Susan Mac Nicol (Sue to most people) was born in Headingly, Leeds in the United Kingdom. When she was eight years old, her family emigrated to Johannesburg in South Africa, where she remained until her and her family¹s return, with husband and two children, to the UK in December 2000.
Sue¹s career as a professional business woman was mainly in the operational side of the Financial Services and Vehicle Leasing markets. Currently her responsibilities have evolved to being the Regulatory Compliance Officer at a financial services company in Cambridge.
Having written all her life, since her first short story was published in a local youth competition when she was just eleven, in between the day job and daily life, the inspiration for the Starlight series of romance novels was born. Her characters, Cassie and Bennett, finally made their debut on the flickering screen of a laptop. The character of Bennett was inspired by someone very special and perhaps one day, if you get the chance to ask her or meet her, over a cup of good coffee, Sue might just explain who this was. She will probably smile wryly and say, “Hopefully without sounding like a teenage groupie.” (Of course if you’re impatient and want to know who this gentleman is, check out the Books tab on her website http://www.susanmacnicol.com.)
Her first novel was submitted to various publishers and Boroughs Publishing Group liked what they saw. Sue was offered a contract for her novels and that, as they say in the classics, was that.
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, Sue has since written the other two books in her Starlight trilogy, five other novels and two short stories as well as a screen play based on Cassandra. Her passion is keeping herself busy creating worlds and characters for her readers to enjoy.
Sue is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Romantic Novelists Association here 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 a town house in the rural village of Bocking, in Essex, with her husband, two children and a mixed collie mongrel called Blu, so named because of his two different colour eyes blue and brown. Sue is a voracious e book reader and a self-confessed geek and Android phone fan. Her office is in her bag most days and without all her gadgets, she confesses she could barely function.
Her plan is to keep writing as long as her muse sits upon her shoulder. Her dream is to one day 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.
And now from the author herself:
Hmm. Where to begin? Like my stories, I write the first line then hopefully my creativity takes over and the words flow… so here’s the first line below of this post. Let’s hope that inspiration strikes and I manage to keep you all interested.
My life changed beyond all recognition when I first started writing my debut novel, ‘Cassandra by Starlight.’ I had always ‘written’. I have half-finished stories, snippets of ideas, anthologies of angst ridden poetry written when I was a teenager, a children’s story which nearly made it to the big time (until I got bored with it), and a fantasy epic that is 30 000 words in length but hasn’t really moved since I reached that uninspiring milestone.
Then in February 2012, I had an idea for a novel which I really liked the sound of. What I am about to tell you is absolutely true, no word of a lie. I used to work a long way away from home and I had a sixty-mile commute to work, both ways which was a two hour journey – each way. I needed to do something to amuse myself so that the constant traffic jams, gridlock and bad freaking drivers on the road didn’t drive me crazy. So I role played in the car. I started playing multiple characters, making up my story as I drove along the infamous M25 motorway and I even (please don’t laugh) put on the different voices.
I laughed, I swore, I chatted, I changed accents, I did the movements (I must have looked like a bloody idiot) and I even cried. Eventually when I got past the first chapter, and I had tears in my eyes because a moment had been so tender, I thought ‘You know what, Sue, you might have something here. Maybe you should actually start putting this down on paper. If it makes you feel like this, imagine what it might do to a reader.”
And that, dear blog post readers, is how I started writing Cassandra by Starlight. You can close your mouth now. I’m certifiable but at least I know it.
So I began putting down on paper everything I’d played out in my car. When I finally stopped, I had a trilogy that took the story of Bennett and Cassie from their first tragic meeting to a very HEA ending.
Once I’d done that, I obviously needed a publisher. How this came about is a very karmic story. I have a little bit of an obsession for a young British actor with the wonderful name of Benedict Cumberbatch. He is the inspiration for the character of Bennett Saville in my Starlight trilogy. I was doing some ‘research’ on him prior to starting writing my book (some would call it stalking but I prefer’ research’, it’s a little more professional sounding) and came across a young and very talented London music composer called Alex Baranowski. He’d been part of the music development for the stage play ’ Frankenstein’ at our National Theatre, in which Mr. Cumberbatch had performed. As my trilogy is all set in the London film and theatre world, I sent Alex a Linked In invitation as I thought perhaps he could help me with some research. Imagine my surprise when he accepted and we started a dialogue.
A few days after I linked in with Alex, I got an invitation from a company called Boroughs Publishing Group. Alex was apparently ‘linked in’ to them as well. Of course I accepted their kind invitation, filing the name away for future reference. When it came to time to submit to a publisher, they were foremost in my mind. I polished my manuscript, sent it off, not really expecting anything back. I knew the industry was difficult to break into, and waited the required eight weeks. After that I sent a follow up email asking if they had received or indeed were interested in my book. I was virtually apoplectic when I got an email back from Chris Keeslar, their Editor in Chief, saying they were indeed considering it and would be in touch in a couple of days.
You can imagine the scene. The top thing on my bucket list had always been to have a book published. So I waited on tenterhooks, and finally, an email pinged into my Inbox with an offer of taking on my manuscript ‘subject to a fairly hefty rewrite’ as my formatting left a little to be desired, not ever having taken a creative writing course or written a book before. My editor Jill Limber was very polite, but I got the feeling she shivered in dread when she saw the original state of my MS.
Of course, I said I was only too prepared to re-write it, naked and sat on top of the London Gherkin if that’s what it took.
And that’s how I got my first book published. Of course, that was the easy part. Then came the bit about actually building an ‘author platform’, ‘gaining an audience’ and’ promoting yourself’. Huh. The only social network I had ever used was Linked In. I didn’t even do that very well.
So then began the hard climb to social stardom, with all the usual suspects. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blogging. I needed my own website, to build a ‘community’. I had to get people to like me so they could like my books. This was an even scarier journey that writing a book and sending it off to be politely rejected.
But I managed. And now I have two full length published books, two short stories, another four complete novels sitting at my publisher awaiting publication dates and I’m already virtually complete on my next Gay male romance novel.
So it can definitely be done and I’d say to anyone out there who’s an aspiring writer- don’t give up. Just keep writing, trying and marketing yourself and most of all – Believe in You.
Absolutely. Thank you, Susan. You can find more about Susan and her writing via…
- Twitter – @SusanMacnicol7
- Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/susiemax77
- Follow the books in pictures – http://pinterest.com/susiemax777
- Blog – http://susanmacnicol.tumblr.com
If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/submission-information/opportunities-on-this-blog (the spotlights are option (a)) or email me for details.
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