MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR M.S. SPENCER
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
My pen name is M. S. Spencer. I write cozy mysteries and romantic suspense. As of December 2018 I have published twelve novels, with one more under contract.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
My upcoming release (December 17) is Flotsam & Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair.
I went to a book signing on Amelia Island—the southernmost of the Sea Islands of the Atlantic and was intrigued by its crazy history.
Here’s the blurb:
State Park Rangers Simon Ribault and Ellie Ironstone are used to dealing with messy campers and ravaging raccoons, but when three bodies wash up on the beach, they mobilize all their powers of deduction. Who are they and how did they get to the shore of Amelia Island? Are they connected to the secretive League of the Green Cross? Or linked to a mysterious Jamaican drug ring?
Ellie, new to Amelia Island, must penetrate a close-knit community if she wants to find answers to the mystery, all while deciding between two rivals for her affection: Thad, the handsome local idol, and Simon, the clever, quirky bookworm.
Simon, for his part, will have to call on his not-so-well-honed romantic prowess to lure Ellie away from Thad and at the same time use his wide-ranging research skills to solve the case.
The book will be available at Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, ITunes, KOBO and Indigo. Here’s the buy link: https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/6345-flotsam-and-jetsam-the-amelia-island-affair.html
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
For the Love of a Spy: the Scrivener and the Handyman, releases December 27 from I Heart Publishing. Here’s the blurb:
When Maris Graystone, political writer, and Michael Kinder, CIA troubleshooter, meet, sparks fly. Their love affair intensifies against the backdrop of the dramatic world events of 1991. Michael appears and disappears at unpredictable moments, leaving Maris limp and lovelorn. Looking for safe harbor for her emotions and her body, she accepts the advances of a dashing French diplomat.
Torn between the luxury and comfort of Émile and his chateau, and the romance of international intrigue with Michael, can she make a choice?
It will be available at the publisher, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, I Tunes, and KOBO. Here’s the pre-order buy link: https://www.iheartbookpublishing.com/for-the-love-of-a-spy-the-scrivener-and-the-handyman.html
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
My first published book was a romantic suspense. I enjoyed writing it, but ever so slowly murders began creeping into the story. I resisted for awhile, but the lure of the puzzle was too enticing.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
As the story unfolded, I had to study not just the history of the Isle of Eight Flags, but also Geechee (Gullah) culture, Cuban issues, and medical questions, like how to tell when a person’s been strangled.
Can you tell me about your Series?
I don’t write series. Every book is a stand-alone story.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I take a two-mile hike before falling back exhausted into bed. An hour later I’ll make breakfast and settle down to the laptop. Once I’ve spent as much time as I can justify checking emails etc., I start to write. After lunch and nap, I begin again. I usually write for about five hours a day.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
Ah, this is a fun one. Entitled Orion’s Foot: Myth, Romance, & Murder in the Amazon, it is in edits and will be released next year. Here’s the blurb:
Petra Steele is wallowing in self-pity after being dumped at the altar when her brother Nick invites her to come to the Peruvian Amazon. Before she even sets her suitcase down, she’s confronted with a murder victim. Mystery piles on mystery in a research station peopled with a quirky assortment of scientists. Why does the herpetologist sneak off to look for buildings? Why does the botanist claim he’s found a missing link between birds and dinosaurs? Is the biologist searching for a mythical monster or a living fossil? And why did the eccentric millionaire bring his prototype telescope to the jungle?
She is drawn to Emory Andrews, the ornithologist, a gruff, big man with a secret past, until his beautiful ex-wife shows up. More murders, more secrets, more mysteries ensue, all in the deeply romantic, sizzling jungle.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
Very important. I try to find names whose etymology relates in some way to the story. In Lapses of Memory, Olivia’s French love interest is named Rémy de Beaumec (which means “handsome guy” in French). Some of the characters–including the heroine–in Whirlwind Romance, my Caribbean romantic suspense novel, are named for famous Spanish Main buccaneers.
Where do your ideas come from?
Usually from the setting, and sometimes from doodling around on Google. In The Mason’s Mark: Love & Death in the Tower, I discovered this incredible character on the internet—a renegade Mason who had conspired with everyone from Communists to the CIA. He plays the shadowy bad guy.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
I’ve been moving from romantic suspense to cozy mystery over the last few years. The biggest challenge was in having a male POV in my December release, Flotsam and Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair. That’s enough experimentation for me now.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Probably the first three chapters of a first draft. The characters are defining themselves, and subplots winkling their way into what was supposed to be a simple story line. I can’t name the creatures until I know them better, so they’re all [Name 1] or [Name 2] for the first hundred pages. Thank God for word processing.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I have had a few trailers made, but haven’t done much with them. I’d like to know whether they are an effective marketing tool or not.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Raising two wonderful children.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Having my own schedule—which doesn’t mean I can work when I want. It means I’m free to stop writing and gaze out the window, or feed the squirrel, or scratch a bump—just so long as it takes less than five minutes.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Here, but older.
