Dianne Greenlay: For the Love of Writing
As an author, I am frequently asked the following two questions: what did you enjoy most about writing a novel and who is your favorite character?
To answer the question of what I enjoyed most about writing the novel, I would have to say that I loved getting the goosebump feeling when an unexpected twist in the plot revealed itself to me as I was writing. My research had unearthed a huge folder of gruesome/rivetting/ fascinating tidbits that I was weaving into the story to give it the flavour of the 18th century and there would be a moment in the plot that would often seem to provide justification for the inclusion of such factual stuff.
I had attended a presentation at the Surrey's International Writers' Conference by Donald Maass (literary agent, New York), where he told his audience to take a situation - as bad as you, the author, can imagine it to be - and then Make. It. Worse. This was such good advice as it really kickstarts the imagination. On occasion, though, it was like painting oneself into a corner and willing a rescue to happen - how in the world does one get out of it? Somehow, a solution always presented itself - such fun and much relief when that happened!
In answering the second question, I almost hate to admit this, but I started writing QUINTSPINNER with only my protagonist, Tess Willoughby, in mind. I wanted a female protagonist as I knew it was going to be an adventure novel, and it seemed to me that there were far more stories/movies out there with male leads than female, and I wanted my character to be someone that my two daughters could have been proud to know and would relate to. Of course, almost immediately, the story line needed an equally engaging male character to play opposite Tess, so William Taylor entered the story (much to the delight of my competetive four sons). However, as the story progressed, each of these characters ended up having a significant family member of their own along for the journey - Mrs. Hanley and Da' - and I grew to love these new characters as well.
Mrs. Hanley is loosely fashioned after my own grandmother, who had a talking crow in her house. Gram was a folksy sort of person who, for her entire life, cooked over a grand wood-fire stove in her kitchen, and "Joe" (the crow) mumbled and grumbled to himself as he rode around the house perched on her shoulder, commenting on everything. I grew up thinking that this was normal... :-) Da' is a compilation of the many dozens of patients that I have had the pleasure of treating in my career as a physiotherapist.
Your readers may be surprised to learn that another one of my favorite characters is "Gerta", a mischievious little black goat. In historical times, goats were the preferred choice of livestock to have on a ship - they took up less room than cattle or horses, survived on smaller food rations, and (possibly the most important reason of all) produced less waste product than the larger animals, while still providing milk and meat. At my house, we have had a wide variety of pets - a Great Dane, koi fish, a pot-bellied pig, a white rat, a rabbit, numerous cats, and a 200 pound Irish Wolfhound. My husband, fed up with having to share space with a constant stream of animals, one day threatened, "Well, I'm going to get a goat!", in a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude. So for Father's Day, I borrowed a kid (the baby goat kind - with a family of 6 teenagers, we already had enough of the human kind...) and presented her to him, complete with collar and leash. (A goat? Well, it was research, ya' know?)
He was flabbergasted. The little goat was so full of curiosity and energy, and she wanted to climb up on everything - mostly my husband's lap (ha ha!). She was wonderful to have for the day, but it was nice to give her back to the rightful owners that evening. "Gerta", in my novel, plays an important, if small, part in the action, and I based her on a blend of historical fact, and that brief first hand experience. My husband is grateful to this day that I wasn't writing about walruses...
Hahahahaha! I'm still laughing about the goat... What an awesome "gift"!! *grin* Thank you so much for sharing your month with us, Dianne! I hope you've enjoyed your visit, and I appreciate your stopping in to comment and reply to comments.
Everyone, Dianne's giveaway of Quintspinner is still on, so enter before it's too late!