Sunday, 18 October 2015

Q&A With Carmel Harrington *Christmas Style*

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I am very happy to welcome the wonderful Carmel Harrington on Sky's Book Corner. Her third novel Every Time a Bell Rings is out now and she joined me for a little Christmas Style Q&A. 


1. Every Time a Bell Rings is your third novel, can you tell us a little about the story?

         It was inspired by the beloved Frank Capra movie Its A Wonderful Life. My story centres around Belle Bailey and is told in three parts. The first when Belle is a young foster child in the 1980s. She has a tough start to life, with a mother who appears incapable of love in any way. But in 1988, she is sent to a new foster home - Tesss. There she meets Jim Looney, who becomes her childhood best friend. The second part is set in 2005 when Belle is a young adult and she falls in love and decides to become a foster mother herself. The final part, is set in 2015, when Belle, following a series of heartbreaking events, stands on the HaPenny Bridge in Dublin and wishes she were never born. Its an emotional tale, with some serious themes running through it, but ultimately, the message is that life is quite wonderful, for all of us, if only we can see the world through different eyes.

2. What was your inspiration for the book?

         Every Time a Bell Rings is inspired by the beloved Christmas movie Its A Wonderful Life. The movie has incredible themes to work with, both dark and light - from love, family, friendship to utter despair and hopelessness.

3.  Can you tell us more about the main characters?

Belle Bailey is my heroine. A troubled childhood, spent in foster care, has left its scars. Her journey, from child to adult, a foster parent herself, was quite special to write. Shes strong, yet has huge vulnerability. But ultimately, she just wants to love and be loved.
Jim Looney, is my hero. He meets Belle while in foster care and they become best friends. They are without doubt destined to be together. A proper love story! Hes strong, charming, a little bit cheeky and adores Belle.
Tess is the foster carer that changes both Belle and Jims life. Shes incredible. I hope readers feel like theyve been wrapped up in a warm hug when they get to meet her. Shes not without her faults. She smokes and eats way too many fatty foods. But she's loving and wise and quite wonderful.
Nora is the eleven year old girl, who shows Belle what life would be like if she had never been born. Shes wise, funny and tells it like it is.
Bobby is the first foster child that Belle takes in and we meet him, as a young man. Although his part in the story is small, its incredibly important and hes one of my favourite characters. One of lifes duckers and divers, who is trying to live his best life, despite, every obstacle being thrown at him.

4. Every Time a Bell Rings is your first Christmas novel, what is so special about writing a story for this festive time of the year?

Its my favourite time of the year. Many of my happiest memories are wrapped up in Christmas. I love to write. It just seems like the natural progression to marry both loves together!

5. Whats your favourite line in Every Time a Bell Rings?

I really couldnt narrow it down to one. Heres a little passage I love.

A tiny silver bell. Nestled on red velvet fabric within the box, with a red velvet ribbon attached to it, I dont think Ive ever seen anything more perfect.

Oh Jim. I sigh and, I swear, the crowd sighs with me.

"A silver bell for my Belle." He says.

I take it out and shake it once, twice and it rings out into the night air. The group around me all sigh again, louder this time, in unison.

I dont blame them. For goodness sake, Im about to faint with the beauty of the moment. Ive read about moments like these, watched them in Christmas specials and now, Im actually part of one. Me.

He takes the bell from my shaking hands and unties the red ribbon.

6. Whats your favourite scene in Every Time a Bell Rings?

Again, cant really narrow it down to one. But I love the opening scene, with Belle and Jim on Grafton Street and also, the final scene too in the park.

7. Imagine this book would be turned into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters?

I find that my readers always do a far better job than me at choosing the right characters for my books. I like the idea of Michael Fassbender or maybe Colin Farrell or Colin ODonoghue for Jim. Then for Belle, theres an Irish actress I loved in Love/Hate called Ruth Negga. Tess, maybe Emma Thompson!

8. Your first novel is called Beyond Graces Rainbow, whats it about?

Its about a young single mother, Grace Devlin, who discovers shes got cancer. She needs a bone marrow transplant but the best chance for a match will come from a family member. Unfortunately, shes adopted and all attempts to connect to her birth mother have failed. Will she step forward, now that the stakes are the highest of all - Life or Death?

9.  Last year your second novel The Life You Left came out. Where is the story set and whats it about?

This story centres around Sarah and her three children, who are grappling with a new normal, when Paul, her husband doesnt come home from work. He leaves Sarah and her children with little money and many unanswered questions. Then an old friend of Sarahs comes back to her life. Someone she hasnt seen since she was a young child. And he has an ominous message for her. Someone has been murdered and she will play a part in helping to bring the killer to justice.

