Writing, Fangirling, Book Marketing, M/M Romance and More with Susan Mac Nicol
So, darlings, today you’ll be able to once more see what happens when an author agrees to an interview with a
blogger writer journalist fangirl! A little over a week ago I had a nice little chat with Susan Mac Nicol, author of Saving Alexander, Stripped Bare, and many other m/m goodies! Saving Alexander was my first book written by this totally awesome lady and by the time we were doing the interview, I had already bought Stripped Bare. I’ve read it in the mean time and loved it and highly recommend them. Also, I am now trying to figure out which of her books to read next. Any favorites of yours?
So, without further introductions (and tons of squealing and jumping around clapping), this is how it all went down…
Alina Popescu: Before I start throwing questions at you *adjusts extremely bright light bulb although it’s day time* thanks a lot for chatting with me!
Susan Mac Nicol: My absolute pleasure. I can’t promise I’ll be as much fun as Algenon but then he’s quite a character 🙂
Alina Popescu: I’m sure this will be extremely cool! From what I’ve seen on your Facebook profile, you’ve had so many interesting experiences and traveled quite a bit. Was writing always a part of your life or was it a later addition?
Susan Mac Nicol: I’ve always written since I was a kid of about 8 years. My best ever birthday present was an old Olympia typewriter my step mum bought me. I did a lot of writing on that and still have the stuff I wrote on it with the ancient typeface printed out on the old perforated paper stuck in the garage in a box. I won a couple of competitions but then as I got older, the time ran out to write and other things took over.
Last year in February (2o12) I got the bug back, started writing again with a bit of inspiration from something that happened in my home town (and a sexy man heh heh) and the thing became a full blown monster, getting me where I am now.
Alina Popescu: That sounds like an amazing present indeed! And yes, sexy men can provide a world of inspiration 🙂 Was it a hard process from starting again to seeing the book released? In your case, it was fast enough or at least it seems that way.
Susan Mac Nicol: Yes, I was very fortunate. I finished the trilogy for my Starlight series in April then started looking for a publisher. Luckily I had one in mind right from the start due to a rather karmic happening and in June they came back and told me they wanted it. I jumped for joy, opened the champers and told everyone I knew I was going to be a ‘proper’ writer.
Alina Popescu: See, who says karma is always a bitch? They should read this interview 🙂
Susan Mac Nicol: Karma is everything. I truly believe in the whole ’cause and effect’ thing, that what you put out you get back somehow. It might not look much but it’s there. And I believe everything happens for a reason.
Alina Popescu: I believe that to be true as well. Even that little Facebook meme pointing out the reason might be you’re an idiot an make stupid decisions 😛 . *sighs reconsidering past decisions*
Speaking of ‘proper’ writers, what do you think makes a writer, outside the ‘published’ label the world deems to be a requirement?
Susan Mac Nicol: A writer is someone who has something to say and writes it down for others to read or for their own self purpose. Writers are not just people who have been published, (traditionally or self published) – they are the bloggers of the world, the people who write poetry, the ones who contribute feature articles to magazines and newspapers, scholars who publish theses’ that mean something to them. Writing for me is a passion that comes from the soul, from the need to tell a story. And that’s what a writer does. He or she is a story teller. Of course, the question will be whether you are a good or a bad writer and that’s another topic altogether 🙂
Alina Popescu: True, there’s a question of quality. But I agree everything should start with a story to tell. And you’ve already told 6 of them in your published novels, correct?
Susan Mac Nicol: Yes, I’ve written four full length books so far plus two novellas which were written for special occasions -Christmas and Valentine’s Day. I have another six full length books completed and scheduled for publication over the next 6 – 8 months. These are all varying themes – child prostitution, some sweet romance, an erotic crime one and a paranormal series. So quite a varied bag of goodies…
Alina Popescu: Oh, wow! Those are a lot of books! *sighs and shrugs” I’ll have my reading list effed up with each release… Authors usually stick to a genre, is it harder to promote your work when you cross the lines and write in multiple genres?
