Friday, March 9, 2012

Dishing it up with Laura Vosika

Today I’m dishing it up with Laura Vosika, the author of the Blue Bells Trilogy. In addition to the Trilogy, she is working on several other novels and a non-fiction book on raising a large family.

Laura grew up in the military, visiting castles in England, pig fests in Germany, and the historic sites of America's east coast. She earned a bachelor's degree in music, and worked for many years as a freelance musician, playing trombone for pit orchestras, ballets, and symphonies, and flute and harp for other venues. She spent three years as a member of the Buz Whiteley Big Band and Farragut Brass Band in Bremerton, WA.

After earning a master’s degree in education, she took a job as a music teacher and band director. She has also taught private lessons on wind instruments, piano, and harp, for twenty years.

In her spare time, Laura likes to play piano, harp, and flute, do sudokus, and learn Gaelic.

She currently lives in Minnesota with her nine children, and assorted menagerie.

JET: Can you tell us about your most recent book?

Laura: The Minstrel Boy was released on February 16, 2012 for kindle, and soon after in print. It continues the story started in Blue Bells of Scotland, in which Shawn Kleiner, a self-centered, gambling, drinking, womanizing musician of the 21st century falls asleep in a Scottish keep and wakes up in medieval Scotland, mistaken for Niall Campbell, a Highland warrior, and sent on a dangerous mission, with Niall's beautiful and tempting betrothed, to raise troops for the upcoming Battle of Bannockburn.

Niall, meanwhile, is no happier to find himself caught in the roiled waters of Shawn's life, dealing with a pregnant girlfriend, angry mistresses, and a conductor who threatens to 'fire' him if he doesn't play Shawn's sell-out concert--all while learning of the destruction of the Scots at Bannockburn and trying to find a way back across time to save his people.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Laura: Time. Always time. Not only does it take a phenomenal amount of time to research, write, re-read, research more, edit, and do it all over again, but like most authors, I also have a job, family, and home to take care of.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Laura: Of The Minstrel Boy--publishing! Of the entire writing process, it has hands down been the chance to go to Scotland, before Blue Bells of Scotland was published, and visit all the locations in the book. I climbed a mountain (well, to a Minnesotan it qualified as a mountain!) in medieval-style boots, was given a tour of Eden Court Theatre where Shawn's orchestra plays, visited many castles, and much more. Besides that, the people I have met and new friendships I have made as a result of writing has been an unexpected and hugely rewarding experience. Some are other writers, some are readers, a couple have actually been distant relatives who have contacted me as a result of seeing my rather unusual last name, and it has been wonderful meeting for lunch. Some are right here in my area, people in my writers group who have become very close friends, and other local writers, and some new friends are around the world.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Laura: I read quite a variety of authors growing up. It would be hard to pin down one, but I especially like C.S. Lewis, and Margaret J. Anderson, author of the children's book In the Keep of Time, has had a huge impact because her idea of four siblings going into a Scottish keep and coming out in a different century was the seed for my own story, although my novel is quite different.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Laura: I'm one of those who has known from almost the start that I would spend my life in writing and music. I was writing stories when I was eight, and started a novel when I was ten, although it didn't get far.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Laura: Well, I have no idea what people would consider crazy, but I did make a point of having medieval-style boots to climb a mountain in Scotland so I could really experience it, as nearly as possible, to the way Shawn would have. Just like Shawn, I'm not used to extensive hiking, and I certainly appreciated after only one day's hike, how much pain he must have been in after his trip with Allene! (If I'd had time during my stay, I would have followed his exact four day route, but I had to settle for one day.) I have studied Scottish Gaelic since 2009 to get a feel for the language Shawn speaks. I suppose some people would find that crazy, but I enjoy learning languages and feel I know a little more of my characters through it.

I've been researching the times of Bannockburn and Robert the Bruce for so long now, it's hard to say what the most interesting fact is anymore--it's all become very much my everyday world. But although I only touch on it in one of the books of The Chronicles, I did come across a fascinating account, penned by medieval monks, of a vampire-like priest at Melrose Abbey who refused to remain dead and in his grave. Edward I also made a rather gruesome demand, on his deathbed, of what his son must do with his body.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

Laura: I think The Blue Bells Chronicles is my favorite, in part because I've spent so much more time in its world, with its people. But also, I tend to write about some serious issues, and a time travel adventure is light, fun reading in comparison.

JET: Any advice (from a writer’s standpoint) for the novices out there?

Laura: Find a writers' critique group and attend every week. Sift through the advice and choose for yourself which to follow, but you must be willing to listen to the opinions of those hearing the story for the first time and willing to make changes. Be prepared to re-write dozens of times.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten…starting with…Paper or Plastic?

Laura: Paper.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Laura: I rarely eat either, but if I had to choose, I'd pick tofu.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Laura: Can I take both? If pressed, I'd pick mountains. Probably. Depending on the weather and the day of the week.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Laura: Rock and roll!

JET: Leather or Lace?

Laura: Lace.

JET: Angels or Demons?

Laura: Angels

JET: Paper or Digital?

Laura: Paper.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Laura: Cheesy B Rated Horror--my kids would probably get a huge kick out of sitting down together and watching one.

JET: Twilight or True Blood

Laura: Neither! If I must read about vampires, I'd take The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. (In fact, for someone who's not into vampires at all, I liked her book very much.)

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Laura: Hanging in the chasm between the two, desperately trying and often failing, to break my current coffee habit by switching back to tea.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Laura: I have three books left in The Blue Bells Chronicles. They're all written, but still need editing. I have a piece of contemporary fiction set in Boston in the early 90's, called Friday's Child which just needs a cover and a final read-through before being released. I'm particularly looking forward to getting back to Castle of Dromore, the story of an American widow escaping the ugly turn her life has taken by moving to Scotland where she buys an old castle for herself and her boys. She finds, however, that the castle holds its own ancient secrets.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Laura Vosika and her work at the following places:





Until next time,



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