Today we have Susan Mac Nicol stopping by as part of her blog tour for her newest release, Saving Alexander! Be sure to check out the book trailer as well as enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post for some great prizes!
Hello Susan! I’m so delighted to have you back on my blog to talk about your newest bestselling release, Saving Alexander! First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?
I suppose the underlying theme is that old adage that love conquers all. It sounds sappy but I am a great believer if two people really want to be together then all the obstacles in their way can be overcome. And as I’m not a believer really in love at first sight- lust at first sight definitely – then I think the premise that a relationship takes a lot of work and a huge amount of give and take is one I tend to endorse. I believe love come gradually through familiarity and the constant need to find out more about the other person. And acceptance of each other’s flaws and strengths.
What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?
Essex in the UK is my home now. It’s a county with a beautiful coastline on the South East side of England, about 30 miles from central London. The county is very flat, the subject of many a stereotypical joke about Essex girls and white stiletto heels, fake tans with raw accents – all untrue and part town and countryside. I live in a rural area called Bocking and I love it there. I live opposite St Mary’s Church, which has Viking and Saxon history, and the church itself is gothic architecture. Please be warned when you click the link you get loud choral music accompanying it -just warning you so it doesn’t scare you to death. I nearly wet my knickers.
Most of my life was spent in Johannesburg, South Africa where my family emigrated from England when I was just a child. It was a wonderful country to live in – large homes, wall to wall sunshine, swimming pools, braais (you call them BBQ’s) and a great social atmosphere. But eventually the crime got too much and we decided to come to England to give our young children a better life.
City Girl or Country Mouse—and why?
I’m am definitely a fan of both. I’d love a flat in the middle of London in one of the fancy areas. The thought of being able to be part of such a cosmopolitan city, walk down to a corner coffee house and greet the locals, see the diverse people walk past and be part of something vibrant and constantly frenetic really appeals. But I also like the thought of having a lovely country house in the middle of fields and rivers, surrounded by hills and be able to walk the woods and pick mushrooms, see the wildlife and the flora and enjoy nature. So I guess in an ideal world I’d have both of these places.
“Writers should write what they know.” What does this statement mean to you as an author?
Good heavens. If I believed this 100%, I’d need a sex change and a penis and an overwhelming desire to ‘run my hands down his firm buttocks and plunge into the entrance that was Jim/Fred/Luke’ or whoever. Writers use their imagination to create their worlds and the characters that live in them. There is something to be said for writing about what you know as sometimes this adds realism and an inside knowledge. I’ve never had penis sex with a man yet it appears I can write about it- quite sexily and hotly apparently. I do believe in research. I do believe in sense checking your material hence why a gay man friend of mine read my sex scenes and told me, quite taken aback’ that he couldn’t ‘fault’ them. So all that effort I took into researching, reading, watching that which shall not be mentioned, paid off and I was able to create a believable scene even though I had no experience. I think you can pull anything off if you believe you can do it and you make sure you understand what you’re writing about.
If you could have one super power or magical element from popular science fiction movies or literature, what would it be and why?
I would want the power of time travel. Strangely enough, I’m not particularly fond of this in films that I watch. I count myself as being a fairly intelligent woman (oi you, stop sniggering!) but time travel sometimes gets a little beyond my grasp. All these paradoxes, and if you kill that one, why does he still appear later, and if you don’t, then what happens etc, etc -it does my head in. My son despairs of me. We have heated discussions about why certain things happened and I’m convinced that once or twice he’s actually slapped his forehead in frustration as he’s tried to explain things. He’s a bit of a nerd when it comes to astrophysics and stuff like that. But I’d LOVE this as my super power. To be able to go back in time, met people who interest me like Abe Lincoln, try and catch Jack the Ripper, meet Jim Morrison and try and convince him life is worth living – that would be awesome.
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a published author?
Write on, write off, polish on, polish off. It’s a little bit like the Karate Kid for Writers. Write what you love, make sure it’s the best you think it can be (after all, that’s why we have editors or they’d be out of a job if we were so good), learn from your edits so you don’t repeat them (it’s tough I know, I’m still not sure I’ve grasped the concept of not being paid by the word as my editor points out to me drily) and simply fall in love with what you do. Embrace it, breathe it in and make it yours. Whatever happens from then on, published or unpublished, you’ll know you did your damn best.
Most authors admit to feeling uncomfortable with the degree of self-promotion necessary to be successful. Are there some aspects of social media and self-promotion that make you more comfortable than others? Are there some you avoid like the plague?
Ha! I was one of those poor deluded fools who thought social networking was for love struck teenagers, crazy stalkers and people with nothing better to do. Boy, was I wrong. I had to embrace it when I published my first book and although I would rather have stabbed myself numerous times with a blunted fork, I found I actually l-i-k-e-d i-t. I choke saying those words but it’s true. I found a whole different side to life, making friends I would never have envisaged making in another reality, getting to know some great people and finding support and help along the way. I like Facebook and Twitter, I love blogging and doing guest posts and interviews. I haven’t anything specific I don’t like, as I think that any endeavour online is worthwhile no matter how small.
