Laura M. Baird Interview


Welcome to Ink & Magick. I'm your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you (or your character) today?

I am in need of a tranquility spell. Life has been a bit frantic (mostly in a good way) but with more peace and calmness, I believe I can be more focused and productive, and not let every little thing seem overwhelming.

We all go through times when life seems to give us more than we can handle. I suggest a peace bath. Draw a bath for yourself. Pour a tablespoon or so of milk into a large bowl of water. Add several rose petals (fresh or dried) to the bowl. Stir the water, milk, and rose petals with the index finger of your right hand. Gently pour the mixture into the bath. Let the water absorb negative thoughts and worries as you bathe. Allow yourself a few moments of healing peace.

Tell us about your book, Keyed Up, which releases August 31, 2017.


Pianist Penelope Dixon, at age twenty-eight, is finally stepping out of her father's shadow to embark on a solo career with the Seattle Symphony. How will an unexpected reunion with her first love from ten years ago play into those plans? Sebastian Mauer, once famed performer, now reclusive composer, foolishly pushed aside his love for Penelope, thinking it was for her own good. Can he redeem himself and show her they are meant to be together?

Excerpt:

“My fellow musicians,” Henry began, his melodious voice conquering the quiet. “May I introduce to you, Penelope Dixon, our new pianist.”

Once again, Penelope blushed as the applause and murmurs of welcome began. Knowing she hadn’t the voice that Henry did, she simply bowed and smiled to the room.

“I didn’t mean to embarrass you, my dear. Please, get accustomed to your new seat.” He indicated the bench in front of the piano. “I believe the piano was just tuned this weekend, so it should be ready for you.”

Penelope nodded as she eyed the black beauty that was the Steinway. It gleamed as if brand new; the polish remarkable and the ivories a brilliant white. The bench beckoned, inviting her to sit on the plush cushion. She couldn’t control the grin that spread across her face as she lightly ran her finger tips along the side of the piano, its surface smooth as glass and cool to the touch. Once at the bench, she removed her satchel then her jacket, placing them on the floor beside her. Scooting the seat out to adjust for her sitting position, she made herself comfortable. She feathered the keys, eager to disturb them, knowing that was exactly what this masterpiece was made for; to produce incomparable sound.

Penelope was instantly in her own little world, heedless of the others in the room. Her full concentration was on the connection she was going to make with this instrument. She ran a few scales, testing the resistance of the keys and strings along with the foot pedals. Once satisfied with the feel, she started to play Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2. It began with tentative strikes to the keys, building in volume and speed. Before she knew it, many of the members had joined in, adding their exquisite sound. They were completely in sync, the absence of the conductor making no difference.

In a matter of moments, Penelope became lost in the music, unaware of the audience that had gathered in the darkened rows in the back.

It seems like Keyed Up is going to have a lot of musical characters. What made you decide to make your characters musicians? Do you have a background in music?

I do have a musical background, having played piano for a few years during grade school, then transitioned into band where I played percussion (drums and bells) and then cornet. I regret not sticking with it, as I LOVE all music. I also love movie soundtracks... sweeping, moving music. Somewhere In Time, Lonesome Dove, Yentl. Barbara Streisand is one of my favorites. The Way We Were was my first major song I learned to play on the piano. My husband and I have been trying to teach ourselves to play acoustic guitar. Unfortunately, more recently, the guitars have been making a pretty decoration in our home.

Those are some of my favorites as well. Who is your favorite composer? Does this book have a playlist or soundtrack?

I don't have a favorite composer; it's too difficult to pick. And I don't have a soundtrack per se, although I listened to different pieces for research. Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, as well as some jazz and easy listening, such as Nora Jones (whose music I love anyway) and Diana Krall. Part of the story includes a singer that Penelope meets, whose group performs that style. As I was researching child prodigies in music, I came across a short documentary about Emily Bear, and I was astounded by her talent and accomplishments (so she gets a shout-out in the book)! I purchased one of her CDs, and I've been following her on Facebook. I hope to have my readers possibly explore and enjoy music they may not have been previously exposed to.

I've definitely looked up songs or artists authors I've read mentioned in their books. What inspired you to write this story?

