Susan is a fellow Boroughs author and was an immense inspiration to me when I sat down to write my first MM romance. One of my fondest memories of my trip to England last year was having tea with her and her daughter Ashley at the New Scotland Yard Hotel. I love her stories and am sure you will too! So, in her own words, here’s Susan!
1. What made you sit down and write your first novel? Have you always been a writer? Is it
something you’ve done all your life or something you came to later?
I started writing ‘for publication’ in 2012. I’ve always written since I was young, so its been a
hobby for me as long as I can remember. I had an idea for a romance novel featuring a
character like Benedict Cumberbatch, whom I adore. So I used him as my inspiration and wrote
my first M/F book called Cassandra by Starlight, book 1 in my Starlight series, about an up-and-
coming actor falling in love with a woman ten years older than him. It made all my fantasies
come true in fiction I wrote��
2. Why do you write romance novels? Do you read them as well as write them?
I was an avid Mills and Boon reader when I was much younger, 12, 13 years old. I remember
going into old bookshops and gobbling up all the paperbacks I could find. I grew out of this
when I was a little older and never picked up another romance book again. I prefer horror, and
thrillers and detective stories. I read romance novels still, not as many as I used to as I’ve gone
back to the other genres I mentioned.
3. What prompted you to write M/M romance? How many M/M romances have you
written? Was it a common genre when you started writing them? Or were you a
I started to write M/M romance when I wrote a book called Love and Punishment, which had a
bisexual serial killer as a villain. Blair used sex wiles as a method of controlling the people he
used, so I wanted to read a little more about sex, bisexuality, gay men and the like. Oh boy. I
read a few books and was immediately hooked. So I decided to write my own M/M novel,
Stripped Bare, which was a huge success. I found a niche market, and the rest is history.
4. Where do you get your characters? Are they figments of your imagination or based on
As I mentioned, the character of Bennett Saville in Cassandra by Starlight is based on Benedict
Cumberbatch. I even dedicated the book to him �� In my third Men of London book, Suit
Yourself, Adam Lambert was the inspiration for the quirky and adorable Leslie Scott. And the
actor John Hamm was the inspiration for the brooding detective Anthony Parglietto in Love and
5. What is your writing process? Are you a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’?
I’m a definite pantser. I make a few notes about the characters, height, weight, eye colour etc
so I don’t make an oops during the writing of the story but everything else comes to me as I
write. I have no start, middle and end and just hope it all makes sense in the end.
6. How do you go about researching your work? How do you think having the city of
London at your fingertips affects your writing?
London is a huge inspiration for all of my books, and why not? It’s a magnificent city with so
much to see. The Starlight series was set in London, and I visited all the places mentioned in the
book, down to the restaurants Bennet and Cassie ate in. My Men of London series is all set in
and around the city, in different residential areas. Double Alchemy, my paranormal/urban
fantasy series, takes place a lot on Hampstead Heath, so hubby and I went to the lakes, visited
the coffee shops and got to know the area. I was told at the time Benedict used to go swimming
in the lakes as he lived in the area, but alas, I never caught sight of him. My husband called it
stalking; I called it fangirling.
7. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m Editor in Chief of Divine Magazine, and while the site and content is usually taken care of by
my hardworking and wonderful partner, Anders, I contribute occasional articles and interviews,
and am there as a sounding board when Anders has a question. I also volunteer and do work for
a charity called Frontline , collating and publishing their social media posts across various
platforms. I perform developmental edits for a publisher, have written a small short comedic
episode for Channel 4 TV here in the UK which will be aired sometime this year, and oh, I work
full time as a Compliance Analysts in the financial services industry. So I have plenty to keep me
8. Do you do any other kind of writing besides romance?
I do! I’m currently writing under a nom de plume – S M Nicol – a number of urban fantasy
books which has become my current passion. I can’t get enough of fantasy stories, shifters,
witches wizards, fairy beings, goblins, and the like. The Lord of the Rings, Merlin, Shadow and
Bone – I love this type of TV series. The new books will have elements of romance in them but it
isn’t the main plot line.
9. If you could give one piece of advice to a beginning writer, what would it be?
I guess the biggest thing I’ve been guilty of as a writer is always comparing myself to others. Its
about, ‘Ooh look, they’re #1 on Amazon, why can’t I get there, I write just as well’, or ‘Why
can’t I have as many readers as they do, why do they sell so well and I don’t?’ Any writer
reading this will recognise the symptoms, as well as those of imposter syndrome. My publisher
is always pointing out how far I’ve come in the last ten years, and what I’ve achieved and all I
can do is say ‘I could have done better’, ‘What have I done to deserve this recognition, should I
truly be accepting it?’
My advice then is to focus on what YOU do, do it well, and write for your own pleasure and the
people who love your books. It’s tough, and you have to make a conscious decision to do it but
it’s worth the effort for your own sanity.