Jennifer Bernard is the author of the new romance series, The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel. The Fireman Who Loved Me kicks off the series on April 24th, and Jennifer stopped by the virtual offices to chat about her new book.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Jennifer Bernard] First of all, thank you much for having me on your blog! I’m so excited to be here.
Now for my 140 characters (actually, 132 without spaces, 150 with spaces): New wife, stepmother, lover of the absurd, Alaska-dweller, bemused stumbler through life, believer in serendipity, fan of romance both real and fictional.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Fireman Who Loved Me?
[Jennifer Bernard] The Fireman Who Loved Me is the first in the Bachelor Firemen series. It’s the story of Captain Brody, who’s been burned in the past, almost enough to believe the rumored “Bachelor Curse” that dooms the San Gabriel firefighters to big trouble in the romance department. Melissa McGuire is a news producer whose grandmother maneuvers her into a date with Brody. Both are convinced they have nothing in common, but nevertheless the sparks fly right away, in more ways than one.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for your Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel series?
[Jennifer Bernard] Well, there’s just something about a fireman … I’ve always found them incredibly appealing and drool-worthy, and thought they’d make wonderful romance heroes. The idea first came to me after a friend invited me to a firehouse dinner and I got to spend time talking to the firemen and listening to their stories. The whole series started with Captain Brody – as I wrote the first book I basically fell in love with him, not just for his heroism, which is legendary on the force, but also for his honorable nature and how he handles being a leader. But I hadn’t thought in terms of a series until Avon suggested it – then it seemed so obvious – of course the other firemen needed stories too! And that’s how the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel were born.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the series?
[Jennifer Bernard] I’d say the most challenging aspect is that I’m not a firefighter, nor do I have any firefighters in my family – I don’t have personal knowledge of life in a firehouse. I worried a lot about getting details or technical terms wrong. The upside is that in my quest for accuracy, I got to know a Los Angeles Fire Captain who was incredibly generous with his help and feedback. He pointed out some things I needed to completely change, but also gave me some fun insider details that (I hope!) really added to the book.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Why do you think firemen heroes are so appealing to romance readers?
[Jennifer Bernard] Great question! First of all, they’re genuinely heroic. Their job is running into burning buildings and saving lives, after all. They’re strong and courageous protectors. They’re physically fit—firefighting equipment isn’t light. They’re also dedicated, to their communities, to their firehouses, which function as surrogate families, and to their actual families. I’m not saying every individual firefighter has all those qualities – all kinds of personality types become firemen. So it’s a bit of a generalization, but I’m all for it. They also have a fun-loving, almost domestic side – there’s nothing cuter than a bunch of firemen filling up a shopping cart so they can cook those firehouse dinners.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Brody would never have in his pockets?
[Jennifer Bernard] His keys. Metal and running into a fire are not a good combination.
A little black book. When the book starts, Brody has given up on the idea of a happy personal life. He’s not a chaser of women, though he’s extremely attractive in a slightly intimidating way.
Clutter. Brody, like many firemen, appreciates order. He isn’t one of those guys (such as my husband) with a big wad of random credit card slips and rubber bands and lucky pennies in their pockets.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you enjoy most about romance? What prompted you to try writing your own?
[Jennifer Bernard] Romance has always, from the age of twelve or so, been an incredible source of comfort, escape and joy for me. I say “escape” in the sense that I’ve turned to reading romance during rough times in my life. But I don’t see it as “escape” in terms of avoidance, but more as a reminder of the good, hopeful things in life. Romance has meant so much to me over the years, I suppose I wanted to try writing it in order to give back some of the joy I’ve received. I want to spread the love as much as I can.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Jennifer Bernard] In the literary realm, I’d say Flannery O’Connor, Jane Austen, and Louisa May Alcott. But in terms of my approach to the world, I’d have to say my greatest creative influence is more of a spiritual thing. As someone who’s gone through some hard times, I’ve found that happiness is a “practice,” that believing in love and goodness and hope goes a long way toward finding meaning in your life. That’s part of why I choose to write romance. I think if everyone could appreciate a good romance, the world would be a better place.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Jennifer Bernard] Time. I need to know I have at least an hour ahead of me, preferably more, so I can relax enough to be creative.
Mental space. I’ve trained myself to create an imaginary cone of silence around myself even at the busiest coffee shop.
Computer. I always wondered how Jane Austen managed to write so many novels in longhand. I need that delete function – I’m a rewriter to the core.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Jennifer Bernard] Little Women. I’ve read that book probably fifty times, and never get tired of it. Those girls feel like my own sisters, and I swear I was Jo in a previous lifetime.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Jennifer Bernard] I read a LOT. I’m a yoga junkie, and try to practice daily. I’m also a newlywed (well, it’s been a year) so I like just hanging out with my husband. He came with a 7 year old daughter who I adore. One of my favorite things is playing pretend with her. Which might qualify as writing, come to think of it.
Thank you so much for offering me a chance to talk about my firemen!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you for stopping by!
The Fireman Who Loved Me hits shelves April 24th. You can pre-order a print or digital copy from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below: