Cassandra by Starlight.

Susan Mac Nicol, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Let’s talk
about your book, Cassandra by Starlight (The Starlight Trilogy).

Genre: Contemporary Romance Suspense
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Cover artist: Renee Yadaev
Length: 100,000+ words
Heat rating: Spicy
Tagline: A London
woman is swept off her feet into the glamorous yet surprisingly dangerous world
of an up-and-coming star of stage and screen.
Blurb: Unconventional though she may be, Cassandra Wallace leads
the life of an average Londoner, from blind dates to rush hour traffic. Then, along
comes Bennett Saville. Charming, erudite, the up-and-coming actor is like the hero
of a romantic movie. He sets Cassie afire like he has the stage and screen, and
defies the tragedy that brought them together. From the tips of his Armani loafers
to their scorching hot first kiss, he’s perfect. Only, he’s ten years younger and
from the upper class, and those emerald eyes invite dangerous secrets. The world
is full of hungry leading ladies, and every show must have its villain. Yet a true
romance will always find its happy ending.
What are your main characters’
names, ages, and occupations?
Bennett Saville is the
main male character. He is a London
based actor, star of stage and screen, with his own TV series called ‘Gabriel.’
Bennett is 37 years old.
Cassandra ‘Cassie’ Wallace
is a professional woman, who specializes in project managing process improvement
for companies. She is 47 years old.


