I don’t know how many times I’ve come back from a vacation and said to anyone who would listen, “I’m never going on vacation again,” only to pack up and go somewhere else the following year. Honestly, with all the vacation mishaps my family and I have had, I could write a book.
There was the time my brother caught pertussis and was hospitalized for what seemed like months. He was just a baby. We almost lost him.
There was the time I ran through an undoused fire at a campground and spent a week in the hospital with third degree burns all over my foot. Worst pain I’ve ever been in.
There was the time everyone in my family had pinkeye in Hawaii.
What about the time I got bronchitis in Florida? And the time I had it in Hawaii? And the time I went on a whale-watching trip to Cape Cod and it rained so much the entire time that the whale watch was cancelled? And the time we rented a flat in London and there was drag racing all night long right under our windows? At least the racers waited for the gang rumble to end before they started their engines. And the time my husband and I and two of our kids watched in horror as the doors of the Tube in London closed on our third child, the one without the cell phone? And the time our elder daughter had a migraine and she threw up all night on the one night we had decided to splurge and go to a really fancy hotel? And last summer, when my son went camping and broke six ribs?
You get the point. In our family we don’t refer to vacations by their destination and date; no, instead we refer to them as “that trip where so-and-so got that-awful-infection” or “the vacation where that bird laid eggs in my hair” (true story) or “the trip where the tire fell off the car and the man at the rental car place made me cry” (also—true story). So is it any wonder that my books, which are set in places I traveled to and loved despite all our misfortunes, are filled with murder and mayhem?
But here’s some food for thought: how much fun would it be, really, if vacations always went as planned? Actually, maybe you shouldn’t answer that. It would probably be awesome.
The point I’m trying to make, though, is that I have some pretty funny stories of the vacations my family has taken, and the reason those stories are funny is that our mishaps have been unplanned and unexpected. It may not have been funny when my son threw up in the car on our vacation to Scotland last year, but we can laugh about it now. And it may not have been funny when my eldest child got a rash in Ireland when she went roaming where we told her not to go, but it’s funny now. There are some things that will never be funny no matter how much time passes (case in point: my brother getting so sick when he was a baby, nearly forty years ago), but in general we can laugh later about the things that go wrong when we’re away from home.
The events that go awry when I’m on vacation are the ones that best imprint a place in my memory. If I hadn’t had a panic attack in Piccadilly Circus because I told my husband we were in Trafalgar Square just before his cell phone died, would Piccadilly Circus be seared into my mind now? If my middle child hadn’t fallen off her rented bike and broken the seat clean off when we were riding along the Thames, would I have had the opportunity to get down on the ground and experience London from a different angle? If I hadn’t gotten lost when I was by myself at night trying to find Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre, would I have such an intense memory of the streets around that area of the city? Probably not. It’s often the negative things that turn out to be positives, especially for writers. Unexpected events can lead us down a path we never thought of—they can give us a different perspective when we write about those events and those places.
Is there a lesson in all this? Yes: embrace the unexpected! You never know what laughs might erupt years from now when the horror/embarrassment/shock/injury of the experience is just a memory.
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About the author
USA Today bestselling author Amy M. Reade is a recovering lawyer living in southern New Jersey. The House on Candlewick Lane is the first of The Malice Novels, Amy’s gothic suspense series set in the United Kingdom. The second book in the series, Highland Peril, will be released in the fall of 2017. She is currently at work on the third book. Amy is also the author of Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of Hanging Jade, all standalones of gothic suspense. She loves reading, cooking, and traveling.
It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Greer Dobbins’ daughter has been kidnapped—and spirited across the Atlantic to a hiding place in Scotland. Greer will do anything to find her, but the streets of Edinburgh hide a thousand secrets—including some she’d rather not face.
Art historian Dr. Greer Dobbins thought her ex-husband, Neill, had his gambling addiction under control. But in fact he was spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. When a group of shady lenders threatens to harm the divorced couple’s five-year-old daughter if he doesn’t pay up, a desperate Neill abducts the girl and flees to his native Scotland. Though the trail seems cold, Greer refuses to give up and embarks on a frantic search through the medieval alleys of Edinburgh—a city as beguiling as it is dangerous. But as the nightmare thickens with cryptic messages and a mysterious attack, Greer herself will become a target, along with everyone she holds dear.
Praise for Amy M. Reade’s Secrets of Hallstead House
“Danger, mystery, a brave but resilient heroine, and a hero at her side, coupled with a house that is almost a character in its own right: these classic gothic romances are all to be found in Amy Reade’s debut novel.” ‑‑heroesandheartbreakers.com
An excerpt from Amy’s new book, The House on Candlewick Lane:
I must have fallen asleep, because I sat up with a start, not remembering where I was. But after a second it all came back to me in a rush of fear and indignation. I was sitting on the twin bed. It was hot. My hair stuck to the back of my neck and my forehead. Gray light forced its way into the room through the small window that overlooked the fields behind the house on Candlewick Lane. The rain was still falling, smearing the glass. I wondered where Neill was. I knew pounding on the door would be no use, but I had to do something. I had to try. My fists bore the bruises from my earlier futile attempts to be heard. There was nothing to do but wait to be released from this tower prison. Someone had to let me go.
They couldn’t keep me here forever.
Other books by Amy M. Reade