Have you always liked to write?
Oh, yes. I’ve written reams of lousy poetry (some of it published by remarkably indulgent people), and always thought I’d be a writer; that is, when I didn’t want to be an anthropologist, or a librarian, or a Metropolitan Opera star.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Write every day, and edit twice a day.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
Well, I am also a librarian—and would be overjoyed to be back in a university or research library again. Or any library really.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
If I didn’t read them, I wouldn’t know if I had reached a reader. The whole point of writing is to make people think, and dream, and imagine. A review tells me how I’m doing. I always respond, thanking the reviewer for their time and insight and for the privilege of having my work read.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
I don’t think I’m alone when I say, the synopsis. And the blurb. Both really. Yuck.
What are you working on now?
I’m halfway through the first draft of a mystery set in Maine, tentatively entitled Mrs. Spinney’s Secret. It’s about a Hollywood movie team that descends on a small Maine town. During the production, long-buried secrets of the worst American naval disaster of the Revolutionary War are unearthed, and murders abound while the hero and heroine are on the track of treasure.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
I’ll give you a bit from Orion’s Foot, slated to be released next year. Keep in mind, it’sonly in first edits now.
From Orion’s Foot: Myth, Romance & Murder in the Amazon, by M. S. Spencer
As the launch pulled up, a bare-chested man wearing nothing but a pair of cotton shorts ran toward them waving his arms. “Mr. Nick! Mr. Nick!”
Nick jumped off the boat and held his hand out for Petra. “What is it, Winston?”
“Come quick. Mr. Lewis…it’s Mr. Lewis! Hurry!”
Joaquín called. “I have put your luggage on the dock. Good luck!” He reversed the boat and headed back up river.
The two strode up the steps after Winston, Petra barely having time to take in the tapirs—large gray animals resembling baby hippos—grazing on the bank, and the blue and yellow macaws infesting a huge kapok tree in the center of the yard. She almost stepped on a toucan pacing the top step.
Winston swept the bird aside. “Get out of the way, Molly. Stupid bird.”
He led them into a small lobby and down a corridor to a series of open doors. Petra glimpsed a modern laboratory through one. Winston stopped at the next room. It was filled with men. They sidled in. Nick put a hand on the shoulder of one man, a blond with a pink face covered in freckles. “Alex?”
Alex pointed. “Aguirre brought him inside.” A man with a crewcut and heavy five-o’clock shadow knelt by a figure lying on the bed. He looked up, his eyes red-rimmed. “It’s Lewis.”
Petra looked over his shoulder and sucked in a ragged breath. There wasn’t much left of the man named Lewis Gordon. His cheeks had been torn off, leaving bloody hollows. One arm was gone, and his stomach ripped open. Whatever had done this had taken—eaten?—the organs, so the cavity was almost clean.
“He didn’t die in here, did he?”
“No.” Winston spoke behind them. “I pulled him from the river. Many, many piranhas feeding.”
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
I started out with quite spicy romantic suspense, and gradually, despite every effort to resist, moved to cozy mysteries. I love devising puzzles. The romance remains, but the sex is a little more refined.
Where did your love of books come from?
Both my mother and father—and all my grandparents—were avid readers. I read anything I could get my hands on—especially if it were called a classic. I figured it must be considered a classic for a reason. Except for Charles Dickens, my thesis usually proved true.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
Currently I enjoy thrillers—especially those set in exotic locales. James Rollins is the best.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
I promised never to tell. I love them all equally, almost as much as I love my children.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I’m not sure what that means.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I assume readers like original stories; if not, they wouldn’t keep buying new books!
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have lots of on-line writer friends—met through my publishers, or at book signings, Facebook groups, and writers associations. We are an extremely supportive lot, especially because writing is such a solitary job. We swap marketing ideas, blurb commentary, etc.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Three degrees of separation.
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Linked in: www.linkedin.com/in/msspencerauthor
My Author Pages:
The Wild Rose Press:
I Heart Book Publishing:
Romance Books 4 Us: http://www.romancebooks4us.com/M.S._Spencer.html