I’d like to welcome SM Spencer to chat with me today about her B.R.A.G. Medallion book, Destiny. Sm was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.
As a young teenager her mother introduced her to the world of romantic suspense by encouraging her to read the works of authors such as Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart. These books stirred a passion in her that would last a lifetime—to become a writer.
Feeling the need to experience life before embarking on a writing career, MS Spencer completed a business degree. Her career eventually landed her in Melbourne, Australia, where she has lived ever since. Yet her true passion to be a writer never abated.
SM Spencer now writes from her home in the outskirts of Melbourne, where she lives with her husband, horses, cats and dogs.
Hello, Sandy! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your story, Destiny – Absent Shadows Trilogy Book One. I noticed in your bio that you are a fan of du Maurier and how it inspired you to become a writer. That is wonderful! Which book did you read first of du Maurier? I read, ‘Rebecca’ first and several times again after that. I have a couple of others from her on my shelf. Her stories are so atmospheric.
Hi Stephanie! Thank you for this opportunity. It really is lovely to speak with you today.
Now, as for du Maurier’s books, I can’t recall which one I read first, but I know which one had the biggest impact on me; Frenchman’s Creek. I so wanted to rewrite the ending of that book! And I wanted to find Frenchman’s Creek. Years later, while travelling in Cornwall, I think I may have found it, or a similar creek. And the memories of that book came back as if I’d only just read it.
How much time a week do you devote yourself to the craft of writing and where in your home do you like to write?
I tend to write in spurts. Sometimes weeks will go by, when other parts of life get busy. But then I’ll write every day for a time. Perhaps I’m what you’d call a “binge writer”.
Please tell me about your story, Destiny.
Destiny is the first book in the Absent Shadows trilogy, which is the story of a young woman who wants to make a difference with her life, but isn’t sure how to go about it. When she takes a trip to Australia for her summer vacation, she discovers a supernatural world that she’d never imagined existed. Her belief systems and courage are tested, but in the end it is her love and devotion that get her through.
The book is set in and around some of the oldest parts of Melbourne, being the Flagstaff Gardens and Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market. Most of what is now the carpark for the market was originally the site of the Old Melbourne Cemetery. The cemetery was relocated when the market expanded; however most of the bodies (some say as many as 9,000) were not exhumed, and remain there today.
The story brings together my love of the paranormal, my desire to remain open-minded to explanations of how the world we live in really works, and my deep belief in the good that resides in most people (even though we all know there are some vampires who, quite simply, cannot be trusted!)
Tell me a little about nineteen year-old Lili McIntyre. What are her strengths and weaknesses?
Lili is a bit shy, and still rather naïve when it comes to the ways of the world, but she has a burning desire to achieve something good with her life. She is most definitely not a ‘super human’ or a ‘larger than life’ character. She is just your average girl, who finds herself caught up in a world that is anything BUT average.
Will you share a conflict she faces?
The first, and probably the biggest of Lili’s conflicts, is leaving the security of her family in California to head to a foreign country.
What is a cultural change that she has to make from her life in California to Australia? How does she deal with it?
In many ways, life in Melbourne is very much like life in California—but cars are driven on the opposite side of the road, people use different words to describe things, and her aunt is the only person she knows when she first arrives. Building a new network of friends takes time, and it is her budding friendship with Claire that helps Lili acclimatize as quickly as she does.
Please tell me a little about Lili’s friend, Claire.
Claire is perfection on the outside, and a little bit of a daredevil on the inside. She is the high school cheerleader, the prom queen and the girl that always had a boyfriend while the rest of us watched in envy. But she likes Lili right from the start, and takes her under her wing.
What is the Queen Victoria Market and the Flagstaff Gardens? How does that play a part in your story?
The Queen Victoria market is largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere. At this market you can find every type of food: fresh produce, deli foods, fast food, meat, fish and the list goes on. You can also find anything you’d typically find at a “flea market” or other outdoor market, including both new and old items.
The Flagstaff Gardens is the oldest, and one of the most used, parks in the city. It is 18 acres of beautiful meandering paths through elms, figs and eucalypts. But it is also the site of the first burials of the new colony, back in 1835, which is why it was called “Burial Hill”.
Being such an old area, and one that is the subject of many ghost stories and sightings, it seemed the perfect location for a story about supernatural characters. And the markets themselves were the perfect spot for two of the key characters to work. Sam and Tom work in one of the fresh produce stalls at the market, and this is where Lili first sees Sam.
What inspired you to write this paranormal love story?
I was working around the corner from the Queen Victoria Markets, up near the Flagstaff Gardens. Walking around at lunchtime, I started sensing that this was the perfect setting for ghosts and vampires—and the story just developed from there. Of course, the late night ghost tours I’d done in the area, where I’d learned the history of the cemetery under the market’s carpark and about ghost sightings all throughout the area, really helped. And like many, I was caught up in the resurgence in popularity of vampires.
Could you please share an excerpt?
Sometimes, when something bad happens, time seems to slow to a crawl.
Like that time I was running to visit my friend who lived down the street. I was only about ten at the time, but it seemed like it was yesterday. I remember exactly how it felt as I ran down that street toward her house. And how, when I was only part way there, I stepped on an acorn and my foot rolled out from under me. As I fell, the pavement got closer and closer to my face—in horrible slow-motion. I hit the ground with my hands stretched out in front of me, scraping the skin off both palms. They barely bled but man they hurt like crazy.
Yes, I could replay that memory like a slow-motion movie in my head even now—years later.
But this … well, this wasn’t like that.
What happened next was like a series of still photos. Tom flew out of the bedroom in a blur, but stopped just long enough for the image of his face to be burnt into my mind. His eyes were no longer soft brown, but were instead a glowing red, and his normally tanned complexion was now pallid grey. But what really stood out was the blood that ran down from the corner of his mouth.
Then I heard Sam’s voice—loud and harsh. ‘Go!’
Tom was gone and I heard the door slam.
I closed my eyes for no more than a long blink—it couldn’t have been more than a second—but when I opened them, Sam was in the bedroom, bending over Claire. Was he doing something to her neck? She was so still.
I ran to the doorway but stopped short of going in. I couldn’t draw a breath to scream or talk. I just stood there, frozen.
Who designed your book cover?
When you are not writing, do you have any hobbies you spend time on?
I have three horses, and they take up a bit of time! We live on a small acreage property, and there are gardens all around the house, so that takes up quite a bit of time as well. I also do volunteer work, and play bridge in my spare time.
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on a rural romance, and while it’s nearly complete in my head I’m only about half way through getting it down on paper.
How did you discover indieBRAG?
Where can readers buy your book?
Only on Amazon at this stage.
But they can find and follow me on Facebook
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview SM Spencer who is the author of, Destiny, one of our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Desstiny, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.