Back in July I was invited to attend my local Waterstones’s Cringe Fest event, where three authors of recently released “cringe worthy” books would be discussing their stories, and I was given the opportunity to interview Beth Garrod, author of Super Awkward. Unfortunately I was not able to make it in the end, but I’m so glad that I picked up and read her book anyway because I seriously enjoyed it! Beth was also kind enough to answer my questions online, so keep reading to hear her cringiest moment and pick up some book recommendations.
From the cover:
“I, Bella Fisher, am absolutely WINNING at FAILING at life.
1. I once got my tongue stuck to a box of Calippos in a supermarket.
2. I accidentally called my geography teacher Mum. Twice. He wasn’t impressed.
3. I’m a geek. And not in a geek-chic kind of way, but in a secretly-caring-about-failing-maths-and-science way.
4. I always fail maths and science.
So it figures that when I meet the FITTEST BOY IN THE WORLD, Zac, I’m doing solo star jumps. While dressed as a cereal box.
(NOTE TO SELF, fancy dress = HE-WILL-NEVER-EVER-FANCY-ME dress.)
Now I’ve got to somehow persuade Zac to come to prom with me while avoiding my evil ex and dealing with a secret so mega-awks I want to Ctrl-Z my brain… What could go wrong?
Oh yeah, that’s right. Absolutely everything.”
Our main character Bella was hilarious. I found myself relating to a lot of scenarios that she found herself in, particularly the family trip to Wales and her mum having a cardboard cut out of a member of Abba in the bathroom (my dad had cardboard cut outs of Star Wars characters in the living room and I’m fairly certain that Darth Vader is still in the loft)! Having such a relatable character meant that I could breeze through the story quite quickly, feeling invested in Bella’s journey and what situation she was going to end up in next. The rest of the gang were likeable and good friends, but I didn’t feel as connected to them as I did Bella – probably because of the fact that they were definitely nowhere near as embarrassing as poor Bella and I!
Garrod had me laughing out loud every few pages; her story and characters really captured the worries and thoughts of a teenager very well and definitely brought back some memories I had perhaps tried to forget about. There was a realistic portrayal of teenage friendships – the gang fell out, made up, fell out and made up again, which was definitely my experience in secondary school!
While I think I’m a little older than the intended audience, I thoroughly enjoyed the book nonetheless, and 16 year old me is raving over this book! Super Awkward was a fun filled, well paced, plot driven story that kept me wanting to read on; I finished the book in basically two sittings. I recently read Editing Emma which is a similar sort of cringeworthy story and I enjoyed it just as much as Super Awkward, check out my review here.
1. Could you describe the story using just a few words?
Bella Fisher. Her best mates. An unexpected hot boy. A very evil ex. And some embarrassing secrets that should have really stayed that way.
2. Is any of the story based on true events such as the family holidays, cardboard cut outs? I definitely went on a lot of family holidays similar to Bella’s and there were certainly a few less than fun parts…
‘Based’ is a dangerous word – my mum might read this?! But, there are bits in my books that are inspired by things that happened to me. Tragically, most of them are the the mistakes that Bella makes, like texting the wrong people and getting hit on the chin with a rounders ball resulting in a bruise-beard.
3. There are themes of friendship, first loves, conflict and family. Was there a particular message that you wanted to get across/something that you wanted readers to take away?
Good question! For me, it was really important that I tried to get across the feeling that it’s fine to not have things figured out. That it’s totally normal to feel not normal. That life can be really tricky, even when you try your best. And hopefully readers will have a laugh or two. But what you aim for, and what actually happens can be two very different things!
4. Whilst Bella does spend a lot of time thinking about/worrying over boys (which I definitely did at 15 and am sure many 15 year olds still do) I really liked that in the end, it wasn’t the be all and end all of the story and she deemed other things, like her friendships, more of a priority. Was this important for you?
I love that you think this, as trying to do this was something that was important to me! Wooo. I guess I think friendships can sometimes be a bit overlooked – but navigating those relationships can be really tricky. And when they go wrong it can feel way worse than any love-breakup. But, on a happier side, the good bits are the bits you can look back on 20 years later and still smile about.
5. Do you have any particularly embarrassing memories from school like Bella? I was part of the brass band in school and just before a performance, the teacher walked over and very calmly in front of the rest of the band asked me to mime playing the trumpet!
This is amazing. Please can I borrow this for the next book? In fact, now you’ve made me think, I’m sure something similar happened to me when they downgraded my double bass part to just repeating the same note. And I had to sit on a really high stool to play double bass so everyone saw this shame playing out live. My school life was full of embarrassing moments. In fact, my life still is now. The other day a stranger on a packed tube told me I’d got my top on inside out. But at least now I can think of it as inspiration for a book!
6. What made you decide to become a writer?
I didn’t decide to become a writer – and don’t really feel like one now. But I do love writing, and writing for teenagers, so when I started doing less of it in my job, I started doing more as a hobby. And that eventually became Super Awkward.
7. What is your writing process? Do you have a strict plan or structure and follow this at all times, or do you write and see where the characters take you?
All I know is, whatever my writing process is, it’s not the right one! I am very much a write-and-see person – which means lots of edits, unpicking, and re-writing. Planning and writing to structure feels a bit like homework, but when I look back after doing it the other way I always think, ‘Next time, don’t be a wally, be more structured!’ (and then promptly don’t). I look at other authors’ pictures of their Post-It planning walls with absolute awe and envy.
8. What are you reading now, and could you give me a book recommendation?
I am just finishing up a book that I have loved, loved, loved – When Dimple Met Rishi. However, I’m scared about the ending, so am hovering about 20 pages from the end before I commit to finding out! A book recommendation? Hmm. I’ve recently read and LOLed at Noah Can’t Even and Editing Emma. And was BLOWN AWAY by Nevermoor. There’s so much good stuff out there at the mo!
You can get your hands on Super Awkward here, and Beth’s latest book in the series Truly Madly Awkward is out today! Beth says this of the new release: “Bella. Her best mates. A boy. A band. Lots of dogs. Lots of ice-cream. And a very unfortunate incident with an intimate part of a statue.” It sounds hilarious already! Thank you so much to Beth for taking part in the interview – and for writing such an awesome book.
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