Q&A with Suzan Holder

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Rock ‘n’ Rose. I’m sharing my Q&A with the author with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the blog tour and to Suzan Holder for answering my questions!

Have you always wanted to write? 

Yes. My primary school teacher Mrs Murray told me I should be a journalist and as soon as I found out what that was I completely agreed with her and set that as my goal. I used to write poems for my friends in the playground, little rhymes about them and the things they liked to do. My parents bought me a little red and white Petite Typewriter and I used to write my own gossipy magazines, I wish I’d kept them. When I read Little Women my writing ambitions increased to novels and wanted to be Jo March…I still hanker for a cosy writing nook in the attic.

What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?

Taking Mrs Murray at her word I went straight to journalism college after my A Levels and then got a job in local newspapers. I then progressed to national newspapers and then got my break in TV first as a reporter and researcher at Central TV in Birmingham then a producer. I was Exec Producer on ITV’s Loose Women for a while.

Working in TV and newsrooms I loved the fast deadlines and the adrenaline rush of having to work fast when news was breaking. I was taught to get to the point, be succinct and accurate. All of that was useful of course, but when I came to write my first book I think I tended to UNDERwrite rather than OVERwrite. I like that though. It means I can go back and add and enhance rather than have to go back and cut and chop.

What was your inspiration for Rock ‘n’ Rose?

The story was inspired by a trip I made to Memphis many years ago when I was 25. I was desperate to see Elvis Presley’s Graceland home, Sun Studio, downtown Memphis and Beale St.

I booked myself on an Elvis Experience trip and travelled there alone. I had a few very strange experiences while I was there including being rescued by a hunky Mississippi Motorcycle Cop when I got stranded in Tupelo – the town where Elvis was born. The thrilling motorbike ride he took me on to catch the Greyhound bus that had left me behind features at a very key moment in the book for my heroine Daisy! Every word of that experience is true but while I never saw the cop, called Blue, again… he becomes rather more important to Daisy! 

How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?

It’s a strange experience as a fiction writer. No one character is ever a complete person you know but just one person’s personality trait, habit or something someone says can trigger a whole new character that you put into your story. They then take on a whole life of their own and you quickly learn what they like and dislike, how they behave in certain situations. They then become just as real to you as anyone you have ever met. 

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I had to look up the word ‘pantser’ 🤣 I am definitely a plotter and NOT someone who ‘flies by the seat of their pants’.

I don’t start writing unless I know where I’m going, if that makes sense.

I like to have a rough arc of a story planned out, a beginning, a middle and an end plus the setting and key characters. 

Once I get going however I may veer off in all different directions and make wonderful detours that reveal new plot points, events and characters but I like to have an overall destination ahead of me.

How did you research? Did you enjoy it?

The book is set in Memphis, Tennessee and weaves the story of a young woman trying to solve a family mystery about a connection to Elvis Presley around lots of rock n’roll history. 

I’m a huge Elvis fan and I have visited Memphis a few times but yes I did have to check a lot of information and make sure the stuff I was writing was accurate. As a journalist I know how to do that and as it’s a subject I love I enjoyed it very much. My first book had a Beatles backdrop and was set in Liverpool so I had to do exactly the same for that. 

I knew if I got something wrong Elvis and Beatles fans would know straight away so I did my very best to do the stories justice. 

Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?

I really enjoy Jane Fallon, she writes smart, fast-paced believable books. 

Dawn O’Porter writes clever plots and is funny so I like her a lot.

I’d like to emulate the wit and humour of both Fallon and O’Porter.

I also love historical stories that evoke a real sense of the time and place. Philippa Gregory is great at taking you back in time and after reading Kate Mosse’s ‘Labyrinth’ set in the ancient walled city of Carcassonne I just had to visit there myself. I’d love to think ‘Rock ‘n’ Rose’ might inspire people to take a trip to Memphis and visit Graceland or if they are not able to get there by reading the book they get a real sense of what it is like.

If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?

Can I please have Elvis Presley, John Lennon and my husband Noddy Holder? Apologies to Paul McCartney who I have been lucky enough to meet and would obviously LOVE to have dinner with, but as the chance to meet Lennon has sadly gone I think I’ll take this opportunity. (Sorry Paul x ) 

John Lennon also once said he thought my husband Noddy had a great rock voice so it would give Nod the chance to say thanks for that compliment 😉

I’d be happy to serve Elvis his favourite Southern style meal of meatloaf and mashed potatoes although if he was in the room I can’t see me having much of an appetite for food.

The thought of seeing Noddy, Elvis and Lennon swapping rock n’ roll stories is boggling my brain a bit right now… I may have to go and have a lie down to recover.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?

Vladimir Putin. I’ve terrified myself with that thought so I don’t think I really need to explain that any further do I ? It would give me the opportunity to give kick a swift kick up the backside mind you. 

Who would play the main character/s in a film version of Rock n’ Rose?

This is tricky. Maybe Daisy Edgar Jones (Normal People) could play Daisy? … Daisy’s a young girl from Wales who runs a vintage clothes shop and loves a quirky outfit and rock n’roll music…although I sort of see her as a young Catherine Zeta-Jones-type. Let’s have Austin Butler as her love interest Blue, the hunky motorcycle cop who sweeps her off her feet. Austin did an amazing job playing Elvis in the recent Baz Luhrmann movie, he certainly has real charisma and his husky Memphis accent would work perfectly. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Hang out with my son Django and his girlfriend Beth who is just starting out in stand-up comedy, they are two of the coolest people I know and just brilliant fun to be with.

I love going to the theatre so see plays and musicals and when possible travelling around the UK, abroad, anywhere really. I missed all that so much during Lockdown – now I’m just thrilled to be able to meet a mate for coffee in the village! 

What is next for you?

I’m working on my 3rd book … another rock n’roll rom-com but I’m keeping the musical element a closely guarded secret at the moment. It’s early days. 

Favourites:

Book? ‘Elvis and Me’ by Priscilla Presley. My fiction favourites change all the time but I’ve read this book countless times, it was invaluable research for my novel and Priscilla’s story is incredible, written with love and respect for the man she admits was the love of her life. I met Priscilla once backstage at a theatre and she was the epitome of Southern charm, I just wish I’d had my well-read copy of her book with me so I could have asked her to sign it. 

Film? CABARET – Best. Musical. Ever.

Band/Singer? THE BEATLES/ ELVIS PRESLEY/ SLADE (Don’t ask me to choose between them!)

TV show? THE MARVELLOUS MRS MAISEL – we just finished series 3 of this show about a Jewish housewife who becomes a stand up comedian in New York in the Fifties. Loved it. 

Colour? TURQUOISE I’ve always been drawn to it but only recently realised turquoise is my birth stone. 

Place? MEMPHIS is hard to beat

Biscuit? This changes on my mood … right now ? …CUSTARD CREAM

***

Rock ‘n’ Rose is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s