Susan Mac Nicol: All my books are M/M Romance at the moment and I think as long as the key story is the relationship between the two main characters, then the underlying theme doesn’t matter. It’s how you tell it. And I get bored very easily, don’t like writing to a formula and have to be challenged with some thing different each time. So I personally don’t think it’s any harder to promote my paranormal than something like Saving Alexander. I’ll use the same channels I always do. Of course, the only difference is that the audience and target reader may differ, so you may have to change your strategy a little to meet this need and promote/get reviews from specialised sites and readers.
Alina Popescu: You seem to be doing an awesome job though! Saving Alexander was a huge success in my opinion, it had a great blog tour and awesome reviews. I’ve also met a few of your characters on Facebook, not just while turning pages. How many hours in a day do you invest in promoting the books and how many do you spend writing?
Susan Mac Nicol: Thanks for that, Alina, I’m really pleased to hear your comments about Saving Alexander 🙂
I’ll say the same thing any writer would probably say – far too much 🙂 One of the joys and curses about writing for publication is the creation of an audience for your work. Nowadays any writer who thinks the publisher or the internet is going to do that for them will one day wake up from being face down in a bowl of milky cornflakes and realise a HUGE amount of effort has to be put into this by the author. I spend a minimum of three-four hours a day writing blog posts, joining in blog hops, responding to email, playing on Facebook and Twitter, and reviewing other author’s books and promoting them too. I believe in playing it forward. And even when I’m seriously writing I’m constantly checking my social networks.
Alina Popescu: Even if the publishers would do it any other way and take over the promotion, I believe the readers like to mingle with their authors. Let’s talk Saving Alexander a bit, cause it was my first Susan Mac Nicol and I loved it 🙂 What inspired that story?
Susan Mac Nicol: Sorry I just realised I didn’t say how much time I spend writing. My target is 3500 words per day – could be an hour if I’m inspired, or a few hours if not. Like being distracted by hunky men on Facebook pages lol.
Alina Popescu: Oh, god, you’re fast! I cannot get more than 2500 words written in an hour! Yeah, I know, some of those ended up distracting me as well. They also inspired something, so keep posting them all over Facebook 🙂
Susan Mac Nicol: You’re going to laugh like hell at me when I tell you. I have a fan girl crush on a British actor called Benedict Cumberbatch. I always wanted to write a screen play so that maybe one day it would be turned into a TV series and he could play the lead. I know. Sad. I make no apologies and the whole world knows of my obsession with the Batch. Instead I wrote my Starlight trilogy with him as the inspiration behind Bennett Saville. Then I thought, why not turn that fantasy into a book and have Alex as ‘me’ (the infatuated author) -who actually gets to meet their man crush? The BDSM aspect was simply something I’d been toying with as I’d read a lot in this genre and it really appeals to me. But I didn’t want the traditional Dom/sub BDSM scene so changed it a little. And Alex and his demons were born.
Alina Popescu: That would be the pot calling the kettle black, so no laughing here 🙂 I just suddenly feel better about myself 😛 I think the whole new spin you put on BDSM was brilliant! Did you need a lot of research into the BDMS scene for it? How about research on cults and abuse victims?
Susan Mac Nicol: Yes, a lot of research went into it. I lurked on forums, trying to see how it all worked. I obviously used the internet and watched a lot of ‘research’, *coughs politely*, and there was the psychology aspect of it too, the abuse scenarios, Alex and Sage’s reactions to certain events and the whole ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ idea. Cults I was already familiar with as I researched this for my Starlight series which has this theme too. I was very fortunate to have a fellow Cumberbatch obssessionee in Texas, who was also into psychology over there, who read the book and gave me her opinions on the scenarios and reactions. El was a great source of support to me and the first person in the world other than me to read the book! My publisher hadn’t even read it yet…
Alina Popescu: Yes, damn it! That is research! Watching beautiful men doing stuff, mostly pole dancing, is research, I tell you! It is a blessing to have the right people reading and giving feedback on your drafts. Do you use beta readers on all your novels, or do others go straight to the publisher?
