Saturday, August 30, 2014

Guest Bloggermomma: Susan Mac Nicol Interview and eARC Review: For Love and Punishment

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. The first year Sue was back in the UK, it snowed on her birthday, as it did the day she was born in 19*coughs* and she swears this was England welcoming her back.

Susan Mac Nicol Sue’s career has mostly been in the financial services area and she specialises in what she calls ‘boring’ compliance and regulatory work. That’s why she escapes into the world of writing and fantasy where she chats to her characters ad nauseum and is overjoyed when they reply. It beats the monotony of legalese, contracts and legislation and let’s face it, writing hot scenes between men can only be rewarding.
Sue is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. She is also a member of a rather unique writing group called the Talliston Writers Circle, whose ‘creator’ is a man who is both a Bard and a Shaman. It makes for a really interesting evening and dinner conversation. She lives in the quaint village of Bocking in Essex, set in the countryside and not far from the sea should she get the yen to eat oysters.

Book Title:  Love and Punishment
Publisher:  Boroughs Publishing
Author:  Susan Mac Nicol
Release Date:  August 29, 2014
Someone is leaving a trail of bodies throughout London, and Detective Anthony Parglietto is determined to end the violence. Then he’ll return to the man he loves. Tough, street-savvy, and used to dealing with lowlifes, Flynn Parker is the last person Anthony thinks he has to protect. Then the Bow-Tie Killer strikes close to home and the world turns upside down. Right is wrong, black is white, and a policeman might become a monster. But in the name of love, justice must be served. In the name of love, pain can be endured. In the name of love, a man can taste the very essence that defines him.
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars 

Heart thumping, suspense-filled thriller. A story of a love between two men. A story about a most heinous crime committed. A story of  how violence inflicted on the innocent can spur a man to deliver vindictive punishment. 

Susan Mac Nicol has once again proven that she can deliver, and deliver she did in the most violent but most awesome way. 

What makes a man? 

1. Is it how and when they respond should their loved ones be threatened?
2. Is it the way they express their feelings which society has narrowed down to one choice: be macho?
3. Should they only (re)act when there is something worth fighting for?
4. Should they visibly show their disappointments or wait until their world implodes?

"Be careful what you wish for." 

Flynn Parker probably wishes he was not so familiar with that saying. After he irresponsibly verbalized his wish to get up close and personal with the Bow-Tie Killer, he got more than he bargained for. He got kidnapped, abused and his loved ones threatened. He also became an unwilling toy in the hands of a psychopath.

Anthony Parglietto's world almost crumbled to nothing when his lover and partner, Flynn, was taken by the very same serial killer he was investigating. The violent deaths of the known victims was enough to break down his walls. The very same walls that took him years to build and cultivate. He needed these walls. Solving these types of crimes was his job as a violent crimes investigator. Having it happen up close and very personal - this he was not prepared for.

The killer loves a challenge and being an intelligent and confident individual, it is thrilling to accept said challenge. Taking Flynn and violently toying with him was a delightful experience. It was blissfully enjoyable having the chance to not only play with the prey, but to push and push and push all the right buttons that would weaken Detective  Parglietto's cool reserve. 

The relationship between Flynn and Anthony was fairly new but the intensity was running hot. They not only loved each other, they craved the other's presence and only found solitude and comfort within each others' arms. Theirs is an affair that was solid from the start. The attack on Flynn was destabilizing, true, but not even near to limits that would break them apart. 

Flynn's keeping secrets, now that is a totally different thing.

Mac Nicol is known for her ability to create characters with intense personalities. So well developed are these characters that it is impossible not to visualize them. She is also known for her ability to spin a tale so intriguing and fascinating, even as the story unfolds from the eyes of a killer. 

Love And Punishment is an intense read and not once did life intrude enough to get me off the pages. Truth is, when the going got tough and it seemed as though that Anthony could not get a break, I almost broke my hand in frustration and cussed up a storm to the extent of surprising my dogs. Yes, it was that good a read. 

