Suzan Holder’s debut novel ‘Shake it up, Beverley’ is a modern love story – a romantic comedy with a musical twist. She talks to Quays Life about her inspiration for the book that draws on her years of experience as a journalist, play wright, executive producer on ITV’s ‘Loose Women’, and life with rock star, Noddy Holder.
Congratulations on your debut novel, ‘Shake it up, Beverley’. Can you tell us a bit about the story?
Suzan: “The book is a romantic comedy about a middle-aged woman who decides to ‘shake up her life’ once her kids have left the nest by trying internet dating – with both hilarious and disastrous results!
“Beverley’s life long devotion to The Beatles gets her dubbed ‘Beatles Bev’ when her antics hit the headlines.
“The music she loves provides not only the soundtrack to her life, but also connects her to all the people and places important to her. The big question is – can Bev find someone to share her passions?”
Where did the idea come from?
Suzan: “I first wrote the story as a play which was performed in Liverpool and Manchester, it was due to do a UK tour but then the pandemic happened.
“I have worked as a journalist and TV producer so I have always written articles and scripts but my new writing career started when, just like Bev, I became an empty nester with more time on my hands after my son had left home to go to university – in Liverpool!
“I was going to the city to visit him a lot and loved the energy of the place and of course the humour of the people. I also had a few mates telling me their dating horror stories at the same time and the two things must have become entwined in my mind”.
Are you a big Beatles fan or do you have a band that means the same to you as the Beatles means to Beverley?
Suzan: “I am a huge Beatles fan of course, I’m one of those people who simply cannot compute how anyone could NOT love them. Growing up my big passion was always old rock ‘n’ roll music and Elvis Presley. My next book – ‘Rock ‘n’ Rose’ is actually set at Graceland, the Memphis home of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. I’ve been there a couple of times and it just blew my mind”.
You are married to Slade singer, Noddy Holder. Is there always music on in your home?
Suzan: “Of course! We play all sorts of music from Country to Jazz and obviously we love Rock and Pop too…you can’t beat a boogie in the kitchen!
“Noddy is always playing guitar and singing too, so that’s pretty cool, especially when he lets me join in. We have been known to alarm the neighbours with my rendition of Tammy Wynette’s ‘Stand By Your Man’”.
Where do your ideas come from?
Suzan: “I worked as a journalist in newspapers and then in television as a reporter for Granada Tonight and series producer of Loose Women so I have met a lot of very interesting people with amazing stories to tell. I’m always interested in people’s lives and I think all those stories and experiences have given me a huge amount of ideas to draw on.
“Obviously no one in any of my books is based on anyone in particular and the events are all made up but I know only too well that truth is very often stranger than fiction! At one point in ‘Shake It Up, Beverley’ Bev’s love life becomes a talking point on a daytime TV talk show! I think it’s pretty clear where I got THAT idea”.
When you started writing the story did you always plan for music to be such a central part?
Suzan: “Yes, music is such a big part of my life and I love a rom-com movie with a killer soundtrack so I wanted to write a book with the same sort of vibe. I wanted to write a rom-com for rock chicks!”
What is your writing routine?
Suzan: “Hahahahahaha. Oh, sorry I wish I could tell you that I’m up with the lark and do yoga before settling down with a herbal tea to write but it’s not really like that at all. I can and often do write anywhere at anytime. It might be because I used to work in noisy newsrooms but so long as I have my laptop I can happily write in busy cafes, on a train or even late at night sat on the sofa while my husband watches some noisy Sky Arts music show or a Nordic noir thriller. I’m quite fast so I can get a good amount of words down once I’m flowing and I try to hit at least couple of thousand words a day. Sometimes it’s more and I try for it not to be too much less. It’s not much of a routine is it? But I think I work better if I feel I can be flexible”.
What are you working on now?
Suzan: “I’m noting down lots of thoughts and ideas for book three. It’s fun to play around with lots of different possibilities and see what starts to take shape. All I can say for sure right now is that it will be funny (I hope) …and romantic and may very well have musical and pop culture references that people will recognise and love”.
What advice would you give to someone looking to publish their first novel?
Suzan: “Just keep going. I’ve worked in news, television, theatre and the music industry but writing and publishing a book is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. There are no shortcuts and it takes FOREVER but if you want to write a book you have to be prepared for it to be a long hard slog. Read as much as you can and try and work out what genre it is you are writing (that’s not as easy to do as it sounds). Join writing groups, go to writer events. Be prepared for feedback and try to find someone you trust to give you an honest opinion. But most of all…Just. Keep. Going”.
Shake It Up, Beverley by Suzan Holder is published by Harper Collins and is available now on digital download and paperback from April 2022. Suzan’s second book ‘Rock ‘n’ Rose’ set at Graceland the Memphis home of Elvis Presley, is due out this Summer.