M.S. Spencer (Author Interview)
March 28, 2016
Please tell us a little about yourself, the romance subgenre(s) in which you write, and your newest book.
I’ve been writing all my life, but published my first full-length novel in 2009. Before that I raised perfect children, and before that I was a perennial student—only leaving academia after acquiring assorted graduate degrees in Anthropology, Library Science, and Middle East Studies. In between I worked on Capitol Hill for a Senate Committee & learned all about energy, dams, and national parks. You might say I had a checkered career. I write romantic suspense, usually with a murder or two. The stories are action-packed and plot-driven rather than straight romances. My upcoming release is The Penhallow Train Incident.
What inspired you to write romance fiction?
A dream. Really. I had this fabulous dream and didn’t want to let it go, so I stayed in bed and sketched out the story. It became my first published novel.
You have the chance to date either Mr. Darcy (from Pride & Prejudice) or Sherlock Holmes. Which one would you choose and why?
Sherlock Holmes—not for the romance (duh) but for his incredible intellect and breadth of knowledge. Although he probably wouldn’t be any fun in bed…
What’s the most exotic setting you’ve chosen for one of your stories and why did you choose it?
It would have to be Providencia—Paraiso in my upcoming release Whirlwind Romance. It is a tiny island in the western Caribbean. The Puritans who settled it in the 17th century became pirates & smugglers & the population is now an amalgam of English, Africans, Spanish and Taino Indians. It has the 3d largest coral reef in the world and is part of the UNESO Seaflower biosphere. Henry Morgan, the buccaneer, made it his headquarters in the 17th century.
How do your family and friends feel about your romance writing?
They’re getting used to it. My sister finally bought a book.
Although M. S. Spencer has lived or visited countries in five of the seven continents, the last thirty years have been spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. Once she escaped academia, she worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in several library systems, both public and academic, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. She holds a BA from Vassar College, a Diploma in Arabic Studies from the American University in Cairo, and Masters in Anthropology and in Library Science from the University of Chicago. All of this tends to insinuate itself into her works.
Ms. Spencer has published ten romantic suspense novels, and has four more on the way. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.
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 archaeological 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.
Her companion bent forward and pinched her chin between his thumb and forefinger. “There’s…nothing…we…can…do…tonight.”
For answer he let go of her face, drew her into his arms and kissed her. The kiss was tentative. Rachel kissed him back, tentatively. “I…”
“Shut up.” This time they didn’t come up for air for a while. When they did, they stared at each other as if seeing one another for the first time. He said, “I…uh…didn’t mean to do that. I…”
She rose. “Oh, I see.” She picked up Spot and nuzzled him, hoping Griffin couldn’t see her tears well up. “I guess you’d better go then.”
He stood. “Okay. But…um, actually…what I meant to say is…I’ve been meaning to do that for a while. But I wasn’t sure…I didn’t know…I didn’t think…” He trailed off.
The bewildered look in his cerulean eyes as he shifted his weight from foot to foot reminded her of a kindly giant bobbling a baby bunny. She went up on tiptoe and touched her lips to his cheek.
The response was immediate. Griffin swept her up off the floor and charged through the kitchen door. Confronted with the refrigerator, he stopped, turned, and plunged in the opposite direction. Ending up where they’d started, he bellowed, “Where the hell’s your bedroom?”
She pointed at the ceiling. “Upstairs.”
Without another word he leapt up the steps, only banging her head once on the banisters, and dropped her on the bed. Then he stood, legs set wide like a latter-day Paul Bunyan, and folded his arms.
She lay where he’d dropped her, panting. “Now what?”
“You tell me.”
Oh, for heaven’s sake. “Come here, you great gob of indecision.”
Those seemed to be the words he was looking for, since for the rest of the evening he proved to her just how decisive he could be.