musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Write Spot: Susan McNicoll

Welcome to the tenth edition of The Write Spot, a bi-weekly author series spotlighting the many and varied places where writers write. My guest this week is Canadian author Susan McNicoll. Susan's love of words and history has been the main focus of her writing career, which began as a reporter for the Ottawa Journal in the 1970s. I've asked Susan to tell us, in her own words, how her writing journey began.

"Out of university, I was directionless (and certainly not a writer in any form) so I decided to work for a year and then spend four months travelling through Europe with the belief that somehow by my return I would have the answer. I have always been psychic and one night in the top bunk of a youth hostel bed I woke up startled at 3:00 am with a burning fever, drenched in sweat, and the knowledge I was a writer  was a writer, not going to become one. Within a month of my return to Canada I was a reporter at a major newspaper."

Above all else, Susan considers herself a storyteller, whether in non-fiction, fiction or a mix of both. She is the author of The Opening Act – Canadian Theatre History 1945-1953, Jack the Ripper, British Columbia Murders, Ontario Murders, Toronto Murders and the recent Gangster Women and Sam Giancana.  Susan currently lives in Vancouver, Canada with her gorgeous cat Jay, named for her beloved Toronto Blue Jays.

Susan McNicoll's Write Spot

Very pretty! (Both your muse, and your fireplace view.) What makes this the perfect "Write Spot" for you?

It is hard to put into words. I don't like to feel constrained or boxed in. My desk is part of a large open living room/hallway and kitchen area with lots of windows. This allows me to breathe emotionally which seems to inspire creativity. In addition, both the fireplace and blue lights bring a sense of peace.

Other than your computer or laptop, what's the one thing you couldn't be without in your 'Write Spot'?

Jay, my cat and my muse. (He's just nine weeks old in the photo to the left.) Without Jay, my Write Spot feels empty. He looks after me and seems to know when I should take a break (of course this could also be because he wants attention!). He sits tall on the table, reaches over and pats me on the shoulder or arm, repeatedly, with increasing intensity, until I get up. 

Other than Jay, a cup of tea is essential, made only with tea leaves, not bags thank you.

Jay was such an adorable kitten, and he's matured into a fine, handsome cat. I can see why you love having him around. 

What are you working on now?

Arcturus Publishing Ltd. in the United Kingdom has recently published two eBooks (also to be published as paperbacks in the spring of 2016). The first, Gangster Women, tells the stories of the women who rode alongside the gangsters of the early 1930s. You can read an excerpt here: Gangster Women.  The second, Sam Giancana, is about the Sicilian-American mobster who ruled the roost in Chicago through the 1940’s-60’s. Read an excerpt here: Sam Giancana.

Fascinating windows into criminal history, Susan! Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

Please come and visit me at You can read excerpts from all of my books. There are also my blogs on various subjects such as Chronic Pain and Depression plus stories from my past. For lighter fare, my cat Jay also has his own blog, Jay's Stories!

You can also follow me on Twitter @SusanMcnicoll

When I first became interested in the women who chose to ride alongside the gangsters of the early 1930s, I was hoping to find one underlying psychological reason for their choices. It turned out to be more complicated than that. Gangster molls often greatly loved, had children with and sometimes married their men. Some also died with them. They were a product of the desperation rising from the Great Depression. As the exploits of gangsters were chronicled, attention was also focused on their women as the press described them in detail, from clothes to hair style. The public couldn't get enough.

Susan's books are available now from most eBook retailers, including:

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About The Write Spot:
I've always been fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes. Whether it's backstage photos from my favourite play, a peek into the kitchen where a chef is working her culinary magic, or simply a glimpse through an uncurtained window into a stranger's private world, there's an undeniable thrill of discovery, a sense of secrets shared. It's no surprise, then, that I'm immensely curious about where other writers do their work. I've blogged about it before in this post about my own 'write spot'  and so enjoyed the comments, I was inspired to launch a regular feature here at stillpoint. Watch for The Write Spot every other Wednesday and join me as I discover the many and varied places where writers write.

stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington


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At 11:50 am, Anonymous Susan McNicoll said...

Thank you so much Cheryl for featuring me on your blog, The Write Spot. Like you I enjoy knowing where people write and how their "spot" is right for them. And I am glad to know we both travel the writer's road as we struggle to find a way to express what lies inside us.

At 12:04 pm, Blogger Joanne Guidoccio said...

Hi Susan, Thanks for sharing your back story and "write" spot. Best of luck with sales. Joanne :)

At 12:21 pm, Blogger Cheryl said...

My pleasure, Susan. While I enjoyed seeing where you do your work, my cat Sam has enjoyed seeing the pictures of Jay. He's such a gorgeous cat!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing the blog, Joanne.


At 1:18 pm, Anonymous Susan McNicoll said...

Thanks Joanne. From your lips to the universe! And thanks for tweeting out the blog. Much appreciated.

At 3:25 pm, Blogger Sheila Seabrook said...

Susan, your tales of the gangster molls are so intriguing. Thank you for sharing!

At 8:41 pm, Anonymous Victoria M. Johnson said...

Hi Susan--
I like your workspace and I like Jay. Good luck with your books.

At 10:11 pm, Anonymous Susan McNicoll said...

They were an intriguing bunch of women who just got swept along the road of crime. Thanks for checking me out.

At 10:13 pm, Anonymous Susan McNicoll said...

Thanks Victoria. If I could just get Jay to become a model I would be a very wealthy woman.

At 12:12 pm, Blogger Doreen Pendgracs said...

Thanks for this fascinating profile, Cheryl. Susan and I share a love for cats and so I can certainly see how she is inspired by her handsome Jay. Cheers!


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