Interview with Carla Laureano, Author of Under Scottish Stars

07 Jul 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, Under Scottish Stars?

This is the third and final book in the MacDonald Family series, centering around Serena MacDonald Stewart, whom we met in the first two books but remained a little bit mysterious. Since the death of her husband five years before, she’s devoted herself completely to her two children, to the detriment of her artistic pursuits, her personal life, and her sanity. When she returns to the Isle of Skye to help oversee the family hotel in her brothers’ absence, she clashes with hotel manager Malcolm Blake, who opens her eyes to all the things that her safe and carefully managed life has been missing.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

That’s difficult to answer. I’ve always loved books, and I’ve written stories since I knew how to write. I finished my first, predictably terrible novel at sixteen, but it took another nineteen years to actually get published. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an author. I guess I can thank my mom for all the time she spent reading to me as a preschooler!

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

You might as well ask me which is my favorite child! Let me see if I can break it down into categories to make it easier…

Favorite Childhood Novel – The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Favorite Romance Novel – Stealing Adda by Tamara Leigh
Favorite Fantasy Novel – The Well of Shades by Juliet Marillier
Favorite Inspirational Novel – Long Way Gone by Charles Martin
Favorite Mainstream Novel – A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask

I’d love to interview Beth O’Leary, British author of The Flatshare and The Switch. Her books are such a sweet spot of brightness amidst a booklist that is trending darker and more serious, and from what I can tell from her social media, I think she’d be as delightfully entertaining as her writing. I’d love to ask her inspiration for her books (two of my favorites of the last two years) and if she purposely set out to write uplifting books for our tumultuous world.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Being finished! That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the writing process (sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t) but I typically put away my book when I’m done and then pull it out a couple of months later to do the first round of edits. I love that first readthrough. I’ve forgotten enough of what I’ve written that it’s like getting to see it through a reader’s eyes for the first time. There are, of course, always things that need to be changed, but there’s something miraculous about the first time I get to read the complete story. It’s a bit like holding your baby for the first time—you forget the process of childbirth when you see the results!

What is a typical day like for you?

Lately, there’s no typical, due to having everyone home on quarantine and for the summer. But during the regular school year, I get up early, make lunches, drop my two sons off at school, and then drive home. (I call this my commute.) I then do my Pilates workout (my apparatus is in my office, so it stares at me accusingly if I skip it), make a cup of tea, and sit down at my desk with my breakfast while I read through emails and plan my day. If I’m actively writing a new book, hitting my predetermined daily word count comes first, which normally takes me between two to three hours. Otherwise, I’ll spend that time editing or plotting a new book. Then I’ll break for lunch and go back to the computer to do marketing and social media tasks. After that, it’s time to pick up the kids from school, make dinner, do chores, sometimes play a game with the family, then bedtime for everyone! No matter what, my day ends with a cup of tea with my husband on the sofa after everyone has gone to bed. Even if we’re not talking and instead reading or watching TV, it doesn’t feel right to end that day without that little time together.

What scene from Under Scottish Stars was your favorite to write?

Pretty much any flirtatious scene between Serena and Malcolm! The romantic tension was so fun to write, especially since Malcolm loves to get under Serena’s skin. But I have to say, the epilogue that wraps up the stories of all the characters in the trilogy was really satisfying as well.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

“What’s the worst that can happen?” (Given the way 2020 is going, maybe I should rethink this.) Seriously, though, I can overthink, overanalyze, and worry, and this question always helps me reframe the situation. My dad would always follow up with the statement “they can’t eat you” which used to drive me nuts as a kid, but now makes me laugh. Put in that perspective, there’s really no reason to be overly concerned about anything!

Carla Laureano is the author of the new book Under Scottish Stars.

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