Susan Mac Nicol: As a straight woman writing gay sex for the first time in my whole sheltered life, I am fortunate enough to have two sets of man friends in same sex relationships. They weren’t friends before I started writing and the friendships have evolved over the course of the last year. So ‘Stripped Bare’ was beta read by one of the couples, and pronounced ‘fit for purpose’ with the sex scenes (he was very put out that he didn’t find anything to criticise which I took as a compliment lol) and then my erotic crime one involves a bisexual serial killer and my other friend , dear Algenon, took that one and did pretty much the same. I only use beta readers for specific themes not as an overall view of the story. And if they happen to have comments, I welcome them. But otherwise they all go straight to the publisher.
Alina Popescu: I think that gay man approving of a gay romance novel is the best compliment ever! Speaking of the genre, why to you think women go so crazy over it? From what I’ve seen, you read one book, you get hooked, and then you sit around waiting for a new release. It’s a little bit like a drug addiction 🙂
Susan Mac Nicol: It’s damned addictive! I have over 500 books on my Kindle, 487 of them are gay romance. I curse the authors every day because a new one from an author I like comes out, I just have to have it. I think women like the genre because it’s about two strong characters, with different bits to women obviously, getting it on, falling in love, having the same angst as a male and a female and it can be so darned sexy. It’s about the fact same sex man relationships have the same issues as a male/female one, with tenderness and hurt, sorrow and joy and personally I like the fact they are probably more direct with each other, can tell each other to piss off then have mad monkey make up sex which makes my little heart pitter patter.
Alina Popescu: Yeah, they are a lot more direct. I’d add that the fact they don’t have sex in the last 20% of the book helps a lot! Who popped you M/M cherry, by the way? 😀
Susan Mac Nicol: A very good friend and my M/M mentor (although she growls when I say that about her) Kindle Alexander. I read her book Up in Arms, loved it, went on to read Brad Boney, loved him and from that point on it was full steam ahead, up with the periscope, waving the flagpole and riding the wave of men loving men.
Alina Popescu: Oh, Kindle is absolutely awesome! I have been fangirling it out since I discovered the genre. So when should we expect your next release? *rubs hands nervously and whispers* please say it will be soon!
Susan Mac Nicol: Long pause to make Alina sweat…. finally gives in….I have a new release due out hopefully on the 23rd December. We’re doing final copy edits as we speak. This one is called ‘Worth Keeping’ and this is the byline – ‘Nick Mathers pulls Owen Butler from the freezing waters off the Norfolk coast, but Owen’s love can carry Nick back from the edge of oblivion.’ It’s set on the Norfolk coast of England and involves steamy lighthouse sex. The story also has a Capuchin monkey in it who becomes a bit of a hero….
Alina Popescu: I can’t be asked to care about your long pause! I got myself a nice little copy of Stripped Bare yesterday, I am ok for a couple of days 🙂 Wow! Christmas release, perfect gift material! Can’t wait to see it out!
Now, you write a lot, like a lot! I’m in total awe. Could you describe your writing process a bit?
Susan Mac Nicol: Ha, I posted a picture on my FB page recently of the corner of the couch I sit in and where I’ve written everything so far. It’s in my lounge, not very comfortable but it’s become ‘my spot’. I can’t write in the structured environment of an office or study although I do have one. I simply sit and churn out the words much like I’m doing now writing this! I enjoy the noise around me as hubby, son and dog go about their business but I’m adept at blocking them out. Sometimes too much so 🙁 They mumble and groan I never listen to them. I don’t plot, I write as the words come out, have a vague idea where I start and finish and that’s it. I do keep a timeline though in Excel format of important events and the date /time it happened so I’m not flicking back and forth thinking ‘how long was it since that happened’ etc.
Alina Popescu: So no playlist, just the background noise?
Susan Mac Nicol: Oh yes I have a play list. I have a big fat pair of headphones I use when I want music. My smart phone is filled with Kasabian, Muse, Foo Fighters, The Killers, Sneaker Pimps, IAMX, Plan B, Eminem, 30 seconds to Mars, Oasis and White Lies to name but a few. I’m a bit of a rock chick 🙂
Alina Popescu: Muse and the Killers? *sees stars* I so love you right now! There are so many things to fangirl over and we can do it together!
