Swordfish boat captain, active lobster fisherman and best-selling author – very few have come close to accomplishing the things New England native Linda Greenlaw has achieved.
Her time as captain of a sword boat warranted a role in Sebastian Junger’s “The Perfect Storm,” and her character was portrayed by actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in the 2000 movie of the same name. The release earlier this year of “Slipknot,” her first fiction novel, proves that she can spin a tale as well as she can live them.
After releasing non-fiction New York bestsellers “The Hungry Ocean” (1999), “The Lobster Chronicles” (2002) and “All Fishermen Are Liars” (2004), and co-authoring a cookbook, “Recipes from a Very Small Island” in 2005, she finally turned to her even more creative side, a move heavily anticipated and favored by her readers.
“Slipknot,” the first in a series of three murder-mystery novels, follows marine investigator Jane Bunker as she uncovers the truth in sleepy port town of Green Haven, Maine.
Greenlaw was contracted six years ago to write a fiction piece, though it was put aside as her publisher urged her to pursue non-fiction writing.
On Tuesday, Aug. 7, Greenlaw will visit Bethany Beach Books as part of her two-month tour, promoting, signing and discussing her first fiction piece.
Fiction writing has introduced Greenlaw to a whole new realm of originality.
“I was warned early not to make Jane Bunker the same person as Linda Greenlaw,” she said, “but that’s sometimes hard to do when you’re writing first-person. She and I shared a lot of the same opinions.”
Writing has taken her career and life experiences to new heights, though Greenlaw said she’s much more at home on the open waters.
“I don’t really have a preference when it comes to [writing] fiction or nonfiction,” she said. “Both are tough. Writing is hard work, period. I had to treat it like it was my job, because for that year, it was. I’d much rather be on my boat.”
Greenlaw first came to Bethany Beach Books in 1999, with the release of “The Hungry Ocean,” and has returned with the release of each of her subsequent works.
“It’s my fifth time to Delaware, and it’s a really nice area,” she said. “I have friends near Ocean City, so it’s nice to get back there again.”
In addition to Bethany Beach Books on Aug. 7, Greenlaw will be stopping at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach on Aug. 8. Both appearances are scheduled for 7 p.m.
In “Slipknot,” though the plot is fictitious, developments in ongoing issues along the coasts are mentioned. Environmental concerns surface throughout the book, and, in the author’s notes, Greenlaw even references Web sites where readers can learn more about these matters, including invasive species, fishing regulations and implementing ocean wind farms.
“These [subjects] sort of just developed as I wrote the book,” she said. “The topical issues are a big part of the novel and with the Internet and news, there’s a lot of information available. These issues helped to make ‘Slipknot’ interesting to write.”
She was able to complete the mystery in roughly a year, approximately the same amount of time she spent on her first three pieces, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
“I thought it would be easier writing fiction,” she supposed, “because it would mostly be what I make up. But there’s actually a lot more research than I expected.”
Greenlaw found herself managing her schedule more closely, escaping to vacant homes of friends, including Rich’s Cove and a ski house in New England, and a condo in Florida.
“During the first few months, I wasn’t getting much done,” she said. “They were really drawn out. I needed places I could go and focus on writing. Fortunately, I had friends who were willing to share some of their places. I was able to increase my writing from four to five hours a day, up to eight to 10 hours a day. It’s amazing how much more I could get done if it was quiet.”
Since her book tour began in mid-June, much of Greenlaw’s time has been devoted to getting around to her fans.
“I don’t have a lot of time and energy during the tour to write,” she said, “but in order to get the second book out next year, I have to spend some time writing, even when I’m on the road.”
She expects to transition a little easier into the completion of her sequel. “Now that I have a core of characters and a setting in Green Haven, I’m hoping that the next book will move a little faster,” Greenlaw said.
Naturally, her work is widely popular throughout her native New England, however, she has received much praise wherever she has gone, even along the Pacific Coast.
“One of the best stops on the tour is in Bellingham, Wash.,” she said. “I don’t know if people out there like Linda Greenlaw the author, or if the bookstore just does a good job promoting writers that come there, but I’ve never been disappointed.”
She will return to New England near the middle of August, with the last stop in New Bedford, Mass., on Aug. 18, and, by the sound of it, not a moment too soon.
“The 19th is at the height of the lobster season, and I’ll be right out there to pull up the traps,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting back on the water. Fishing has really become a part-time business for me now, though.”
While on the road, her father helps manage the lobster pots and tend the boat. Her mother, Martha, a cancer survivor, helped write “Recipes from a Very Small Island.” Both, said Greenlaw, have been very supportive through her writing career.
“My parents are my biggest fans,” she said. “My mother couldn’t be happier. She prefers me writing books than sword fishing. It’s a bit safer. Plus, it’s another way to pay the bills.”
For more information about Linda Greenlaw and her work, visit her Web site at www.lindagreenlawbooks.com.
Greenlaw will make an appearance at 7 p.m. on Aug. 7 at Bethany Beach Books, at 99 Garfield Parkway, for a book signing, question-and-answer session and a book reading. For more information, call Bethany Beach Books at (302) 539-2522.
Greenlaw will continue her tour in Rehoboth on Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 7 p.m. at Browseabout Books, located at 133 Rehoboth Avenue. Call Browseabout Books for more information, at (302) 226-2665.