Getting to Know the Author: Sue Mac Nicol

HeartSusan Mac Nicol Welcome, Sue. Let’s get to know more about you …

What is your genre? Why did you choose it?

Actually this genre chose me. I didn’t intend writing contemporary romance novels. But when I started writing Cassandra by Starlight, and the story of Bennett and Cassie, it just happened. I evened out the romance theme by adding lots of suspense and action and intrigue, to add some suspense. I’m actually a horror/thriller reader myself, and had never even thought of reading the romance genre. But now I find myself addicted to it, particularly to the gay male romance story.

The gay male romance genre is new to me. How interesting.

Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?

I do. Since I started writing in February last year, I’ve written 9 full length novels, two novellas and a screen play. I tend to work on two at a time. I might not do much on one of them, but even if I manage to get a few thousand words done here and there, I’m happy.

Do you work with a writing/critique group?

I’m a member of an incredible writing circle called the Talliston Writers Circle. It’s a group formed by science fiction author John Trevillian and encompasses all types of writers, from fiction, to bloggers to playwrights. I’ve found some wonderful inspiration at the house itself, which is called Talliston. You can see the house here – You’ll be in awe of the type of rooms that we as writers of the circle are able to work in and draw inspiration from.

As for critique, I have a couple of amazing beta readers, John being one of them and author Geoffrey Wakeling being another. They are quick to help me with my manuscripts, offer great constructive advice and keep me centered.

Can you remember your first reading book?

Not a chance. I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday *laughs* But I do remember my dad reading to me from his favourite book, “Pickwick Papers’ by Charles Dickens. It was a green, leather bound book that was all curled at the edges and had seen better days.

Lovely memory to have!

Do you nibble on snacks while writing? If so, what is your chosen treat?

I’m a fan of savoury snacks more than sweet. I try not to nibble but I prefer crisps. My family will ply me with endless cups of tea and coffee, and the occasional biscuit may make its appearance.

Tidy desk or a bombsite? Describe your writing area with us.

I don’t work at a desk. I’ve written every book on my lap, on the leather sofa in the lounge, curled up in the one corner. The family come and go, the TV blares and the dog entertains himself. People try and talk to me without much success as once I get in my writing zone, I tend to switch off. I like the noise and the chaos when I write and I don’t find it particularly distracting. I even watch TV while I write. I might not get the full gist of the programme but at least I see bits of it. When I really feel I need solitude, I’ll put the ear plugs in and listen to music on my laptop. Foo Fighters, Sneaker Pimps, Kasabian, Eminen and Incubus share my writing journey. If I wrote in my study (I do have one), the family would never see me. At least being in the lounge I can inter-act (somewhat.)

Are you published in the traditional manner or self published? Share your journey.

Together in Starlight_COVERI am traditionally published. My publisher is Boroughs Publishing Group in California. I approached them as a result of a Linked In invite and luckily they liked what I’d written. Their Editor in Chief is the well known ‘guru’ for the romance industry, Chris Keeslar. Luckily, my editor, Jill Limber, saw through my formatting nightmares to the story beneath.

I’ve now published two full length novels, Cassandra by Starlight and Together in Starlight. These are the first two books in my trilogy, the Starlight series. The third is due out in October. I’ve also published two novellas. Currently I’m contracted to another two further books with them. ‘Stripped Bare’, my first M/M gay romance is due out in July. ‘Saving Alexandria’ is a romance but a little more erotic than my others. The publication date for this one is still being decided.

It’s been an extremely steep learning curve for me. I’ve never written professionally before and done no creative writing courses. Jill has guided me through the process of writing for publication, each edit she does offering me tips on how to hone my craft and make me a better writer. I’ve also never participated in any social networking either before getting a book published. So learning ll about Twitter, Facebook, blogs, websites and the myriad of other tools out there an author can use to promote herself and her work has been an incredibly enriching experience.

Who would you say have been the three most influential authors in your reading/writing life?

I’m a huge Stephen King fan. His characters and his imagination is incredible, and I love his style of writing. His dark humour appeals and the fact that his stories impart a sense of reality and are not always a happy ever after is appealing.

In terms of the stories I’m writing now, the gay male romance genre, there have been numerous authors who’ve influenced me. The wonderful Kindle Alexander, Rory Ni Coileain, Sue Brown, the incredibly talented Josh Lanyon…the list goes on. Each one of them adds something to my enjoyment of their work as I read it.

What advice would you like to share with other writers/authors with regard to preparing a manuscript.

Make sure you read submission guidelines. Give the publisher what they want. Your work might be the next best seller when it comes to story and imagination, but no editor wants to read something that is difficult to read. If you’re submitting to a publisher outside your country, see what they want. Do they want double quote marks for speech – this seems to be quite an American thing. Do they want you to spell check against US or UK English? I write the English way because my books are set in the UK. I don’t expect a US publisher to ask me to change my spelling for theirs. Boroughs like my ‘English voice’. But it’s worthwhile checking anyway.