But before we get into pure gossip and fun stuff, would you please share all your links with the class? Facebook, Twitter, Blog, anything you’d like…
Susan Mac Nicol: Of course. Here are the best links to get me on and you’ll find everything you need to hunt out my books and buy them as I know all the readers of this post are going to do *grins wickedly*
Alina Popescu: Of course they are! *raises challenging eyebrow at them* Thanks for sharing them with us.
Now, first off, coffee or tea? 🙂
Susan Mac Nicol: Coffee. Flat white always works for me.
Alina Popescu: Excellent answer! First star you wanted to marry?
Susan Mac Nicol: Benedict Cumberbatch. Of course.
Alina Popescu: No one before him? But I’d also marry him…. So I feel you 😛
Susan Mac Nicol: I was obsessed with James Hunt the racing driver when I was young. Had a scrapbook 🙂
Alina Popescu: See, I am trying to at least look like something more than a starstruck groupie over here… but you keep saying these things and I scare my dog with my squealing 🙂
Susan Mac Nicol: You loved James Hunt too??
Alina Popescu: No, I was an Ayrton Senna girl 🙂 It’s still racing 😛
Susan Mac Nicol: There’s something about a man and his machine… :V
Alina Popescu: Yeah, total sucker for bikes as well. And tattoos…
Would you sign a petition asking that if there is such a thing as Gay For You, there should also be Straight For You? And who would you pick to jump the fence?
Susan Mac Nicol: I’m assuming you mean a gay guy I’d like to see straight? John Barrowman. Such a charmer and too damned gorgeous…
Alina Popescu: Well, no point in turning girl crushes straight, in our case at least… I know quite a few men who would sign it for Portia de Rossi 🙂 And yes, he’s a hottie, loved him in Arrow!
Susan Mac Nicol: He was brilliant in Torchwood, loved him in that as Captain Jack.
Alina Popescu: “nods and adds to her list* got it!
Three things you can’t live without?
Susan Mac Nicol: My smart phone, my laptop and my coffee machine.I can conquer the world with these. I’m sorry any special puny humans 🙁 – you’re not on the list….
Alina Popescu: I did say things, so puny humans should not take offense 😀 How long can you survive without an Internet connection before you start to go crazy?
Susan Mac Nicol: Uhhm. I’d like to say 5-10 minutes but my family know I start spasming after just 1. Seriously I am an addict. I pick up my phone just to reassure myself it’s still working if a message hasn’t come in in five minutes. I need help :S
Alina Popescu: I feel your pain! And no, you don’t need help… Just more free wi fi hot spots all around the UK!
A message to your fans before we part? They need a little something to get them through to December 23rd!
Susan Mac Nicol: I honestly can’t believe I’ve come as far as I have in just over a year. I’m doing something I love, making a little money out of it, and having the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. And it’s all down to them. It’s down to the people who message me telling me they love my books, love my characters, people who buy my books, recommend them, share my posts, promote me and just generally make me who I am. I am so grateful to them, every one. Thank you.
And yes, there is a special bonus scene being published on the Shh Mom’s Reading blog on the 17th December featuring Alex and Sage in a rather sexy scene…so head on down there and you’ll find the lads getting up to mischief for Christmas…http://shhmomsreading.com/
And of course it goes without saying ‘Have a Very Merry Christmas’ everyone <3
Alina Popescu: You deserve all the love you’re getting! And I’ve seen a post about the scene, I am crossing off days in my calendar as we speak <3
Thank you so much for chatting with me, it’s been an absolute pleasure!
Susan Mac Nicol: It’s been a pleasure chatting to you too Alina. We’ll no doubt speak soon.
Right then, now I have to rush. There’s a post on my Facebook page about eight naked guys wrestling in jelly, for a good cause, and I have to watch it again..and again 🙂 See you later!
Alina Popescu: OK, going to stalk you page right now!
Susan Mac Nicol: <3 <3
Alina Popescu: See you later, after I stop drooling 😀