1–What’s the name of your latest release?
Under Scottish Stars, the third book in the MacDonald Family Trilogy.
2–What is it about?
Single mom Serena Stewart has focused on her kids to the exclusion of her career and her sanity. But when she returns to the Isle of Skye to help oversee her family’s guesthouse, her independent nature is challenged by the prickly and all-too-handsome hotel manager, Malcolm Blake.
3–What word best describes your main character(s)?
Dedicated. Whatever Serena turns her mind to, she does it wholeheartedly, whether it’s giving her children a good life after their father dies or making the family hotel into a success.
4–What makes your story relatable?
Those of us who have children can relate to the fact that they become the priority, even to the exclusion of the things we need for our own health and happiness. Even if you don’t have kids, it’s easy to relate to how life sometimes throws us curveballs and interferes with the futures we’ve envisioned for ourselves.
5–Who are the people your main characters turn to when they need help?
Serena’s aunt Muriel is the rock upon which the MacDonald family is built–she’s quirky, sassy, and always has a word of advice for her niece and nephews. She’s more like a mother to Serena and her brothers in many ways.
6–What do you love about the setting of your book?
The Isle of Skye is easily one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Ironically, I wrote this book several years ago, before tourism ramped up and began crowding the roads and points of interest with tour buses, so this is a bit of the Skye of yesteryear. I’m glad I had a chance to experience and then write about it when it was still completely isolated.
7–Are you a plotter (follow an outline) or a pantster (write by the seat of your pants)?
I’m a mix of both. I always start with an outline for the major plot points, but I allow myself to get from point to point intuitively. It’s a nice blend that leaves me room for surprises while still making sure I hit my deadlines!
8–What is an ideal writing day for you?
Get up, take the kids to school (or get them off to their various summer activities), sit down at my desk with a cup of tea. I prefer to write in the morning when I’m fresh, but I write fast, so I’m normally done with my daily word count by noon. Then my afternoon is dedicated to marketing, publicity, or editing on other projects. But when there are words to be written, that is the first priority. Well, and tea. There’s always tea.
9–Do you listen to music while you write, need total silence, or have the TV on?
If I’m writing in a public space like a coffee shop, I put on one of my Spotify playlists through my noise-canceling headphones. I know the songs on my lists so well that they really just become background noise. If I’m writing at home, I usually like quiet. The TV is never on unless I’m doing something business or marketing related, like bookkeeping or editing photos.
10– How do you approach research?
I do a lot of research up front for setting and character backstory. I try to focus on primary sources–people I can talk to in person, memoirs, videos, or forums. The more important the detail, the more time I spend on it. Because the Isle of Skye plays such an important part in Under Scottish Stars, I spent a lot of time on YouTube, looking at videos to refresh my memory since my last trip there. For one of my previous books, The Saturday Night Supper Club, I read a half dozen chef memoirs and spent six months hanging out with pros on a cooking/kitchen knife forum!
11–What is your publishing journey story?
My publishing journey is the very definition of rocky. I spent nearly fifteen years writing, submitting, and getting rejected in multiple genres. Finally, at the age of thirty-five, I got an agent and my first contract, which was for my fantasy trilogy, The Song of Seare. Right after that, I was offered a contract for my debut romance, Five Days in Skye, which ended up winning the RITA Award for Inspirational Romance. I kind of thought that I’d made it at that point . . . and then both my publishers closed down their fiction lines and I found myself without a publisher in either genre!
I then signed with Tyndale House for a new romance series—the first book of which, The Saturday Night Supper Club, also won a RITA—and they brought over my MacDonald Family series from my old publisher for rerelease. I recently got the rights back to my fantasy series and placed them with another publisher for repackaging and rerelease in 2021-2022.
We tend to think of publishing as a linear process, but for me, there has been a lot of bouncing around, following the opportunities that were offered to me. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but it has given me the chance to get to know a lot of good people. (I always say book people are the best people!) The advantage of having so many publishers and editors in a short time is that I’ve learned so much more about writing, editing, and the business of publishing than I would have had I stayed with a single publisher and editorial team for the past eight years.
12–Do you have critique partners/writing groups you want to give a shout-out to?
At this point, I mostly rely on my editorial team for the writing part of it, but I definitely have my writer squad that keeps me sane, particularly Lori Twichell and Amber Lynn Perry.
13–What’re the most frustrating things about being an author?
How slow everything moves in traditional publishing! I’m so grateful to have the full editorial and marketing staff that a traditional publisher provides behind me, but all the moving parts means it’s a really long time between writing a book and getting it to market. Half the time I’ve forgotten the details by the time I’m doing publicity for a book! (I’m usually working about two books ahead at that point.) And because it takes a while to get books out, it takes that much longer to build an audience. This business is definitely a marathon and not a sprint.
14–What’s your favorite scent?
If we’re talking perfume, I really like amber. It’s warm and cozy. But as an avid cook, I’m not sure anything beats onions and garlic sautéing in butter! Yum!
15–What movie will you watch no matter what if it’s on TV?
The Mummy with Brendan Frasier and Rachel Weisz. I find it so entertaining and the humor is spot-on. It’s become a running joke in my family.
16–Do you like breakfast, lunch, or dinner best?
Ohhh . . . the hardest one yet. If I have to cook it, dinner. If I don’t have to cook it, breakfast. I never have the patience to cook a really elaborate breakfast, but I love eating out.
17–What’s one thing you wish you knew more about?
Geopolitics. No, really! I had the chance to do a master’s degree in international public policy for free a few years after I graduated from college, but my husband and I already had a mortgage and it didn’t seem like a good decision to quit my job in order to go back to school full time. I always think that I would understand the intricacies of what’s going on in the world better had I taken that opportunity.
18–What’s the silliest thing you’ve recently done?
When we were still on stay-at-home orders, my family acted like lunatics every time we got out of the house. So we played frisbee in the street like we were starring in a kung fu movie (all the dramatic stances and under the leg, behind the back throws . . .) I’m pretty sure our neighbors thought we were insane.
19–What can readers expect from you next?
My first stand-alone romance, still to be titled, will be releasing next summer! It takes place in the high country of Colorado and involves a romance between a young mayor trying to save his charming town and the woman who could make or break its future. I can’t wait to introduce everyone to this town and these characters!
20–How can readers reach you?
MacDonald Family Trilogy #3
Recently widowed Serena MacDonald Stewart focuses solely on her children–to the exclusion of career, artistic pursuits, and her sanity. When her brothers ask her to use her long-ignored business skills to oversee the family guest house on the Isle of Skye, she thinks it might be a chance for a new start. But her hopes for a smooth transition are dashed when, the current hotel manager, Malcolm Blake, turns out to be irritating, condescending. . . and incredibly attractive.
This is your invitation into a sparkling Scottish romance brimming with heart and heat.
About Carla Laureano
Carla Laureano has held many job titles–professional marketer, small business consultant, and martial arts instructor–but writer is by far her favorite. She currently lives in Denver with her patient husband and two rambunctious sons, who know only that Mom’s work involves lots of coffee and talking to imaginary people.