Author Interview: Dianne Greenlay
Read more about B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree authors at:
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.
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: 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 :).