Laura Vosika is a writer, poet, and musician. Her time travel series, The Blue Bells Chronicles, set in modern and medieval Scotland, has garnered praise and comparisons to writers as diverse as Diana Gabaldon and Dostoevsky. Her poetry has been published in The Moccasin and The Martin Lake Journal 2017.
She has been featured in newspapers, on radio, and TV, has spoken for regional book events, and hosted the radio program Books and Brews. She currently teaches writing at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
As a musician, Laura has performed as on trombone, flute, and harp, in orchestras, and big bands. She lives in Brooklyn park with 5 of her 9 children, 3 cats, and an Irish Wolfhound.
Her latest book is the time travel/historical fiction, The Water is Wide.
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About the Book:
Title: THE WATER IS WIDE
Author: Laura Vosika
Publisher: Gabriel’s Horn Press
Genre: Time Travel/Historical Fiction
Author: Laura Vosika
Publisher: Gabriel’s Horn Press
Genre: Time Travel/Historical Fiction
After his failure to escape back to his own time, Shawn is sent with Niall on the Bruce’s business. They criss-cross Scotland and northern England, working for the Bruce and James Douglas, as they seek ways to get Shawn home to Amy and his own time.
Returning from the Bruce’s business, to Glenmirril, Shawn finally meets the mysterious Christina. Despite his vow to finally be faithful to Amy, his feelings for Christina grow.
In modern Scotland, having already told Angus she’s pregnant, Amy must now tell him Shawn is alive and well—in medieval Scotland. Together, they seek a way to bring him back across time.
They are pursued by Simon Beaumont, esteemed knight in the service of King Edward, has also passed between times. Having learned that Amy’s son will kill him—he seeks to kill the infant James first.
The book concludes with MacDougall’s attack on Glenmirril, Amy and Angus’s race to be there and Shawn’s attempt to reach the mysterious tower through the battling armies.
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Thanks for this interview, Laura. When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?
Many things! I take my dog, a big Irish Wolfhound, for long walks. Given a free day, I’d love to hike the trails in Northern Minnesota or go kayaking.
Mostly, though, I enjoy being with my kids, and playing music at open mics. I usually play flute or saxophone, and have just purchased a tenor sax that I’m excited to play there.
Congratulations on your new book! Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?
Glenmirril Castle, on the shore of Loch Ness, 1314
The sun rose over Glenmirril Castle, its rosy fingers touching Shawn’s eyes, where he slept in the tower. He woke slowly, growing gradually aware of the deep chill in his bones. The cold from the flagstones cut through his cloak. Winter air brushed his cheek, like his mother had years ago, whispering to wake up. He stayed in the dark behind his eyelids, locked in hope.
The past days and weeks drifted through his mind, of midnight raids, MacDougall’s gallows, pretending to be Niall at Niall’s marriage, just days ago. He’d asked God, he’d defended God to Niall, setting him straight that God was Love, not Hell. He’d learned his lesson about Amy and treating people better. So God would surely work the magic in the tower again, slide the centuries up, one against the other, and tip him back into his right time. His head thrummed with alcohol.
He opened his eyes cautiously. The wineskin lay flaccid by his side. The tower walls rose around him, etched against dawn. Mist floated over the flagstones. It looked as it had last night, in 1314. It looked as it had the night he and Amy fought, months ago, in the twenty-first century.
Voices sounded on the stair. He strained to hear if they were medieval Gaelic or modern English. He sat up, slowly, putting off the moment of finding out whether the switch had happened, hoping. Footsteps fell on the stairs, light feminine steps. He scrambled to his feet, his heart beating.
It was Amy! By some miracle, it was Amy, come back for him!
I stare in shock at my violin student and her family: Sinead, her parents, her brothers—and a sister she’s never mentioned. They look up at me, smiling, from their table at the pub. The other girl has blue eyes, freckles, and black curls bouncing around her shoulders—just like Sinead. The baby kicks inside me, as if sharing my agitation. I press a hand to my stomach, just starting to swell.
“They dinna tell ye, did they?” Mr. Gordon shakes his head. “This is Siobhan. Sinead’s twin.”
“You’re not angry, are you, Miss Amy?” Sinead pipes.
