What Were You Before
1. What were you before you became an author? Did this influence your choices as a writer?
My traveling life began at the age of six months, when my family moved from upstate New York to North Carolina. From there we went to Maryland, and four years later were winging halfway across the world to Turkey. When I was ten, we took the Queen Mary across the Atlantic to France. After two and a half years in Paris, we drove through France, Andorra, and Spain to Gibraltar and Morocco.
I once counted up the number of significant moves in my life…and stopped at twenty-five. I have lived or traveled in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the US, Central America, and South America.
A big chunk of my life after college was as a perennial student. 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. When I finally sloughed off the bonds of academia, I spent thirty years in Washington, D.C. as a Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, librarian, editor, policy wonk, non-profit director, and parent. I worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in public and academic library systems, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia.
All of these experiences have insinuated themselves into my books—thirteen as of this date and counting.
2. Are you genre specific or general? I don’t mean major genres but subdivisions or romance, mystery or paranormal.
I write romantic suspense and cozy mystery (defined as an Agatha Christie- style puzzle story with an amateur sleuth, as opposed to a hard-boiled detective or police procedural). I started with quite spicy (not erotic) romantic suspense, but bodies kept cropping up, so I finally gave in and accepted that my stories had become cozy mystery with a hefty helping of one- to two-flame romance.
3. What is your latest release?
Wild Rose Press, October 30, 2019
Rating: Spicy (PG13)
Petra Steele has just been left at the altar when her brother Nick invites her to come to the Peruvian Amazon. Before she even sets her suitcase down, she’s confronted with a murder victim. Mystery piles on mystery in a research station peopled with a quirky assortment of scientists. Why does the herpetologist sneak off to look for buildings? Why does the botanist claim he’s found a missing link between birds and dinosaurs? Is the biologist searching for a mythical monster or a living fossil? And why did the eccentric millionaire bring his prototype telescope to the jungle?
She is drawn to Emory Andrews, the ornithologist, a gruff, big man with a secret past, until his beautiful ex-wife shows up. More murders, more secrets, more mysteries ensue, all in the deeply romantic, sizzling jungle.
4. What are you working on now?
Ooh, ooh. I have three different books at three different stages. I just signed a contract for Mrs. Spinney’s Secret, out some time this year. Here’s the story:
What do you do when Hollywood wants to make a movie in your tiny Maine village? Cassidy Beauvoir, chairman of the board of overseers of Amity Landing, is ready to throw the bums out until she meets Jasper MacEwan, the director of American Waterloo: the Rout of the Penobscot Expedition. Their budding romance is threatened by a series of deadly incidents. Are they directed at the movie crew? Or is the target local Mainers?
As the two search for answers, the trail leads them to long-held secrets of the worst naval defeat of the American Revolution—including betrayal, murder, and a lost hoard of English gold.
I’m also halfway through Hidden Gems: Murder in St. Augustine. Set in the oldest city in North America, it features an eccentric crossword puzzle writer and the owner of an antique map store. Along with the writer’s students, they attempt to find a key was hidden fifty years before, a key which is the subject of a nationwide treasure hunt of such intensity that the searchers are willing to kill for the answers.
And, I’ve finished the first draft of a romantic suspense/mystery set on Chincoteague Island entitled The Wishing Tree.
Will the wind whip her token from the wishing tree and make her wish come true? Addison hopes it will bring back her new husband, lost at sea, to Chincoteague. Instead, she meets a mysterious man, whose every word may be a lie. She is soon embroiled in espionage and defection, all related to the top secret science station across the sound at Wallops Island. Is Nick the spy—or is his brother? Who killed the Belarusian scientist who sought asylum? How can she trust the man who is slowly claiming her heart if his story keeps shifting?
5. Did your reading choices influence your choice of a writing career?
I read anything and everything when I was growing up. My favorites were in British literature: the Brontës, Waugh, Wilde, Harding. If anything were labeled a classic I’d devour it. I figured, if it’s considered a classic, it’s got to be good. So I read Dostoyevsky and Thomas Mann, Joseph Conrad and Fitzgerald. I tried modern fiction (I call it modern angst) and found it exceedingly wanting in persuasive, charismatic—or even likable—characters or believable plots.
6. Where can we find you?
Linked in: www.linkedin.com/in/msspencerauthor