t think anyone has ever talked to me specifically about my show before—usually it’s just questions about being an author, so this is refreshing and fun! Thank you!
I’m a published writer and a dreamer who is anchored to reality by an incredibly demanding day job (a.k.a. supreme domestic goddess and mother of two daughters) and supported by my adorable husband who announces really sweet things at the dinner table without prompting like “You should be on the New York Times Bestseller list!” (I love this man. He doesn’t read romances but he is staunchly convinced that I am brilliant so there you have it.)
The show is “Canned Laughter and Coffee with Renee Bernard” and it’s a short weekly internet radio show that highlights romance, women’s fiction and hopefully the lighter side of the life of a writer. I love to have all kinds of authors on the show, and no pedigree is ever required (it’s tough enough for new authors to get their names out there!) Big names and rookies from every genre of romance have graced the show and it’s been a blast to see it grow! We have over 100,000 registered listeners now!
What made you decide to host a show such as Canned Laughter?
It wasn’t my idea! Sheila Clover English, queen and founder of COS Productions, came up with the concept and after we’d met at an RT conference and I was my usual silly self (yes, even at professional conferences, I’m ashamed to say I cannot keep a straight face), she thought of me for the host spot. She called to “run the idea past me” and I think I said yes even before she’d finished her second sentence.
I was thinking, “Well, this will be fun for a few weeks until a) the experiment ends, b) she remembers someone even funnier that she met at a different event and asks them to take over or c) she comes to her senses.”
But we’ve been going strong for over two years now, and I can’t imagine a Tuesday with out a show!
Not me! I was pitching all sorts of things involving chats and chocolate or love and laughter but when the boss says she’s in the mood for coffee, you don’t argue. Even if it is an evening program… As for “Canned Laughter”, I hope that the program always makes listeners smile and that we can be relied on for a little relief—sort of like a button you can hit for a little canned laughter whenever you need it.
Your show has a very informal feel, why did you decide to do that instead of the traditional interview route?
We’re writers and we love attention but sometimes those FAQ’s can get a bit wearing…and I’d also experienced writing interviews for RT Booklovers Review so I knew from the trenches that marketing sound bites and stale exchanges weren’t going to make anyone’s day. I wanted the show to feel as if we are all hanging out at my kitchen table over cocktails (or coffee!) and give the authors a chance to connect to their fans in a completely new way. Readers have an opportunity just to hear them laugh and be themselves, not necessarily pitching books and selling stories.
On your website you say “To maintain my sanity, I write.” Can you expand on this?
I can’t imagine life without some creative outlet…all this pent up energy would probably make my head explode. Or require medication.
These stories and characters are never still and I love that anxious sensation of needing to “capture lightning” before it’s gone. I think it’s the loss of that sensation I would miss most if I couldn’t write. And as the daily stress of life takes its toll, with all of the usual ups and downs, writing becomes that escape for me; that safe place; that one constant slice of control that is mine alone—I can’t manage the monsters outside my door, but I can create my own world on that computer screen and on those pages.
And that, I guess, is what I meant when I said, “To maintain my sanity, I write.”
Do you think being a writer helps you interact more freely with the authors you chat with?
Absolutely. We speak the same language, share some of the same experiences and face some of the same challenges. There’s an empathy there that has no room for competitiveness. I think as a genre, romance writers have a tendency to genuinely just want to cheer each other on to success. “If you make it, we all make it.”
And I hope writers can feel that respect, even while we kid around on the show and make fun of all the clichés and silly aspects of publishing.
What do you look for when selecting a guest for your show?
A willingness to show up! In a dream world, someone who loves to talk and has a bit of a sense of humor when it comes to themselves and their work—but even serious souls have had a great time on the program.
I just look for any author (new or veteran) with a romance book (or women’s lit) who can step out of the box to promote themselves and who isn’t afraid of talking live in front of untold numbers of listeners. At the moment, it’s free to our guests to use the platform, so I truly hope that we can spread the word especially in these tough times. Promotion is never easy, but I’d like to think that “Canned Laughter and Coffee” makes it as easy as it can be!
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’d love to extend an invitation to everyone to stop by on Tuesday nights at 8:30pm EST to “Canned Laughter and Coffee” and of course, if you’re a romance writer, don’t be shy! Send an email and schedule a show to visit with us!
Thank you everyone for supporting your favorite authors and for continuing to pick up and download those books!!!! We love you!
Renee’s latest release is Seduction Wears Sapphire you can find out more about it, the author and her show here: http://www.reneebernardauthor.com