Good Morning Friends!
Last year we got to meet Tyndale author, Carla Laureano when she shared thoughts and visited our spotlight with her book, The Saturday Night Supper Club. Today Carla is sharing some Q&A with us and her new book, Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe (love the name of that!)
1. What inspired you to write Brunch at Bittersweet Café?
Typically, I can pinpoint one moment that inspired the direction of a story, but this book came along far more gradually. I knew after writing Melody in The Saturday Night Supper Club that her relentless positivity and cheeriness hid some deeper issues, so it was really just a process of exploring what those might be—particularly after the hints I gave about her mother in the first book.
The spiritual themes, however, came from growing up as a Christian and how often I’ve seen outward happiness mistaken for true joy. The fake-it-’til-you-feel-it mentality is prevalent in some Christian circles, even today, and it’s one that Millennial Christians are rejecting in greater numbers.
2. How do you expect the novel to resonate with your audience? What are you
most excited for your readers to experience through reading this story?
I feel like Melody is a character that most of us can relate to in some way. She has all the ingredients to have her dream life, but she still stumbles along because she’s so inwardly conflicted on what she wants. It can be so tempting to live your life in a holding pattern, especially when the Bible emphasizes patience, but that attitude can also lead us into the trap of simply waiting and hoping without taking any steps of our own. That, combined with the pressure to always show a cheerful exterior, can lead us to magical thinking, where we just know that everything will be all right if we keep going as we are, rather than to a deeper faith in which we are tested and strengthened by trials.
3. What role does faith play in this story?
Through both Melody’s and Justin’s journeys, I explore the meaning of faith and the different—and erroneous—ways we can look at God. I think without meaning to, we can start to view God as the magical gumball machine in the sky: put in a quarter (your prayer), get your gumball (your wish). But our experience with God is not transactional; it’s a relationship. Both characters have to learn that true faith is releasing your dreams, hopes, and sorrows to a God who loves us and trusting Him to give us what we need, not what we think we want.
4. What lessons or truths do you hope people take away from Brunch at Bittersweet Café?
I hope that readers will be encouraged by the idea that they can trust God in both their best moments and their worst, because He knows what lies ahead when we can’t even begin to anticipate. I’m a bit of a control freak, so this is a lesson I have to learn over and over and over again. I’m sure God looks down on me with exasperated amusement from time to time, like “This would go a lot faster if you’d just let me steer.”
5. As an author, what did you particularly enjoy about writing this story?
I love learning about new things, so researching the aviation component for Justin’s career was so much fun. I spent hours reading FAA publications, scouring pilot forums, and learning the ins and outs of general aviation airports. Fortunately, I have a pilot friend who answered my questions, reviewed the flight scenes for accuracy, and even took my sons and me to his hangar to see the experimental plane he built. Were it not for the fact that I’m terrified of tiny planes (airliners don’t count), I would be tempted to get my private pilot license. I find the technical details fascinating.
6. What was the most difficult part of writing this story?
I struggled a bit with revealing Justin beyond what he wanted Melody to see. He’s such a charming, charismatic, keep-it-together kind of guy that at first even I was fooled. It wasn’t until the very end that I finally figured out the things that he was hiding and was able to portray him as an interesting three-dimensional person.
7. The first book in this series, The Saturday Night Supper Club, introduced
us to Melody Johansson. What will we discover about Melody in this book
that may surprise us?
I don’t want to give away all the fun details, but one thing that you definitely wouldn’t expect is her educational background. She was homeschooled, entered college at sixteen, finished at twenty, and promptly abandoned her plans of further literature degrees in favor of something she loved more—baking. I actually borrowed the details from my own history: I turned seventeen shortly after high school graduation and finished college a couple of months before my twentieth birthday. I never intended to become a professor like Melody, but I did at the last minute decide I had no interest in grad school and decided to go into the workforce instead. I was afraid that studying literature was killing my love for it, and I’d rather write it than analyze it.
As for the rest, you’ll have to read to find out!
8. Can you tell us more about Melody’s love interest, Justin Keller? Why did
you decide to give him the job and the backstory that you did?
One of the “rules” for writing romance is to create a potential love interest who seems to be the worst possible match in every way. For a woman who secretly craves permanence and has been betrayed by a man she loved, who could be worse than a pilot who travels more than half the month and stays away from serious relationships because of the demands of his job? Then there’s the fact that Melody is very much a free spirit, and pilots tend to be very focused and literal-minded, so there was the instant potential for interesting conflict.
Because of all those differences, it was fun to discover that they both have hurts in their past that affect their relationships with God and their willingness to commit to each other. In the end, they have far more in common than first appears.
9. Part of Melody’s past involves pain, which tends to influence her decisions and the way she lives her life. Can you tell us why you included those painful circumstances in her story? How do you hope reading about Melody’s story will encourage readers?
Pain is unavoidable in this life, and how we deal with it shapes us as people, whether we mean it to or not. But it’s a topic that isn’t often discussed among Christians. We want to gloss over the hard stuff to get to the part where God makes it okay again, even though it’s the space between the two that forms our strength, our character, and our faith. I wanted to make a statement that acknowledging your pain does not make you a bad Christian. It does not mean you don’t have faith. It means you’re human. That’s one reason that Jesus experienced life as fully human when he could have easily made
everything go his way—he understands what it means to be hurt, betrayed, and alone. I hope that readers who have felt obligated to plaster on a cheerful facade when they’re hurting will say, “No more.” It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to ask for help. None of that makes you weak. It takes more strength to deal with your pain in a healthy way than it does to push it down and ignore it.
10.How do you hope Melody’s story encourages single women specifically?
It can be so tempting to think your life will begin as soon as you find “the one” and get married, but the result is often living as small a life as possible while you’re waiting. The world can use your gifts and your talents, regardless of your marital status. Trust me, God knows where to find you . . . you’re not going to miss the man He has for you while you’re off being the person He meant you to be. I hope my single readers realize that they are complete just as they are and feel empowered to pursue their dreams, trusting that God will bring all the elements of their lives together at the right time.
11.Why do you think it’s important that this series talks about the intersection of culture, feminism, career, and faith for the Christian woman?
It’s downright difficult to be a modern Christian woman! We pursue career aspirations, but we often have traditional plans for our personal lives. We are dedicated to paving a way for the women after us, but we want to be open to God’s detours. So often, we are told that not only can we have it all, we must have it all . . . and if we’re struggling with keeping it together, there must be something wrong with us. In this series, I wanted to show that everyone struggles at times, and although Rachel, Melody, and Ana share similar beliefs, their paths are all incredibly different. It’s okay if your life looks different than everyone else thinks it should, because God’s plan for you is as unique as you are.
Tyndale Author, Carla Laureano, is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night. Find out more and connect with Carla on Social Media by visiting her website.
Her book, Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe, book 2 in her "Supper Club" series is available through Tyndale House Publishing and other online retailers as well as your local book store!
Hope you enjoyed today's post and that you'll check back regularly for Tuesday Treasures, Thursday Thoughts and Saturday Spotlight.
ALSO: Today I'm over at Penelope Marcez's blog & Pelican Book Group's Blog talking about Love in Season which releases today!
Until next time take care and God bless.