Author Interview & Giveaway: Stripped Bare by Susan Mac Nicol

About the Author:

Susan Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, UK, and left for South Africa when she was eight. She returned to the UK thirty years later and now lives in Essex. Her debut novel Cassandra by Starlight, the first in a trilogy, was published earlier this year by Boroughs Publishing Group in the US. Sue’s latest story, Stripped Bare is her first m/m romance.

Sue has written since she was very young, and never thought she would see herself being a Romance writer, being a horror/psychological thriller reader all her life. But the Romance genre is now something very close to her heart and she intends continuing the trend.

Sue is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Romantic Novelists Association here in the UK.

To learn more, visit Susan on her website and blog on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Susan Mac Nicol is also author of The Magick of Christmas, Confounding Cupid, Cassandra by Starlight and Together in Starlight.

Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

I plan very little other than determining my main characters and the place/time of the story. I do a one page summary on the basics and keep a timeline of all major events but that’s about it. The story simply writes itself and the characters have a habit of simply introducing themselves rudely and making me write about them. They can be quite the bullies.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

*Chortles* see first comment. Have you met my characters? Oh yes, they just love to tell me what to do and how to write them and often I have to fight them off with a big stick. They have a habit of slyly side lining me with their ideas.

What drew you to the M/M genre in particular?

I’d never even realised there was this world of books out there. Then I wrote a novel with a bisexual serial killer and realised I needed to learn a little more about men loving and making love with other men. Once I read my first two books- The Nothingness of Ben by Brad Boney and Up in Arms by Kindle Alexander, I really got hooked. I found I loved the whole genre and then after reading about 200 books I decided to write my own. I’m so glad I did.

Do you write in other genres besides M/M?

Yes I do. I’m not limiting myself to being labelled as an M/M writer. I’m a writer of romance. Of course sometimes it’s necessary to differentiate depending on who your target market is. My first books, my Starlight trilogy, are M/F but have a strong theme of gay romance as well, as two of the secondary characters are gay and in a relationship together. I intend writing a fourth book in the series which will be primarily M/M using these two characters. I have a couple of novellas out there that are M/F and another five M/F books at my publisher, and a second M/M as well. And I’m writing a third M/M at the moment. So while I’m focusing on the M/M genre at the moment I have plenty to satisfy both camps.

What is your favourite food?

I don’t really have one, although I am fonder of savoury than sweet, so prefer sausage rolls to cake. I love chicken dishes, Italian and Thai food.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

 I’m both actually! I’m up early in the morning even on the weekends and don’t tend to have a specific time of the day when I feel more awake. I’m up till about 1 am in the morning, still going strong. My favourite time though is the evening, around seven pm, when things are cooler and the dusk is falling.

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

I want to travel to Boston and New England. I want to see the New England fall, visit the house of Stephen King in Maine, take a ramble down the beautiful coast line and see the blue and white washed homes. I want to eat lobster in the fishing villages along the way and enjoy all types of delicious sea food.

Do distant places feature in your books?

No, I set my books close to home and there’s a reason for this. I love the city of London and for me, it’s so easy to get there. So when I set my books in St James and Chelsea, or Little Venice, one of my ‘perks’ is being able to travel there and take my own photos of the places I mention in my books. The furthest place I’ve written about is Wales, where some of my paranormal romance ‘Double Alchemy’ is set and I’ve been there too. There’s a pub I mention in my Starlight series and also in Stripped Bare, called De Hems Dutch Pub in Soho, and I’ve actually been able to sit in there and have a beer and lunch. It makes me feel part of my stories.

Do you listen to music while writing?

I do. I plug in the ear phones to distract me from the noise of the family and television, constant church bells ringing and the dog. My preferences are pretty varied – Sneaker Pimps, Kasabian, Foo Fighters, Eminen, Oasis, Imagine Dragons are just a few of my all-time favourite groups. I have a particular fondness for Sneaker Pimps though. One of their songs, ‘Small Town Witch’ is used in my second M/M book ‘Waiting for Rain’ - think sexy pole dancing boyfriend…*fans herself*

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

My latest release is ‘Stripped Bare’. It tells the story of cheeky escort and hacker, Shane Templar, who meets the rather stubborn and OCD driven solicitor Matthew Langer. They meet when a mutual friend lands in hospital. There is an instant spark but it takes quite a bit of Shane’s efforts to get past the wall that Matthew has built around himself after a tragedy left him hurt and determined to not get hurt again. I think Shane is one of the most loveable characters I’ve ever written. He certainly seems to be popular with the ladies. He has a big heart and a great propensity to love and forgive. Matthew is more controlled and reserved, very protective and a weeny bit possessive but even he can’t resist Shane’s charms.