The idea for the story just popped into my head, and at first, the storyline was taking a different route. Instead of Penelope and Sebastian knowing one another, I thought I might write about Sebastian having had a secret crush on Penelope, but thought it inappropriate due to her being only seventeen at the time he first fell in love with her. But as I wrote and revised, the storyline took a turn of its own, when they fell in love, he pushed her aside due to his own concerns, and then they're reunited ten years later.

Being reunited with your first love brings a whole different angle to the table. Which one of your characters surprised you?

Honestly, I can't say any of the characters surprised me, because once the story got going, I knew exactly what I wanted from them. (unlike other works, where, wow! I didn't think it'd go that way!) And years ago when I would read other authors say this, I thought, "How can you be surprised by where your story goes or what a character does? You plot the book!" But I've definitely found out that's not the case.

Sounds like you're a natural plotter. I'm a pantser myself. I find the writing process boring if I already know what's going to happen. Who is your favorite or least favorite character and why?

I'd have to say Penelope was my favorite character. I've never written one so proper and straight-laced. It was fun, and a bit of a challenge to make her real and able to relate to, as well as someone readers would cheer for, and want to see loosen up. Hopefully I've accomplished that!

It's great that you're pushing your boundaries. You've lived a lot of places. How does that translate into your writing?

Living in the Northwest, many of my stories are set in the area, from Washington and Oregon, to Idaho, and even California. I have a few in the Southeast, since that's where I grew up. I like to introduce readers to an area, and include local fare or events that make a reader want to know more.

Sounds authentic! What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

I would love to see my readers leave reviews as many places as possible, and have them tell their family and friends to buy my book and enjoy! And I would love to engage on social media with them as well. I love stalking my favorite authors and making comments or asking questions; and I'm hoping my readers will do the same.

Reviews really can make or break us as authors. What can we expect from you next?

While promoting Keyed Up, it'll be featured at several book fairs in which my publisher, Black Rose Writing, will participate. Initially, my traveling will be very limited, so very local. I hope to coordinate an appearance and book signing at Barnes and Noble in Seattle before the end of the year.

I have two other stories in mind that will focus on secondary characters from Keyed Up. Besides, I ended the story with a detail that I've already been asked about the outcome, so that question begs to be answered.

I'll also be hard at work on several other projects. Submissions are in at other publishers, but if nothing is picked up, I'm contemplating a self-publishing route with Amazon.

Well, I hope everything goes well for you. Good luck!


I grew up in Florida, joined the Army where I met my husband of nearly twenty-seven years, lived in South Carolina, Massachusetts, Georgia, Idaho, and now Washington State. We've raised two sons who make us proud.

A voracious reader since childhood, I began having thoughts of writing in my early twenties; beginning a story that quickly took form, only to set it aside to put myself through dental hygiene school. Years later I completed the story and had a very naive, short-sighted attempt at self-publishing. Since joining RWA, researching online, and stalking many of my favorite authors, I've completed many projects, along with my recent first attempt at NaNoWriMo. I've been fortunate to have Black Rose Writing accept Keyed Up and of course strive for much success. I've also submitted works to other publishers, but am contemplating another run at self-publishing through Amazon.

Writers that I enjoy range from Laura Kaye to Darynda Jones, Robyn Peterman to Toni Anderson... and so many more!

I still practice dental hygiene three days a week and write as often as I can while hubby works on his project '58 Chevy pickup. We like taking walks and hikes, road trips, and going to drag races. We'd love to visit Zion and Arches National Parks, Canada (Banff), Scotland, New Zealand, and Fiji. My hope is to transition out of hygiene (after seventeen years) within the next 3-5 and make writing my full-time venture.

Keyed Up will release on August 31, 2017 but is available for preorder through Black Rose Writing. Use the promo code PREORDER2017 to get 10% off. You can connect with Laura at her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

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About

     D. Lieber is an urban fantasy author who writes stories  she wants to read. Her love of the worlds of fiction led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.

     When she isn’t reading or writing, she is probably hiking, crafting, watching anime, Bollywood, Korean television or classic movies. She may also be getting her geek on while planning her next steampunk cosplay with friends.

     She lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John) and cats (Yin and Nox).

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