Today is a real treat for me because I get to introduce you to a prolific writer and a very interesting woman, M.S. Spencer . Ms. Spencer recently stopped by for the Peggy grilling ( read: nosy interview!) and her answers are as fascinating as her bio. Stick around because she’s giving us a view of her latest book The Penhallow Train Incident, and you’ll want to read this gem.
Here she is:
M.S. Spencer, The Writer :
- What drives you to write? As anyone knows who writes, it’s unavoidable (although Samuel Johnson thought anyone who wrote except for money was an idiot). I can’t go for long without writing something, even if it’s poetry.
- What genre(s) of Romance do your write, and why? Romantic suspense/murder mystery. I like a plot-driven story with some twists rather than just a straight romance.
- What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why? When I read any fiction, it’s usually mystery or humor. When I’m writing (which is every day) I read history and biography. Otherwise I get confused J
- What’s your writing schedule? Do you write everyday? I write every day for several hours, in the morning (about 9 to 11:30) and then late afternoon. In between I generally waste time.
- Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table? My study. I live in a Florida bungalow. While most of it is white and blue and red, my study has all the antiques—a beautiful mahogany desk, Dutch sink, and grandfather clock. It looks out on a tiny patio with a fountain. I can see the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico while working!
- Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnel vision? Yes, once I buckle down—usually about an hour before cocktail time.
- Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not? No. I am easily distracted and like to concentrate on the story.
- How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP? My current WIP, The Ghost Hotel, is a mystery/romance set in Sarasota, Florida. While rummaging around on the internet I came across a news story about the “ghost hotel”—a Ritz-Carlton started in 1926 by John Ringling (of circus fame) and never finished. It sat in ruins from 1926 to 1964 and was—naturally—dubbed the ghost hotel. What better to find there than a ghost?
- Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why? Actually, setting comes first, then plot. The characters have to fend for themselves until about the third chapter, when they can make a good case for both what kind of people they are and what their names should be.
- What 3 words describe you, the writer? Distractable, flexible, odd.
M.S. Spencer, The Person :
- Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing! Just one? Lessee—I studied Arabic for seven and a half years & just barely scratched the surface of the hardest language to learn there is.
- Who was your first love and what age were you? I’d say Steve Schreiber in 6th grade—he convinced me to take my hair out of the braids (it fell to my thighs) and taught me sign language.
- If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one – you’ll have to live it over and over and…. Not counting my wedding day (which could have used a little makeover)? Probably the day I galloped my roan stallion Farid across the Egyptian desert under what would be the nose of the Sphinx.
- Do you like a guy in boxers, briefs, or commando? Boxers—a little mystery is nice & it makes his legs look thin.
- If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be? I don’t use much makeup (70s type) so there’s nothing I can’t live without.
- What three words describes you, the person? Introvert, curious, generous.
- If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be? Believe me, he wouldn’t want to sing with me—even my baby granddaughter doesn’t want me to sing.
- If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together? OMG no question—Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice—I’d just sit and listen to her speak those perfect sentences.
I love the Actor’s Studio show on Bravo, so this is my version of it:
Favorite sound: A coloratura soprano singing an aria (Lucia di Lammermoor’s murder scene)
Least favorite sound: Rap beat.
Best song ever written : Nessun dorma (Puccini, Turandot)Worst song ever written
Worst song ever written: Puberty Love from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
Favorite actor and actress : Peter O’Toole and Judi DenchWho would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or dead)
Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or dead: )Benjamin Franklin because he was at the center of the incredible, exciting, amazing foundation of America.Benjamin Franklin because he was at the center of the incredible, exciting, amazing foundation of America.
What turns you on?: Good manners.What turns you off?
What turns you off? : Bad manners.
Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date ( here’s mine: “Is that your real hair?”) I almost married your sister.
What’s your version of a perfect day? Two different days—one sunny & beautiful at the beach; the other very rainy where I can sit and write all day.
The Penhallow Train Incident
A corpse on a train, hidden treasure, and the search for the Queen of Sheba’s tomb make for romance and adventure on Penobscot Bay.
In the sleepy coastal Maine town of Penhallow, a stranger dies on a train, drawing Historical Society Director, Rachel Tinker, and curmudgeonly retired professor, Griffin Tate, into a spider’s web of archeological obsession and greed. With the help of the victim’s rival, they set out to locate the Queen of Sheba’s tomb. Their plans are stymied when a war erupts between the sheriff and a state police detective who want to arrest the same man for different crimes. It’s up to Rachel to solve a mystery that includes two more murders, if she wants to unlock the soft heart that beats under Griffin’s hard crust.
The Penhallow Train Incident is set in the fictional town of Penhallow. Midcoast Maine sits right about where the state begins to change from heading due north to “down East.” The land is quite different from the southern beaches or the North Woods. Fronting Penobscot Bay, it is a region of lakes, farms, small villages, and lobstermen. Most people have lived there for generations, and refer to anyone who moves to Maine from elsewhere as “from away.” Our heroine Rachel Tinker and her hero Griffin Tate are both from away, but when a series of murders roils their adopted town, they spring into action.
Without thinking, Rachel blurted out, “Are you after the money?”
Noreen’s eyes opened wide. “Me? Money? What money?” Her expression morphed into sly. “Nah. I broke up with John back in Belize. He wouldn’t share. Said I’d run through all his cash, but I didn’t believe him.”
“So why did you come up to Maine?”
Noreen dropped Rachel’s arm. “It’s here. I can feel it. His stash.”
I’m thinking consistency is not her strong suit.
As if sensing Rachel’s sentiment, Noreen shook her head. “I had nothing to do with any robbery anyway. John told me he’d inherited the money. I’m entitled to half his stuff, you know. I’m his wife.”
“What about Hannah Sundstrom?”
“She’s dead, ain’t she?”
The fact that Hannah wasn’t yet dead when Noreen married Pinkney didn’t appear to enter into her calculations. She’s waded so far into the swamp of lies she doesn’t know she’s drowning. “What about John?”
“John? He’s still in the slammer, ain’t he? I have a free hand.” Her face darkened. “Or I did, until you and your precious Marx started sticking your honkers where they don’t belong. Damn you! Now I’m on the sheriff’s radar again.” She reddened. “If he lets John out, I’m screwed.” The woman grabbed her arm again and squeezed painfully. “It’s all your fault. Why couldn’t you just let well enough alone?” Her voice rose. “Why are you persecuting me? I never did nothing to you. You Yankee snobs and your self-righteous hi-de-hos. I hate all of you.”
Rachel took a step back and Noreen lunged forward, baring her teeth. “Don’t you run away, bitch. You need a lesson in minding your own business, you do.” She drew closer, her hands balled into fists. Rachel took another step backward, but her right heel hit a stack of wood and she fell over. As she tried to push off from the rolling logs, Noreen loomed above her. “This’ll teach you.” She drew her arm back and smashed her fist into Rachel’s nose.
Everything went black.
About the Author
Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five 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. She has two fabulous grown children and a perfect granddaughter, and currently divides her time between the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.
Here’s where you can find M.S. Spencer
OTHER BOOKS BY M. S. SPENCER
Romantic suspense and mystery, they are available in ebook and print from The Wild Rose Press, I Heart Book Publishing, and all fine on-line book stores. For more information, visit http://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com/p/my-books.html
Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press:
The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance)
Artful Dodging: The Torpedo Factory Murders (an Old Town Romance)