Addison Steele dreams of the day her husband—lost at sea—returns to her. Instead, she meets Nick Savage, whose every word may be a lie. She is soon embroiled in mystery, all related to the top-secret science station at Wallops Island, Virginia.
After a Belarusian scientist at Wallops is murdered, the questions multiply. Was it because he caught the person stealing classified documents or because he wanted to defect? Is Nick the spy—or is it his brother? How can she trust the man who is slowly claiming her heart when his story keeps shifting?
M. S. Spencer spent time with The Big Thrill team to tell us more about her new release, THE WISHING TREE:
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
THE WISHING TREE is set on Chincoteague Island, a barrier island on Chesapeake Bay. My family has been going to Chincoteague for decades. With my husband gone and kids grown, I decided to spend one last week there by myself. From the beach you can see the buildings of the NASA launch facility on Wallops Island, a highly classified research facility. The proximity made it a no-brainer—spies must run rampant over there, and by necessity, over here.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
I write cozy mystery—and no, my heroines are not small-town bakers or innkeepers. Since I’m a recovering academic they are usually associated with education or scholarship. Addison Steele is a reference librarian, so research is in her blood. In THE WISHING TREE, it leads her to some fascinating historical connections to her present predicament.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
Perhaps because I’ve traveled all my life, I love settings and often use them as the inspiration for a story. I love to make them come alive for the reader. After reading THE WISHING TREE, I hope a few will travel to Chincoteague, sample the oysters, tour the NASA facility, and photograph (don’t feed!) the famous salt hay ponies.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
As a news junkie, my inspiration comes more often from current events than entertainment. When I started the story, Lukashenkov was tamping down unrest in Belarus, the last remnant of the USSR still clinging to Communism. Interestingly, Belarus is again in the news. This happens to me a lot. My latest submission concerns Chinese buying US farmland—and I started it a year ago!
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
I have submitted a novel entitled: In the Crosshairs: The Body on Leffis Key.
Here’s the blurb:
A US senator commits suicide in Washington DC and his aide disappears. Weeks later the body of a lobbyist washes up in Florida at the feet of Palmer Lind, who expected to see birds, not corpses. Are the two deaths related? Palmer—recently widowed—soon finds herself entwined with a cast of characters all searching for a mysterious briefcase. Global investors, Chinese operatives, radical environmentalists, even the handsome, secretive aide—may be willing to kill for it. Who is the murderer, or is there more than one?
Librarian, anthropologist, research assistant, Congressional aide, speechwriter, nonprofit director—award-winning, multi-published author M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents and holds degrees in Anthropology, Middle East Studies, and Library Science. She has published sixteen romantic suspense and mystery novels. She has two children, an exuberant granddaughter, and currently divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.