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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Author Q & A Bev Spicer - Memoir of an Overweight Schoolgirl

A prequel to the Bev and Carol adventures, this is a fun and funny memoir set in the sixties and seventies, in the market town of Bridgnorth. As a young girl, Bev is not as slender as she wants to be – she likes eating Curly Wurly bars, jam doughnuts and batter bits.
'Overweight Schoolgirl Poisoned by Lard Overload Slips into Coma'

Against the odds, she gains a place at Bridgnorth Grammar School, where she becomes interested in boys, French and netball (not necessarily in that order). Bev remembers her hometown, her teachers and her first kiss. She takes us to her first Motown disco – a mind-blowing experience of epic proportions. All of this is set against the background of her parents’ divorce, her unconventional family life and her penchant for unhealthy snacks. If you were born in the fifties or sixties, remember pineapple chunks, The Man from U.N.C.L.E and going to the cinema with sixpence in your pocket, you might enjoy Bev's brand of unsentimental nostalgia and her whimsical style of writing.

Title:  Memoir of an Overweight Schoolgirl 
Author:  Bev Spicer
Links: UK:   Amazon   US:   Amazon

Author Q&A

Today we would like to welcome Bev Spicer to our blog to talk about her latest book.

What was the inspiration behind this novel?
I wanted to write more humour as I loved working on the Bev and Carol series so much. So I thought of writing a prequel about Bev’s school days incorporating lots of 60s and 70s nostalgia.

Did you always want to be a writer? 
Not really. It was when I moved to France with my family that I started writing – finding a permanent teaching job was impossible so I just sat down at my laptop one day and found I really couldn’t get up again!

What other jobs have you had? 
I’ve been a teacher and lecturer for most of my life and enjoyed it very much. Other jobs I’ve had include secretary to the British Leyland Data Centre Manager (a woman called Pam Pell – Hi Pam x), Sunday checkout girl at Tesco, and a blackjack croupier for Playboy, London.

How did it feel when your first novel was published?
I felt exposed, amazed and delighted.

Can you please tell us a little about your publishing story. 
Well, my first completed novel A Taste of Lemons, had interest from two of the three agents I submitted it to, who asked to see the full manuscript. This is a cinch, I thought. After waiting weeks and weeks, I received almost identical rejection emails stating that my novel was not ‘a good fit’ for their lists. Peeved, but undaunted, I began writing another book – Bunny on a Bike – the story of my adventures in London as a Playboy croupier. I submitted it to only one agent (submitting is a very time-consuming process), who said that memoirs about ordinary people were not viable for a publishing house. I thought this was a fair comment. Then I heard of Kindle Direct Publishing. My book was well received and I began another in the series – One Summer in France, which has done very well indeed. My third Bev and Carol adventure, Stranded in the Seychelles, was to be the last in the series. Then came the prequel…

Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?
Never had it. I have no problem getting the first draft down, it’s the next five or six drafts which involve savage editing and endless honing that are the biggest challenge for me.

What motivates you to keep writing?
I don’t know. I think it’s probably just an addiction.

Where is your favourite place to write? 
In my almost renovated kitchen/dining room. It’s light and has a view out onto my French garden. At the weekends my husband invades my space with power tools and DIY profanities.

Do your characters’ moods ever affect your mood and vice versa?
I don’t know whether we affect each other in terms of mood, but I do know that sometimes I wish they would leave me alone and let me get on with real life.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Don’t be in a rush.

Let your writing rest for as long as you can between drafts (I have multiple ideas on the go at the same time, so I always have something to work on from day to day).

Listen to and learn from intelligent criticism but never let a crass comment get you down.

Which authors inspire you?
Margaret Atwood,
Arnold Bennett.
Annie Proulx.
These are my current favourites.

What are you reading at the moment?

(Just as I write multiple books at a time, so I read a variety of authors concurrently – my brain is a strange beast that must be fed variety.)

The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
The Perfume Muse by Alex Johnson
Prime Numbers and the Riemann Hypothesis by Barry Mazur and William A Stein

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
Memoir of an Overweight Schoolgirl would open with David Bowie being played on an over-used and entirely scuzzy Sixth Form record player, amongst coffee making paraphernalia, and it would have to be Major Tom. Second choice would be You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet by Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book? 
It would have to be the funniest actress around at the moment (to play Bev). And that would be Melissa McCarthy. How about it, Melissa?

What is your next book about?
I have a finished second draft of my next DCI Alice Candy case. The first is already available – Locked Away. It’s more of a serial than a series, in that we follow the life of Alice Candy, ticking away in the background, as a new and complete crime is presented in each book. These stories are more plot driven than my more literary novels, but I still want characters with depth and individuality. Alice is certainly making me think and keeping me awake at night, but it’s all worth it. The more a character develops, the better. 

And now think about the books you've read and just give the first one that comes into your head for our quickfire 'Which book round.'

Which book has made you:
Laugh out loud? 

Charlie Brooker’s I Can Make You Hate – it’s much funnier than it sounds…

Cry your heart out? 
I don’t cry, but books like Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood hit me right in the solar plexus.

Want to read it again?
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx – I could never tire of her genius as a writer.

Think more?
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. I wish I’d taken sciences.

Wish it would be made into a film?
I wouldn’t wish such a thing on a good book…

Crash by J G Ballard (now that’s a film I don’t know whether I could sit through).

Ghost Story by Peter Straub – read on long nights between teaching equally scary students in Milton Keynes.

Thanks so much for joining us today Bev and good luck with the book.

Book Angel x

About the Author

Bev Spicer was born in Bridgnorth, a small market town in the Midlands. Her father was an Observer for the RAF and an experienced glider pilot (Bev spent many a weekend at the Midland Gliding Club, where she too learned to glide). Her mother was a local beauty queen and county hockey player, who still lives in Bridgnorth.

Bev was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, and became a lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University in 1997, moving to live in France with her husband and her two youngest children ten years later, where she lives in a lovely Charentaise house (in need of renovation).

She is widely read and has travelled extensively, living in Crete, where she taught English and learned to speak Greek, and in Seychelles, where she worked for the government and co-designed materials which were used to teach at secondary school level. She now writes every day and teaches English in her spare time.

Her humorous memoirs have been widely praised for their light-hearted but intelligent style, and hilarious, fast-paced dialogue. Her more literary novels and short stories have been equally well received for their complex characters, impressive prose, and imaginative settings.

You can find Bev's blog here:
Her Facebook page:
She's on Twitter:


  1. Thank you so much for inviting me to appear on your blog, Annette. I enjoyed answering your questions. For anyone who wants to see the overweight schoolgirl - there's a photo at the start of the book.

    1. You are more than welcome Bev. Oh wow I definitely need to see that.