Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Virtual Book Tour: Quintspinner by Dianne Greenlay

Today we are fortunate to host the Virtual Book Tour for Quintspinner. Author Dianne Greenlay has stopped by to answer some questions about her new award-winning novel YA historical novel.

Here's the blurb for Quintspinner: 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 fiance'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.

We welcome author Dianne Greenlay.

Hello to you all at ReaderGirls! Thanks for your interest in my guest blog today.

I got the initial idea for QUINTSPINNER - A PIRATE'S QUEST when I was Googling a medical condition and in the search results, up came "women pirates". I have no idea what the connection was, but often the little gremlin who lives inside my computer steers it in ways I have no control over. At the time, I didn't even know that there were such things as women pirates and I mistakenly thought that women weren't allowed on ships. I was curious and so began to read about them.

It seems that there were several very well known women pirates throughout the ages and two of them - Anne Bonny and Mary Read -  led lives that were truly stranger than fiction. They lived and sailed in the early 1700's and I thought they would be great characters for a fictitional account of piracy in the West Indies. However, several writers with much more writing skill than I possessed had already done that. There were dozens of books and blogs written about these two women, and these ladies were, and still are, the center of many controversies.

Somewhat disappointed, I continued to read about their male counterparts and the idea of making my own characters began to form. Around the same time two things occurred: I was on holiday in the Caribbean and had purchased a spinner ring for myself, and I came across an article which mentioned that sailors (both the good guys and bad) were a superstitious bunch. I already knew that spinner rings were fashioned after ancient Tibetan prayer wheels whose spinning movements were thought to provide powers of prophesy and the ability to heal. Since the age of piracy was loaded with vast amounts of treasures, it seemed a natural fit to include a special ring capable of extraordinary abilities, and set it among a group of tough guys who were, nevertheless, highly influenced by their beliefs in magic and curses.

The appeal of pirates is universal, I think. Deep down, unless you are a Hobbit, everyone loves adventure - either first hand or by proxy. One of the first books published on piracy was a sell out in 1724. The public were at the same time, horrified and fascinated by descriptions of these sea-faring individuals. Of course there were other books such as Treasure Island that revved up readers' imaginations. More recently there is the popular Pirates of the Caribbean movie series, which presents pirates in a very attractive light - swashbuckling, daring, adventurous - and they were all of this. However, pirates were often vicious and cruel. Their lives were brutal and short. My novel attempts to present pirates somewhere in the middle of these descriptions.

When I settled on my story line, I had not given any thought as to the requirements of the historical genre. It is only now in retrospect that I realize that it takes much more preparation and research than any other genre. I had had some experiences in the ocean: I had sailed on a replica pirate ship in Mexico, been swamped in an inflatable Zodiac boat by a spouting Orca off the coast of Vancouver Island (an Orca is the size of a small mountain with teeth), been stalked by a 5 foot shark while sailing a Hobie Cat off the shore in Mexico (and me with no paddle!), snorkeled a shipwreck reef off the coast of Cuba, been smashed into the coral reef while attempting to learn to surf off the coast of Hawaii (those wounds took forever to heal, the worst of which was to my ego), and had the opportunity to haul sail on a tall ship off the coast of Nova Scotia (I failed miserably, having the strength to haul the main sail no further than about 12 or 15 feet up the mast which was 30 feet tall. Yikes! In pirate times, I would have been thrown overboard for my uselessness ... )

I toured the Canadian maritimes, finding plenty of sailing and piratical history there - remnants of 1700 forts and artillery abound, and the curators of such historical sites are full of great stories and historical tidbits. I made frequent use of my local public library to obtain reference texts on sailing and pirates, built up my own personal library of books on life in the 1700's (it seemed everyone gave me a book on pirates or sailing for Christmas that year), and of course I used the Internet to gain even further knowledge on topics like medicinal herbs. I kept binders of information that I had collected, and I had developed a loose outline of the plot. However, when I was actually writing, my characters often galloped madly off in directions that I had not initially envisioned, providing unexpected twists in the plot.

I was also very fortunate to have attended the Surrey International Writers' conference, at which I had a one-on-one session with historical author extraordinaire, Diana Gabaldon. She offered some very useful and succinct pointers when writing in the historical genre such as don't get bogged down in domestic details; use only details that add significantly to the plot or those which help define the character's needs or shape his/her actions.

Now that I am through the process, I am well on my way in writing Book Two in the Quintspinner series, and although I am researching some new areas for the story, all of what I have learned about pirates and the 1700's can be put to good use again. History never changes!

Quintspinner is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters/Indigo

About the author: 
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.

Where you can find Dianne Greenlay:
Facebook Group http://on.fb.me/kFmjca ;
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8679729

Next stop on the tour:

Thanks to Dianne Greenlay and Goddess Fish Promotions


  1. Wow, most fascinating! And fun! It's like a research version of those puzzle/maze games. Congrats!

  2. Thanks for stopping by Pauline! And thanks to Meg, Caitlin, and Laurie for hosting me; you have a lovely site! :-)