Tell us about your latest
book, including its genre. Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?
My latest books are a trilogy,
contemporary Romance crossing over into Romantic suspense. The Starlight Series
takes the story of Cassie Wallace and Bennett Saville from their first fateful meeting
after a tragic accident, right up to just after the three years they are together
and are finally tying the knot on an idyllic Fijian island. The incident bringing
the two together is the suicide of Bennett’s younger brother, Eric, who throws himself
off a motorway footbridge. Unfortunately, he lands on Cassie’s car, injuring her
badly. Bennett feels responsible and goes to see Cassie in hospital. He’s intrigued
by her looks, her compassion and her bravery in dealing with the incident. She in
turn is struck by his youth, film star persona, his obvious demons and the fact
that he seems to have no one he can really turn to. The couple strikes up a romance
that transcends the age barrier and they find in each other a way to both appreciate
each other and provide what the other needs.
What is the single most
important part of writing for you?
That would be bringing
the characters into a reader’s living room, writing scenes and dialogue that is
both believable and real and helps the reader to identify with the characters and
the situations they find themselves in. The greatest compliment for an author is
to be told that a reader could really get into the minds of the characters and that
the story line was well paced, i.e. they simply turn the pages as if it was a seamless
read that flowed well and made the reader feel comfortable.
What do you enjoy most
about writing?
Writing for me is not a
hobby, it’s a passion. I’ve been writing for a long time, for my own pleasure, and
it’s only since the Starlight Trilogy and getting my first book published that I’ve
truly come to appreciate the magic that exists in sitting down and creating something
that until then exists only in my imagination. The most incredible thing I can think
of to do is take a name of my own creation and build a character about that until
he or she seems almost real. I love to put them in situations that I’d either love
to be in myself, or create one where I can control it and make the decisions that
get them out of the predicament they find themselves in. It’s the most fun anyone
can have in playing the Creator in your own little universe and knowing that it’s
only fiction and you can make anyone do anything you want to.
I also enjoy the variation
of writing different things and of being given the opportunity to showcase a different
style. As well as writing these three novels, I also wrote a short story for my
publisher’s ‘Lunchbox Romance’ line. These are short, fun stories designed to be
consumed in the lunch hour. This new story, called ‘The Magick of Christmas’, was
a little bit of whimsy created especially for the line and as I myself have a great
interest in Wicca and love Christmas, it made sense to combine the two in a feel
good contemporary Romance story about love and magick at Christmas time.
Where do you start when
writing? Research, plotting, outline, or…?
I am a fly by the seat
of your pants writer. I literally started out with Cassandra by Starlight using
an Excel spreadsheet with half a dozen names on it, about five lines per character,
defining age, look, what they did and a very brief description of their character.
I had no idea when I started that Bennett’s mother was going to be schizophrenic,
that Cassie had an ex-husband, that Bennett had a crazy stalker who was an former
terrorist, or that he’d have a gay best friend called Dylan who’s quite an irreverent
character. It all simply flew from the tips of my fingers onto the screen as the
characters developed and I thought of the next line.
Research wise – for Cassandra
there was a lot of research required, especially around the world of the theatre
and movie-making, the issues of schizophrenia and stalking and of course, one of
the most controversial topics in my book, the female on male rape scene. The latter
was researched using case histories of people who had actually been subject to rape
and in fact, after the book was published, the gentleman who wrote the original
article that I used as the basis for my scene in the book, James Landrith, got in
touch with me. It was a very moving moment to be able to communicate directly with
the man whose grim experience formed some of the basis for my book.
What did you learn from
writing your first book?
I learned that I knew nothing
about formatting or writing for publication and about the nightmare of point of
view and what not to do and how not to head hop. I’m still learning that one…
I also learned how a good
editor was worth her weight in gold and one who worked with you and guided you,
worth a lot more.
As for social networking
and how to self promote – when I started writing these books in February this year,
the only thing I had was a business LinkedIn account, gathering dust, and a very
meager Facebook page. The mere mention of Twitter and tweets was enough to make
me hiss like a vampire having a necklace of garlic thrust around her neck. But,
as well as writing and doing the editing to make my stories suitable for publication,
I had to get out there and learn everything I could about the art of social networking.
I’m pleased to say I’ve got the knack of it, and I am beavering away valiantly to
build my ‘community’ and draw readers into my books.
How do you balance a life
outside of writing with deadlines and writing muses?
I work full time in the
city of Cambridge
which is about an hour’s drive from my home. I leave the house at seven in the morning
and am back in around six p.m. I am very fortunate to have a very supportive family
and to be honest, (and bear with me on this train of thought!) my saving grace (in
my view, my mother and family would agree) is that I’m not really a domesticated
animal. I don’t like cooking, I don’t bake and I will run like hell if an iron ever
comes near me. I’ve always been a professional working woman, working long hours
and have gotten used to this way of life. So having a husband and kids who can cook,
and like to cook, to me, is an absolute boon and they are very happy to take up
this mantle, which gives me the time from seven p.m. to midnight and sometimes longer,
to write and retreat into the ‘bear cavern’ so called because my daughter has warned
the family ‘not to poke the bear when she’s writing. She growls.’
What do you hope readers
take with them after reading your work?
My biggest desire for a
reader is to simply enjoy the moment and live in the world I’ve created and feel
comfortable doing so. I want readers to almost feel bereft when they finish my book,
to feel as if they want more. If they think about the characters and the events
after they’ve put down the book, even if it’s just a day or two afterwards, and
I accomplish this, then I think I’ve done what I set out to do.
If money were not an object,
where would you most like to live?
I have always wanted to
live in a country manor where there is a lot of land and a lake and I can simply
spend my days writing in my huge, book-laden study. This could be either here in
England or in France. I’ve never
been to France but one of the
places I would truly love to go is Carcassonne in
the south of France.
I became entranced with this place when reading Kate Mosse’s ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Sepulchre’
and I think a beautiful castle overlooking this area would suit me down to the ground.
If you were a tool, what
would people use you to do?
I would definitely be a
blunt instrument as that describes me so well. I suppose a hammer is the best fit.
Picture yourself as a store.
Considering your personality and lifestyle, what type of products would be sold
Comfortable clothing that
made you feel warm and fuzzy, chocolate of any description, books, anything geeky
like smart phones, tablets, gadgets, time machines, holographic devices, Benedict
Cumberbatches, (an English actor I have a particular passion for), anything to do
with magic or witches, chunky costume jewellery that sparkled in a myriad of colours
and a selection of really sexy men to pander to my every need when the Cumberbatch
is having a well deserved rest.
If you came with a warning
label, what would it say?
This item is hard wearing
and tough, has a tendency to switch off when in writing zone mode and can prove
extremely fractious when disturbed.

Please Fill in the Blanks

I love pizza with bacon.
I’m always ready for bedtime.
When I’m alone, I live in my own head.
You’d never be able to tell, but I am actually listening to
If I had a halo it would be a little tarnished.
If I could time travel I’d go back and catch Jack the
I can never give up because I’m driven.
Susan MacNicol

Books Coming Soon

Books 2 and 3 in the Starlight
trilogy – tentatively titled ‘Together in Starlight’ and ‘Starlight and Promises.’
‘Saving Alexandria’ – a novel about a flawed woman who finds an unexpected and sexy
saviour who helps her overcome both her fears and the demons from her past.
working on another Lunchbox Romance short story

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Cassandra by Starlight
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