Name: Dianne Greenlay
Age: Eternally Young
Where are you from: Canadian prairies
A little about your self ie your education Family life etc :
I’m a university graduate, practicing physiotherapist, retired EMT, mother to a now-grown family of 6 kids, and the author of the YA/cross-over historical series QUINTSPINNER. I’m also the director of a long-running (26 years) dinner theatre, and the performance co-ordinator for our local Arts Council.
I’m a sunshine kind of girl who travels to a warm climate for a few weeks every winter (here in Canada, we can have about 9 months of cold weather) and I’ve cave spelunked in Belize, attempted to haul sail on a tall ship in the Maritimes, worn a live bull snake around my waist and lived to talk about it, had a too-close-for-comfort encounter with a pod of wild Orcas off the western coast of Canada, and an even more unnerving escort to a small craft that I was sailing, from a 6 foot shark, off the coast of Mexico, all of which is fodder for my books!
I love meeting people from all over the world. My home is refuge to several rescue cats, and I also have a resident wild deer who brings her babies into my yard at night to nibble at the bird feeder offerings, after which she and her family bed down for the night right under the evergreen tree not 6 feet away from my front door.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I am presently finishing up the third and possibly final book in my Quintspinner series, and hope to have its launch in March 2016. There has been some initial interest shown by Hollywood TV/film producers, who are interested in receiving a pitch for the series when this third volume is done.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing back in 2009. The precipitating event was a Google search gone wrong! I had typed in a medical condition in the search bar, and up popped “Women Pirates” in the search results. I didn’t even know there were such things, so out of curiosity, I clicked and read about them. I learned that there were indeed such creatures and that they and their lives had been quite well documented throughout history. I became totally hooked on their stories. The more I read about life of these female pirates, the more a story developed in my own mind, robbing me
both of sleep and productive waking time, bothering me until I sat down to capture these developing story details on paper!
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I thought of myself as a writer when I had finally written about 50,000 words in my first manuscript. No one else did though – friends, family – until I had a print copy of my first book in my hands to show to them and they saw its availability for sale on Amazon.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Apart from the mental images that kept filling my head, a well-meaning friend jokingly (perhaps with a tinge of sarcasm?) said, “Oh sure you’re going to write a book. Right.” His statement was a challenge to me – like a gauntlet thrown down. I HAD to do it then.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I think my style would be thought of as being pretty colloquial. My chapters are very short, and I like my stories to zip along with plenty of action, twists and turns. I don’t think of my books as literary masterpieces by any means- more along the lines of just absorbing entertainment that lets my readers escape from the stresses of their real lives for awhile.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Spinner rings are a prevalent item throughout the tropics, both for touristy reasons as well as superstitious ones. They are fashioned after ancient Tibetan prayer wheels which used to be spun to induce meditations and manifestations of a person’s desires – good health, love, financial fortune, etc. Eventually, someone dreamed up the idea of forging a ring that had an outer band which could be spun around the wearer’s finger for the same purpose instead. Lighter than lugging a stone wheel around, I suppose…
My protagonist was to have possession of one of these spinner rings, back in the 1700’s which was an age full of treasures, pirates, and superstitions. “Five” has always been thought of as a powerful number – five oceans, 5 continents, 5 senses, 5 elements, etc. and “Quint” sounded more exotic than “five”. I intended for there to
be a total of 5 rings eventually appearing in the series, so the title became QUINTSPINNER – A PIRATE’S QUEST.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Although QUINTSPINNER is quite graphic in places and does not shy away from the danger and violence that filled people’s lives back then, the overall message of the story was stated quite clearly by one reviewer who wrote: “You have written a story full of lessons and love, showing its readers that no obstacle is insurmountable.”
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Most of it. I did a tremendous amount of research for it, and then tried to achieve the tricky balance between using those facts and intertwining them with fast-paced fiction. I was happy with the way the book turned out in that respect, as QUINTSPINNER went on to win 14 book awards, including several for Best Historical, Best YA, and even Book of the Year.
There have been a few mentions by a couple of reviewers that they were expecting light fluff along the lines of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and were surprised, occasionally put off, and yet more often than not, delighted with the accurate portrayal of life and challenges in the Golden Age of Piracy.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
One of my favourite characters in the series, Mrs. Hanley, is loosely based on my own grandmother, and one of my “bad guys”, someone whom my readers love to hate, is a composite of several nasty and conniving people that I have met.
However, a short story (comedy) that I wrote, converted from a one act play that I penned, titled THE CAMPING GUY, is 90% based on real-life conversations that I had overheard. The theatrical version of THE CAMPING GUY won Best Play in a provincial competition last year, so in that case, I guess audiences really identified with the characters and their predicaments!
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
My strongest interest is in books with plots that have lots of action in them as well as twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I was influenced early on by Sidney Sheldon’s books.
I also have a collection by Dr. Suess – he proved books could be simple in their messages, short and sweet, AND successful.
