Stephanie: Born and raised on the Canadian prairies, Dianne Greenlay is the author of the hilarious story, THE CAMPING GUY, as well as QUINTSPINNER – A PIRATE’S QUEST and DEADLY MISFORTUNE, Books One and Two in a fast-paced award – winning adventure series, set in the 1700’s, in the pirate-infested waters of the West Indies. Greenlay is also a playwright, producer, and Creative Director of the long-running community theater group, Darkhorse Theatre. She is fluent in at least her mother tongue and she thanks her fierce English teachers for that. More of her thoughts on life can be found at http://www.diannegreenlay.com
Dianne, it is a pleasure to be speaking with you today! Congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion. I’ve heard wonderful things about your novel, Quintspinner: A Pirate’s Quest. Please tell me a little about your story?
Dianne: Thank you Stephanie! I am so pleased to have Quintspinner be awarded the BRAG Medallion. It is a story of Tess Willoughby, a young woman living in the 1700’s who, upon witnessing the murder of an old Seer, comes into possession of the woman’s strange Spinner ring.
As though this incident is the key to unlocking a strange future for her, Tess soon finds herself to be an unwilling passenger on a merchant ship bound for the pirate-infested waters of the pirate infested waters of the West Indies. Worse yet, she is forcibly betrothed to the murderer, who has not recognized her as being the witness to his crime.
While I knew that I was writing an action story in the historical genre, I was soon surprised to realize that readers were also drawn to both the thriller and romance elements in the story line. Here is the book’s description:
Even in the year 1717, one month, one week, or one day, can make all the difference in the world.
One month and a day ago, Tess Willoughby was the daughter of a well-to-do physician in London.
One month ago, she witnessed the murder of an old seer and came into possession of the dead woman’s odd ring – an ancient Spinner ring, known by the locals as the Ring of Prophesy.
One month less a day ago, she was wrongly accused by her father of having stolen the ring.
Three weeks ago, by her father’s arrangement for the family, she became an unwilling passenger on a merchant ship bound for the pirate-infested waters of the Caribbean.
Two weeks ago, at her father’s insistence, she became forcibly betrothed to a man who she recognized as being the seer’s murderer – a man who covets her only for her ring.
One week ago, she met a sailor and experienced the thrill of being in love for the first time.
Two days ago, she realized that such a secret love would endanger them both, and, heart-broken, she was forced to choose her loyalty.
Yesterday, her fiancé betrayed her during a pirate attack and those she loved were slaughtered.
Today, she is plotting to save her own life and perhaps to take his in retribution. The ring is urging her to decide quickly…
Tomorrow will be too late.
Stephanie: What was your inspiration to write, Quintspinner?
Dianne: My life of being a sole charge physiotherapist and EMT in a remote rural community was pretty normal. The usual assortment of injuries (bruises, broken bones, sprains, etc. – my patients’, not mine!) Had filled my days until a very unusual item came up in a Google search for a medical condition: women pirates.
What the heck? I didn’t even know that there were such things. Curious, I clicked on it and began to read. Well, it turns out that not only were there such characters, but there were many of them, and the lives and adventures of most of them were very well documented. In particular, I read about Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who, stranger than fiction, both disguised themselves as men, and quite by accident, ended up sailing on the very same pirate ship in the 1700’s through the West Indies. I read on, learning that these two ladies were described as being more determined and fearless than most of their male crew members, as they fought and pillaged their way up and down the Caribbean coastlines. Now this was good stuff – treasures, sea battles, brutal medical procedures, hurricanes, and swordfights!
I was hooked.
Being that these two female pirates were already well documented by writers who were much better writers than I, I didn’t dare try to retell their stories, but I thought that I could write my own story filled with characters from that era and lifestyle, and just let my imagination go wild. And, oh yeah, maybe throw in a few historical facts now and then, just to add realism. It would be easy, right? Boy, was I misguided!
It took only one sarcastic comment from an acquaintance to set me straight: “You are a prairie girl. You don’t sail. You don’t fight. You’re not even a history buff. What on earth makes you think that you could, or even should write about that stuff?”
