Mother, Author and multi musician
I blinked when I read the small blurb Laura sent me when I asked her to tell me about herself and invited her to Center stage. She is a mother of 9 children. In my corner of the world she only needed 3 more to qualify for a chieftaincy title. Then I saw her picture and blinked again, that would be the picture of her daughter I said to myself but then the caption said that was a picture of herself. I sighed, and thought life wasn’t fair, I mean I am only a mother of six and grandmother of two but I definitely look all of my age and some. Where did she get all that energy and figure? Beautiful, elegant and charming Laura is a pleasure as guest on Center Stage . Let’s us read first about her book before we chat with her.
BLUE BELLS OF SCOTLAND
Shawn Kleiner has it all: money, fame, a skyrocketing career as an international musical phenomenon, his beautiful girlfriend Amy, and all the women he wants-- until the night Amy has enough and leaves him stranded in a Scottish castle tower.
He wakes up to find himself mistaken for Niall Campbell, medieval Highland warrior. Soon after, he is sent shimmying down a wind-torn castle wall into a dangerous cross country trek with Niall's tempting, but knife-wielding fiancee. They are pursued by English soldiers and a Scottish traitor who want Niall dead.
Thrown forward in time, Niall learns history’s horrifying account of his own death, and of the Scots’ slaughter at Bannockburn. Undaunted, he navigates the roiled waters of Shawn’s life-- pregnant girlfriend, amorous fans, enemies, and gambling debts--- seeking a way to leap back across time to save his people, especially his beloved Allene. His growing fondness for Shawn’s life brings him face to face with his own weakness and teaches him the true meaning of faith.
Blue Bells of Scotland is both a historical adventure and a tale of redemption that will be remembered long after the last page has been turned.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
First and foremost, I am a mother to 9 wonderful children, 7 boys and 2 girls. I'm also a musician and author. I majored in music and played trombone semi-professionally for quite a few years. I also play flute, harp, and piano, and have taught music lessons on a dozen instruments for over twenty years.
I consider myself lucky to have grown up in the military. It has some obvious drawbacks, but I got to see historical sites up and down the East Coast of America and plenty of castles in Germany and England, as a child.
2. Blue Bells of Scotland reads like an interesting read, do you wish you could turn back the clock sometimes on certain things?
No. I've tried from early on to live in a way that I would not have regrets. There are some decisions I might be tempted to say I would change--such as setting aside my writing for 15 years. But even decisions such as those, either I had good reasons for doing at the time, or a great deal of incidental good has come out of those 'bad' decisions.
3. What motivated you into writing this book?
I had written a novel many years before that was sitting in my drawer, and set writing aside. In 2004, a friend on a twins forum raved about National Novel Writing Month, in which participants write a novel (defined as 50,000 words) in a month. I figured I didn't have time.
2005 was a difficult year that needed something good in it. So on November 3, I signed up, went back to my love of writing, and started a story based on bits and pieces of ideas that had been hanging around in my head for a couple of years: a children's novel about four siblings who go into a tower in the 1970's and come out in medieval Scotland, the lyrics of a folk song that became a well-known trombone showcase piece, and a fragment of an image of a man gambling away his livelihood (in this case, his trombone) and conning his girlfriend into pawning her ring to buy it back.
4. Crime and Punishment, redemption is a longing of the human spirit, tell us a bit more about Shawn.
Shawn is charming, funny, good-looking, charismatic. He's also a drinker, gambler, and womanizer. He's arrogant and selfish and has learned he can be, because his ability to earn money for his orchestra and all the musicians in it has given him a great deal of power. When he wakes up in medieval Scotland, he learns bit by bit that he no longer holds any power, and that people fighting for their lives and with different values are not amused by his ways. And, they're much more willing than their modern counterparts to express that displeasure with knives, swords, and nooses. Bit by bit, he faces why he's made the decisions he has, and begins to think about others, and begins to redeem himself.
5. Historical adventures and romance mixed in with tense thriller reads like a very heady mix, what has been the response so far?
Quite good. Blue Bells of Scotland currently has 24 reviews onamazon.com. 20 are 5 stars, and the other 4 are 4 stars. One reviewer sent me a private e-mail calling it one of her top 4 favorite books of the year, and another put it in his top 3. It has currently moved into amazon's top 100 top rated books in two categories. "I couldn't put it down," and "I was up all night," have been a common comments.
6. What is your favorite aspect of the story?
It's hard to narrow it down. I like both the historical aspect and the musical aspect. I loved learning about the lives of Robert the Bruce and James Douglas and their remarkable accomplishments in defending their country against a powerful nation. I think my favorite scene is when Shawn plays the sackbut at a medieval fair, under the angry eyes of Niall's enemies, to prove he's not Niall Campbell. As a musician, I like the musical aspect because there aren't a whole lot of novels about musicians, especially orchestral musicians. Then again, the story of redemption and change is also one that I value.
7. Authors generally leave a bit of themselves in a story, you strike me as particularly interested in correcting the mistakes of the past, if you had one singular opportunity, look into the future and tell us, in looking back what will you like to change about the world today.
I would put a sense of gratitude back into the world. I think we live very well in this country, but don't appreciate it. Being grateful for what we have changes everything, our entire outlook, our attitude, how we behave, how we spend our time and relate to others...everything.
8. Share a regular day with us.
I start the day with coffee, washing dishes, running a load of laundry, and maybe playing harp while I drink my coffee (play a song, drink some coffee, repeat). I check the younger boys' homework and make sure they get off to school. Then I spend a couple hours at the computer writing and editing. I have lunch with my kindergartener, push him on the swing while kicking a ball for the dog (who is absolutely convinced that swing time is his ball time, too!), take my son to school, and then head to wherever I'm teaching lessons that day, and write until my first student arrives. In the evenings, it's more checking homework, chores, and bedtime. After the kids are in bed, I usually write for another two or three hours.
9. Share your thoughts on the rise of epublishing and how you think it might affect traditional publishing.
It's been an incredible opportunity for those who are motivated and willing to work hard. There will be fewer bound books sold, due to cost and the ease of carrying around hundreds of books on your e-reader. However, I often think of the story of the carriage company that went out of business when cars became popular, because it defined itself as a maker of carriages, versus the carriage company that defined itself as a transportation business, and was able to adapt to new ways.
I have recently had the experience of finding a bookstore can't carry my books because they are going out of business due to the rise in e-readers and fewer people buying books. That really saddens me. There's something magical about browsing a bookstore. But I also don't think books will go the way of the dinosaur. There will always be something uniquely satisfying about holding a book in your hands.
10. What hints will you give an aspiring author wanting to come into the publishing world?
Write, re-write, edit, write. Read books on writing. Read books in your genre. Most importantly, get together with other writers for mutual critiquing. It is invaluable to have others go over your work. I cannot overstate the value of the Night Writers in my work. They are encouraging and full of positive things to say, but if something isn't working, doesn't make sense, whatever, they'll say so.
Thank you for coming on Center Stage.