SECRETS OF HALLSTEAD HOUSE – On sale July 17, 2014
About the book –
Macy Stoddard had hoped to ease the grief of losing her parents in a fiery car crash by accepting a job as a private nurse to the wealthy and widowed Alexandria Hallstead. But her first sight of Summerplace is of a dark and forbidding home. She quickly finds its winding halls and shadowy rooms filled with secrets and suspicions.
Alex seems happy to have Macy’s help, but others on the island, including Alex’s sinister servants and hostile relatives, are far less welcoming. Watching eyes, veiled threats…slowly, surely, the menacing spirit of Hallstead Island closes in around Macy. And she can only wonder if her story will become just one of the many secrets of Hallstead House…
Author guest post –
The Thousand Islands
I grew up in a town close to the St. Lawrence River and the Thousand Islands region of New York State. I wish I had the words to describe the stunning beauty of this area of Northern New York, but there are no such words. The river is where I spent many weekends during my childhood and where I chose to set my first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House.
The name of the island where most of the story takes place is Hallstead Island. As near as I can tell, there is no such island in the Thousand Islands, but there are islands that look a lot like it. The island is covered with trees and has a low, fortress-like wall surrounding it. The home on it is generations old. In the Thousand Islands, there are islands that have few trees, or no home at all, or several homes, but places just like Hallstead Island are quite common.
Likewise, the name of the town the protagonist visits during her stay on Hallstead Island is Cape Cartier. There is no such place as Cape Cartier, but there is an Alexandria Bay, a Clayton, and a Cape Vincent. Cape Cartier, I hope, embodies all the charm of these real towns.
And my book’s Heather Island is based on the real Grindstone Island, a place that holds an important place in the history of my grandfather’s family. It’s a fascinating place with a population of only a handful of families.
But though Hallstead Island and Heather Island and Cape Cartier are fictitious, there are real places in Secrets of Hallstead House. There is Boldt Castle, for example, a Rhineland castle built on an island within view of Alexandria Bay that was the scene of a beautiful and tragic love story between a man and his wife. And Dark Island is real too, with its own Singer Castle. The castle still holds church services occasionally and is home to artifacts such as suits of armor and well-cared-for antiques.
I’ve often said that I want readers of Secrets of Hallstead House to want to visit the Thousand Islands.
If you do visit the area, I suggest by starting in Alexandria Bay (also called Alex Bay) with one of the local boat tour operators. There are several to choose from, so do your research. I’m not going to recommend one here. Make sure you hop on one that will make a stop at Boldt Castle.
Take a leisurely wander around some of the small towns on the banks of the river. I’ve already named three- Alex Bay, Clayton, and Cape Vincent. But there are lots of others. Then spend some time at one of the parks along the river, such as Grass Point or Kring Point. They’re beautiful spots for a picnic.
One of the biggest events in Alex Bay is Pirate Days, a celebration every August of Bill Johnston, the local pirate who also happens to make an appearance in my book. His story is riveting and has a great ending.
If you can’t visit the Thousand Islands, at least have a look at the photography of Ian Coristine and the paintings of Michael Ringer. I have books by both artists in my home, and I love to look at them. Their work will give you a good idea of what the St. Lawrence River and Thousand Islands are like.
I know you’ll love it.
About the author –
Amy M. Reade is a debut author of romantic suspense. A native of upstate New York, she grew up in the Thousand Islands region and was inspired by the natural beauty of that area to write her first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House. She now lives in New Jersey with her husband, three children, a Bouvier des Flandres named Orly, and two rescued cats who refuse to answer to their names of Porthos and Athos.
Upon graduation from Cornell University and Indiana University School of Law, Amy practiced law in New York City, but soon discovered that her dream job was writing. In addition to volunteering with school, church, and community groups, Amy is currently working on her second novel, set in the area around Charleston, South Carolina.
Though Amy lives within sight of the Atlantic Ocean, she is partial to the blue waters of the Pacific and spends as much time as possible on the Big Island of Hawaii, which is the setting of her as-yet-unwritten third novel.