Pay attention to formatting. I was very lucky to have a publisher who was tolerant of my first MS and its formatting errors. Some publishers might not be that patient. There are plenty of forums that help you format your book in a way that will at least be acceptable to someone reading it. No one’ s asking you to be perfect although I’m sure they love that! But pay attention to the basics – indented paragraphs, speech marks in the right place, spell checked, spaced clearly- all these things will make an editor love you more.

If the movie rights to your novels are purchased, who would you like to play
your main characters?

I’ll tell you a little secret. Please don’t think I’m too weird. I only started writing Cassandra by Starlight because I had a huge fan crush on a British actor called Benedict Cumberbatch. I really wanted one of my own. A Cumberbatch I mean. So I thought, hell, maybe I’ll write a screen play for him and then when he sees the character is so like him, he’ll want to play him. So I created the character Bennett Saville in his likeness. I tried to write a screen play but found it a little difficult. So I turned it into a romance story thinking that I’d write the story then adapt it to a screen play. Before I knew it I had the three novels completed. I did write a one hour screen play episode based on them and submitted it to the BBC. unfortunately I wasn’t selected but I haven’t given up on the deal I want to make a TV series one day with Bennett and Cassie’s story.

So obviously Benedict Cumberbatch would play Bennett Saville. As for Cassie Wallace? Someone like Naomi Watts or even Meg Ryan would do just fine. I think this pairing would work well.

Not weird at all!

I was on my way to the supermarket, when … Do you have a tale to tell relating to an everyday, boring event?

I wasn’t quite on my way to the supermarket, I was on my way back to a new job after going out to buy a sandwich. I didn’t know the area that well yet, so I got a bit lost. I was walking up and down the streets and some guy thought I was a prostitute. So he sidled up to me and out of the corner of his mouth he murmured, ‘How much?’
I was pretty naive so I thought he was talking about the sandwich I had in my hand …You can read the whole very amusing post here

Personal website –
Publishing/book links
Twitter – @SusanMacnicol7
Cassandra by Starlight Facebook page

Sue Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. At the age of eight, her family moved to Johannesburg, South Africa where she stayed for nearly thirty years before arriving back in the UK in December 2000.

Sue works full time in the field of regulatory compliance for a company in the financial services industry in Cambridge. But she still finds time to work until the small hours of the night doing what she loves best – writing. Since her first novel, Cassandra by Starlight, was penned, introducing the debonair Bennett Saville and his lovely lady, Cassie Wallace, Sue has since written the other two books in her Starlight trilogy.

She currently has five further novels completed, and at various stages of publication, ranging from two rather sexy gay male romances- her current passion, plus a paranormal suspense series and an erotic crime thriller. She enjoys the element of gay male romance in her books and this thread runs many of them, including her Starlight series. Her passion is keeping herself busy creating worlds and characters for her readers to enjoy.

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. She is also a member of a rather unique writing group, called the Talliston Writers Circle, which in itself has a story all of its own to tell.

She lives in the rural village of Bocking, in Essex, with her family. Her plan is to keep writing as long as her muse sits upon her shoulder. Her dream is to one day be able to give up the day job and get that big old house in the English countryside overlooking a river, where she can write all day and continue to indulge her passion for telling stories.

I have moved into the same county as Susan, and we live a few miles apart. Maybe oneday we will meet up and chat about her romance novels!

About Glynis Peters Author

I write Historical saga style novels featuring mystery and romantic twists. HarperCollins/HarperImpulse publishers of my novel, The Secret Orphan. I live in the UK, in a coastal town in Essex. When I am not writing, I enjoy making greetings cards, Cross Stitch, fishing and the company of my little granddaughters. I also write Victorian novels under my own name, Glynis Smy,
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11 Responses to Getting to Know the Author: Sue Mac Nicol

  1. Glynis thanks so much for all the hard work on putting up this blog post after what must have been a very harrowing time moving country! We’re glad to have you back in sunny old England. I really hope we can meet up soon for a glass of wine and a natter about books, writing, men and romance in general.

  2. Margot Kinberg says:

    Glynis – Thanks for introducing us to Sue.

    Sue – Thanks for sharing a bit of yourself with us. I think it’s great that your early memories of reading include your dad reading to you. I’ve always thought that the more you read to/with children, the more likely they are to become readers and writers themselves. I wish you success.

    • Margot, thanks for stopping by. The other thing my dad gave me was a love for classial music (despite my music choices listed in this post) He made me listen to Tcahikovsky’s 1812 Overture over and over again.He loved it and made sure to tell the story as we sat on his lap (my sisters and I) and he told us about the battles and the cannons. Of course, he was also responsible for me knowing all the words to all the songs in Oliver and My Fair Lady as he took us to the theatre every Christmas to see one of them. For about five years… You can only sing ‘I’d do anyfing’ so many times without annoying people lol…

    • Glynis Smy says:

      Margot, thanks for your ongoing support.

  3. Kindle says:

    I love you Susan and cant wait for next week. Congratulations and great job on this!

  4. Lachi Denali says:

    I love Susan! Enjoyed getting to know a bit more about her. I”m IMPATIENTLY waiting on Shay and Matty in the Stripped Bare release next week. Susan you can have that Cumber? fellow if I can have a taste of Shay….talk to Matty. *wicked grin*

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