Inspiration for “Stone Tomb” comes from an underground bunker at Grinton

Inspiration for “Stone Tomb” comes from an underground bunker at Grinton

In June 2016 I attended a talk at the Reeth Museum by Shaun Richardson, who described his archaeological survey of the site. My immediate reaction was that it would make a great crime scene! Hence the title of my latest book: “Stone Tomb”.

  • Posted On: 17 July 2018

I began my writing career while carrying out forensic, archaeological, environmental and geological investigations at Imperial College, London, and I use that experience to inform the work of my protagonist, Dr Mills Sanderson, forensic archaeologist.
However, I now devote my time to my innovation company which recently received significant funding from the Government’s Industrial Innovation Strategy Fund to deploy a laser sampling tool on nuclear licensed sites. The aim is to make decommissioning of old nuclear power stations safer, cleaner, faster and more cost effective. It is therefore no coincidence there is a nuclear theme to my latest book. The crime scene is a fictional Royal Observer Corps bunker above Arkengarthdale, close to the “Tan Hill Inn”. It has remained closed for fifty years, or so Mills Sanderson believes, but when she begins an archaeological investigation of the site it quickly goes wrong.
There were over 1500 Royal Observer Corps bunkers constructed during the Cold War and their history is fascinating. It is part of the fun of writing my crime novels to research the background, whether it concerns a novel forensic method or archaeological technique.  In the plot of  “Stone Tomb” the bunker plays a significant part so it was fortunate there is plenty of material available on the underground posts so I could ensure I got my facts right.
“Stone Tomb”, the ninth book in the “Yorkshire Dales Mystery” Series, will be published by Viridian Publishing on 31st July.
Susan will be signing copies at Tennant’s Craft & Gift Fair on 4th & 5th August and at Berry’s Farm Shop on 12th August.


They call it the “blurb”

They call it the “blurb”

My ninth book is being edited and the draft of the front cover is ready, so now I have to write the “blurb”.

  • Posted On: 18 June 2018

It is what goes on the back cover and in my case that means a paragraph or two to tempt the reader with a flavour of the storyline without giving too much away. AND IT IS REALLY DIFFICULT! I agree with an author who said she would rather write the entire novel than produce the blurb. How do you tempt your readers with a dead body when any mention of it seems to give away who the victim is? You don’t say who but there are clues in the where and the how and the when. I guess the trick is to provide a flavour of the story. When browsing in a bookshop I will read the blurb and return to the shelf any book that mentions a nude found horribly mutilated – clearly it is a winner for some readers but not me. I will similarly reject any book that has a cat solving crimes or if detection involves knitting. So it’s back to the drawing board. What about starting my blurb with: "The nuclear bunker at Tan Hill has remained locked for over fifty years – or so Dr Mills Sanderson believes..."  Let me know what you think.


Now it's Spring

Now it's Spring

So it’s officially Spring and suddenly every sheep in the dale appears to have given birth and after just a few days the youngsters actually bounce as they play together.

  • Posted On: 31 March 2018
The snowdrops are dying and wild garlic is in leaf on the river banks, a sign that we will soon be mass producing pesto for the freezer.  Despite the promising signs of the new season, recent light snow covers the tops and there is still a chill in the air.  I am ignoring the weather and spending Easter writing #9 in my ‘Yorkshire Dales Mysteries’.  I am finishing the last chapters and expect to have completed the first draft in a couple of months.  A number...

Stocking up for christmas in Wensleydale!

Stocking up for christmas in Wensleydale!

  • Posted On: 23 November 2017
My novels are distributed through the wholesaler to bookshops worldwide and, of course, on Kindle. But there are many small outlets in the Yorkshire Dales that hold stocks of my books and it is my job to ensure they don't run out. It is a pleasant trip into Leyburn to top up the shelves before travelling over the River Ure to Swinnithwaite to sign copies for my shelf at Berry's Farm Shop. The final stop is Hawes to top up the shelves in the Wensleydale Creamery, ready for the...

A grand day out!

A grand day out!

  • Posted On: 9 September 2017
The first time I visited the Muker Show was in 2005. My first novel had just been published and I remember the excitement of seeing it on the shelves of Ottakar's bookshop and being interviewed by the Northern Echo. I also remember visiting the Sedbergh book festival that month and giving Reginald Hill a copy of 'Corpse Way' - he asked me to sign it 'To Reg'. I took a box of books to the Muker Show and shared a table in the history tent. On that occasion it poured with...

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