Posted August 18, 2014 by in Interviews

A Chat with Author Dianne Greenlay

Four years ago I had the opportunity to read and review a new book by an unknown author; Quintspinner by Dianne Greenlay was captivating. In my review I wrote, “This newbie author has created a wonderfully entertaining page-turner filled with dark magical lore, murder, pirates, and romance. Dianne Greenlay has accurately and tangibly captured 18th-century activities, portraying the difficulties of daily life in such a way that astounds while simultaneously drawing the reader even deeper into the adventure. From medical practices involving mercury to the pressing of children into service for the navy as ‘powder monkeys’, these activities seem so barbaric that it could easily disconnect the modern reader from the experience. But Dianne Greenlay is able to maintain the tether connecting the reader to the story through the use of colorfully descriptive context, bits of commonly known historical references and communicative dialogue between an informed character and an uninformed character, thus educating the reader.”
Since then Dianne has released a second action-packed installment in the Quintspinner saga, and there is rumored to be a third. Dianne has taken some time out of her busy schedule to spend some time with Bookkaholic.
RS: You have attributed the spark for Quintspinner to a medical term Google search gone wrong. First of all, what was it you were actually trying to look up? Second, prior to that magical moment, did you have aspirations of being a writer?
DG: I was looking up information about malaria and dengue fever, as a patient of mine had contracted a mosquito-borne disease while he had been away on vacation. The term “Women pirates” came up in the search results. Mosquito-borne infections were, and are, very prevalent in many topical locations such as in some of the Caribbean, which was where “the Golden Age of Piracy” took place in the the early 1700′s.
Prior to that moment, I had had the usual thoughts -  “I should write a book someday” - that many of us entertain, but until then I had not had any firm ideas on what to write about or where the setting should be. Women pirates certainly caught my attention. I hadn’t realized that there were even such people, but it turns out that there were, and that several of them had lives that had been very well-documented. In particular, two of them - Anne Bonny and Mary Read - led lives that were truly stranger than fiction. It caught my imagination and wouldn’t let go. I read about the pirate lifestyle and could think of nothing else.
RS: You have confessed to not being very computer-savvy; however, you do have a blog. One of your blog entries defines the difference between being a writer and being an author. At what point in your Quintspinner journey did you cross over from being a writer to an author?
DG: I think that happened to me at my book launch party. I live in a small town of less than 1700 people, but several hundred people showed up at the launch party, including reporters from two newspapers. The launch party was fantastic. It was pirate-themed and had a rousing author Q&A, as well as a surprise live reenactment of one of the dramatic moments from the book. People sang sea shanties, had a glass of “pirate grog”, and plates of seafood hors d’oeuvres. It lasted over three hours and I sold my first 150 print books that night. I was both published and had made money on my writing for the first time!
RS: You are a very busy lady! As a physiotherapist and author, you somehow make the time to do things like learning to play the fiddle, renovating houses, and participating in live theatre; basically, activities that make you happy. It’s obvious, though, that writing is a passion for you. Do you think you will ever take the terrifying leap to full time author?
DG: It would all come down to finances. If my books found a following large enough to support me in my present lifestyle (my annual winter trip to a tropical beach is for research purposes, you understand…), I would most definitely enjoy writing full time.
And, ahem, Rachel, I’m going to break a little bit of news here with you and your followers: I was invited by Wattpad, an online reading site, to put Quintspinner, the first book in my series, on that site as one of their featured novels. I did so, and in less than 18 months it has gathered over three quarter of a million reads, which in turn has caught the attention of :
  1. a New York literary agent,
  2. a Hollywood screenwriter agent, and
  3. scouting executives from seven different Hollywood production companies!

Initial inquiries only so far, but it’s gratifying and very exciting to know that the story is of interest to so many readers as well as to others in the book and film business (and thank you, THANK YOU to all of those readers and reviewers for your enthusiasm and for your wonderful comments about Quintspinner). Truly, the most powerful promotion of a book is through word-of-mouth recommendations of reviewers, bloggers, and readers, to their friends. So, writing full-time? That would be a dream come true.

RS: Although a YA historical fantasy, your Quintspinner series is a rather serious story, and a huge undertaking as an author. How did the rather light-hearted book The Camping Guy come about?
DG: Earl and Johnson, the two characters in The Camping Guy, are loosely based on some real-life situations with a couple of fellows that I was once on a vacation with. These two guys kept the rest of us in hysterics most of the time with their bantering back and forth and all the while, as any sneaky writer would do, I was taking notes!

The Camping Guy (Kindle Edition)

By (author): Dianne Greenlay

Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only
Release date April 2, 2014.

RS: As of now, there are two books in the Quintspinner series, but I have heard discussion that a third is on the way. Can you tell me a little of what to expect and when you hope to release it?
It’s true! I am presently at work on the third novel in the series, and hope to have it available later this fall. It is a continuation of Tess’s and William’s adventures (the danger factor and stakes get ramped up quite a bit in this one), and it takes place once again in the Caribbean waters, finishing up in Port Royal, Jamaica. Spoiler alert (kinda): there is a WHOPPING BIG TWIST coming in this third story, though - and I can hardly wait to get it all captured on my computer screen!
RS: In all of the research and imagining you have done for this series, what are your most and least favorite aspects of life in the 1700s?
DG: Favorite aspects would have to be the strength and fitness of people who lived back then. No gym passes required. For research, I once tried to haul the sail up the main mast of a tall ship and failed miserably at it. Afterwards, the ship’s captain confessed to me that the sail and yard arm weighed about 250 pounds in total. So, it is astounding to me that young sailors, many of them only teenagers, routinely hauled sails as part of their daily job. Cannons onboard ships weighed tons and were maneuvered into place using brute force and elementary tackle and rope set-ups. Hmm, let’s see, on a less fierce side of things, another favorite aspect for me was the clothing style of the rich, particularly the gorgeous, flouncy dresses of the wealthy women.
Least favorite aspect definitely was the filth and diseases that were prominent parts of most people’s lifestyles back then. Being a physiotherapist and retired EMT, I have a kind of morbid fascination with how people lived through and with, their wounds and diseases.
RS: You have admitted to not reading as much as you would like, which means that you ARE a reader as well as an author. So who would you list as your top three favorite authors? 
DG: I love to read and to be swept away in a book’s plot. Here are several authors whose books are on my bedside table:
1. Tess Gerritsen is a present favorite. Her stories always have a medical component in them and the plots move along with lightning speed.
2. Michael Crichton - King of adventure novels. Gone but not forgotten.
3. James Patterson, known for his many twists and turns in plots, and also for the very short chapters (not unlike my own) which, if you are like me and can’t stand to put a book down halfway through a chapter, are a busy person’s ​​salvation!​
​Thank you, Rachel, for this opportunity​ to chat with you and subscribers of Bookkaholic. I must get back to my storyline as I am in the middle of a fierce sea battle and the smell of smoke and gunpowder  is surrounding me. (Or, on second thought, that may just be my neighbor’s barbeque again…) Cheers! -Dianne

Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only
Release date June 12, 2014.

Rachel Storey

Software engineer by day, bookworm by night. I love reading. I love writing about reading. I love talking about writing about reading. I joined Bookkaholic to have great conversations about literature, so please feel free to leave comments and discussions.