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

Never give up. I have to believe that if you put as much passion and love into the craft of writing as I think I do, that someday it will pay off. I don’t necessarily mean tons of money, although of course that’s good. But to be recognised for being a good writer, to be able to entertain people with your stories and want them asking for more- that gives me a sense of satisfaction. My publisher, Boroughs, has been instrumental in teaching me that. They’ve said ‘We believe in you- it’s time you did too.’

And of course, I’ve learnt so much about the craft of writing thanks to my brilliant editor Jill Limber who is my guru. She’s honed my skills and continues to do so with every book I write.

And as for the whole social networking thing- I was a virgin when I started out and I think I’ve now attained the honour of being a social networking ‘prostitute’ lol. The education in this area has been a tremendous learning curve for me.

Is there anything you would do differently?

I suppose if I’d know I was going to write a book back in February 2012 I would have started raising my profile earlier on things like Facebook, Twitter etc. Until I was published in August last year, I had no interest in this at all. Nada. The only thing I had was a Linked In business profile for my day job. So things might have been easier had I had a vested interest beforehand. But other than that- no. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?

I can’t really say much on this one. I write from my heart, simply imagining my scenes in my head like a film, then translating it to the keyboard. I don’t try and write like anyone I think other than me. Having said that, I have tried to listen to criticisms people have made about some of the M/M genre being wall to wall sex and no story or well defined characters. I definitely prefer story first with strong, believable characters, then the sex as a part of that rather than being the story. I think I have the amazing Josh Lanyon to thank for that. I love his work and he has been an influence in me concentrating more on story. Whether I meet what I’ve set out to do, only time and the reader’s reviews will tell.

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?

Writing should always be the most important part of this craft. So I think it’s important to hone that skill by perhaps taking a creative writing course, learning how to format and write a story in a way an editor will rejoice when they see your MS. It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn, not having done this at all. I was fortunate enough to find someone who would teach me ‘on the job’.

Don’t make excuses about not having time to write. Make the time. And if you want to write, remember that the writing is the easy part. The promotional bit is the one that will kill you  Start building a profile early, getting involved, making friends who can help and guide you.

What are three words that describe you?

Obsessive, driven and creative

What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?

As I mentioned, I’m a big fan of Josh Lanyon, Kindle Alexander is a must have and I love Stephen King. My all-time favourite book is ‘The Stand’ by him. I loved this work.

Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book

Actually my next release towards the end of this year will be the third and final book in my Starlight trilogy featuring actor Bennett Saville and his fiancée, Cassie Wallace. It’s titled ‘Starlight and Promises’ at the moment. For those of you who don’t know their story, Cassie is ten years older than Bennett but these two have a chemistry that really supersedes any age boundaries, I promise. And there’s a gay romance element in the series too between Bennett’s two best friends, Alec and Dylan.

This is the gist of the final story.

Cassie Wallace thought that the drama and excitement she’d faced in her first two and a half years with her fiancé, Bennett Saville, was over and life could finally get back to semi normal for them. She was wrong. Again. It seemed that fate still had a lot to throw at them.

Fresh from finishing his filming of his soon- to- be Hollywood Premiere, Bennett throws himself back into the world of his TV series. As he travels around the world promoting his new film, Cassie finds herself having to cope with women once again throwing themselves at him, this time with much more enthusiasm and creativity than before.

They both encounter very unwelcome guests – guests who they both believed were out of their lives.  And once again the couple find themselves embroiled in someone else’s drama - only this time it’s a drama where they are only too pleased to help but one which eventually has tragic consequences.

The constant stress and pressure of whirlwind world trips and constant publicity events takes its toll on Bennett. He finds himself struggling to keep afloat in a world full of constant attention and media hype. Cassie finds herself having to muster all her love and support for him to keep him focused.

But in the midst of all of this and all of the events they’ve experienced in their time together, they decide the one thing they want is to finally tie the proverbial knot. Nothing will keep them from finally making Cassie Bennett’s wife. Their wedding on an idyllic Polynesian island is the last step in what has been a relationship tested by the vagaries of fate but one which is touched with love, humour and the closeness of friends and family.

List of previous books if any  - You can find all my books here

Amazon Author Page UK
Amazon Author Page US

Any websites/places readers can find you on the web

I tend to hang around in the following places –

My Wordpress (primary) blog
Twitter - @SusanMacnicol7
Cassandra by Starlight Facebook page
Linked In
Second Tumblr Blog
Personal website -

Stripped Bare
by Susan Mac Nicol
M/M Contemporary Romance/Suspense
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group


Now that Shane Templar has stripped the armour from Matt Langer’s heart, will either of them ever be safe again?

