The Saturday Night Supper Club (Tyndale House) is the latest release from Carla Laureano, author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). When a targeted smear campaign dashes chef Rachel’s dreams, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back—even if she has to join forces with Alex, the writer who inadvertently caused the disaster. In this interview, Carla discusses the real-life controversies that sparked ideas for the novel’s plot, the common ground shared by writers and foodies, and the power of social media…
What inspired The Saturday Night Supper Club?
I knew from the start that I wanted to write a book about three friends who started a supper club in my hometown of Denver, and the title came almost immediately. Some of the other elements, like the double-edged nature of social media and the challenges of women in business, came from the media I was consuming at the time.
I’d been reading acclaimed chef Dominique Crenn’s interviews about gender bias in the food industry, and I’d followed both Gamergate and the 2015 Hugo Awards controversies from a distance. Everyone was taking very strong stances on one side or the other, but what about those who fell somewhere in the middle? Women who want to be acknowledged for their talents and not for their gender, but don’t want to be outspoken feminist crusaders? Artists who want to be free to create their work without it having to make a cultural statement? There are a lot of serious issues that play into the book’s plot, but I was conscious of not making it into an “issue book.” At its heart, I wanted The Saturday Night Supper Club to be a realistic look at what it means to be a modern Christian woman pursuing both love and career, with all the joy and heartache that entails.
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?
Anyone who likes food is going to find a lot to love in The Saturday Night Supper Club. Denver has such a unique feel and a particularly distinct food scene, and I’m excited for my audience to experience my home city like I do. More importantly, I’ve always had an affinity for “food people”—I’ve found that my professional cook friends and acquaintances definitely have artistic temperaments, much like writers. People in both professions tend to be driven, dedicated, and more than a little neurotic … which means that Rachel as a chef and Alex as a writer have much more in common than it might seem at first. I think readers will love seeing behind the scenes of their worlds, which are both far more interesting and far less glamorous than they seem from the outside.
What role does faith play in this story?
The faith element in this story is subtle but particularly meaningful to me. Rachel’s past experiences have damaged her view of God (and men) and left her with deep scars. In the end, the story is really about how God uses circumstances to guide her back to Him, even while she thinks she’s having to go it alone. It’s taken me decades to fully understand how God has been present in my own life; only now with the benefit of hindsight do I see how He was working all things for my good.
What lessons or truths do you hope people take away from The Saturday Night Supper Club?
I hope they realize that small heartfelt offerings, like cooking a meal for a friend, are just as important as grand gestures. I hope they are inspired to build strong friendships like the one Rachel has with Ana and Melody; in my opinion, they are an absolute necessity to buffer us from the hardships of modern life. And most of all, I hope readers realize that however distant they might feel from God, it’s never too late to come back to Him.
This story holds a great example of the power of social media in our culture today. How do you hope this influences readers?
Rachel loses her dream restaurant because of social media bullying and the online mob mentality, but it also becomes an instrument of her redemption as Alex uses it to write a new and kinder narrative. I hope that readers are reminded that virtual actions have real-life repercussions, and that there are actual people on the other end of the computer.
Everything we read, particularly on social media, has a slant. It’s our responsibility as decent human beings, but particularly as Christians, to find out the truth before we judge and share.
The Saturday Night Supper Club is the debut novel in a three-book series. Can you give readers a taste of what to expect in the novels to come?
Melody and Ana will get their chance at love and pursue new career avenues, beginning with Melody in book two, Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe. We’ll also see a lot more of Rachel and Alex as the series goes on. Plus food. Lots of delicious food…. It’s probably a good idea not to read any of these hungry!