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.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
Carla explains how Melody’s story encourages single women: Click through to continue!