I’m also a big fan of Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER Series. She is able to write a riveting plot full of all of the right stuff – characters you really love or hate, enough description to whisk the reader away to another time and place, but not so much as to bog the pace down, and she comes up with a perfect mix of suspense and humour. I was fortunate enough to have had a Blue Pencil session with her in person at a writer’s conference, and she helped tidy up my first book’s opening scene.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Doug Richardson’s novel, Blood Money. Doug’s a screenwriter for action/thriller movies (Die Hard 2; Bad Boys) so he really knows how to build a story with words.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Martin Crosbie. His mystery novel, THE DEAD LIST, was just picked up by Amazon in their Kindle Scout program. I read his two previous novels and was absolutely captivated by his characters.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I am finishing up the third book in my pirate series, and am outlining a couple more book ideas in different genres. I’m toying with the idea of using pennames so my YA readers don’t get confused with any works that I may produce in these other genres.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Actually, at the time I was writing Book One, I didn’t have any support. Friends’ eyes quickly glaze over when a writer starts to chatter about writing issues! Now, I belong to several author writing groups and sites, and my three favourites are eNovelAuthorsAtWork, The Alliance of Independent Authors, and Indies Unlimited. These groups give an author all of the support she could ever ask for.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I would love to reach a point where |I could sustain myself financially just through writing.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. Reader feedback and satisfaction with the storyline has been tremendously positive, especially from YA readers on Wattpad, a global online site where I was invited to have QUINTSPINNER featured and where it has amassed just under one million reds. Reader satisfaction, for me, is what writing novels is all about.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Why, ahem … I’d love to!
The first ship to arrive that day brought gut-wrenchingly bad news; the second one however, brought with it something far worse.
The mid-afternoon air, gently puffing through the open window, was laced with dancing ribbons of heat shimmer and was so heavily perfumed with the sweet scents of the West Indies’ tropical blooms that the atmosphere itself seemed deliciously flavored.
Tess gazed down at her daughter’s flawless face, the sleeping child’s little lips already pulled into the smile of a toddler’s dreamland. Thank god Hannah slept heavily, when she did sleep. Tess shook her head, still marveling even after all of these months that she and William had made this perfect, beautiful little being.
In spite of parenthood being more demanding than she’d ever imagined – good god, she couldn’t remember a time when she wasn’t at least some degree of tired – it was
moments like this – sweet, blissful, and her heart bursting with love so intense that it was impossible to –
A tortured scream ripped through the air, shredding the calm like a jagged bolt of lightning.
Oh my God! Not another one! Tess’s stomach bottomed out at the sudden onslaught of the piercing cry, her heart immediately pounding so hard that it nearly choked her.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing in the historical genre, I find out now, is considered by most writers to be one of the hardest genres to take on, because of the need for extensive research and a large proportion of accuracy. Therefore, producing a novel in the historical genre is much more work!
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I love James Patterson. His books have ultra short chapters, (convenient for me as my lifestyle permits only short periods of time to read), lots of surprises, and the stories are written in a casual style that I find entertaining.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Back in 2009, I travelled to a lot of coastal, historical sites to research and to gain little tidbits of information that can’t be gleaned from Wikipedia. But by and large, because of the internet in this day and age, writers do not have to actually travel to the sites contained in their works.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My covers were designed by Derek Murphy of www.creativeindies.com
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
There were two things:
- Getting going and writing every day, and
- Once the story got rolling, getting myself to put the brakes on and stop at an appropriate spot for the book’s ending. The entire story line was vaguely formulated in my imagination and I knew there was too much to tell to be contained in just one book, so I gave the “stopping” points/endings of each book a lot of thought.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that I could be more determined and organized than I had ever expected. I also was surprised to recognize that I could also be frightened of others’ judgment and opinions of me and my writing. Writing introduced a whole new skill set to me but also brought the unexpected benefits of a world of readers and writers into my life. As Mrs. Hanley was fond of saying, “There’s always somethin’ what comes from somethin’.”
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
When you have finally typed “The End”, do not take time off. It’s too hard to get back into the habit of writing if you take a break. And readers will want your next book NOW.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Readers’ appreciation, comments and wonderful emails to me, telling me their feelings about the stories and characters, give me a wonderful reason to get up in the mornings. It’s quite a great feeling, hearing that they care so much about my books’ characters. To my readers: Thank you! I hope I can continue to earn your support and interest in my stories.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t remember the title but it was a story about a little bear who didn’t want to learn to read, and got into trouble when he sat on a bench clearly marked “Wet
Paint” and of course got covered with paint. Moral of the story: learn to read! So I did.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I’m a sap for animal stories or for love stories or ones with raw emotions. I can cry at the drop of a hat. I also love watching comedy movies, and have no shyness about laughing out loud in movie theatres. Clever dialogue is a trigger for me.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I would have loved to have met any of the world’s great teachers – Jesus, Mohammad, or Ghandi, for instance – and to have asked them about their childhoods to determine what shaped their personalities.
Fiona: What do you want written on your headstone and why ?
Er… I’d rather not say, at my tender young age. Seems like to do so would be tempting fate.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Hobbies? Oh yes! I’m like a magpie – constantly attracted to the next shiny thing in my path. I’m quite involved in live theatre, and I play guitar, piano, and djembe, and intend to learn the bagpipes. I started a musical choir for seniors( ages 55-90) and am its musical director. We sing rock and pop, heavy metal, and alternative music. I also do a lot of gardening and most recently personally built a raised front patio and staircase out of stone at the front of my house.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love binge watching TV series. Some of my favourites are Game of Thrones, Outlander, Downton Abbey, Sons of Anarchy, Deadwood, and Nashville.
* Favorite foods: poutine, cheese and macaroni (pretty much anything with cheese…)
* Colors: turquoise blue, and emerald green
* Music: Celtic and Bluegrass and Techno Dance
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I always thought, in another life, I would have liked to have been either a medic in a war zone, or a helicopter pilot. Turns out I can’t stand the sound of guns, and I get airsick in helicopters. So maybe I’m doing exactly what the Universe intended for me to do.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it? www.diannegreenlay.com I can also be found at: Twitter: https://twitter.com/DianneGreenlay and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dianne.greenlay
Amazon.com Author Central page: http://www.amazon.com/Dianne-Greenlay/e/B004I0YYJQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1446857355&sr=1-1
Amazon UK Author Central Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dianne-Greenlay/e/B004I0YYJQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1446857502&sr=1-1