Welcome to the first of my July Q & A #AuthorChats, featuring Cozy Mystery/Thriller, fiction author Amy Reade. Amy is not only a fantastic writer, but loves to share some of her favorite recipes on her blog too. Today Amy features her newest release – Cape Menace.
Amy M. Reade is a recovering attorney who discovered, quite by accident, a passion for
fiction writing. She has penned twelve mysteries and is working on several others. She writes in
the Gothic, contemporary, historical, and cozy mystery subgenres and also loves to read, cook,
and travel. She is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Secrets of Hallstead
House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, House of the Hanging Jade, the Malice series, the
Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery series, the Libraries of the World Mystery series, and the Cape
May Historical Mystery Collection.
The year is 1714. Two years have passed since Ruth Hanover vanished into the wilderness of the New Jersey colony without a trace, leaving behind her husband, William, and their daughter, Sarah. Though William and Sarah have never stopped hoping that Ruth will return, as time goes by it becomes less and less likely they will ever see her again.
Now William is acting strangely. He won’t tell Sarah why he’s conducting business with a mysterious stranger in the middle of the night, he won’t explain the sudden increase in his income, and he won’t share with her what people in town are saying about her mother’s disappearance.
When the time comes for Sarah to face her father’s secrets and figure out why her mother never came home that December day in 1712, what she learns will shock her tiny community on the New Jersey cape and leave her fighting for her life.
Welcome to my blog Amy, I’m delighted to have you over and introduce you and your writing to my readers and friends. 🙂
A.R. – Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog, Debby. People like you are part of the reason I find the writing community online so welcoming and supportive. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to be part of such a group.
It was so hard to choose which questions to answer. I have opinions on all of them! But after much deliberation, I decided to answer the following four questions:
What hobbies do you enjoy when not writing?
My favorite activity when I’m not writing is reading, though I have other hobbies, too. I read across many genres, though there are a few I don’t care for. My favorite genre, not surprisingly, is mystery. I read all kinds of mysteries, from cozies to classic noir to thriller/suspense to Gothic. My favorite book really depends on my mood on any given day, but I have a few go-to authors, including Elizabeth Peters and Phyllis Whitney. These women were masters of mystery and their stories only get better each time I read them. Another author I love is M.C. Beaton, who passed away recently. Her Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series are a hoot.
Outside mystery, my favorite authors include Ernest Hemingway, Tatiana de Rosnay, and Jane Austen. A pretty wide variety of writing and subject matter there, I’m sure you’ll agree. But there’s one thing they all have in common: the ability to transport me to another place and time.
When I’m not reading, my hobbies include cooking and travel. On my blog I feature three new recipes on the first Tuesday of every month, and in my newsletter I feature a new recipe every month, too. I love to cook and bake, though since the quarantine started in the United States I’ve done far less baking than usual. I know that’s counter to what others are doing right now, but I am using the extra time to write and exercise. Not surprisingly, I’m finding that
when I don’t bake as much, I don’t eat as much! But I do love baking, and sometimes it’s nice to immerse myself in flour and baking powder and sugar and eggs just to make things for my family.
I also love to travel, though this is a far more expensive hobby than reading or cooking, so I don’t do it as often! My favorite places to visit are Scotland and the Island of Hawaii (the Big Island).
D.G. – Thanks for the introduction to some of these talented authors Amy, and I do enjoy your recipes. 🙂
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite of your books and if so, why?
My latest release, Cape Menace: A Cape May Historical Mystery, was my eleventh novel. I’m currently working on my twelfth and thirteenth novels, which will be out in late summer and God-only-knows-when, respectively. I hope this doesn’t sound like a cop-out, but whichever book I’m working on is simultaneously my favorite and my least favorite. I think a lot of writers will recognize themselves in that sentence.
When I’m working on a book, I’m always thinking about it: how to change it, how to improve it, what needs to be included, what needs to come out. And I’m committed to that book, no matter which one it is. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t be committed to it and I wouldn’t spend so much time thinking about it.
But in every book I’ve written, there’s always a point at which I’m convinced it’s all drivel, that it doesn’t deserve to see the light of day. I know I’m not alone in having this feeling. Luckily, what has always happened in the past (and which I hope will continue to happen!) is that I double down on writing, rewriting, and editing, and in the end I always love what I put out there. I wouldn’t release it if I didn’t love it.
I think this is the long way of saying I don’t have a favorite. *wink*
D.G. – Great answer Amy. If we didn’t love what we do, how would we get through the slog, lol. And I wrote 2 books at once twice, I quite enjoyed the versatility of ‘whatever I’m in the mood to work on’. 🙂
Share with us a book that moved you so much it stays with you.
Every book I read moves me in some way, but some books affect me more than others. And there are lots of books that have stayed with me for different reasons, either because I loved them or because I hated them or because my English teacher drilled it into my head to the point where I couldn’t forget the book if I tried (Great Expectations, I’m looking at you).
But because you asked me to share a book—one book—then I guess I’ll follow the directions and name one that I read several years ago and found simultaneously haunting and heart-wrenching and beautiful. It’s Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.
This book is set against the backdrop of the 1942 Vel’d’ Hiv’ roundup in Paris. Young Sarah is arrested along with the rest of her family, but she manages to keep her younger brother hidden from the police by locking him in a closet. She assumes she will be back home in just a few hours and takes the closet key with her. Sixty years later, an American journalist living in Paris is assigned a story about the Vel’ d’Hiv’ to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of that horrifying event. As the journalist begins to dig for information, she discovers a personal connection to Sarah…and you have to read the rest of the book if you want to know what happens.
D.G. – Omg, you better believe I’m bookmarking this one! I’m so drawn to WWII era stories, and this isn’t the first I’ve heard of this author! Thanks Amy. 🙂
Do you have any suggested reading or people to follow in the industry for writers, and why?
I follow so many industry professionals that it’s hard to narrow down the list, but there are a few I’ll highlight because their content is consistently valuable and useful.
Jane Friedman. Here is a woman who has spent years—no, decades—in the publishing industry and she knows her stuff. She is passionate about bringing good writing to market and she shares insights on everything from the craft of writing to the art and science of marketing to the ins and outs of publishing on her blog, in her newsletter, and at public speaking engagements such as writing conferences and workshops. Here’s her website: https://www.janefriedman.com/
Frances Caballo. Frances (I call her by her first name like we’re friends, but I’ve never met her) is a social media consultant who is beyond generous with sharing her vast knowledge of social media. If you sign up for her newsletter, you’ll receive marketing tips, social media tips, and helpful links to marketing posts and articles. Here’s the website: https://socialmediajustforwriters.com/
Joanna Penn. I can’t even begin to describe everything Joanna Penn does, so just take my advice and have a look around her website to give yourself an idea. Be forewarned: you’ll be there a while. She shares treasure troves of information about writing, marketing, and publishing, and it’s presented in every form you can think of: books, blog, podcasts, YouTube, etc. I hang on her every word. Here’s her website: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/
D.G. – Thanks for sharing these wonderful pioneers in our Indie biz Amy. I’ve followed these talents since I began learning the self-pub biz so I concur! 🙂
Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?
Yes! As I mentioned earlier, I’m currently working on two manuscripts. One is Ghouls’ Night Out, Book 4 in the Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery Series. This one takes place around Halloween and the main character, Lilly Carlsen, is again up to her eyeballs in both family drama and murder.
The second manuscript I’m actively working on is Dutch Treat, Book 2 in the Libraries of the World Mystery Series. In this series, I use special collections in libraries around the world to commit or solve a crime. In this book, my main character, Daisy Carruthers, moves from Washington, DC, to New York City to take a temporary position as associate professor in the anthropology department of a small private college. While doing some research, she stumbles upon an old map that *may* lead to a treasure buried somewhere under the streets of Manhattan.
And finally, I’m in the research phase of my next book in the Cape May Historical Mystery Collection. This book will take place around the time of the American Revolution. I’m really excited about it, since writing the first book in the collection was such a great experience.
Again, thank you for having me here, Debby. It’s been fun.
D.G. – Thanks so much for giving us an inside peek to your current works in progress Amy. You are a writing machine my friend. 🙂
Amy is sharing an excerpt from her new release, Cape Menace: A Cape May Historical Mystery:
I pulled the long cloak around my shoulders more snugly and hurried along the muddy road beside the dark wood. I dared not glance behind me, but I knew something was there. I could hear it—its swishing footsteps, the sound of its breath reaching my ears. I never went into the woods at night anymore, but even on the road I was afraid of encountering a wolf. This was his hunting time and I was the intruder. I quickened my steps.
Peering ahead through the dense blackness, I caught a glimpse of warm firelight, a scent of acrid smoke that I couldn’t see but knew was curling up from the chimney of my house.
By the time I reached the house I was running, afraid to stop and listen again for the thing behind me—whatever it was. Yanking on the leather door handle, I swept into the room and slammed the door behind me. My father, dressed in a woolen great coat, looked up from where he had been putting on his boots.
“Where have you been? I was just about to go looking for you. Why are you breathing so heavily?” His eyes were worried, his brow creased with concern.
I leaned against the door for several moments, catching my breath, waiting until the pounding in my chest calmed. I held up my hand, not yet ready to speak. He waited in silence. Finally I answered him. “I was running. I think there was a wolf outside.”
“I’ve heard talk of a pack nearby. Did you see one?” he asked, glancing toward the window. I shook my head. “I do not want you to be outside in the dark. I’ve told you that many times before. What if …” He stopped and I knew what he was thinking. I gazed at him with sadness. He looked older than his thirty-seven years, having never regained the weight he lost after Mamma disappeared.
“I am sorry, Pappa. While you were in the barn I went to Patience’s house to give her the tincture you mixed for her mother. Goodwife Ames was in dire need of it.” I hung up my cloak on the peg and was startled to hear a muffled knock at the door. I jerked around to face my father.
“Who is that?” I whispered.
He stood up and crossed the small room to the door. “I have a feeling it’s someone for me. I’ll take care of it. You go to bed, Sarah.”
He watched as I ducked under the old coverlet that hung between the main room and the bedchamber. When he opened the door, I peered around the side of the makeshift curtain.
He stepped outside, leaving the door slightly ajar, and spoke in low tones to the person who stood in the cold darkness. I couldn’t hear what he was saying. After a short time, he came back in and closed the door firmly. I waited, listening. I expected him to go to the opposite side of the room and open the door to the apothecary, but he didn’t. The chair creaked as he sat down again by the fire.
I slid under the coverlet, the cold taking my breath away. Though it was kind of my father to let me use the bedchamber while he slept in the main room, it did get awfully cold in there and sometimes I wished I could sleep next to the fireplace.
I fell asleep wondering who had been at the door. It had not been a wolf hunting me, after all. It had been a person.
As happened every night at this time of year, I was warm soon enough and I was not ready to leave the comfort of the bed when the cock crowed the next morning. Dressed in several layers, I made my way out into the late fall dawn, in the almost- darkness, to the cow pen. I chose the cow I would milk first, then pressed my cold face against her body as I filled my small bucket with the warm, frothy white liquid. My father was in his shed preparing for the day. After his farm chores, if no one came to the apothecary needing his assistance he would head eastward across our fields to Widow Beall’s house, where he had promised to fix her front door.
I took the milk indoors and set it aside to make butter later in the day, then ladled cornmeal mush onto our trenchers. From our small jug, I drizzled molasses over the mush and set the jug on the table along with two mugs of cider. While I waited for Pappa to come in, I swept the floor and tidied the hearth.
He came indoors just a short time later. “The sky looks like snow. I’ll patch the cracks in the cow pen after I return from Widow Beall’s house.”
I nodded, waiting for just the right time to ask him who had come to the door in the darkness the previous night.
He sat down to his meal. I sat down opposite him, my chair scraping across the rough pine floor, disturbing the silence. He glanced at me over the rim of his mug. A smile flickered in his eyes.
“You are just bursting to ask me something, I can tell. What is it?”
I fumbled with the handle on my mug, gently sloshing the cider inside. “It’s nothing, really. I just wondered who was at the door last night.”
It was as if a veil descended over his face. His look of amusement disappeared, replaced by a look I couldn’t decipher. Was it anxiety? Consternation? “I told you I would take care of it, did I not?”
Five-star review for Cape Menace:
“As soon as I began reading Cape Menace, I became immersed in the world of the early eighteenth century, which reflects Ms. Reade’s skill as an author and researcher. She does a brilliant job weaving historical facts, mystery, and romance into a gripping story and I found the book hard to put down. I appreciate Ms. Reade’s attention to detail, especially the authenticity of her character’s behavior, attitudes, and morals which accurately reflect those of the period. All of this would be interesting enough, but the addition of a captivating storyline makes this book a stellar read. For me, the best books entertain and enlighten, and Cape Menace checks those boxes. Congratulations to the author. Highly recommended. I received an advance copy of this novel.”
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