Name Amy M. Reade
Old enough to have a child starting college in two weeks.
Where are you from
I was born in Watertown, New York, and lived there until I went to college. I didn’t go too far away- just to Ithaca, New York, at Cornell University, about 2 ½ hours away. From there I went to law school in Bloomington, Indiana, at the Indiana University School of Law, then I moved to New York City, where I lived and worked until my children were born. Now I live in southern New Jersey, right near the shore.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m working on a series right now- I’m contracted to write three books so far. At the moment I’m working on edits for the first book, called The House on Candlewick Lane, and writing the second book, which is as yet unnamed.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I wrote all the time when I practiced law, but it wasn’t terribly creative. When my children were born I stopped practicing. I knew I wanted to work again, but I wasn’t keen on going back into the legal field. So I attended a three-night writing and publishing workshop at a local library and I was hooked after the first night.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I got my second contract.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The author hosting the workshop I mentioned above gave homework each night. The first night, as I recall, was a writing prompt about summer. My first idea grew out of that assignment. Strangely, my book had nothing to do with summer, but the seed was in there somewhere.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I would say that I write books that my grandparents, my parents, and my children can all read and be proud of.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
My editor and I brainstormed titles. The house in my first book was such an important part of the setting that I wanted the name of it to be in the title. But the name of the house wasn’t enough- we wanted something that would suggest a mystery without being too dark or too cozy.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
One of the things I love about writing is introducing readers to places that might be new to them. And if they’ve been to the place where I’ve set a book, I love introducing them to something they might not know about the area. I want my readers to long to visit the places I write about- and so far it’s worked!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I would say my books are mostly fictitious, but there are elements of reality in each of them. For example, in House of the Hanging Jade, the main character is a personal chef. I have made or eaten everything she creates, so those parts of the story are real. I also like to kayak, just like the main character. In Secrets of Hallstead House, the stories about the other islands in the St. Lawrence River are real- from the pirate at Rock Island Lighthouse to the tragedy that took place at Boldt Castle on Heart Island.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
There are books that have influenced my life and books that have influenced my writing. I would say the Bible has influenced my life in that it’s a blueprint for the way to treat other people and for living in peace. The books that have influenced my writing are those by Phyllis Whitney and Daphne du Maurier. Those women write in the style I love and emulate, and their stories are fascinating.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Several new authors have grasped my interest: Paula Hawkins, Amna Boheim, and Jane Davis.
My favorite author varies depending on my mood, but the ones generally in the rotation are Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen, M.C. Beaton, Phyllis Whitney, Daphne du Maurier, and James Herriot.
The things that strike me about their work are all different. For example, Ernest Hemingway has a way with words that wrings every bit of emotion out of a reader with a minimum of verbiage. Jane Austen’s books have wicked humor that is presented in a sophisticated way. M.C. Beaton can make me laugh out loud while I’m puzzling through a mystery. Phyllis Whitney and Daphne du Maurier can weave stories that are timeless, but with sinister elements that lend excitement and intrigue to their books. And James Herriot is the reason I originally wanted to be a veterinarian- his stories are just wonderful.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My church. They read my books, they tell other people about them, and they even started a book club- my first book was their inaugural book!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I don’t think so.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve loved writing since primary school. I used to love writing poems (my magnum opus was written when I was six, to commemorate my sister’s second birthday)
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My work-in-progress takes place between the Scottish Highlands and the London art world. Since I’m not even halfway done, I can’t tell you much more than that since I don’t know more than that myself!
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The soggy middle. The middle third of the book is always the hardest part for me.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I don’t travel to do research for my books- rather, I write books set in the places where I travel.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The art department at Kensington Publishing has designed all my book covers. Personally, I think the cover for my next book, The House on Candlewick Lane, is my favorite.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The soggy middle!
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that once a book is written, the work is only half done. You can have the greatest book in the world, but if you don’t do the work to market it, no one will buy it. Marketing is a huge part of the business of writing.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
Wow. Tough question. I think I would like Jessica Chastain to play the part of Carleigh Warner in The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
I’ll give the best advice I received: you need to start marketing yourself and your book on the day you decide to write the book, not on the day you decide to publish it.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just a huge and heartfelt thank you. And if you have the time, would you consider leaving a review? Not just for my book, but for any book by any author. Reviews, even ones that aren’t so good, are very important for authors.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I remember that it had a character named Puddle Duck, but it wasn’t Jemima Puddleduck. For years I’ve tried to remember the name of that book, but I think it’s lost to history. I remember reading Nancy Drew books faster than they could be written.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Thinking about life without my dog makes me cry. My kids and my husband make me laugh.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I would like to meet Zelda Fitzgerald, the wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’d like to know more about her writing, about living in Paris in the 1920s, and about what it was like living in her husband’s shadow.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
“Beloved Mom” because that’s how I want to be remembered.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I like to do counted cross-stitch, but it’s hard on my neck. I like to use my spin bike and I love to read. But I guess my favorite pastime is cooking.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love the Sherlock Holmes series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. “I Love Lucy” is my favorite show of all time. One Christmas my husband gave me a dvd boxed set of every episode, and I watch those over and over again- I like to have one playing while I cook.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Foods: Chocolate and cheese!
Color: Definitely red.
Music: Depends on my mood, but I always love Hawaiian music.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Another hard question! I used to think I wanted to be a veterinarian, but that didn’t pan out. I wouldn’t want to practice law again. I’d like to do something with cooking- perhaps personal chef.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Readers can find me online at the following places:
Fiona, it has been a privilege to be interviewed by you! I can’t thank you enough. You bring authors alive to so many people, and the service you provide is a wonderful one.