Thursday, April 19, 2012

M. S. Spencer Interview

Today I'd like to welcome M. S. Spencer to the blog. She's a best-selling romantic suspense author and is published with Red Rose and Secret Cravings.

You've led a very rich life with very different occupations throughout it. What called you to writing fiction? Evidently you've been writing in one capacity or another for a long time but it appears fiction's call came late for you.
Yes, I’ve written all my life in all kinds of genres, from poetry to stories to speeches to academic papers. I escaped the non-fiction realm only to be faced with Life in the form of adulthood, babies, domestic management, volunteer work (who said women who run households don’t work their buns off?). All of which went to fill my mental database with ideas and experiences. Once the heavy duties slacked off I could turn to fiction and rearrange all the bits and pieces into stories.

What genre do you feel most comfortable writing? Will you be exploring new genres in the future? Can you tell us what you have in development or perhaps coming out next?
My books are gradually moving from pure romantic suspense to elements of mystery, and a lot more humor. Artful Dodging: the Torpedo Factory Murders, coming out this month, has all those elements. I have two books in progress: one, another romantic suspense murder mystery, is set in Sarasota, Florida and involves sea turtles, Russian gangsters, exotic birds, murder and money. Oh, and romance. The second is a story of two separate romances intertwined, a mother’s and her daughter’s.

I see you've put some of your own background into your books what with a political setting in Washington D.C. What kind of research do you need to do for your books? What's the most difficult thing you've had to research to get the right feel for?
Like most writers, I want the setting and characters’ professions to be familiar enough to me to ensure authenticity. But every story still requires a lot of research (thank God for Google). Strangely, the hardest thing to find (and I’ve had to do this for several books) is a map naming smaller bodies of water. For Lost and Found, set in Maine, for Losers Keepers, set in Chincoteague, and for a current WIP set in Sarasota, Florida, I needed names of the small bays and inlets that abound in those areas. Perhaps only old salts and fishermen know their names. I’m still looking for the maps.

Can you share with us a typical work day for you? Do you have a set place for writing? Do you use a computer or write longhand? Do you start your writing process with notes, an outline or just an idea? Do you have a beginning and end in mind when you sit down to write or does the book enfold as you write it?
I’m lucky enough to be able to write full time, which means I waste a LOT of time thinking up ways to avoid writing. I usually sit down after breakfast determined to start immediately on my WIP, only to find it’s lunchtime and I haven’t finished checking emails (or brushed my teeth). My first book I wrote long hand, but now I write directly on the computer—it helps to have great typing skills. As to writing process, I usually have a general story line, mise en scène, and the dynamite conclusion in my head. Then I back and fill.

It's always interesting to ask a writer who they read. What books stay on your 'keeper' shelf for rereading?
I don’t get to read as much as I used to, partly for lack of time, partly because my tiny brain can’t process both my own story and someone else’s simultaneously, and partly because now that I’m getting old I find reading before bed keeps me awake. I love humorists like Calvin Trillin, Douglas Adams and Christopher Buckley, or Jane Austen, or English country house murder mysteries.

Here's an odd question but based on your political experiences, if you could spend a day with anyone from U.S. history, dead or alive, who would that be and what would you talk with them about?
Thomas Jefferson, because he was brilliant and so eclectic in his tastes. We’d talk government, politics, inventions, wine, and gardening. Oh, and the pursuit of knowledge. The best part would be that the debate, while lively, would remain amicable.

Is there anything you'd like your readers to know about you that perhaps an interviewer has not had the smarts to ask before this?
Golly there’s so much no one should EVER know about me. However, since writers and readers tend to love food, I’ll tell you this: I’ll try anything. Been that way since childhood. Food is fascinating. My first school lunch in France consisted of a large platter of langoustines (tiny crayfish). I’ve had foie gras (ethereal) and Russian Beluga caviar (even more so). I’d even try a deep-fried Twinkie given the chance.

I see you're a birdwatcher. Five continents would give you an amazing wealth of birds to spot. I'm so envious! Can you tell us about a special moment you might have had viewing birds in the wild? Are you keeping count of what species you've seen? Are you pursuing raptors? Aquatics? Songbirds? Others? Do you own any birds of your own and if so, can you tell us about them?

No home-birds—I like ‘em wild . Of course I have a life list! Every first sighting is exciting, isn’t it? But so is the first sight of the fully *golden Goldfinch each spring, or the Cedar Waxwing migration. In Chincoteague—site of my romance Losers Keepers—I had a family of bald eagles buzz me. The most exotic bird? Maybe the wild blue and yellow parrots in the Peruvian Amazon, or the Great Kiskadee in Bermuda, or the Swallow-Tailed Kite in the Everglades, or the Bananaquit in Puerto Rico, or...

Thank you so much for giving us some of your time and sharing your thoughts.

You can follow M.S. Spencer via her blogspot at where you can also find links for her Twitter and Facebook accounts and be kept up to date on her pursuits.


Waiting out the rain, Milo Everhart takes stock of her widowhood and the handsome man standing in the door to the bar. Little does she know she will meet that man again and again under both passionate and terrifying circumstances.

Tristram Brody waits for his date, too conscious of the beautiful woman sitting by the door. Little does he know that she will hate him for trying to destroy her beloved art center, and even suspect him of murder. Nor that she will be drawn inevitably into his arms.

Little does either of them suspect they will be embroiled in not one, but two murders, in which the fate of the Torpedo Factory, an art center housed in an old munitions factory on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, will be decided.

M. S. Spencer’s latest release takes place in Old Town Alexandria, an historic cobblestoned city on the Potomac River in Virginia. It follows the adventures of several artists at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. An old munitions factory on the waterfront, the Center lay abandoned after World War II until the 1970s, when an intrepid band of local ladies convinced the city to lease it to them. Today it houses 82 studios, the Art League, the Friends of the Torpedo Factory, and an Archaeology center.

Artful Dodging: The Torpedo Factory Murders
To be released April 24, 2012 by Secret Cravings Publishing
65,000 words; M/F; 3 flames
Romantic Suspense/Murder Mystery

Buy Link:

M. S. Spencer has published five best-selling contemporary romantic suspense novels, Lost in His Arms and Lost and Found (, Losers Keepers and Triptych (Secret Cravings Publishing,, and Artful Dodging: The Torpedo Factory Murders, to released April 24, 2012 by Secret Cravings.
Ms. Spencer would love to be contacted at any of these links:
Facebook Author Page:


M. S. Spencer said...

Thanks so much for having me--I look forward to comments! M. S. Spencer

Sarah J. McNeal said...

I know what you mean about having more time--and wasting it instead of writing. I am guilty, too.
I love that your are a birdwatcher but that you don't own any birds. It seems such a shame to cage something that should be free to fly.
Thomas Jefferson happens to be my favorite historical person as well. I also love that he played the violin.
Artful Dodging has a very clever title and sounds like an entertaining story.
I wish you the very best, Meredith.

M. S. Spencer said...

Thanks Sarah--& thanks for stopping by. It sounds as though you play the violin? M. S. Spencer

Charmaine Gordon said...

Delicious interview, MS Spence. I also got a late start writing due to serious home engineering and raising too many munchkins while my sweetheart flew airplanes and protected our country. What a time.Thank you for opening your heart and mind so freely. Wishing continued success from one author to another.
Thomas Jefferson would be my choice as well.
Charmaine Gordon

M. S. Spencer said...

Thanks Charmaine! And thank you and your husband for your service. How proud you must be!There's a story or two with every munchkin, isn't there? M. S. Spencer

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