Blurb: In the year 1717, 16 year old Tess Willoughby witnesses a murder near a London marketplace and becomes the keeper of a legendary Spinner ring. Even so, she never imagines that she will find herself an unwilling passenger on a merchant ship bound for the pirate-infested waters of the West Indies and forcibly betrothed to the murderer. Longing to be with William, a young press-ganged sailor, but unable to escape her dangerous fiancé's clutches, Tess struggles to survive in her new set of circumstances. During a pirate attack, she unravels the legacy of her strange Spinner ring and its power, realizing that her own life and those of everyone she loves, are in jeopardy. As a powerful hurricane overtakes the ship, a slim opportunity for her own escape presents itself, and she is forced to make the most chilling decision of her life. Having won multiple Book Awards, (ReaderViews, ForeWord Connections, Creative Arts Council, Sask Book Award, Eric Hoffer Award) Quintspinner is a tale of pirates, secrets, betrayal, and romance on the seas of the West Indies, all bound together by a dash of ancient magic.
Today I have Dianne Greenlay visiting The Life and Lies!
Hello Haley, Thank you so much for the opportunity to be interviewed on your blog!
1.Why and when did you begin writing?
I have always dabbled in creative writing - diaries, short pieces, letter collections, but never seriously entertained the thought of writing a novel until a couple of years go, when I realized that it was time to start achieving things that had been on my "bucket list" for too long. I wrote and produced a successful one act comedy titled "The Camping Guy" and the public feedback was an introduction for me to the joy of creating a cohesive story.
2. What inspired you to write your book?
When the topic of "women pirates" came up erroneously on a google search, I was intrigued. I read about them and was instantly hooked on the details of their lives. There has already been much written about them, in both non-fiction and fictional accounts, by much more skilled writers than I,so I decided to make up my own characters, but to use the same time frame and lifestyles. I began to research and found that people behaved so differently 300 years ago, that there were plenty of ideas springing up in my head, for a story line.
3. How did you come up with the title?
"Spinner" refers to spinner rings which are based on ancient Tibetan prayer wheels. The motion of them was thought to enhance prayers and meditations, so that the abilities of healing and prophesy would occur. Spinner rings are commonly available throughout the Caribbean and other tropical locations, and can often be purchased in stores in North America. Since the age of pirates was a time of superstition among sailors and also a time of vast treasures, I thought a piece of jewelry with special powers would be a nice fit. I couldn't decide, however, which power to give the ring, so I decided that there would eventually be five of them. Five has also been a number long associated with mystical powers - there were 5 continents, 5 oceans, 5 senses, 5 directions (with "center" being the fifth), 5 elements, and 5 planets visible to the naked eye. "Quint" had a better resonance than "five".
4. What books or people influenced your writing? Was it positive influence or negative?
Writers are often told to write in a style that interests them. I have very little time to do personal reading so I appreciate books that have short chapters and plots that zip along (think James Patterson or Michael Crichton). These kinds of novels are my favorites as I want to be able to finish a chapter in one sitting. (What is it about those of us who can't stand to put a book down before finishing the chapter?) I fit my reading in, in the 15 minute wait in the dentist's office, in the 20 minutes during lunch, in the 5 minutes before I fall asleep at night - well, you get the picture. Therefore, QUINTSPINNER has short chapters - 4 or 5 pages each - and each chapter ends on what I hope is a compelling detail or situation for the reader to want to go on to the next chapter. What you won't find are lots of pages describing setting. I'm an impatient person and I would skim over long sections of description if I came to these in my own reading.
5. How do you go about researching for your books?
I had traveled several times to islands in the Caribbean, as well as to Mexico, Hawaii, and London, England and to the Canadian Maritimes. My research was mainly focused on things that I needed to learn that I hadn't already experienced, such as life on a sailing ship, weapons used in the 1700's, and general pirate information. My local library was fantastic at retrieving resource books for me (I was there so often, they had my library card number memorized), and of course writing in the age of the Internet makes research so much easier than it used to be.
I was so fortunate that the summer that I traveled to Nova Scotia, the National Maritime Museum was hosting a huge pirate display. The curators were extremely knowledgeable about the display and about sailing in general, and they were a tremendous source of little known details and gruesome facts with regards to the sailing lifestyle.
I have a medical background, both as an EMT and a sole charge physiotherapist working in a relative remote place, so the wound care and use of medicines did not require quite so much research.
6. Did you base any of your characters on real people?
Mrs. Hanley is based loosely on my own grandmother, who was a very down-to-earth woman, full of folklore. She cooked on a wood stove and had a homemade poultice for everything from a bee sting to a phlegmy cough.
William had some qualities from a long ago boyfriend. (<blush>Enough said on that!)
7. What is the most exciting part about being a published author? What is the hardest part?
The most exciting part is, initially, to hold one's book in one's hands, and to see it offered online on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and the like. Very quickly this feeling is passed by the delight in being recognized as having accomplished the novel, and to be asked to give talks and share the experience with readers.
The hardest part, for me, is to continue on with the next book - to not be just a one hit wonder. Readers have a level of expectation now and it's a bit unnerving to meet that challenge.
