In this article we have an exclusive interview with Fantasy Author M. L. Spencer, Author of the Darkstorm Rhenwars Saga. Let’s get this interview started.
Jonuel: What is the first book that made you cry?
Spencer: Where the Red Fern Grows. That novel had such tremendous impact on me! Not only did I purchase a redbone coonhound later in life, but it had a large influence in the kind of fiction I would one day come to read and write. I now gravitate toward evocative fiction that doesn’t usually have a “happy ending” – but has rich value in the moral lessons it teaches.
Jonuel: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Spencer: The best money I ever spent as a writer was on a pocket guide to English grammar. It was only $3.99 in 1992. I studied it until I had it memorized. It now saves me hundreds of dollars because my editors spend less time working on my manuscripts.
Jonuel: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Spencer: I try to be very thorough in my research. Accuracy is very important to me. I have been known to spend years researching in preparation to write a story. I’ve enrolled in university classes to learn more about topics I was writing about. Once I even learned to read French so that I could access historical documents that were not available to me in English. I believe this attention to detail makes my fantasy worlds seem more real and immersive.
Jonuel: Does your family support your career as a writer?
Spencer: My family has not always been supportive. I tend to write obsessively, and when I was young my parents thought it was very much to my detriment. They actively tried to discourage me from writing and actually went so far as to recommend counseling.My former spouse definitely felt that writing took me away from my family and responsibilities. It can—and I’ll admit it! I have a very hard time pulling myself out of the story and into the “here and now”. I am very fortunate to have found a new husband that is very supportive of my writing career and not jealous of the time it takes away from us. He is my beta reader and the wall I bounce ideas off of, not to mention my biggest fan. (I have also learned better over the years how to balance writing with family, which helps!)
Jonuel: Do you believe in writer’s block?
Spencer: Yes! This occurs to me when I find myself trapped with a plot tangle that has no easy solution. I try to work the tangle from every angle, mostly with little result. I listen to music, try to think outside the box—usually to no avail. These blocks almost always resolve themselves with random and unexpected strikes of stunning insight: “Wow!” moments. Once, this happened while I was sleeping. I simple woke up with the most crazy and yet brilliant resolution to the problem. I guess my subconscious was working while I slept!
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