Sometime during the pity party that I immediately had for myself, my hurt feelings began to morph that comment into a challenge.
I had also traveled frequently throughout the Caribbean islands and other tropical locations and knew that Spinner rings were offered for sale throughout the region, and since I wanted some sort of “item” to offer at book give-aways, etc, I researched their significance and wove them into my story. (Spinner rings are fashioned after ancient stone Tibetan prayer wheels, whose spinning movements were thought to enhance the effects of prayer and manifestation of good health, good fortune, and prophesy, which was a good fit for the superstitious populations of sailors and the West Indies.) I wanted there to be five rings and “Quint” sounded a little more exotic than “Five”.
Stephanie: That is really fascinating! How long did it take you to write your story?
Dianne: I wrote part-time for the better part of one year.
Stephanie: That is impressive time. Was there any research involved?
Dianne: Holy smokes, yes! Readers nowadays are really smart and I knew that there would be many of them out there who knew far more than I did about life in the 1700’s, sailing, and pirates, so I researched quite heavily, to make sure that what I was presenting in my story was historically accurate.
At one point, I had ordered in so much reference material, that I was on a first name basis with every librarian in our library, and had tables ( yes, tables!) full of binders, notebooks, scraps of paper with details that I felt I needed to know. I also visited several marine museums, and did short sails, even attempting once to haul the main sail up on a tall ship, (but failing miserably); I talked with sailors, strolled through historical sites, hoisted real cannonballs (incredibly heavy things), and made my own grog out of dark rum. (After all, I wanted to involve all my senses, right?) Along the way, I survived a near-fatal swamping of a small Zodiac boat by an Orca, and had the thrilling chill of being followed by a shark while sailing in a small Hobie cat boat. All in the normal workday of a researcher I guess…
As I began to write, I became immersed in life in the 1700’s. In my mind as I wrote, I saw my characters, felt the tilt of the ship’s planks beneath my feet (ahem … there may have been a little of that grog involved there), and at one point, while writing a sea battle full of cannon and musket fire, I thought I could actually smell the smoke. Turns out it was just my neighbor’s barbeque.
Stephanie: You certainly had your work cut out for you. I love research! It’s amazing when one starts to write, you get so wrapped up in your characters world. It awakens so many senses. Is as if you are really there. I love your book cover! Who designed it?
Dianne: I have a very talented designer, Derek Murphy, (of Creative Indie Covers) who has done all of my covers, and whose covers have won awards in Joel Friedlander’s ebook Covers Awards. Derek can be found at http://bookcovers.creativindie.com/
Stephanie: Derek did a fantastic job! What do you like most about writing historical fiction and is there any challenges to writing in this genre?
The historical genre, no matter what the time frame, seems to have a larger-than-life swashbuckling feel to it, although my research showed that the reality was often quite a gruesome existence. However, I loved being taken back in time on an adventure, while being able to include details that would inform and educate my readers.
At one point, I was in contact with Tyler R. Tychylaar, Ph.D, historian and noted historical author, whose historical award was one of several that Quintspinner won, and we discussed writing in the historical genre. He stated that it was generally agreed that the historical genre is the hardest one to write in because of the amount of time and effort that the research requires, above and beyond producing all of the ingredients that make up a great novel. I didn’t think about that when I started out, but I whole-heartedly agree now!
Stephanie: I completely agree! Where can readers buy your book?
Dianne: Quintspinner is available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Quintspinner-Pirates-Quest-Dianne-Greenlay/dp/1460951921/ref=sr_1_2_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371351532&sr=1-2&keywords=quintspinner
Stephanie: What book project are you currently working on?
Dianne: I am presently working on writing Book Three in the Quintspinner series, and of course, continually marketing both Quintspinner, and Deadly Misfortune, which is the second book in the series.
Stephanie: How exciting! I look forward to when your new story comes out. How did you discover indieBRAG?
Dianne: I believe it was through the Layered Pages Blog :-).
Stephanie: Thank you, Dianne!
A message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Dianne Greenlay who is the author of, Quintspinner , one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Quintspinner merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.