M. S. Spencer: The Interview
KB: Welcome to Kissing Bandits Blog! Tell us a little bit about yourself!
M.S. Spencer: Thank you so much for having me, ye Kissing Bandits! Me, huh? Okay. Although I’ve lived or traveled in every continent except Antarctica and Australia (bucket list), and spent more time than was good for me in academia, for the last thirty years I’ve been in Washington, D.C. I’ve enjoyed life as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. Since 2007 I’ve published ten romantic suspense/mystery novels, nine of which have recently been re-released as second editions. Blessed with two fabulous grown children and an adorable grandchild, I now divide my time between the Florida Gulf coast and a tiny hamlet in Maine.
KB: Tell us a little bit about your most recent release.
M.S. Spencer: My latest release, the romantic suspense/murder mystery The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower, rose in part out of a true story. Starting in the 1940s an Italian named Licio Gelli embarked on a lifetime of bizarre scams and crimes. Gelli is most famous for founding a Masonic lodge called Propaganda Due, a renegade group that was erased by the Grand Orient of Italy for corruption. He is the model for the shadowy puppetmaster in The Mason’s Mark.
The setting for the Mason’s Mark, the George Washington Masonic Memorial, stands nine stories tall atop Shuter’s Hill in Alexandria, Virginia. The rooms get gradually smaller as you go up the levels, and the elevators that begin 61 feet apart on the first floor are only four and a half feet apart by the time you reach the ninth level. So, in the tiny space housing a replica of Solomon’s throne room on the ninth floor, it would be difficult to hide a body. Or a murderer.
The fourth floor contains a museum dedicated to George Washington. Washington served as the Charter (first) Master of the Alexandria lodge, and many of his letters and memorabilia are housed here, including the Washington family Bible. Since our heroine and hero meet in the museum, it follows that the Mason’s Mark would involve long lost papers, distant family scandals, and academic intrigue concerning our first President.
Here’s the blurb:
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 collapses when she discovers a body and is drawn into a dark world of black ops and Italian renegade masons, of secret cabals and hidden treasure. Also cloaked in mystery is handsome Gideon Bliss, a George Washington expert who 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 detective, Claire must find answers to a complex web of intrigue, including who to trust and who to love.
KB: If you could have drinks with anybody (real/fiction, living/dead,) who would you choose and why? What would be the topic of conversation?
M.S. Spencer: So many…but I would choose Benjamin Franklin. For one thing, he loved beer! More important, there are so many topics he could expound upon. I’d love to hear his insights on journalism (it was pretty rough and tumble in his day), on the birth of our nation, on American relations with France, on the art of invention. Like Jefferson, he was well versed in so many areas. And he was wise. Of course, it might end up more an interview than a conversation…unless, as I suspect, he’d want to hear about the state of our country and the world today.
KB: What is something nobody would guess about you?
M.S. Spencer: That, with all the gorgeous men populating my books, not to mention many relationships over the decades, I am still desperately seeking my soul mate. Could be because I’m so weird. When I was young my family lived in many countries and my main companions were books. By the time I returned to the U.S. for high school, I didn’t fit in at all. I had experiences and knowledge that my classmates were unfamiliar with, and I had no clue what current fads were. I was considered rather an odd duck—so much so that I even had a blind date to the senior prom!
KB: Share a funny or ironic anecdote.
M.S. Spencer: I had been dating George for three years. He was married before and reluctant to take the plunge again, so our relationship was subject to lots of fits and starts. Now, there was a house around the corner from his that had always fascinated us. It had a huge, hand-hewn stone fireplace, a beautiful Japanese garden, and a swimming pool. One day it went up for sale, but was soon sold. I didn’t think much about it—at the time I didn’t see any future for George and me. Then one day, as we drove by the neighborhood, I made the totally idle comment that if the house ever went up for sale again, George would have to marry me. We had a good laugh.
You might guess what happened next. Well, the look on George’s face when he saw the FOR SALE sign was worth all the years of wishing and hoping and planning and dreaming. Even more delicious was the squirming, the hemming, the hawing, the blowing out of cheeks. Suffice it to say, he proposed that day.
KB: You can find M. S. Spencer at these sites:
Linked in: www.linkedin.com/in/msspencerauthor
I Heart Book Publishing: http://www.iheartbookpublishing.com/m-s-spencer.html
The Wild Rose Press:http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/1360_m-s-spencer
Romance Books 4 Us (you can find my schedule of events here): http://romancebooks4us.com/Romance%20Author%20M.%20S.%20Spencer.html OR
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/M.S.-Spencer/e/B002ZOEUC8/
KB: M. S. Spencer has the following titles out. They are available in ebook and print-on-demand from all fine on-line book stores, including IBooks, Barnes and Noble, and All Romance E books. She has provided the Amazon buy link for your convenience.
The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower: http://www.amazon.com/Masons-Mark-Love-Death-Tower-ebook/dp/B01DHAJXWK
The Penhallow Train Incident: http://www.amazon.com/Penhallow-Train-Incident-M-Spencer-ebook/dp/B01BOBX5NC
Mai Tais and Mayhem: Murder at Mote Marine (a Sarasota Romance): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0192OOXMA
Dear Philomena: Love, Lust and Murder on Chincoteague Island: http://www.amazon.com/Dear-Philomena-Murder-Chincoteague-Island-ebook/dp/B016HDQDCM
Coming July 20: Artful Dodging: the Torpedo Factory Murders (an Old Town Romance)
Coming in August: Whirlwind Romance