The Zombie Apocalypse has begun. You have a van with enough gas to get you to a defensible location. In addition to your immediate family, you can take three of your own characters with you. Who would you chose and why?
From Stripped Bare the first one I’d take is Shane Templar. He’s a hacker, used to the virtual world and hopefully there is still one when the Apocalypse starts. If not, he’s a great, snarky character and he’d keep me entertained with cheeky wit. Not to mention he’s great to look at. I’d have to take Matthew too as Shane would sulk if I didn’t and be impossible to manage. Matty is also a tough SOB and has a rather dominant streak in him which would come in handy if we needed to bully someone or threaten them with a law suit. And then I’d take Bennett Saville, actor from Cassandra by Starlight because he might need to role play someone along the way, he’s got a mean temper, can handle himself in a fight and he’s heterosexual so could meet a lady’s ravening needs…errmm, is that shallow of me ? Note, not one lady in my enclave. Nuh huh. It’s my chance to have all three of these blokes to myself. Flesh eating Zombies or not..
Research: love it or hate it? Which of your stories has required the most research?
I love the research. It’s one of my favourite parts. The one that has required the most research so far in my M/M books is ‘Saving Alexander’. I needed to read up on cults, people held as prisoners in them and developing reliance on their captors, a Stockholm Syndrome effect. I needed to assess the psychological damage such a thing would do and how people might react. I also needed to be able to gauge how someone might recover and what their path to redemption might be. This is a pretty psychological book dealing with the trauma of a man being held as a sexual captive for a long time and then finally learning to live with what he went through. I was fortunate enough to have someone in the US who’s knowledgeable about psychology and lent her insight to the book.
Editing: love it or hate it?
I love seeing my finished product and knowing it is the best it can be because I truly have an amazing editor. But I hate the edits I know it’s a necessary evil. For Saving Alexander, I was asked to take out a huge 15000 words as Jill felt it would better benefit the book if certain scenes disappeared. I liked the scenes and thought I could get away with them as they were so totally different to what happened in Stripped Bare. But what’s the use of having an editor if you don’t take their advice? I don’t always -I do question certain things but in this specific story, what Jill suggested probably made sense. But it wasn’t fun to do. There are far reaching ramifications in deleting a whole plot line and you have to make sure it still makes sense.
Have you ever been intimidated by reviews?
By a bad one, oh yes. I imagine no matter how thick skinned we are, when we see a bad review it gives us a nervous twitch and we can’t help but feel that perhaps we over estimate our ability to write a good story. I’ve seen some doozies for Stripped Bare on Goodreads (but don’t get me started on that) and on Amazon. I do however try and look at them dispassionately. If I’m accused of being ‘cheesy’ (which I have been) or clichéd, I ask readers or authors I know who’ve read the book if they agree, is there anything they think I should be changing? Can I learn anything from the criticism? And you know what they say, wise old owls that they are? They say ‘Sue, you can’t please everyone. Suck it up and look at how many good reviews you have. Everyone sees your story differently. Not everyone will like it.’
And I breathe a sigh of relief, put the blunt knife back in the kitchen drawer and try to move on. But it does affect you. I know authors who say they don’t look at reviews. Unfortunately I’m not one of them…
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and insights with us, Susan! I particularly love your Karate Kid analogy for writing, as well as your take on reviews! For more about Susan and Saving Alexander, check out the rest of this post!
Title: Saving Alexander
Author: Susan Mac Nicol
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Bookseller: Boroughs Publishing Group
Punishing himself for a horrific past that is not his fault, bestselling author Alexander Montgomery seeks redemption and love—and perhaps he will find it.
Famous author though he may be, Alexander Montgomery is not someone you take home to meet Mother. Seriously flawed, damaged by a horrific past, he’s trying hard to claw his way back to normality. But how can anyone respect what he truly is? His therapy involves regular sessions at Study in Scarlet, an exclusive S&M club.
Then comes Sage. Tall, with black hair and blue eyes, an up-and-coming actor with impossible charm and boy-next-door good looks, he’s the perfect choice to play the leading man in a TV adaptation of Alex’s last best-seller. Even more, he is a man you introduce to your family. Which Alex would do—if he weren’t taken by another man who offers the punishments Alex prays will wipe away the past and make him the person he wants to be. Yet, perhaps there is another path to redemption. If only the solution would reach out and touch him.
Susan and her publisher, Boroughs Publishing Group, will be awarding a five-book subscription to their Lunchbox Romance line, plus a copy of Stripped Bare to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
Tour-Wide Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway
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.
She has written nine novels, two novellas and a screen play since February 2012 so believes in keeping herself busy. She has found herself wanting to stay in the genre that is M/M romance so more can definitely be expected.
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 Writer’s Circle, which in itself has a story all of its own to tell and 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 make enough money 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
Susan Mac Nicol – My Links and contact details
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Cassandra by Starlight Facebook page