8. Do you have any other books, then, planned in the future?
QUINTSPINNER - A PIRATE'S QUEST was started as a stand alone. I was only less than halfway through writing it, however, when I realized that I had so much storyline envisioned that it all couldn't be held in one book. I am presently writing the second book as a continuation on from where the first left off. I think that there will eventually be a trilogy- at least I have done an outline for Book Three as well. QUINTSPINNER - A PIRATE'S QUEST has won several awards for Best Historical and Best YA, and readers often contact me to ask when the next book will be available so I know that it is a story that has appeal.
9.Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?
Tess and William, the two main characters are of course, my favorites. I wanted to imbue traits in them that readers would identify with, both strengths and weaknesses. Mrs. Hanley was the most fun to write. She is courageous in her own way and quite outspoken without being rude. Gerta, the little black goat is also near to my heart!
I disliked Tess's parents. They were difficult to write about, but I wanted their characteristics to represent the attitudes prevalent in the 1700's, especially towards females.
10. What advice can you give to young writers who want to publish their books?
1. Make sure your manuscript is professionally edited. Yes, this is a cost. Do not rely on your aunt who is an English teacher or your best friend who reads a book a day. Professional editors have magic eyes and they see things that neither the author nor ordinary reader picks up. Personally, I did not heed this well enough.
2. Read all you can about the publishing world - it is in upheaval right now. If you are going with a traditional publisher, research the agents for their interests and what genres they represent, and learn how to do a killer query letter. If you screw up at this stage, you don't get a second chance. If you are going the self-publishing route, again research your options like CreateSpace and SmashWords, and pay to have a professional cover done for your book. First impressions (your book's cover) really do count with readers.
3. No matter which way you want to publish, build your author platform. Writers MUST have a presence on the Web - their own web page, blog, and Facebook page at the very least. Start making connections with other authors and follow agents on Twitter long before you need their services.
Just for fun:
1. Being able to hang out with my grown children ( all 6 of them) although I only get to see them a couple of times in a year. They have grown up to be wonderful adults and I am proud of the young people they have become.
2. Animals - our household has had a variety of pets including hamsters, guinea pigs, koi fish, a white rat, a rabbit, many cats, a miniature goat ( just for one day), a potbellied pig named Pieffer Pig, a Great Dane, (notice how they are getting bigger as we go along?) and a 200 pound Irish Wolfhound. One day my oldest son saw me reading "The Adventures of Dr. Dolittle" to my youngest son, and he quipped," You don't have to read that, Mom, we LIVE that."
3. White Lindor chocolate. This needs no explanation. Everyone will understand.
4. Traveling. Preferably somewhere hot.
5. Music - listening to it, dancing to it, or playing it ( piano, guitar, djembe drum)
6. Live theater. I am the director (and sometimes actress) of a community theatre group.
7. Gardening. I am lucky to live in a place where my yard is like having a private park, complete with a waterfall and a pond.
8. Meeting people and getting to know them. I have made many good friends in my travels, and through email since having had QUINTSPINNER published.
9. Reading. What a wonderful way to de-stress.
10. Having a back yard barbeque or patio party with friends.
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
I own and am a sole charge physiotherapist at a physiotherapy clinic. This takes up all of my daytime availability. Being a director of a large dinner theater each fall consumes a lot of my evenings from September to December. I try to exercise each day and sadly, get no time to watch American Idol. Oh yeah, and in between times, my husband and I renovate old houses.
3. What are your favorite and least favorite foods?
I'm a carnivore - I love a tender T-bone steak, barbequed to perfection. And did I mention white chocolate ( or any kind of chocolate for that matter)? Not at the same time of course...
BUT! Don't feed me lima beans or hot seasoned anything. I also don't like the taste of coffee so never drink it.
4. Is there a specific place in the house that you like to write?
I have a small desk in the corner of my living room that is surrounded on three sides by large windows, and flanked on the fourth by a fireplace. The actual area is marked by a small retaining wall made of heaps of books and piles of papers.
5. Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?
Most often it will be a cup of tea and a plate of cut up fruit.
6. If you could go anywhere in the whole world, either for a vacation or to live there, where would you go?
I would love to see Ecuador, and as a second choice, perhaps travel down the Amazon river. I also intend to re-visit the Canadian Maritimes to see more of it.
7. What was your favorite and least favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject was art. I loved the creative process of darn near everything. My least favorite was Phys. Ed. I was always the last to be chosen to be on a team.
8. What book are you reading right now?
I multi-task across genres when I read. I'm reading ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins, IRON PIONEERS by Tyler R. Tichelaar, and ARRANGED by Catherine McKenzie.
9. Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.
I can shingle and drywall with the best of 'em.
Saving lives by day (physiotherapist, EMT) and spinning lies by night (writer/author and playwright/director of Community Theatre), I live on the Canadian prairies with my husband in a lovely historical home that we share with a consortium of cats. Having raised a family of 6 kids ( and, amazingly, everyone lived through it!) , I have plenty of their escapades still fresh in my mind, to weave into my fiction. Whenever possible, I travel to exotic locales to research my novels and to seek out new adventures to fuel my already overactive imagination.
Thanks for visiting, Dianne! Dianne will be giving away an Amazon.com giftcard, and a Quintspinner t-shirt. Leave a comment here for a chance to win. You can visit the other tour stops and leave more comments for a better chance to win!