1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Where to start? I’m 5’7”, brown hair, blue eyes, I love children and my goal is world peace. Oh, wait, that was my answer for the Miss America pageant. Well, I’m still 5’7”. I guess I still love children, and thank goodness because my house is full of them. I have seven boys and two girls, and teach music lessons to about thirty other kids each week. Besides writing, I teach music lessons on piano, harp, guitar, and wind instruments. In earlier years, I was a freelance musician, playing on trombone, flute, harp, and piano.
2.) How long have you been writing?
I started when I was eight, tried my hand at a novel when I was ten, and continued writing through high school and college. I finished a novel when I was 24, and then set writing aside while I put more time into music and raising my family. I started again about 6 years ago.
3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read?
Is it the same as what you write? I tend to like things with a touch of paranormal–time travel, ghost stories, mysterious events. Right now, that’s what I write–not only the Blue Bells Chronicles, but another story, already written, set in medieval and modern Scotland that I’ll be editing when I finish this series. I also like Jodi Picoult’s books that deal with contemporary issues, and some of my writing is more contemporary in nature, too. One of those books, Friday’s Child, is completely finished, and I have several others that are partially finished or finished but in need of editing.
4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?
5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.
Two men, polar opposites but for looks and love of music, switch centuries and lives.
6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?
The inspiration was a melding of the lyrics of an old folk song, Blue Bells of Scotland, and a children’s novel, In the Keep of Time, which is the story of four siblings who go into a Scottish keep and come out in medieval Scotland.
7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?
About three years.
8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go?
Do you outline or just let it evolve? A bit of both. I usually have at least a vague outline in my head, knowing where it’s starting and where it will end up. Sometimes, I have a more elaborate, detailed outline on paper. But characters don’t always follow their authors’ plans.
9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?
I find the structural editing difficult at times, and keeping my pages of research–hundreds of pages at this point–organized so I can find the information to double check when I have a question.
10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?
I find first drafts very easy, and I enjoy research quite a bit.
11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?
Most time travel books involve one person switching time. Mine involves two men trading places and each having to cope with the other’s life.
12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?
The book has two storylines, one in modern Scotland and one in the Scotland of 1314, just before the Battle of Bannockburn. Both the folk song and the children’s novel which gave inspiration to the story are set in Scotland, so that really determined the location. As to the time, I researched events in Scottish history which might involve the streaming banners and noble deeds of the folk song, and was quite taken with the amazing events and characters of Bannockburn.
13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story?
How did they find themselves where they are now? Shawn Kleiner is a modern musical phenomenon, a musical and marketing genius who turns a classical orchestra into a pop icon. Shawn is a bit of a James Galway with a rock star attitude. A traumatic event in his high school years leaves him with insomnia, which he deals with by working hard and partying harder, refusing to recognize the damage he’s doing to those around him. Niall Campbell, by contrast, is a devout medieval Highlander, as opposite Shawn as a man can be. He has grown up in years of warfare with England, seeing his brothers die, and as the book opens, is about to be sent to summon men to the Battle of Bannockburn.
14.) I’d like to know more about your book.
Tell me all about it. Blue Bells of Scotland is the story of two men, complete opposites, who switch places in time and find themselves caught in one another’s lives. Shawn, a self-centered modern musical phenomenon, finds the fate of Scotland resting on his shoulders, while Niall, a medieval Highlander, is caught dealing with all the people Shawn has alienated and angered, while trying to find a way to leap back across time to save his people.
15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?
I hope the book can be enjoyed either strictly as a fun time travel and adventure story with some of the amazing history of Scotland mixed in, or as the deeper story of redemption.
16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?
Blue Bells of Scotland started out as a stand alone book. I thought I had rather definitively ended the whole story, but one reader asked what happens next. I realized that the ending, as I had written it, could be interpreted two different ways. I liked her way, so I wrote what happened next, thus turning the book into a trilogy. Recently, due to the length of books 2 and 3, the ‘trilogy’ became the ‘chronicles.’ I expect there will be five books in the series, and I would like to eventually write the stories of some of the other people who have lived at Glenmirril: of Niall’s father, of the Morrison twins, perhaps of Iohn, or of Niall’s son in future years. At a certain point in the Chronicles, Amy finds a great deal on Shawn’s genealogy, and I would like to expand on the stories of some of the people she learns about.
18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.
1. Like Shawn, I was a trombonist–I played semi-professionally for many years in big bands, orchestras, for ballets and musicals, and for churches, and miss those days. 2. Like Niall, I play harp and love every minute of it. 3. One of the highlights of recent years was the chance to go to Scotland, before Blue Bells was published, and visit every location in the book.
19.) What do you do in your down time?
For fun. Ha, well, I’m afraid I’m a little bit of a type A personality. I relax by playing piano, harp, or flute, and by studying foreign languages. At 11:00 or 11:30 pm when I finish writing and editing, I pull out a novel in a foreign language and start wading through with a dictionary, and I actually do find this a wonderful way to wind down at the end of a long day. I do also enjoy some more normal ‘fun’ things like hiking along the North Shore of Lake Superior, skiing, and getting together with friends for lunch or a drink.
20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?
A sample is available at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/16271
Laura, I want to thank you for being so patient with this little chat! It was fun and we’ll have to do it again sometime in the future!