10. Whats your favourite Christmas memory?

As a child, once Christmas Eve my brother and two sisters and I crept up one night and set up a camp in the living room, to catch Santa. It was magical.

11. Do you have a special Christmas tradition?

I have lots of traditions, but every year for over two decades now, I watch Its A Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve. I adore that movie. Its slightly changed now, because now, we watch The Polar Express with the children first of all.

12. Whats your favourite Christmas song?

Ooh, tough one. I think Ill Be Home For Christmas, or O Holy Night.

13. Whats your favourite Christmas movie?

Its a Wonderful Life.

14. Who would you want to meet under mistletoe?

My husband.

15. Your favourite Christmas books?

The Night Before Christmas.

16. When do you start your Christmas shopping?

Any time now really. Ive already started to plan the children's gifts. But if I see something that I think my family or friends will love, Ill pick it up.

17.  Pick three authors you want to have dinner with and tell us why.

The late great Maeve Binchy.
Jane Austen.
Stephen King.

(I think- ask me in five minutes, youll get a different answer!)

18. Christmas Eve vs Christmas Day?

Two very different events altogether. Day, only because of the kids. Watching their faces when Santa has been. Thats my happy place.

19. Favorite things to eat at Christmas?

I love the whole Turkey & Ham Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. But I also love lots of other things I only associate with the festive season. Minced Pies, Sausage Rolls, Quality Street chocolates, Christmas Plum Pudding, Shortbread biscuits.

20. Your favourite Christmas gift?

My first Christmas with my husband, he bought me a Tiffany charm bracelet. He adds to it now, on special occasions. I love it. 

About the author

Carmel Harrington lives with her husband Roger and children Amelia

and Nate in a small coastal village in Wexford. She credits the idyllic
setting as a constant source of inspiration to her.

Her first book, ‘Beyond Grace’s Rainbow’ was
originally self-published in August 2012. Grace’s
story quickly became a bestseller - fast forward 12
months and Carmel joined the prestigious
HarperCollins publishing house, represented by
Trace Literary Agency. Beyond Grace’s Rainbow was
voted Romantic eBook of 2013 and Kindle Book of
Year 2013. Her second novel ‘The Life You Left’, was
published in June 2013, was also an eBook bestseller
and earned Carmel the nickname, ‘Queen of
Emotional Writing’. 

Carmel writes emotional family dramas and they
share one common theme - strong characters who
find themselves in extraordinary situations. She loves
to dig deep and see how they cope, as they grapple with life-changing

She is a regular on Irish TV as one of the panelists on TV3’s Midday
Show, as well as being interviewed on RTE1’s Today Show, TV3’s
IrelandAM and TV3’s The Morning Show. She has also been interviewed
on US TV - Indiana’s WNDU. A a regular guest on radio stations and a
popular freelance writer. Carmel is also a popular motivational keynote
speaker, at events in Ireland, UK and US. 

Twitter @HappyMrsH 

About the book - Every Time A Bell Rings

… an angel gets its wings…

Belle has taken all the Christmas decorations down. This year they won’t
be celebrating. As foster parents, Belle and Jim have given many children
the chance of a happier start in life. They’ve loved them as if they were
their own. They shouldn’t have favourites but little Lauren has touched
their hearts. And now her mother is well enough to take her back and
Belle can’t bear the loss. Hence, Christmas is cancelled.

So when Jim crashes his car one icy December night, after an argument
about Lauren, Belle can only blame herself. Everything she loves is lost.
And Belle finds herself standing on The Ha’Penny Bridge wishing she
had never been born.

But what happens to a Christmas wish when an angel is listening…
Will Belle realise, before it’s too late, that her life is the most wonderful
life of all?

Inspired by the timeless tale of beloved Christmas movie, It’s a
Wonderful Life, Carmel Harrington’s next book tells the story of Belle, a
young woman and foster carer from Dublin who faces the hardest
decision of her life this Christmas on The Ha’Penny Bridge.!
Full of Irish charm, magic, and the warmth of the festive season this is an
emotional, heartwarming story that will stay with you long after you’ve
reached ‘The End’. 

Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Cecelia Ahern, Maeve Binchy & Jojo

Carmel is the bestselling author of The Life You Left & Beyond Grace’s
Rainbow, voted Romantic eBook of the Year 2013.!

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