Author Interview: Susan Willis

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Last year I started selling my paperbacks at local craft fairs and markets and I’ve been amazed at what buyers tell me about books and reading. Mainly how they love to read books which are set in, or near their home towns. Nearly all my books and stories are now placed in the North East.

Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?

It energizes me especially when my story is flowing nicely. I’ve been known to jump up and dance a little jig when I’ve got a scene spot on. Also, I can tell by my emotions if a scene is right. If it makes me cry or burst out laughing I know the readers will feel the same.

Have you ever travelled as research for your book?

Not until last year. In 2022 I went to stay for a week in a caravan park to research the local area of Whitley Bay which is what my super-sleuth, Clive Thompson does in the story, ‘Death at the Caravan Park’. It amazed me how, with the help of zillions of photographs and notes, my writing flowed so much easier soaking up the atmosphere. One reviewer said, ‘It’s like peeking through the caravan windows at the characters!’

How did you come up with the title for your book?

At the local craft fairs, readers told me they love short reads and I decided to write four stories which makes the same length of a novel. I needed a common theme and decided to use travelling on the Eurostar which I am familiar with. I also set the stories at Christmastime. The stories are cosy / quirky crime. Therefore, I used the word, Intriguing Journeys at Christmas.

How do you come up with character names for your stories?

From reading, films, and TV dramas. I think of my character, their traits and personalities then decide what name I think would suit them best.

How do you use social media as an author?

I try to do 30 minutes every morning of both Facebook and Twitter. And put a few photos on Instagram of an evening.

How long did it take you to write this book?

Approximately, five to six months. I try not to give myself deadlines as I don’t enjoy writing as much if rushed into a date. Although, if it’s seasonal, Summer and Christmas, then needs must to hit the sales.

How long have you been writing or when did you start?

I started on a home-based writing course fifteen years ago. After reading a short story assignment, the tutor told me, I had a vivid imagination! And off I went…

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have nine novels, six novellas, and three short stories. I started with foodie-romance and then progressed to romantic suspense, psychological thrillers, and now into cosy quirky crime, therefore, it’s hard to choose a favourite from different genres. But I feel as though I’ve found my niche in cosy-crime now, so I’ll choose, ‘Death at the Caravan Park.’

If you could be mentored by a famous author, who would it be?

My favourite American crime writer is, Harlan Coben. I love his books and believe he is the master of endings where I always think, I didn’t see that coming!