Thursday, April 23, 2015

S M Spencer, Author & Equestrian

S M Spencer 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. Spencer now writes from her home in the outskirts of Melbourne, where she lives with her husband, horses, cats and dogs.  

SM Spencer is the author of the Absent Shadows Trilogy, a captivating series about a young girl from California who visits her aunt in Australia for a summer holiday – and finds herself caught up in a world of vampires and ghosts!  The first book in the trilogy, Destiny, has been awarded an IndieBRAG medallion!

Welcome S M!

Besides being a world-class writer, you are a rider! I love your beautiful horses…
When my husband and I were looking at horse properties, we thought 20 acres was way too much land to look after. We wanted 10 acres, but settled for 6 when we fell in love with a house in an area we really liked. I had two horses, so 6 acres would be fine.

We moved in with our two horses, and a friends’ horse. Twelve months later, she took her horse and I was left with just my two. The gelding pined for the mare that left, but after a couple of days he seemed to settle ... sort of. He was fine when my husband and I rode together, however, it was pretty terrible when I rode out without him. He would stress terribly and I’d come back to find he’d had more of a workout than the mare I was riding.

As time passed, one of his knees starting becoming more painful (arthritis) and it looks like he’ll be retired from riding. With his dodgy knee, me riding my mare became a double whammy of guilt—both with respect to his mental state, and in addition to that, the stress being put on his knee with all the running back and forth.  So, I had to get a third horse!  A companion for him, so that I can ride the mare.

Given that the whole point of getting a third horse was to keep him happy, we decided to adopt a rescue horse—one that can’t be ridden and is seriously just a companion. This has worked very well, as the two boys say goodbye with a little whinny, but don’t seem to stress too much about us going.

So, the lesson to be learned for my next life (and one your readers might like to think about when they start looking for a property) is that horses like to be in herds. My gelding had always lived in a herd environment, and to put him on a small property with just one other horse, was a mistake. In retrospect, it is obvious—but at the time I just didn’t see it.

What is the premise for your book Destiny?
Destiny is the story of a young woman—Lili—who is unsure what she wants to do with her life. She’s finished high school, and completed her first year of university but she isn’t convinced that what she’s majoring in is what she really wants to do. And she’s also just recently broken up with her high school boyfriend. So … she goes to Australia to visit an aunt, and think about her future. Not long after arriving she gets the chance to really think about her future when she finds herself in the middle of a supernatural world that she wouldn’t have believed existed if she hadn’t seen if for herself. It’s a story about learning to listen to and trust your intuition. Not everyone’s path is the same … Lili just had to find hers.

Your story takes place in Australia. What research did you compile about the area and the landscape for your story line?
I live in Melbourne, and have done for over 30 years now. I was working around the corner from the Queen Victoria Markets, up near the Flagstaff Gardens. Walking around at lunchtime, I started sensing that I was smack dab in the middle of the perfect setting for ghosts and vampires. But to give it credibility, I did do some research on the market, and the old cemetery that is under the car park … it’s an eerie location for sure.

Who is your favorite character in the Trilogy?
I love all my characters, but I think I like Crystal the best. She is caring, and beautiful, and gentle and all things feminine. But at the same time, she is strong and powerful, and not to be messed with. She is Aphrodite and Athena wrapped up in one awesome little package.

Do you write from your own personal experiences?
To some extent, I think everyone that expresses themselves whether it be through writing or some other art form, does so based on their own personal experiences. These experiences may be things they’ve done, or things they’ve seen or read about or watched or even just experienced in a dream. But with my main character, Lili, it was easy to write her as a young California girl arriving in Melbourne and trying to fit in because that’s what I did. I don’t say her personality is entirely like mine, but some of her experiences were definitely things I’d done.

Can you 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.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading a book called Shark Bait, by Jenn Cooksey- and I’m LOVING it!

Who is your favorite vampire author?
Bram Stoker – the classic Dracula.

Do you have a favorite vampire movie/script?
The classic Bram Stoker’s Dracula, because I loved both Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder in that film. But I also liked the first Twilight movie—the soundtrack was awesome and Robert Pattinson had lots of charisma.

Why do you think our culture finds vampires so intriguing?
Mostly, I think it’s a bit of that beauty and the beast thing—seeing through the horrible exterior to the goodness that dwells deep inside. You have this hero who is handsome and charming, but also deadly, dark and powerful. And the heroine sees all sides of him and falls in love with him anyway. And of course, she tames the beast!

Do you believe vampires truly exist?
I believe there are a lot of things we don’t understand in this world, and this may be one of them. But then again, personally, I’m more inclined to believe in ghosts than vampires.

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