Fishing-boat captain Linda Greenlaw, who immortalized lobster boats and fishermen’s tales in her previous non-fiction books such as The Hungry Ocean and The Lobster Chronicles, has changed course in her most recent work. Slipknot is a mystery novel set in the fictional port town of Green Haven, Maine, where a lively former detective finds herself mixed up in wind-farm politics, small-town grudges, and the murder of an infamous local.
We sat down with her for a chat and crab sandwiches at the Dry Dock on Commercial Street (where her last non-fiction book, All Fishermen Are Liars, was set). Read an extended version of this interview online at www.thephoenix.com/AboutTown.
How was writing fiction different from, or more challenging than, writing non-fiction?
This is book number five for me; and after the conclusion each of them I’ve said, “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” This was no exception. With my other books, I never needed an outline. I was writing about myself, my life, and I know how that goes, I know that story. So that was tough, thinking, “I do need to outline this thing.’ It was tough making plot decisions. But fun creating the characters. In the past, I’ve written about real people — my crew members, my friends, my parents — and this was just as much fun. You don’t place characters out of nowhere. They’re kind of like composites — everyone you know has some kind of quirk or interesting attribute.
At least two additional Green Haven mysteries are on tap. Do you have any ideas for the rest of the series?
It’s going to be the same core of characters. In Slipknot, the main bone of contention, as far as Maine issues, was these fishing regulations and the wind farm. I think in book number two I’d like to talk about lobster fishing and aquaculture, because there’s a lot of interesting things going on right now in those two industries, and there is some conflict.
How much of Slipknot’s main character, jane bunker, is based on you?
Before I even started writing Slipknot, my editor warned me that I had to be very careful to make sure Jane Bunker does not become Linda Greenlaw. But what I learned is, no matter what you’re writing, on some level, it’s very personal. It’s still you on the page. I tried to make her not me as much as I could. I would have loved to have made Jane Bunker a lot smarter than me, but that’s impossible!
Between Wednesday, June 27, and Saturday, June 30, Greenlaw will be appearing at bookstores in Boothbay Harbor, Brunswick, Belfast, Bangor, and Blue Hill. (She appears in places that don’t start with the letter ‘B’ too, just not this week.) After that, she’ll head into the rest of New England and beyond. Checkwww.fishingwithlinda.net for more details.