Carla Laureano is the two-time RITA Award–winning author of the MacDonald Family Trilogy and the Supper Club Series. She is also the author of the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (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.
In this interview, Carla talks about her latest novel, Provenance.
FF: What was your inspiration for Provenance? Why did you choose the circumstances and location that you did?
Usually an idea comes to me mostly formed; this was the first story I’ve written that had to be pieced together bit by bit. Years ago, I had the idea of writing a story about a dying town on the California coast and a young woman who inherited a historic home from a grandmother she never knew existed, but for some reason, the story never really came together. Then one day while my husband and I were driving along the southern edge of Denver, I started paying attention to all the new construction and renovation that was happening in this older part of the city and wondering how much of the historic character was being lost from these beautiful homes. That combined with the huge number of ghost towns in the various parts of the Colorado high country and the idea for Provenance was born!
FF: This story is a bit different from some you’ve written in the past. You say that fans of cable TV shows like American Pickers and Rehab Addict will enjoy this story. What aspects of the story will appeal to fans of those shows? Why?
What antique lover doesn’t dream of inheriting a beautiful, fully intact historic home, especially one with significance to the foundation of the community? A big part of the fun of this story is how Kendall must unravel the history of her home and how it fits into the bigger picture of the town’s survival.
FF: What role does faith play in this story?
This is the first story I’ve written in which the main character is not a Christian, and a big part of Kendall’s personal journey is discovering what faith in Jesus really means and how that differs from merely religion, especially the kind that’s wielded as a weapon.
FF: As an author, what did you particularly enjoy about writing this story?
Up until now, my books set in Colorado have taken place in Denver and surrounding areas. This is my first book set in the high country, and I took special pleasure in modeling the town of Jasper Lake after my favorite getaway spot, Grand Lake. Of course, that required me to make several research trips (fortunately, it’s just ninety minutes from my house) and take lots of inspiration pictures. It was fun to bring it alive in fiction.
FF: What did you find challenging about writing this story?
While I write Christian fiction, I consider the majority of my stories to be “faith adjacent”—I explore what it’s like to be a Christian woman in the modern world, but I don’t delve very deeply into matters of theology or salvation. Having a non-Christian main character meant that the faith story was front and center, and I really wanted to do it justice without using Christian jargon or shorthand that means nothing to people outside the Christian community. In the end, though, I was really pleased with how seamlessly the faith journey wove in with the romance and the personal mystery elements.
FF: What did you enjoy about developing Kendall’s and Gabriel’s characters? What challenged you in writing their romance?
Kendall and Gabe were both such fun characters to create! Kendall is fun, feisty, and intelligent; Gabe is a fun mix of serious and lighthearted. But Gabe has recently gotten out of a relationship with a woman who didn’t share his beliefs and has vowed not to do it again. That made the developing romance between the two of them rather tricky! It also made for good conflict, especially when the heart and the head are saying two different things.
FF: You say that this story explores how our relationships with authority figures, especially at a young age, affect our relationship with God. Can you explain that a bit more? How does that play out in Kendall’s story?
I’m neither a theologian nor a psychologist, but one thing that I’ve come to realize about myself and my friends over the years is that our relationships with authority figures distinctly color our views on God and our relationship with Him. The less grace we’ve been shown, the more harshness we’ve experienced in those relationships, the harder it is to receive His love and acceptance. Because Kendall has painful experiences with abandonment, she sees all the hardship in her life as a sign that God has abandoned her as well.
FF: What surprises do your readers have in store with this story?
All my books exist in the same universe, so there are at least three fun references to my other books in Provenance, some of which are pretty obvious and one that is pretty obscure. I can’t wait to hear how many readers pick out!
FF: What did you enjoy about the research for this story?
The research on the Arts and Crafts/Craftsman movements in both Britain and America was fascinating. It was no hardship to spend hours browsing through back issues of Architectural Digest and Arts & Crafts Homes. It was a fun change of pace for this contemporary romance author—I usually don’t get the opportunity to delve into the past!
FF: What do you want your readers to take away from reading Provenance? What about it will inspire or encourage their faith?
If I had to choose a guiding verse for this book, it would be Romans 8:28 (NLT): “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” So often the events of our life, especially the bad ones, seem random. It’s only through time and distance that we can see how God brought us through those times, working things for our ultimate good. I hope that readers who are going through a difficult time can take heart in the knowledge that even the worst moments will be redeemed in the fullness of God’s plan!
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: August 3, 2021
ISBN-10 : 1496445910
ISBN-13 : 978-1496445919
Los Angeles interior designer and former foster kid Kendall Green is in high demand, both for her impeccable eye and for her uncanny ability to uncover the provenance of any piece. But for all her success, skyrocketing costs have put her California home and her business in jeopardy. Then an unexpected inheritance provides a timely solution: a grandmother she never knew has left her a group of historic properties in a tiny Colorado town on the edge of ruin.
To young, untried mayor Gabriel Brandt, Jasper Lake is more than another small town—it’s the place that saved his life. Now, seeing the town slowly wither and die, he’s desperate to restore it to its former glory. Unfortunately, his vision is at odds with a local developer who wants to see the town razed and rebuilt as a summer resort. He’s sure that he can enlist the granddaughter of one of its most prominent former citizens to his cause—until he meets Kendall and realizes that not only does she know nothing of her own history, she has no interest in reviving a place that once abandoned her.
In order to save his beloved town, Gabe must first help Kendall unravel the truth of her own provenance—and Kendall must learn that in order to embrace the future, sometimes you have to start with the past.
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