It was through the eyes of the killer that the author really gave her all and she was splendid in the writing. This one captured my terrified imagination, it made my body react in ways not good for it, it held my attention deeply, and worse of all, I lost sleep because my mind was just too caught up on how the whole story unfolded. 

Oh yes, and my hand still hurts. 

Watch the Trailer

Susan Mac Nicol Talks: For Love And Punishment

A note from ~multitaskingmomma~: I first 'met' Ms Susan when she approached me to take a look at her book, Saving Alexander. It only took that one book for me to fall in love with her style of writing. Intense as some of her work may be described, some would even go so far as say they are dark, one thing is certain: she is incredible. Her characters leap out from the pages seemingly effortlessly. That one book soon introduced me to her secret group and as they say: that was the start of a beautiful friendship.
I asked Ms Susan to be a Guest Bloggermomma and she graciously accepted. I only prepared a few questions, thinking she was a very busy multitasker and would answer them as a matter of factly. What she did was surprise the heck out of me and just made me love her even more.

multitaskingmomma Book Reviews welcomes Ms Susan Mac Nicol.

The major themes of your work revolve around intense personalities and issues that can scare many. Was this a conscious choice or did you just fall into these naturally?
I’ve always been fascinated with the diversity of damaged characters in the world. I’ve an intense interest in psychology and the damaged psyche, and this has been an interest I’ve had since I was young. If I’d really been able to afford to go to university in South Africa, I would have studied some sort of Abnormal Psychology course and done a degree. Of course, in our personal lives we’re all exposed to people who might be emotionally scarred and I tend to draw on some personal experiences for the characters I’ve written. I come from a family of alcoholics, from family suicide attempts, from siblings in violent and destructive marriages and even men driven to murder and suicide such as my mum’s cousin, who killed his wife then himself. So I am naturally drawn to the chaos in the world and writing happy endings for troubled individuals is a balm for the soul. In my books, I hold the control and I can make things right for each one of them whereas in real life, reality takes over and you realise you can’t fix everyone and make them whole. I guess that says a little about me as a person too.
For Love and Punishment, we have three major characters. My favorite was the serial killer – this was such a scary individual and I just loved reading the parts where this one appeared. (Notice I do not spoil the species of this psychopath.) Who is your favorite?
I loved Anthony’s character, because he is tough, vulnerable, and protective and yet he sees the world in black and white when it comes to violence and crime. He’s a policeman sworn to follow the rules of law, yet he has these inner desires that transcend his outward demeanour as a law abiding citizen and allows his own, more primal nature to roam free. Not everyone will agree with his choices; but at least he gives us pause to think. It also helps that he speaks Italian when making love, (such a turn on), is gorgeous to look at and has this whole swarthy look going on, which I’m very partial to. He is also steady, loving, committed and loyal and he is prepared to protect the man he loves, Flynn, even at detriment to himself. For me, that’s a noble and fulfilling stance to take.
I have a question for the readers. For those of you who have children, and find yourselves in a situation where you might have to make a choice like the one Anthony did- think about it. How far would you go to keep them safe?
My favorite part was the punishment. I need to know how thought out that scene and the whys of it. It was so intense and yet very, very satisfying.
I assumed you meant Anthony’s punishment of the killer. I did a lot of soul searching on this one. I didn’t want the scene to be drawn out and prolonged, as realistically, when you’re in this situation, with a couple of your police colleagues ready to burst into the room at any minute, you have to act fast. So I built it up a little in previous scenes, hoping that when the time came to make his stance, Anthony would rise to the challenge. I researched various ways to quickly kill a person in this situation and the one I ended up with made the most sense. I don’t want to give too much away, but quick, decisive action and the means to end the killing and save the man he loves from future harm, was foremost in Anthony’s mind. It wasn’t about making anyone suffer; it was about simply removing the threat in the cleanest and quickest way, and living with the results of that action. There’s a comment in the book about if Anthony had a ray gun that he could aim and fire and magically get the baddies to simply disappear, he’d love it. No mess, no fuss. Just expediency.

