Saturday, January 25, 2014
Interview of Author M.S. Spencer
Latest Book: Released January 7, 2014: The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance)
M. S. Spencer has published eight best-selling contemporary romantic suspense novels. She has lived or traveled on five continents, has several degrees, and has worked in libraries, for professors, the U. S. Senate and Dept. of the Interior. She has two fabulous grown children, and currently divides her time between the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.
Q: How did you celebrate publishing your first book?
A: I squealed. Then I hyperventilated.
Q: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
A: Not really. I write in spurts, stopping when the inspiration slows. I find if I force the issue—set a certain numerical goal, I end up with a bunch of words and not much sense. It’s important to write each day, but if it’s trash, what’s the point?
Q: If you could change something about your first book, what would it be?
A: I would probably flesh out the hero more—I concentrated so much on the heroine that he was kind of left out. Readers have opined that they'd like to know Michael better.
Q: Do you eat comfort food/listen to music when writing?
A: Neither. I never eat between meals and I can’t multitask. Music, especially music with a repetitive beat, drives me nuts. I do, however, pick at bumps, stare out the window, scratch my nose, stretch my legs out, check for alien spaceships, and make lists.
Q: How do you choose names for your characters?
A: That’s one of my favorite chores. I like the names to have meaning—the more obscure the better. My hope is that my readers will see it as a puzzle (sort of lagniappe to go with the book—as in, "But wait! There's more!" For example, in Mai Tais and Mayhem there are 23 characters with names of fish—some familiar, some not. The good neighbor's name in Triptych means "saint." In Lapses of Memory one of the male characters has a name that means "hunk" in French. And one of the crooks in Artful Dodging is called von der Dieb—German for "thief." I use several sources for ethnic names and etymology, but I also make up names from other languages. In Mason’s Mark, Gasparo Scordato means “treasure bearer who is left behind.” You’ll have to read the book to find out why.
Q: Covers. Ever get one you wish you could change?
A: Yes, and unfortunately the missing piece didn’t hit me until after it was finalized. Totally my fault.
Q: What genre would you like to try writing that you haven’t yet tried?
A: I have written several children’s stories that I’d like to edit and submit. I have a whole series on the adventures of Edward the Fly (yes, he’s a real fly)and one lovely long story that imagines what happened to the white dove Noah sent out to see if the flood waters had receded. Entitled Lila, it’s more allegorical than religious but is written in a style reminiscent of ancient storytellers.
Q: Have you ever used an incident from your real life into one of your books?
A: Are you kidding? Of course! I figure that’s what my life’s adventures have been for—as fodder for my writing. Otherwise why live in Egypt, and Turkey, and France? Why go to the Amazon? Why study Arabic, German, French, Ge'ez, Farsi? Why work for the U. S. Senate and research Ethiopian history in the Library of Congress?
Q: Any part of a book that drives you crazy as you write: beginning, middle, or end?
A: Beginning. I only get in my stride after the third chapter. The first chapters tend to wander off in various directions. Once I’ve settled on a thread I can bring them together and we’re off! I already have the end in my head.
Q: How many stories are swirling around in your head? Do you keep a mental list, a computer file, or a spiral notebook filled with the ideas?
A: Actually all I have in my head are assorted experiences. I don’t usually have stories queued up. Often I will build a story based on the setting. My current WIP, entitled Whirlwind Romance, is set on Longboat Key, where I currently reside. The Mason’s Mark is set in Old town Alexandria, my old stomping grounds.
Answer all these, please.
Q: What is your favorite holiday and why?
A: Thanksgiving. It's got all the essentials: friends, family, food, adult beverages, and football.
Q: What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
A: I took a six-week trip on public buses through the Middle East surviving mainly on Kit-Kats and apples. To this day I can't stand Kit-Kats. I once swam with pink dolphins in a chocolate-brown tributary of the Amazon.
Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I always wanted to be a writer, as soon as I finished my careers as anthropologist, coloratura soprano, and queen.
Q: Favorite food.
A: I love pretty much all food except coconut and marzipan.
Q: Favorite happy memory.
A: Pushing the stroller with my first-born and for once in my life having no doubt that I was doing exactly the right thing.
Q: Favorite drink.
A: Champagne! Bollinger Brut when I can get it. Schlock when I can't.
Q: Hot summer days or chilly winter nights?
