Today, we have Dianne Greenlay with us to tell us a little about her book, Quintspinner: A Pirate’s Quest and a lesson on everything pirates. I thought this fitting because of the recent release of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides! So, takeover Dianne!
Hi Sana, thanks for much for inviting me to your site to talk about my YA novel, QUINTSPINNER – A PIRATE’S QUEST.
QUINTSPINNER was an intriguing novel to write because of the lifestyle facts that I unearthed in preparation to writing a story set in the sailing world of the early 1700’s. This particular time is referred to in history books, as “The Golden Age of Piracy”, and although there have been pirates around for as long as history has been written down, the better known pirates – Captain Kidd, Anne Bonny, Blackbeard, just to name a few – were all sailing and plundering ships along the eastern coast of North America and throughout the Caribbean in the late1600’S and early1700’S.
Pirates have a universal appeal for people, but the reality of their personalities was that they were not the warm, fuzzy “Jack Sparrow” kind of Pirates of theCaribbean. When I began writing the novel, I knew that I wanted to write from a young woman’s perspective, and because I have two daughters, I wanted Tess, my protagonist, to be someone that they would enjoy reading about – headstrong and a bit impetuous for her times. This kind of personality in the 1700’s naturally put Tess in a lot of danger. A secondary character, William, was written from a young male’s point of view and this inclusion was for the enthusiasm of my own four sons and the male readership!
Besides involving pirates, QUINTSPINNER is set mostly on a sailing ship, and in researching life and sailing as it was in the 1700’s, I came across many details that I included in the story. I tucked them away in a folder, and wove them into the plot as I went along.
1. On average, sailors and pirates alike ranged in age from ten to early thirties, with most being in their twenties. Sailing was a brutal life and it was not unusual for half a crew to be lost during a sea voyage due to sickness or injury. A medium sized ship could carry 75-100 crew members. Scurvy, malaria, small pox, and dysentery caused most fatal illnesses.
2. Many sailors were “press-ganged”. A roving band of sailors scoured ports and physically abducted new recruits without warning, to be replacement crew members for those who had died. Children, sometimes as young as 6 or 7, especially street orphans, were also rounded up and forced aboard to be “powder monkeys” – their job was to deliver ammunition and gunpowder to the fighters and the cannon during a battle. Many powder monkeys were killed in spontaneous explosions from the volatile gunpowder.
3. Although most spent all of their earnings when in port, some pirates really did bury treasure. Captain Wm. Kidd was said to have hidden more than one hundred thousand pounds of buried treasure (well over a value of a million dollars in today’s money) and it has never been found. Captain Kidd was captured and hung without ever confessing as to where his treasure was.
4. If no medical person was available, the ship’s carpenter, with his saws, performed all amputations, while the sail-maker sewed up wounds. Pirates drank often and a lot, for courage and to more easily bear their wounds. Drinking water quickly went stale on a sea voyage, so it was mixed with a crude rum to improve the taste and to stave off disease that plain water frequently harbored. (The alcohol offered an antiseptic effect.) Wounds were often irrigated with wine or rum.
5. A cutlass was the favorite weapon of all fighting men. It was a 2 foot long sword, weighing 3 pounds, and was worn hanging from a waist belt, giving it the nickname of “a hanger”. Pirates were never without at least one dagger, however, which was easily concealed and was a much more lethal weapon to use in close quarters.
6. Most ships’ gunners were profoundly deaf, caused by the firing explosions of cannon.
7. Goats were the preferred type of livestock carried on board a ship. They provided milk, ate less than cattle and horses, and produced far less urine and solid waste.
8. There were no toilets; men relieved themselves out on the bowsprit.
9. Laudanum ( an opium tincture) was commonly used, taken for relief of everything from colds, meningitis, and cardiac problems, to sea sickness and infant colic. It was cheaper than a bottle of gin or wine. Its highly addictive properties were not widely known at the time.
10. Most sailors could not swim well, if at all.
Several binders and research books later, I was armed ( no pun intended!) with enough details to write QUINTSPINNER – A PIRATE’S QUEST, but it quickly became apparent to me that there was much more story waiting to be told than could be held in one book. Although QUINTSPINNER is a stand alone story, I am now at work on the continuation of Tess’s adventures and spend my writing time immersed in the details of the long ago world of the Golden Age of Piracy. Readers can follow the progress on my blog and web site.
As an old pirate once said, ” May our wakes and fortunes cross again someday!”
Wow! I had no idea. When it comes to me, i was very ignorant about pirates and now i know that they are definitely nothing like Jack Sparrow, but he will always be my favourite pirate . But then again, i have a feeling that after i read Quintspinner, my opinion will change and i’ll have a new fave.
Now, a little surprise. An EXCERPT!
“Are you alright?” Tess whispered into her sister’s ear. “How have you been treated?” Even as the words left her mouth, Tess’s hands slid down to her sister’s shoulders and froze over top of a softly thickened weal on Cassie’s right shoulder. Tess pulled her hand away and stared.
“Oh my God, Cass,” she whispered hoarsely. “What has he done to you?”
Under the inquiring touch of Tess’s fingertips, an angry raised mound of fresh and tender scar tissue stood out. Clearly it was a miniature form of the powder horn depicted on the pirates’ flag.
“He- he branded you?” Tess gasped.
A brand. The pirate captain’s brand. Burned deeply into the soft flesh of Cassie’s shoulder, it marked Cassid forever as his own.
Tess swallowed hard as sudden waves of nausea threatened to expel a rush of bitter bile. Anger deeper than any she had ever known cascaded over her in a hot rush.Looking into Cassie’s tear filled eyes, and seeing the intense anguish there, she clasped her sister hard to her chest. “He will pay for whatever he has done to you!” she seethed.
“No-o-o,” Cassie moaned. “He’ll kill you if you try anything.” Her eyes pleaded with Tess. “Save yourself if you can.” She laid her own hand gently over the branded tissue. Her voice was barely a whisper.
“I am doomed.”
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, (Reader Views, 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.
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.
Dianne is going to give one lucky follower a Quintspinner T-shirt and a $10 Amazon gift card. How awesome is that!? Now, its very simple. The way to win is to comment and follow the blogs. The more you comment, the better your chances are of winning. Good luck!
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