You say that you speak to your characters and love it when they respond. How did your conversation go with the serial killer? (notice that I am stuck on this individual)
Blair was a great character to write and converse with. I even think at sometimes I envied him, not because he was a violent and disturbed individual, but because he had such a simplicity to his thinking and felt he could do what he wanted, without even worrying about the consequences. He was so supremely confident that he was above the law and the laws of human kind. A man like this in another setting (without the killer instinct and the Stanley knife) could be very interesting to talk to. At times I felt we were perhaps getting too close and I wanted to tone him down a little; but overall, he turned out the way I wanted him to be. Charming, focused, psychopathic, but inherently evil.
This leads into another contentious topic for another time. Are people actually born evil or do they develop that trait as they get older? If you’re interested there’s a great link here which debates the differences between psychopathy and sociopathy. It’s an interesting viewpoint about ‘nature’ versus ‘nurture’.
Can you talk about your writing process for Love and Punishment? What inspired you? How long did this work take to complete, especially as you are so busy between your job, writing and moving into your new home?
I started writing Love and Punishment in the latter part of 2012, and completed it in about three months. It was originally written as M/F so of course when the publisher and I got a release date, I had to rewrite the whole MS and make Elaine into Flynn. Re-writing like this takes a lot of time as you have to be very careful you catch everything. I certainly hope I did in this one. It took about three weeks to re write, then went to my editor, she read it, revised it – luckily not too much! I’m getting better- and that was it.
Inspiration wise- I’ve always wanted to write something with crime and romance and eroticism and a truly mad villain. I hold much the same views as Anthony so it was easy for me to develop this theme of retributivism into the plot. I love the contradiction between law man and vigilante. I think a lot of us have all wanted to be Anthony and do what he did at some time or another.
In 2012 to April 2013 I was full time employed, and I had to fit the writing and everything around a day job. I was like a writing machine, working when I got home about 7 pm into the small hours of the next morning. Weekends were a no go too and my poor family grew to expect the sight of me on the couch with laptop in hand. Then I was made redundant and was out of work for about ten months. I managed to get the re-writes done during this time as well as another two books, plus started another two new stories. Now of course I’m back a day job and find myself slowing down a lot, especially with moving house and all the trauma that came out of being unemployed and having to downsize. But now I am back on track and raring to go! Except I’m writing one book at a time now
Of the characters here, who is Susan?
There’s a lot of me in Anthony, his beliefs, his dogmatic views, his regard that human life is precious and not to be trifled with. He’s stubborn, loyal, will fight to the death for those he holds dear and had the greatest of respect for his peers, where they deserve it. Flynn resembles me in that he internalise emotions, tries to manage things on his own, takes the world on his shoulders and then finally breaks down. He’s also giving, nurturing and holds the job I would have loved to have done had I not followed the path I did career wise. It was either University for the psychology or journalism- my two passions. I didn’t achieve either one although I had the chance with the journalism aspect and decided not to pursue it. So in this book I bought them together.
How would you like your readers to see or read this book?
All my books are love stories first, the angst and inner turmoil second. Yes, there are messages to hear and impart and I enjoy putting those views across in this fictional manner. Child abuse, suicide, self harming, homophobia, forced sexual abuse, S and M used as therapy, male rape by a female (in one of my M/F books), retributivism, foster care kids, guilt and shame. They all feature somewhere in my books and will continue to do for the most part.
Fictional stories about men loving men, going through life, facing challenges and rising above the adversities to become stronger. It’s sort of my mantra.  We choose what we do with our lives, and how we grow and develop, and we have a path to follow of our own making. Blair had what appeared to be a childhood some of us would dream of –rich father, money, the ability to become what he dreamed of. Yet somewhere it got twisted and despite what he had, he decided to follow another darker path. Nothing forced him to do. He chose it because it appealed to his nature.
I have a couple of favourite quotes -

Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker? ― Garth Nix, Author, Sabriel

Personally, I think we choose our own path to walk.

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