Friday Reads – Death at the Caravan Park by Susan Willis

It’s time for another Friday Reads post and this week my featured book is the cosy crime novel Death at the Caravan Park by Susan Willis. So grab yourself a cuppa, get comfy and let’s find out a bit more about the book and get chatting to Susan.


Clive Thompson heads for Whitley Bay caravan park to finish writing his novel. He’s never had a caravan holiday before and is warmly greeted by the manager, Liz Mathews, who lives on the park. She is single and cares for her ninety year old mother who has Alzheimer’s Disease. Clive meets the people in neighbouring caravans and has an amazing view from his veranda over the sea to St. Mary’s Lighthouse. However, Audrey goes missing during the night and Liz is beside herself with worry. The police are out looking for her, but disillusioned by their efforts, Clive begins his own investigations.  

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Death at the Caravan Park

Welcome back to my blog, Susan. Can you tell us where the idea for ‘Death at the Caravan Park’ came from?This novel started differently to all my others. Usually, I have an idea or theme and develop the book from that starting point. However, last year my 90 year old mother asked me to take her on a coach trip for the day, called, The Vera Experience.

The trip started in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne with a small TV screen on the coach. At each location they showed a relevant clip of the episode that had been filmed there. We travelled along our beautiful coastline from, North Shields Fish Quay, Tynemouth, Cullercoats, Whitley Bay, Bamburgh, and finally, Holy Island.

There were numerous dead bodies in the episodes en-route, so by the time we reached Whitley Bay, my mind was buzzing with ideas. The coach stopped opposite the causeway over to St. Mary’s Lighthouse and grabbing my trusty old notebook I began to scribble. The old steps from the causeway path would make a great place for a dead body, I thought and grinned.  

The coach turned left at the roundabout, and I whispered to Mam, ‘I didn’t know there was a caravan park here?’

Mam nodded. ‘Oh, yes, it’s been here for years.’

What a good place for my bumbling sleuth, Clive Thompson to come and finish writing his novel. By the end of the trip, I had the plot for a new novel firmly in my mind.

Mam said, ‘We haven’t had a caravan holiday since you were little?’

This was my light-bulb moment. Why not come and stay in a caravan for a week and research the area, I thought and smiled. So, that’s exactly what we did. The park was split into sections and our caravan was on, Ash Mews, where the veranda faced the sea with a view over to the lighthouse. I spent the week taking loads of photographs and walked around all the local sights to include in my novel. I wrote the plot, and organised chapters linking in the historical facts from nearby, Seaton Delaval Hall. 

Knowing the places I’d visited made the novel much easier to write. The descriptions and scenes simply flowed and gave my story a real sense of place. I only hope the good people of Whitley Bay like the novel and think I’ve done justice to the area.

Now I understand the value of staying in an area where a novel is set and know it won’t be the last time I do this for research. In fact, I’m thinking of 2024 and, as a little hint for Clive’s next adventure, I think a stay in Ilkley, Yorkshire, is on the cards.  

What a fascinating story, thank you for sharing that Susan. I hope your book flies!

Author Bio:

Susan is a published author of eight novels and six novellas with short stories published in Women’s Weekly magazines. She is now retired from Food Technology and scribbles away in County Durham. Writing psychological suspense and cosy-crime novels with strong, lovable North East characters, is her passion. Last year, she brought us, Clive’s Christmas Crusades, set in York. Following the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, Susan wrote six Curious Casefiles which is now published by Northodox Press.

Her latest cosy-crime novel is, Death at the Caravan Park, set in Whitley Bay.

You can find Susan’s books here:   

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