Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
M.S. Spencer—I’m as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth 😊
Fiona: Where are you from?
Ah, a good question. I was born in Pennsylvania and immediately decamped to Maryland, but after four years moved to Turkey. Home to Maryland for a bit, then off to Paris for a few years, on to Morocco, and back to Maryland. College in New York, a year in Egypt, work in Boston, then to Chicago for 5 years. Back to Turkey for a year, finally settling in Washington DC. I managed to stay there for some 25 years before heading down to Florida. So…kind of a mutt, home-wise.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
How about I just insert my biography?
Although I’ve lived or traveled in five of the seven continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director, and parent. After way too many years in academia, I worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in both public and academic library systems,, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. I hold a Bachelor’s degree from Vassar College, a diploma in Arabic Studies from the American University in Cairo, and Masters in both Anthropology and in Library Science from the University of Chicago.
By the end of December 2018 I will have published twelve romantic suspense or murder mystery novels. I love my two fabulous grown children and incredible granddaughter, and divide my time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Ah—very exciting. I have two new books, set to be released Dec. 17 and Dec. 27 respectively. They are available for pre-order now.
Flotsam & Jetsam: the Amelia Island affair, is a mystery romance set in Florida. Here’s the story line:
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.
December 27 will see the release of For the Love of a Spy: the Scrivener and the Handyman. It’s a romantic suspense tale set in 1991. Here’s the story-line:
When Maris Graystone, political writer, and Michael Kinder, CIA trouble-shooter, 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 harbour 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, she will soon have to make a choice.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I like to say I started writing the second I could get my chubby fingers around a piece of chalk. Thousands of “poems” (the quotation marks are deliberate) later, I wrote my first full-length novel—a murder mystery—which my husband inadvertently threw out. My first book was published in 2009, providing validation, incentive, and enthusiasm to continue.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It was the first acceptance email. When someone professional thinks you’re a writer, you’re a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A dream. Seriously. It was a very romantic dream—so much so that I lay in bed forcing myself to stay asleep until I reached the conclusion. I started writing the book already knowing the last line of the story.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I took it from a line in the story: “Lost in His arms.” The second edition, which comes out December 27, is entitled “For the Love of a Spy: the Scrivener & the Handyman. My publisher came up with the title.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Over the years, and books, I’ve allowed my sense of humour (a little quirky, a little dry) loose on the unsuspecting reader. It gets more fun every day.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Every writer injects his/her experiences into a story—whether consciously or unconsciously. Some of my books (e.g., Lapses of Memory) are more autobiographical than others. But as you write, images or memories invariably pop up that just fit—I use them happily. What’s the point in having memories if you can’t use them?
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
All of my books are set in places I know well, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to do a lot of research to ensure accuracy.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publishers—RJ Morris and Cynthia Arsuaga.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I’d prefer to hear what they get out of the book as opposed to telling them.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I enjoy thrillers—the ones that are set in exotic places with characters that have exotic jobs. I especially love those with a historical theme. Unfortunately, few of them have the writing skills of the classic British authors I grew up on—Austen, Waugh, etc.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I had an old friend from college—a writer—who read the draft of my first book in one sitting. He finally said, his throat raspy—“You write better than I do.” Wow.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It is a career! My eleventh and twelfth books come out Dec. 17 and Dec. 27. My thirteenth is currently in edits, and my fourteenth is in draft.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Oh my God, I’d be forever tinkering with it if I could. That’s what you have editors and publishers for. To tie your hands.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learn lots from every book, because I do a lot of research. In fact, some books arise out of wandering around the internet & coming across something weird or intriguing. For instance, when I was researching freemasonry for The Mason’s Mark, I came across a renegade Mason—an Italian associated with bad guys from Communists to the Mafia over a span of 50 years. In Orion’s Foot—my novel now in edits—I learned about “cryptids.” They’re legendary or very rare creatures—like the Loch Ness monster or the Yeti. Flotsam & Jetsam, which releases Dec. 17, is set on Amelia Island, “Isle of the Eight Flags.” It’s one of the Sea Islands, conquered & reconquered by eight different groups& has a wild history.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I don’t care which of my books he headlines, so long as it’s Sean Connery.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Edit, edit, edit.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I’d love to hear from you!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’ve been reading thrillers, like James Rollins’ books, plus cozy mysteries. Just finished The Lost City of Z—about Teddy Roosevelt’s trek into the Amazon.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Being a fanatical reader from the age of six, that’s not a question I can really answer. Favourite childhood books include the Oz books, E. Nesbit’s books, Mary Poppins, and Doctor Doolittle.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Funny things/sad things. 😊
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Samuel Johnson or Terry Pratchett. I could listen to either man for hours.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Not any more. With all the writing, I don’t have time for the kayaking and birdwatching I used to do.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I tend to watch re-runs—Monk, Death in Paradise, Murder She Wrote. Love old movies—Ninotchka and Shirley Valentine are probably my favourites.
Fiona: Favourite foods, colours, music?
I LOVE food, so…raspberries; meringue; caviar; foie gras; French bread; triple-cream cheese; then, corn stolen from a field; fish I just caught; filet beans I just picked. Music: country-western and opera. All colours.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Probably eating and drinking.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I shall return.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Here are my contact links:
Linked in: www.linkedin.com/in/msspencerauthor
Amazon Author Page:
My calendar of events can be found here:
Romance Books 4 Us: http://www.romancebooks4us.com/M.S._Spencer.html