Author Interview: Suzan Holder

Meet Suzan Holder, journalist and former TV producer, and read more about her first novel Shake it Up Beverley set in Liverpool. Obsessed Beatles fan Beverley decides to dip her toe back in the dating game in an attempt to find love second time around (or third, if you count Paul McCartney!)

The book is adapted from Suzan’s original stage play Shake It Up Baby, which has been performed around the UK and was scheduled for a major theatre tour prior to the pandemic. With time on her hands over lockdown, Suzan adapted the stage play into a novel, fleshing out the characters and developing the city that she’d felt so at home in whilst visiting her son at university.

A romcom that speaks to me – a single woman in her forties who still has a rock-chick streak!’ – Woman & Home

The perfect, laugh out loud read for fans of Milly Johnson, Cathy Bramley and Jill Mansell!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your published book (s).

My name is Suzan Holder and ‘Shake It Up, Beverley’ is my debut book. Previously I’ve worked as a newspaper journalist and TV producer. I was exec producer of ITV Daytime Network talk show ‘Loose Women’.

I live in Cheshire and I originally wrote my story as a play which won Best Play in the North West Theatre Awards but plans to tour the production in UK theatres were wrecked by the pandemic. So I re-wrote the story as a book and landed a 2 book publishing contract with One More Chapter, HarperCollins.

‘Shake It Up, Beverley’ is about ‘Beatles Bev’ a music loving Beatles fan in her fifties who decides to shake her life up when she goes looking for love on the internet. The problem is… will she find a man to love as much as she loves Paul McCartney!?

Tell us about the genre you like to write, and how is it similar / different from other women fiction genres?

My only aim with my books is to write something that will entertain people and hopefully warm their hearts and make them laugh – in equal measure – if at all possible.

I’m married to a musician – Noddy Holder, who was the lead singer and guitarist in the band Slade and music is hugely important in my life. My first book has a Beatles theme and my next book – ‘Rock ‘n’ Rose’ which will be out later this year is set in Memphis at the Graceland home of Elvis Presley.

I wanted to capture in a book the feeling you get when you watch a great rom-com movie with a wonderful soundtrack… you know, when you go dancing down the street on your way home whether you’ve seen LaLa Land or Singing in the Rain! (Or is that just me?)

HarperCollins say I’ve written a couple of ‘Rom-Coms for Rock Chicks’ – Sounds good to me!

What are some of the biggest challenges authors of older protagonists face today?

I didn’t realise I was doing anything at all unusual when I created a main character in her fifties… so I can’t say I ran into any problems at all.

My next book has a younger MC but she befriends an older woman and both the main characters mother and grandmother also featured heavily.

I see absolutely no reason why a book can’t feature women of all ages in all types of situations. The older the woman, the more life experience there is to draw on, so the richer their story.

When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be a writer?

When I was a little girl reading ‘Little Women’ – I definitely saw myself as Jo March; I also had a primary school teacher tell me when I was 9 that I should be a journalist. So in good reporter style I went and researched what that meant – and when I found out I completely agreed with her and set that as my ambition from that day. As careers advice goes Mrs. Murray nailed it!

I used to write my own Jackie-style magazine on my little Petite typewriter when I got a bit older. I wish I’d kept copies of them now.

What are some things that inspire you to write?

A great song lyric, visiting Graceland in Memphis, seeing the Liver Birds on top of the Liver Building in Liverpool, a funny story, a memory of a mad thing that happened years ago – it can be ANYTHING the triggers an idea for a story and once the idea starts to bubble it links up with other ideas and you have to start to write it all down and knock it into shape.

I’m putting together ideas for my 3rd book right now – One More Chapter want me to write another one – and I’m finding inspiration here, there and everywhere . I’ve got too many ideas at the moment but that’s not a bad thing.

What is your typical writing routine like?

Hahaha Routine!? That’s funny. I’m afraid I don’t have a set routine at all. Now my first book has come out life is far too busy, but I’m lucky that I can write pretty much anywhere. I trained in noisy newsrooms so I just need somewhere to balance my laptop and I can get cracking. I like to write a couple of thousand words a day.

What kind of message do your book (s) convey to readers?

‘Shake It Up, Beverley’ is about a woman who has played it safe all her life, but as her youngest son leaves home to go to university and she finds herself an empty nester, she decides to ‘shake her life up’ and find someone to share her life… and her love of music with. I’d like people to feel inspired to shake their own lives up if that’s what they want to do. I have definitely shaken my own life up by writing this book. Things don’t always work out the way you think they will but it’s never the wrong time to have an adventure!

Does your book (s) incorporate certain aspects of your own life (and / or that of others)?

Beverley has a series of disastrous dates when she first joins a dating website and I will confess that some of her more bizarre encounters are based on my own ‘chequered’ dating past! I was a bit of a magnet for strange men before I met my husband … no … Noddy Holder was NOT the strangest dating experience I had!? Haha I know …. Crazeeeee….

I am a huge Beatles fan, of course, so I drew on all that knowledge and love for their music to give Bev’s story an authentic backdrop. I have been lucky enough to meet Paul McCartney a couple of times and I can say, hand on heart, that Bev’s devotion to him is well placed. He’s a lovely guy.

Beverley is so connected to the music she loves that it comforts her in times of trouble like nothing else can. I think music can be so powerful it is almost like magic sometimes; it connects us; links us to particular people and places and times in our lives and ‘Shake It Up, Beverley’ is all about that.

Any advice you’d like to give for aspiring writers over 40?

I don’t think publishers, or readers, give two hoots how old an author is if the book is good.

Read as much as you can, particularly in the genre you like to write, but not exclusively.

Write what you enjoy. Writing a book is hard enough don’t get bogged down in a manuscript you wouldn’t read if someone else had written it.

And I know everyone says it … but that’s because it’s strong advice… never give up. Just. Keep. Going.

Connect with Suzan Holder here:
Twitter:  @HolderSuzan
Facebook: Suzan Holder Author
Instagram: @SuzHolder15

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