December 24, 2012

Suspense: Cassandra by Starlight @SusanMacNicol7 #rlfblog

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 there?
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 you.
If I had a halo it would be a little tarnished.
If I could time travel I'd go back and catch Jack the Ripper.
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.
Currently working on another Lunchbox Romance short story

Find Me Here

Cassandra by Starlight Facebook page


  1. Kayelle, I know this is a bit late and I'm a little confused (not unusual) but I left comments for all the posts for Boroughs and I can't seem to see these reflected on any of them. I'm not sure what went wrong but I wanted to let you know I was really glad to be featured on your blog and appreciated the opportunity. It's great having people like you out there helping authors like me to promote their work.

  2. Kayelle, thank you so much for show casing me on your wonderful blog. The opportunity, as always, is very much appreciated.


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