TNA: Hi, Susan, thanks so much for being here with us today. Why don’t we start out by having you tell us a little bit about yourself? Hobbies, interests, odds and ends things that make you, you.
SM: Let me see… Some of the more interesting things about me…
I was a nerd at school. I was kicked out of a church Youth Group for being a ‘bad influence’ – I suppose I did sneak off in the middle of a solar eclipse with a boy. I had to rescue a friend from her mother who was running after her with a knife, down the streets. My Dad and I ‘saved’ her then he ran over her foot with the car. Not his most glorious moment. I turned down a prestigious placement as a trainee journalist with a major South African newspaper -The Star – because I didn’t think I was hard enough for the job. I got picked up by a punter in Hillbrow when he thought I was a prostitute (you can read this whole thing on my website). I lived in a commune in Hillbrow with a whole load of gay men who looked after me like a little sister but ate all my bloody food. Greedy bastards. I ate gherkins for a week and I got pneumonia. I’m known for being unorthodox, stubborn, creative, a good friend but a bad enemy.
TNA: Have you always written M/M Romance, or is that something that came along later in your writing career? If you gravitated to it later, what drew you toward wanting to explore gay relationships in your writing?
SM: I started out writing M/F Romance, because I had a huge fan crush on Benedict Cumberbatch, a British actor, and I wanted to write a book where I could create a character like him. I know. Sad. It was the only way I could think of where I could create sexy scenes with him in my mind. The female protagonist and Bennett’s love interest in this book, Cassie, is ten years older than Bennett – about my age…*grins* Think what you will, you’d probably be right
Then I wrote a book where I had a bisexual serial killer. I needed to know more about gay sex so started reading M/M books. I got hooked, then decided I wanted to try my hand at it.
TNA: What was your first published M/M title? Do you remember the precise moment you came up with the story idea and knew you wouldn’t rest until it was told?
SM: My first M/M title is Stripped Bare and I have no idea where the story came from. I decided I want to write one, sat down at my PC, typed the lines,
All tied up with nowhere to go
Shane Templar watched the man standing by the bed. Shane had no idea how he’d gotten himself into this situation, but he had to admit that this wasn’t the first time.
then had a think about what I was doing, decided Shane was an escort, made him a hacker because I’ve always had a fascination with this profession and I’m rather a geek and hey presto. It just grew like Topsy.
TNA: Let’s chat a little bit about your new book Saving Alexander? How did you come up with the idea for the book?
SM: I’m fascinated by the psychology of people, and the human psyche. I was going to study Psychology at University in South Africa but unfortunately family finances didn’t allow this when I finally left school. Over in RSA you have to pay for everything yourself.
I’m also a big advocate of the rights of sexual abuse victims, it’s rather a passion of mine. So I wanted to write a story that combined this in a very different way. I liked the idea of a cult victim, a theme I tackled in one of my earlier books, so it seemed natural to write this into the tale.
TNA: Would you say you’re an author who likes to torture her characters more than a little bit before giving them their happy ending?
SM: Oh definitely. Poor Bennett Saville was raped by a psycho female stalker in my debut novel, Cassandra by Starlight. In Stripped Bare, Shane is badly beaten by a homophobic bully. In Saving Alexander, Alex is sexually and mentally abused. In my anticipated release Worth Keeping (Dec 2014), Nick is subjected to child prostitution and self harms as a result.
So I have this rather perverse need to make my characters suffer. But the one thing they can count on is that there will always be someone there to help them get over their ordeals and that eventually, love and compassion heal everything.
TNA: What would you say is your favorite thing about writing a tortured/flawed character?
SM: The ability to be able to research the given circumstances, learning more about the conflicts and experiences they have faced and, unlike real life, give my poor tortured soul a happy ending. I’m a Romantic at heart and a believer than good can triumph evil. So this is the kick I get – making my characters able to find happiness and absolution.
TNA: Have you ever written a character so damaged you were afraid you wouldn’t be able to redeem him believably before the end of the book?
SM: I haven’t written such a character before so the answer is no. But I have written villains with absolutely no redeeming qualities that end up getting their come- uppance. I really enjoyed this as I believe whole heartedly in bad people getting their just desserts. I’m a ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’ kind of gal.
TNA: What’s the one message you hope readers will take away from the book?
SM: That with the right motivation anyone can triumph over adversity. That might be looking at the world through rose coloured glasses, but I truly believe that self strength and the help, love and support of people around you can get you over a bad time. You simply need to bring it into the open, talk about it and trust someone.
TNA: Did either of the main characters give you fits as you were writing, not wanting to cooperate with where you saw their story going?
SM: No, my characters were very accommodating in helping me get their story out. There were the occasional whispers in my ear as they tried to direct me on a different path, but the chaps were true gentlemen, and once I growled they backed off.