Though two years past, Matthew Langer is still getting over the death of a loved one. He’s steered clear of serious relationships, but when he meets the irascible, dirty mouthed and tempestuous Shane Templar that decision has never been harder. Shane is sexy, warm and funny, and Matthew finds himself trying like hell not to fall for him. Especially when Shane, with his quick wit and hacking skills, is quick to stand up for justice and avenge wrongs.

Then Shane strikes at the wrong target, and Matthew realises just how far he’s already fallen. At the threat of losing for good yet another man who has broken through his armour, Matthew finds his heart stripped bare. He must face the demons of his soul or a future without love.

“Sexy, warm and funny. Dirty. And heart-wrenching.”— Bestselling Author Kindle Alexander

“LOVED it. Matthew stole my heart…but Shane OMG. I want one of him.”— bestselling author of ‘Grand Slam’ JT Cheyanne

“Unashamedly strong and sexy, this story shows just how fast and fierce love between two men can be. And, boy, does Ms. Mac Nicol know just how to turn up the steam!”— John Trevillian, The A-Men trilogy.

copyright 2013 Susan Elaine Mac Nicol

He was distracted from his thoughts as he heard a loud noise at the entrance. Matthew watched curiously as a man came flying into the waiting area. The man moved over to the reception desk. The whole waiting room could hear his rambling words, delivered in a voice reminiscent of Richard Armitage, one of Matthew’s favourite actors. It went well with his persona. He was dressed in a very expensive and dapper grey business suit and had an air of panache that, despite his concern, seemed to ooze off him like he was born to the good life. He’d obviously been running. He was slightly out of breath and there was the sheen of sweat on his face. His dark blonde hair fell over his forehead in loose swathes.

“You had a friend of mine brought in earlier,” the man said. “His name is David Debussy. Is he all right? Can I see him?”

Matthew’s next thought was, God he has a sexy voice, followed by a certain sense of envy.

From the way he was carrying on, this man is a good friend of David’s. David is a very lucky man.

He could see the receptionist trying to explain to the man that David was in recovery and only family were able to see him. The more she explained, the more the man got agitated.

“You don’t understand. I could have fucking stopped him. I knew something was wrong when I couldn’t get hold of him. I shouldn’t have let him go back home to his fucking father-”

Matthew’s ears pricked up at that last sentence even as he winced at the foul language coming out of the younger man’s mouth in a public waiting room full of sick people. Matthew wasn’t averse to bad language when used in private or in the bedroom, but frowned on it in public. There was just no need to subject everyone else in earshot to profanity.

If Matthew was being employed to do damage control, he’d better bloody do it before this man made any more rather inflammatory statements.

He glided over to the reception window, seeing the young woman’s look of relief as he tapped the agitated man on the shoulder. The man turned, and Matthew was pierced by the most incredible blue gaze he’d ever seen. The man’s eyes were clear, bright lapis lazuli blue, and at the moment, angry and frustrated. He blinked, seeming taken aback at seeing Matthew standing behind him. A strange expression flitted over his face and then he scowled.

“Yes?” he growled. “I’m having a bloody conversation here; can you wait your turn?” He turned back to the receptionist and Matthew sighed.

“I’m the Debussy family lawyer. I think I might be able to help you, Mister…?” He raised a quizzical eyebrow at the man who’d now turned back and was watching him suspiciously.

“Templar. Shane Templar.” His face tensed. “Lawyer? Are you here to try and clean up after the old bugger then? Shove it all under the fucking carpet?”

Matthew took hold of the man’s arm, smiled at the receptionist and pulled Shane over to the corner of the waiting room. The man’s muscles tensed under his jacket, and Matthew braced for a possible punch.

“Leave me the fuck alone,” Shane hissed, wrenching his arm out of Matthew’s hold. “I don’t remember agreeing that you could touch me.”

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  1. Thanks so much for hosting me here on your wonderfully named site. It was a pleasure to be here and I hope there is some useful information in the questions and answers above. In fact, things have changed quite a bit since this interview was done and I am pleased to say I have my next M/M book due out in October with Boroughs Publishing Group. It's called 'Saving Alexander' and is the story of a man with many demons who needs a saviour and who finds it in a most unlikely place...

  2. You're welcome :) The name wasn't coined by me, I'd read an article a while back and they called Male/Male romances Zipper Rippers (as opposed to bodice rippers) and it just seemed to stick with me.

  3. What a fascinating interview, Susan. You've provided some very useful information for those just starting out. Thank you to both Susan and Annette.


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