Susan Mac Nicol
Ahh - the pleasure and gratification of author research ...and its rather surprising impacts
I have to say that the one part I’ve really enjoyed about writing books is the research bit. I have learned more about ‘stuff’ I would never have known about, by writing, than I could possibly have dreamed of.
Take my first book ‘Cassandra by Starlight’ for example. I knew this was going to be a romance novel about an older woman and younger man, but I wanted it to be more than the sum of its parts. So I hummed and hawed on an idea I had and did some research on the topic of female on male rape. When I saw how controversial it was, I decided it had to go in the book somehow. So my poor leading man was subject to some violent sexual abuse and that book topic has sparked off a path for me that I never thought I would tread. I’ll tell you more about that later. Suffice it to say that I think this debut novel led me into where I am now and what I was meant to be doing.
For my next work in progress, ‘Saving Alexandria’ (it’s not yet out) I had to research the world of cults, S and M practices, Stockholm Syndrome and sexual domination both emotionally and physically. It was a lot of fun and I now know 101 uses for a flogger and handcuffs along with other assorted paraphernalia that I won’t mention in a family friendly guest post. My poor web browser didn’t know what hit it and if any of my family had seen me researching some of the material, they’d have died on the spot. Thank God I have my very own password protected laptop that no one else is allowed to use.
My first foray into the world of erotic detective and crime fiction is another work in progress called ‘Born Human’. This led me on a journey of discovery into the world of bisexual men, police procedures, the topic of retributivism and the punishment fitting the crime, and the old adage ‘an eye for an eye’ when it comes to meting out justice. Some are again controversial subjects, underpinned by human rights –or, if the main male protagonist in my book, Anthony Parglietto, gets his way, the lack of them.
And now I have my foray into the world of writing gay male romance. (I hear you chuckling from here. Stop it.) This is a genre enjoyed by mainly straight women all over the world if the stats are to be believed. The fascination with this genre started when I was researching for ‘Born Human’ for my bisexual, psychopathic serial killer. I needed to write some sexy scenes so of course, research was needed…I knew a little bit about how it was all done but obviously not enough from what I discovered.
I found I enjoyed it so much I branched out into reading more in the male/male romance genre and I was hooked. So much so, I decided to start writing it as well. I did a recent blog post on the particular joys of said research ( here ).
I’m currently writing my second one in this genre called ‘Waiting for Rain’, with plans for a third one in the pipeline, where I re-introduce some loveable characters from my debut novel.
And now to clarify my earlier statement when I said there was a reason I’d had my first book published and included such a controversial topic.
Overwhelmingly, the area into I which I have been drawn as a result of researching and using something in my book is the rights of male sexual abuse survivors and the issues they face in telling their stories. You can see some of the posts ( here ).
I have met fascinating characters (like the wonderful James Landrith, whose story was the inspiration behind the rape scene in my book, and a man called Stephen, who was himself raped by two men when he was sixteen and who has just written his autobiography), during this journey. I’ve been drawn into their world in a way I would never have thought possible.
This rite of passage has culminated in being asked to write the auto biography of a man we’ll call Joe, who was subject to same-sex child abuse during his years in the Boy Scouts and wants nothing more than to tell his story. His individual story is part of a very much bigger one currently in the US, being the scandal of the ‘Boy Scout Perversion Files’, where known paedophiles were shielded by the BSA and left to wreak havoc on young boys’ lives. Joe and I have a story to put together and I don’t think for one minute it’s going to be easy. It will be an emotional roller coaster for both of us, especially for Joe. I feel privileged in being the one to help him.
If you’d like to find out more about this, here’s a link.
But I think we are both up for the task, and hopefully ‘Joe’s Voice’ will be heard and will enable others that are perhaps hiding in the dark to come forward and tell their stories. That’s Joe’s ultimate aim and I will be doing everything I can do to help him get there.
PART 2 of Sue's post can be read here
Sue Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. At the age of eight, her family moved to Johannesburg, South Africa where she stayed for nearly thirty years before arriving back in the UK in December 2000.
Sue works full time in the field of regulatory compliance for a company in the financial services industry in Cambridge. But she still finds time to work until the small hours of the morning doing what she loves best – writing. Since her first novel, Cassandra by Starlight, was penned, Sue has written the other two books in her Starlight trilogy, four other novels, two short stories and 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 Romance Writers of America and Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. She is also a member of a rather unique writing group, called the Talliston Writer’s Circle, which in itself has a story all of its own to tell, and lives in the rural village of Bocking, in Essex, with her family.
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.
Sue can be contacted at:
Personal website: www.susanmacnicol.com
Cassandra by Starlight Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/RQYv3Z
Writing is an integral part of Mankind's progress and should be fearless, pushing against boundaries that others would impose. Thank you, Sue, for sharing your quest with us.
Eric @ www.ericjgates.com