TNA: I know this is sort of like asking you to name your favorite child, but of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a favorite? If so, who and why?
SM: I do have a favourite and strangely enough, it’s not one of the characters from my M/M books. Bennett Saville was my first male MC and I had such fun creating him. The fact that he’s modeled on my fan girl crush (some would say obsession), Benedict Cumberbatch, puts him close to my heart. He’s sarcastic, witty, passionate, loyal, a talented actor, wealthy and just plain sexy. In my head he will always be my first love. Oh and he likes the ladies, so as a lady myself, that’s a real bonus.
TNA: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received with respect to writing?
SM: Tighten up, re-read your work, cut out the excess words and then go back and do it again. It’s one of my cardinal sins, being verbose, and my editor Jill takes delight in telling me patiently that I’m not being paid by the word. So hearken to these words, and look at your work with a critical eye to tighten up each sentence.
TNA: If you could sit down to dinner with one person, past or present, who would that be, and what’s the one question you’d love to ask that person?
SM: Well, I’d want Benedict, of course, and the question would be – ‘So your place or mine?’ But that makes me a slut and my husband wouldn’t like it. So I think it would be another idol of mine, the rapper Eminem, and I’d ask him how he managed to rise above his past to become the person he is today. I have great respect for how he’s managed to hold his life together in the circumstances he lived in.
TNA: Would you care to share a little bit of information on any of your current WIPs?
SM: Sure. I’ll try not to wax too lyrical. They are all M/M.
My next release will be Worth Keeping and it’s the story of a man who survived an abusive childhood as a child prostitute. He lives in a lighthouse rescues a man called Owen who is washed up on the shore. Things steam up from there.
I’m also working on a two book paranormal series called ‘Double Alchemy’ which involves Warlocks, witches and water sprites….danger, sex and mayhem.
Then I have a book due out with Dreamspinner in Feb 2014, called Waiting for Rain. Pole dancing boyfriends, sheep phobias, sheep stealing, haystacks, old English hotels. It’s a much sweeter, romantic story than what I’ve written so far.
You can check out all my WIP here on my Pinterest boards and get an idea of what they’re all about. And you can ogle the pictures of the lovely men I write about.
TNA: Where can readers find you on the internet?
SM: Susan Mac Nicol can be found here –
TNA: Would you like share an excerpt from Saving Alexander with us?
Alex had just taken a sip of coffee and at Sage’s words he laughed and spluttered his coffee all over his chin and the keyboard in front of him.
Sage came over to him, chuckling at his predicament, taking his shirt out of his jeans and offering it to Alex as a cloth. “Sorry about that.”
Alex accepted the oddly intimate gesture and dabbed his mouth with Sage’s shirt tail and glimpsed Sage’s naked torso as he wiped his mouth.
Alex definitely liked what he saw.
Taut stomach muscles and the indentation of Sage’s hip bones in their V shape as they disappeared into the waistband of his jeans, a line of hair down to his groin that looked very inviting for either his hand or mouth to trail down. The man had an amazingly sexy torso. Alex’s cock moved in his pants like a small animal trying to get out. He was glad he was sitting down, hidden from view.
Sage said teasingly, “I can take the shirt off if you like and you can wipe down the computer?”
God, had he seen him looking?
Alex found his voice. “Sage, I think that might be taking it too far, as much as I’d like that. I’ve got tissues somewhere in the drawer; I’ll use those.”
He scrabbled around in the desk drawer, becoming aware Sage had gone quiet. Alex looked at him and saw Sage regarding him with eyes that suddenly looked quite sultry.
“Really?” Sage’s voice was now an even more pronounced soft Irish lilt that turned Alex’s bones to jelly. “You’d like to see me with my shirt off? Is that an invitation?”
Alex swallowed, not sure what to say. This sudden openly uber sexy and flirtatious Sage was someone he wasn’t sure about although he was causing havoc with his nether regions.
Sage moved around to Alex’s side, taking the tissues from his clenched hand and slowly wiping the keyboard free of coffee. Alex leaned back in his chair, breathless. The pressure between his legs grew in intensity. Sage was so close to Alex he could smell his aftershave and see the dark hairs on his arms at his wrists. Alex could also see the hardened ridge of Sage’s own erection lying against his leg in his tight jeans.
God, he must be able to smell how bloody aroused I am. And he feels the same about me, obviously, if that monster in his pants is anything to go by.
They were both aware of the effect they was having on the other. Alex saw it in the slight smile on Sage’s face and the way he deliberately moved closer to him as he used the last of the tissues.
TNA: Thanks again for being here with us today, Susan, it’s been a pleasure getting to you know you a bit better.
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED