Melody Johansson is a lively, bohemian pastry chef in the newly-released novel Brunch at Bittersweet Café by Carla Laureano. In the piece below, get to know Melody better and see what Carla had to say about writing her character.
When I started writing the first book in the Supper Club series, I was mostly focused on my main character and fleshing out the book with an interesting and complementary secondary cast. The challenge came in when writing the other titles in the series: those secondary characters eventually needed their own stories—and they had to correspond with what I’d already established in book one.
Melody Johansson, the protagonist of Brunch at Bittersweet Café, turned out to be a surprisingly difficult character to write, despite the fact that she was so much fun. When I introduced her in the first book, I alluded to her bohemian attitude and her unconventional education, not really knowing what that was going to mean in the second book. She was a pastry chef extraordinaire who could whip out difficult confections without a second thought; while she was admired in the first book, the other characters took her ease with pastry for granted.
When I started writing the second book from her perspective, I realized that her job was a good echo of her personality. In the restaurant world, pastry chefs are often looked down on by line cooks and chefs as being somehow inferior; pastry is the “soft science” of cooking, less serious and important than what’s turned out from the “hot line.”
Melody is an intelligent, well-read, and surprisingly deep character who hides her wounds and fears beneath a flighty, cheerful confection of a personality. She has hidden depths at which only those closest to her would ever guess, just like few understand the real skill and knowledge required to create her elaborate desserts. Melody hid her true depths so well in the first book that it took even me a while to get beneath the surface and understand what truly makes her tick.
In the end, Melody may be the most relatable character of the series, especially for other women in their thirties. She has to reevaluate her dreams, her faith, and her career aspirations and figure out what her perfect life looks like, regardless of what everyone else tells her it should be. It’s my hope that her journey inspires readers to think and learn about themselves in the process.
Brunch at Bittersweet Café by Carla Laureano
Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.
Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.
Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call
home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.