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Interview: Laura Vosika, Author of Blue Bells of Scotland

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Growing up in the military, visiting castles in England, pig fests in Germany, and visiting the historic sites of America’s east coast definitely left a lasting impression upon Laura Vosika, as evidence in her newest book, Blue Bells of Scotland, the first in a trilogy.  In addition to traveling the world, Ms. Vosika has earned a degree in music, and worked for many years as a freelance musician, music teacher, band director, and instructor in private music lessons on harp, piano, winds, and brass.

If that doesn’t sound as though it would keep one busy enough, Ms. Vosika also has nine children – seven boys and two girls. At present, Laura Vosika resides in Minnesota with her husband and children, as she works on upcoming releases. Please be sure to check out the author’s website, Blue Bell’s Trilogy, to keep up-to-date on her current and future works.

Please tell us a bit about your book, Blue Bells of Scotland — characters, plot, etc.

Blue Bells of Scotland is a time travel and historic adventure, about two men, polar opposites but for their looks and love of music, who are mistaken for one another. When they each fall asleep at the top of the same castle tower, they wake up in the wrong centuries, caught in one another’s lives.

Shawn is an arrogant, womanizing modern musical phenomenon who has his orchestra in a bind: he has lifted them to heights they never dreamed of, but his rock star ways threaten to be their downfall. His purpose in life is to have fun. Niall Campbell is as different from Shawn as a man can be: a devout medieval Highland warrior, the epitome of responsibility. In the days leading up to the pivotal Battle of Bannockburn, he must cross Scotland, pursued by English soldiers and a traitor from within his own castle, to raise his laird’s clan against England’s might.

If you could meet, in person, any of your characters, who would it be, and why?

I’m torn between Shawn and Niall. Probably Niall. I know Shawn’s modern world of orchestral music, although I find people like him fascinating in the charisma they put out that enables them to do the things and exert the influence Shawn does. I’d love to watch that in action.

But Niall comes from a different world than any of us will ever know. He has a medieval mindset, which I don’t think is as simple to categorize as many people today believe. He is a man whose country has been at war from his earliest childhood. He sees things very differently from Shawn, which is to be expected, but very differently, too, from Amy, Shawn’s girlfriend, who is, at heart, much more like him, but still a product of the twenty-first century.

If you could fictionalize yourself and put yourself in any situation, how would it play out? Could you give us a scene/ scenario of such an occurrence?

Oh, boy, this is asking for my deepest desires! It certainly did make for a lively discussion with my kids, but I firmly nixed fictionalizing myself into any sort of manga or computer game. I’m going to have to go with buying a castle in Scotland. Who wouldn’t want to live in an ancient castle, a little bit refurbished and a little tumbled down, and definitely with a secret passage and a ghost or two? I’ve just fictionalized myself a little more money, signed deed in hand, a car, and the confidence to drive on the left side of the road:

I park in the tall waving grasses surrounding my new home, and leave the car, clutching a small key that seems anachronistic to the medieval castle before me. But it fits neatly in the large wooden door that fills the gatehouse entrance. A moment later, I’m inside. The wonder of a castle is that it’s not just a home, it’s a whole new world, alive with all that once was and all that might be.

I shut the door softly behind me. High stone walls mark the boundaries between my new Eden and the real world. Some of those walls are crumbling at the top. The tower and one wing, I know from my previous visits, are refurbished, with kitchen and bathroom facilities, and enough bedrooms, each with arched stone casements, for all the kids. Other wings will give them lots of twisting passages in which to run and play.

But the real treasure in this castle is its courtyard, overgrown with three large oaks spreading their summer-green limbs out over a jumble of wild grasses, out-of-control blackberry bushes, and an artist’s palette of wildflowers springing up everywhere. The scent of wild roses drifts through the air, accompanied by the humming of a bee. It is here I will have my morning coffee. No day could start better. There is a wild beauty to God’s planning that no master gardener can match.

A rustle catches my ear. There, half-hidden by ivy climbing over an ancient arbor, stands a woman in a long jade-green dress, with sleeves trailing to the ground. A veil barely holds her wild red hair in place. I blink, and she is gone.

Do you have any particular habits that you do while writing? Places you write best, foods, drinks, etc. that help set your “writing mood”?

I usually write at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee, no food, no music but the sound of the fish tank bubbling, or, in summer, children’s voices. Sometimes, I take my laptop and write in bed, and I also take it to work with me and write when I have unexpected spare time.

What are you reading right now?

I’m slowly working my way through In The Shadow of My Truth by Deborah Foulkes Richmond. It’s a fictionalized, but highly researched, account of the life of James Douglas, Robert the Bruce’s close friend and one of the great leaders of the Scottish Wars of Independence. I also have a very tall stack of books on medieval Scotland, Robert Bruce, and the Wars of Independence, which I am reading bit by bit.

Who are some of your favorite authors and/ or books?

I love Ted Dekker, Dick Francis and Mary Higgins Clark. My favorite all-time books are The Scarlet Pimpernel, Robin Hood, and In the Keep of Time. The last is a children’s novel about four siblings who go into a Scottish keep and come out in medieval Scotland, and one of the inspirations for my own book. I love Nigel Tranter’s books, both fiction and non-fiction, on Scotland and its history.

If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Ted Dekker. I discovered him about two years ago in a thrift shop, and I love the depth of his books. He’s creative, versatile and prolific, and does a great job writing stories that can be enjoyed either on the surface level or for the deeper truths he weaves through them.

Okay, here are a few “get to know you better” questions:

Please share with us a favorite memory.

It’s hard to narrow it down. Between my kids and my experiences as a musician, I could give dozens. I was lucky enough to play trombone once onstage with the Minnesota Orchestra, as a member of the back-up brass ensemble for the 1812 Overture. I was seated right in front of the wall behind which they were firing into barrels to simulate the cannons. (At least, I’m told that’s what they were doing.) Hearing a live professional symphony is an amazing experience. Being in the middle of one is way beyond that.

Please describe a perfect meal — including menu and those present.

As a mother of 9, I’d have to say any meal I don’t have to cook or clean up is perfect. Right now, going to our local Chinese buffet with all my kids, and having a Mongolian barbecue and lots of shrimp is perfect.

What are some of your favorite ways to relax?

Playing harp and piano. Going for walks or to the pool or park with my kids. Sudokus and kakuros. Learning Gaelic.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Definitely Scotland. The more I learned about it, the more I fell in love with it, especially when I spent two weeks there researching my book. I would love to be able to study the history much more in-depth, and really spend a great deal more time exploring castles and learning their history. Other than Scotland, I’d love to live in New England.

If you could only read books by one author, who would it be? *I know this is an inconceivable thought, lol.

I think I’m going to have to go with Ted Dekker, for the reasons mentioned above. Otherwise, I’d have to choose Mary Faulkner, simply for the fact that she has written over 900 books, so it would take me awhile to run out of reading material.

Share with us a few of your dreams. Also whether they have been fulfilled or are still a work in progress.

I would like to see The Blue Bells Trilogy turned into a movie. That’s a work in progress. I have someone starting on the music, and am looking into ways to make the rest happen.

I’d also like to live in Scotland someday.

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

Hmm, as in things I really shouldn’t do? Playing Bloons Tower Defense with my youngest son. He gets a kick out of the monkeys.

If you could leave the world with one piece of advice, what would it be?

Imagine your life is a book. How do you want it to end? Now go do what it takes to make that happen!

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