A: Hot summer days if I have a pool in my backyard; chilly winter nights if I have a fireplace. Since now I have neither, I'd have to say chilly winter nights. And hot summer days at the beach. Oh dear, I can't make up my mind today.
Q: What is the top thing on your bucket list?
A: A safari in Botswana. Then the Galapagos. And a cruise through Scandinavia and Russia. Hey you! Again with the indecisiveness?
Q: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
A: I think it would be the ability to travel in time—not forward, but back so I could hear what people then thought of the future. Well, forward too—but just as far as my own time. Also, the ability to drink like a fish without any consequences :).
Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
Secret Cravings Publishing
BLURB: The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance)
In both the best and worst first day at work ever, docent Claire Wilding meets the man of her dreams, but her carefully rehearsed guided tour of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial falls apart when she discovers a dead body. Together with Detective Ernest Angle, she's drawn into a dark world of black ops and Italian renegade masons, of secret cabals and hidden treasure. Also cloaked in mystery is her new love Gideon Bliss. A George Washington expert, he haunts the Memorial, his manner evasive. What is his secret? Claire fears she'll fall in love with him only to learn he's a thief or even a murderer.
Juggling two eccentric mothers, an inquisitive sister, and an increasingly smitten Ernest, Claire must find answers to a complex web of intrigue, including which black ops agent to trust, where the beautiful Dorcas fits in, and if she'll ever be able to be with Gideon.
EXCERPT (R): Vikings Win
“Yes, thanks. You’d better get back in here—the game’s about to start.”
Gideon sat down next to Claire and handed her a plate and a roll of paper towels. “Mother doesn’t think she can make it to my court appearance next Tuesday.”
“Is she upset with you?” Claire tore the last whisker of meat off the bone and chewed lustily. Gideon leaned toward her and gently wiped the sauce from her mouth. They took a minute to gaze happily into each other’s eyes.
“Well, a bit. After all, no Bliss has ever been accused of theft. Dueling, yes. Womanizing. Gambling. But not theft. I’m afraid she thinks I’m guilty.”
“How? I mean, why?”
“Maybe because I won’t confide in her. At this point only three other people know of the Washington letter—Allen Greystone, the conservator, you, and Frederick Nutley.”
“I thought you hadn’t told Professor Nutley?”
Gideon took a swallow of beer. “Fred came to see me after my arrest. I had to tell him.”
“So why hasn’t he shown up to support you?”
“I don’t know. I imagine he thinks he would only make it worse, considering his reputation.”
The first quarter started and the two were drawn into the inglorious battle between her favorite team and his. Claire leapt to her feet, scattering potato chips on the floor. “Did you see that catch? Jackson is amazing, isn’t he?” she crowed. “The Redskins might as well give up now and head for the locker room.”
Gideon sniffed. “We’ve got three more quarters to go. The Vikings are notorious for blowing it in the fourth.”
“Never. Vikings never give up. Why, when Fran Tarkenton—”
“Spare me, m’dear. That was thirty years ago. The Purple People Eaters have been on a slow slide to oblivion since then.”
He caught her arm in midair, turned her palm toward him, curled her fingers over it and kissed them. “Kiss a fist for peace.”
“I’ll show you a fist. I’ll—”
Her pummeling had no effect, at least on Gideon’s chest. When he pinioned her arms and held her close she could feel the erection grinding into her thigh. He let her arms go and circled her waist, pulling her to him. He groaned, “Claire.”
The noise of gridiron battle faded and she heard nothing but the steady thrumming of her vulva and the rhythmic thumping of his cock against her. “Gideon. Gideon? Remember what I said. Remember I…We shouldn’t…”
“You’re right, not here.” He lifted her, tossed her over his shoulder, and took the narrow steps to her bedroom two at a time.
After a short mental struggle, Claire accepted the inevitable. How to turn defeat into victory? “You just don’t want to watch your Redskins lose, do you?” When he didn’t answer, she took the opportunity to undo his belt and pull the zipper down. He fell backward on the bed, allowing her to free his cock and fasten her lips around it. She shifted around to face away from him and shimmied backward, bringing her pussy within reach of his lips. He took a mouthful of quivering red flesh and sucked. She gasped with pleasure, then bent to her task. A few moments later both backs arched and, mouths glued to genitals, they rolled off the bed. Ichabod screeched and bolted out from under them.
Claire waited for her breath to come back. “Vikings will win. Mark my words.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks so much for having me. I love RB4U and all the great people here.