“Niall, he’s cold.”Niall’s knife remained pointed at the boy. “Which soldiers?”“They were English, Milord. Meaning no offense, Milord.” His teeth clattered again. “If you’re English.”“Niall!” Shawn stepped forward, his anger growing. “He’s just a kid! He’s about to....”Before he finished, the boy collapsed. Shawn was under him, catching his sagging body before it hit the ground.From The Water is Wide by Laura Vosika
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.
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.
Laura: There are a couple of reasons for the title. The Water is Wide is the third in a 5-volume story that started with Blue Bells of Scotland. The whole story centers on a world famous--and infamous--classical musician. Think Yo-Yo Ma or James Galway with a trombone and a bad boy persona. Shawn Kleiner's signature piece is Blue Bells of Scotland, based on an old folk song and arranged as a theme and variations for trombone to show what the instrument can do.
Because the story started with a folk song as a title, I continued with folk songs. The Water is Wide is a lament about the difficulty of getting over the water, and about love. In the book, Shawn Kleiner, modern musician, has been trapped in medieval Scotland for more than a year. His goal is to cross time and make amends to his girlfriend, Amy, for all the pain he has caused her in the past--or, in this case, in the future!
Like the lyrics of the song, there is a great divide that he must somehow cross, and like the song, the book is also about love.
What is it that drew you to writing time travel stories?
Laura: I've always been captivated by tales of traveling into other realms, whether that's to another world or another time. Some of my favorite stories as a child were In the Keep of Time and Andrew's Attic, both of which involve children going back in time. In In the Keep of Time, four siblings go up in a castle tower in Scotland and emerge in the 1500s.
In my story, the reader will recognize a similar element, of the castle tower apparently causing the switch in time--at least at first. In mine, however, two men switch places, originally.
Can you tell us a little about the main characters?
Laura: The two main characters throughout the series are Shawn Kleiner, modern orchestral superstar, and Niall Campbell, medieval Highland warrior. Shawn was, in his own world, a wealthy, arrogant, and self-centered man who liked wine, women, and gambling. Niall was everything Shawn wasn't--devout to his faith and devoted to a cause greater than himself.
As they share identical looks, and the Laird of Glenmirril, Niall's home, doesn't know what to do with Shawn, they spend most of their time together, taking turns 'being Niall.' By their second year together, Shawn has done a lot of reflection on his former self, while Niall has begun to face his own faults. They have moved from two men who look down on one another to friends, as they work for Robert the Bruce in the aftermath of Bannockburn.
There are many others who play large parts in the story: Amy, a gifted violinist and Shawn's girlfriend on whom he cheated, who is regaining confidence in the absence of Shawn's gaslighting; Angus, the Scottish police detective she falls in love with when she believes Shawn is dead; the Laird of Glenmirril and his giant of a brother, Hugh; Allene, Niall's determined and strong-minded wife; and Christina, a serene and strong young noblewoman rescued from the MacDougalls, with whom Shawn falls in love.
They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader just can’t put the book down. Can you tell give us one of the pivotal points in your book?
Laura: I've been told this really happens in book one, Blue Bells of Scotland, when Shawn wakes up the morning after being left in the tower! By the time readers reach The Water is Wide, the question are many: Will Shawn find his way home? Will he leave Christina, who he has come to love, only to find that Amy, for whom he is returning, has fallen in love with another man in his absence? Then, of course, there are the adventures and dangers of medieval Scotland and the question of if and how Shawn and Niall will survive their battles with Clan MacDougall and the English. Many readers, I believe, love the books for their detailing of lesser known historical incidents, too.
Can you explain to us why it was important for you to write your story?
Laura: I suspect this is true for many authors: Shawn and Niall were simply alive in my head, as was their story. They had to be let out. Shawn seemed to exist, fully formed, in my mind from before I ever started writing the story. Niall, likewise, seemed to simply be who he was, a complete and knowable personality, from the moment I 'saw' him waking up in the same castle, in modern times.
When something is that 'alive' it demands to be written.
Final question (promise!): do you have any advice for the yet-to-be-published writers?
Laura: Keep writing. Keep re-writing. And find a writers critique group to get feedback on your work. My group, Night Writers, meets every week, and has for more than 30 years now. They have been invaluable to me in their suggestions and critiques, to help improve my writing and the story.