Guest author: Amy M. Reade – I Don’t Write Horror—I Live It.


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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2013-1548About 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.

The House on Candlewick Laneamy-reade

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.”  ‑‑

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


About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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51 Responses to Guest author: Amy M. Reade – I Don’t Write Horror—I Live It.

  1. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great to read about someone else who has mishaps on holidays. We went through a patch of two years where every holiday ended up with a trip to the local hospital.

    Liked by 2 people

    • amreade says:

      That sounds so familiar! A friend suggested we travel to Turkey together because she knows how badly I want to go there. She said, “You should go with me. I’m a good luck traveler.” I told her I would reverse that good luck in a hurry if we went anywhere together. 🙂


  3. amreade says:

    Thanks very much for having me here today, Sue!!


  4. floridaborne says:

    Those certainly were nightmare vacations. Anyplace you’re planning to visit in the USA? If so, I might suggest you steer clear of Orlando and Disney World. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Love this post! I don’t think I would ever leave the house again.

    Liked by 3 people

    • amreade says:

      And yet, for some reason, we keep going away! There’s really no explanation. In fact, I believe “insanity” is sometimes defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome each time. 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed the post!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on Steve Boseley and commented:
    Another dark fiction author to check out! Fans of Gothic Horror take note…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Marja McGraw says:

    More than anything else, I appreciate that you can find a funny side to things at some point. If not, you’d never want to take another vacation. And talk about giving you fodder for stories, this would do it. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, and for having such a wonderful attitude.

    Liked by 2 people

    • amreade says:

      Hi Marja! Thank you! You know the old saying, “If I didn’t laugh about this, I would cry.” That pretty much sums up our vacations–we have no choice but to laugh! I’m so glad you stopped by!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my gosh. Terrible at the time, but something to laugh at later. Glad to hear everyone came home in one piece. Oh the memories! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Kaye George says:

    You do have memorable vacations! I’m glad ours have usually been pretty tame. If you need a traveling companion, don’t call me, please! But have fun on your next adventure.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Kathy says:

    So very true, we have a lot of those mishaps memories from vacations too and we don’t let them spoil a holiday.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Tina Frisco says:

    My goodness, Amy, you’re a walking breathing calamity! You’re right, though; mishaps make memorable stories. If you ever do write a book about them, I expect it will fly off the shelves 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • amreade says:

      And there are so many more I forgot…

      But they make for good stories and some laughs along the way, so it all works out in the end. And by the way, I already have a title picked out for that book of travel horror stories. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  12. oh yes, I too relate to holiday mishaps etc! Great post and very interesting teaser that I must follow up.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Jennie says:

    Really good story. As they say, you can’t make this stuff up.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. And I thought I’d had some “interesting” vacations? You definitely topped some of the stories I could tell, Amy. Great post and a great point!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Liane Spicer says:

    This was awesome, Amy! OMG. Brought to mind one of my own vacation misadventures… A hurricane sideswiped Tobago the day after we got there. (When I heard the news that it was going to hit I suggested we fly back home immediately. Everyone just stared at me and finally my mother said: “Get in a plane? In a hurricane? REALLY?”) Yup. Staycations for me from now on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • amreade says:

      Ack! My mother and stepdad have had to cancel a couple trips to Florida because of hurricanes. It must be so nerve-wracking. And flying is hard enough for me without hurricanes. Hopefully you were able to enjoy the rest of your vacation in Tobago!!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Lidy says:

    Wow, those are some crazy vacations. I’d say, you’ll need a vacation from the vacation, but more mishap will happen. At least it’s something you can laugh about later. Bonus, they’ve become the inspiration to your stories. Still, here’s to hoping for at least one normal vacation for you and your family.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Check out this guest post from author Amy Reade from Sue Vincent’s blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. This is absolutely hysterical. Sort of. As long as it doesn’t happen to me. Oh my gosh, remind me to never go on vacation with you, Amy. But you have a point. It’s the vacations that DON’T go right that we remember many years later. For us, the time my guy and I took our two young kids to Maui, and our son lost his (very expensive) retainer somewhere in the town where we’d had lunch. Who knew a Hawaiian town had so many trash cans? But we found the retainer (along with some menacing looks from the police). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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