March 12 2009 12:00 AM

East Lansing native marches into success


"Im partial to Sousa," said Josie Bloss, when asked to name her favorite composer of marches. "Who can resist The Liberty Bell? Or that mustache?"

With her debut young adult novel, “Band Geek Love,” an ode to relationships on the march, Bloss has sped up the tempo on a promising career in writing.

The book follows Ellie Snow, high school senior and section leader for the marching bands trumpet section. Ellie is destined for glory this season, with a solo performance at the homecoming game to seal the deal. But Cupids arrow misses its cue and sends her hopelessly falling for Connor Higgins — trumpet player, handsome and … a sophomore. In the halftime show of love, Ellie tries to keep her feelings on the sideline, but comes to find hurt can cut both ways.

Bloss, a trumpeter, learned her own steps marching for the East Lansing Trojans. "Its hard not to become close when youre together all the time and depending on each other to come through during rehearsals and performances,” she says.

Beyond her years of unknowingly gathering research material in high school and college, Bloss continued on her prosestained future. "Ive kept a journal since I was 10, and basically just never stopped writing," Bloss says.

Classes on writing inspired her to develop beyond just writing for herself, but as she says, "It takes a certain amount of stubbornness to wrangle yourself into writing a whole book.”

That meant making writing part of her daily routine. "I wrote the first draft fairly quickly, since I wasnt working or going to school at the time,” Bloss says. “It took about two and a half months of getting myself in front of a computer and treating it like a job to finish the book. I then went through several rounds of revisions."

The process of working as a professional novelist, although rewarding and fascinating, took some patience. "All told, it was about two years between typing the first words and seeing ‘Band Geek Love’ on the bookstore shelf,” she says.

Setting spineto-spine with any number of other young adult titles on bookstore shelves, “Band Geek Love” couldnt have been better timed. With astonishing sales in young adult fiction, from the sparkly-poo vampires of Stephanie Meyers “Twilight” series, to the ohn o - t h e y - d i d n t teen drama-rama of “Gossip Girl” and “The Clique,” young adult fiction has become one of the most popular genres for both teen and adult readers.

"Everyone was (or currently is) a young adult and can identify with the emotions and conflicts and insecurities of that time of life,” Bloss says. “There are some really great young adult books coming out right now." For Bloss, reading was a fundamental part of growing up and developing as a writer.

"I more or less read anything I could get my hands on in almost every genre, although I did have a particular love of historical fiction when I was in high school,” she says. “Reading widely and wildly was, I think, the best possible training for me to become a writer." That training has paid off, as Bloss debut has been met with ravenous excitement, especially from the hard-to-please band-geek contingent.

Shell follow her debut with the upcoming “Band Geeked Out,” due later this spring. A third novel, expected next year, is also in the works. But even with a year-to-year publishing schedule, Bloss isnt resting on any laurels.

"Theres always more to do with getting the word out and maintaining a Web site and an online presence and responding to emails and, of course, writing the next book,” she says. “You dont get to just type The End and send the manuscript off and be done with it.”