She fails terribly in her attempt to look contrite.
I gather myself. “No, they didn’t, but....” I stop. The shock is not Sinead’s twin. It’s the implications. Angus waits at our table. We’re leaving for England, to follow Niall’s trail as he raided Northumbria with James Douglas. But now I wonder....
Sinead and Siobhan giggle. Their brothers roll their eyes.
Mrs. Gordon huffs. “Really, you two, playing tricks on Miss Amy.”
“We played no tricks, Mam, honest,” Siobhan protests.
“She never asked,” Sinead adds, her eyes wide. “Imagine that!” I smile, and hurry past, sliding into the booth across from Angus. Thoughts swarm my mind like Scotland’s midges, too swift to touch. Sinead has a twin!
I’ve spent months grieving Shawn’s death, while reading of Niall’s amazing exploits, twenty-hour work days, speedy recoveries from horrific injuries, being everywhere at once—all the while being amazed at Sinead’s many talents and quick movements. I know now: Sinead didn’t do it all. Neither did Niall.
Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing? Can you tell us about your journey?
It’s been somewhere in the middle. Writing a book—at least my style of books—is a lot of work and very challenging. I’ve devoted thousands of hours to researching the time of 1296 to 1319. I’ve gone to Scotland five times to visit the locations of my books, to have the best understanding of the time, place, and people, and make it as real as possible.
My books tell several stories at once and it can sometimes be quite challenging to weave them all together.
Due to the changing face of publishing, to the way authors are expected to do more and more of their own marketing, I chose to go the indie route and to that end, set up an indie press which publishes my books and many others.
There have definitely been challenges along the way, but also lots of really wonderful experiences.
If you had to summarize your book in one sentence, what would that be?
In a tale of time travel, stretching across medieval and modern Scotland, two men, polar opposites but for their looks, switch places in time, putting them on a path of adventure, miracles, and redemption.
What makes your book stand out from the rest?
What many readers find unique about the story is the idea of two men switching places in time, as most time travel stories involve only one person making the switch. Because Shawn and Niall have each experienced the others’ world, we get a unique look at how each views the other’s century. It’s part of the competitiveness, the superiority each feels, and their growing understanding and friendship, that I think readers enjoy.
What I think makes it stand out is that most time travel stories are romance and adventure. There is plenty of adventure and history in The Blue Bells Chronicles and The Water is Wide can be enjoyed as such, as Shawn and Niall fight for the Bruce and James Douglas, as they encounter enemy soldiers, go undercover in the English city of Carlisle, and make escapes.
There are love stories—among Shawn, Amy, Angus, Christina, Niall, and Allene.
The books can be enjoyed just for the adventure, history, and romance. At the same time, however, the entire story is one of bigger ideas—of forgiveness, why we are who we are, facing ourselves honestly, our ability to change and grow, the decisions we make, and ultimately, the choice for redemption.
If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?
What an interesting question—and one I’ve never been asked before. On some reflection, I’d have to say Easter. Easter is a story of resurrection after a horrible, painful event, of rising to greater and more beautiful life.
And this is the story, too, of The Blue Bells Chronicles: horrible events, painful events, that eventually lead to new life—a resurrection so to speak—to people becoming better than they were.
Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?
I would love to and have begun the process of seeking representation to have that happen. I think with the current popularity of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and series like Highlander, The Blue Bells Chronicles would be welcomed as sharing some of the beloved aspects of those series—Scotland, history, people experiencing vastly different eras—while also being very different from either.
What’s next for you?
Now that The Blue Bells Chronicles is complete, I have returned to The Castle of Dromore, the story of Lisa Quinn, a young widow who puts everything she has into buying a medieval castle to get her five young boys away from the trauma behind their father’s death—only to discover their new home is haunted.
Like The Blue Bells Chronicles, it moves between medieval and modern Scotland, as we learn multiple stories of betrayal, what led to the Lady in Green remaining in Dromore, and how we face the injustices life hands us.
I am also currently working on collating an anthology of new poetry in modern styles. My publishing company, Gabriel’s Horn, is accepting submissions at www.gabrielshornpress.com/poetry-anthology.