Buckle up and hold on to your heart-strings. Though no matter how hard to you try to hang on to them, they will still be plucked, twisted and squeezed.
Beyond Grace’s Rainbow is the Debut Novel by Irish Author Carmel Harrington. Dealing with highly emotive subjects such as Cancer, Adoption, Difficulty conceiving and single parenting. There are of course more, but if you haven’t already read this book then I am sure you wouldn’t want me to ruin it for you.
In this book Harrington’s main character is Grace. A single mum to Jack, Grace is diagnosed with cancer. Her friends rally around her while she undergoes treatment, and receives some more heartbreaking news. We then undertake a journey to discover where Grace came from and true to life, things are just not that straight forward. We learn not only of Grace’s life but that of her friends, Tara, Sean, Tom and Gerry (Yes, really) and Abby. Not to forget Liam, Jacks dad and the man who broke Graces heart.
Read about true friendship and endless love. You will laugh, you will cry, you might even get angry. One thing is for sure – this, thanks to the warmth of writing and the level of feeling Harrington obviously had for her characters, is a story you will never forget.
Have the tissues handy. You will be needing them, I’m sure I could have taken out shares in Kleenex!
Of course i would never expect you to just take my word for it! Read below a few snippets from other people’s reviews of Beyond Graces Rainbow;
Bernice Gardner writes; “..A well written, witty, amusing story and most definitely a tearjerker…”
Clare writes; “..Bought it on a Monday night and finished by Tuesday evening. an amazing read, would highly reccomend this to everyone. I look forward to the Authors next book!!!!” Get in line Clare!
R1810 writes; “An excellent read…I though this was a thought provoking good read. I don’t normally read this type of fiction but I was genuinely moved by this book. ”
FiFi g 123 writes; “..This book has every thing … Humour , romance, friendship … It’s pure escapism at its very best … ”
Are you tempted yet?
To my good fortune, Just hours before publishing this entry Carmel made the long-awaited announcement that she has in fact just signed with renowned literary agent Tracy Brennan of the Trace Literary Agency. I would imagine that we are only at the very beginning of Carmels Journey and there are many great things to come!
Beyond Grace’s Rainbow Will be available for download on September 12. All the old links are no longer available because as you will know Carmel signed a multi book contract with HarperCollins’ digital imprint HaprperImpulse. To preorder please clock HERE
Carmel was good enough to take the time to answer some questions for me, in order for you to get to know more about her. I hope you are as enthralled by her very honest answers as I was!
Who is Carmel Harrington?
Isn’t it really hard to describe yourself? I have answered every other question and left this to last! I’m an author, married to Rog and we have two children, Amelia who is almost 3 and Nate who is 14 months. I also have a 10 year old step daughter Eva. I am living my dream because I love being a stay at home mum and if I do say so myself, Rog and I have pretty spectacular children. Ok I’m biased but if you met them, you would agree I promise you! Life is busy between being Mummy and wife and trying to knock out a new bestseller or two. But I love being busy. I’m quite creative, aside from my writing, I dabble at photo art and in another life I’m probably an events planner because I love organising parties. Baking is my new hobby and that’s probably not a good thing as I’m on a diet at the moment trying to reclaim what I can of my pre baby figure. I’m pretty laid back as a person, quite calm and rarely lose my temper or cool. If I do, then those who know me well, know that things are bad! I’m an eternal optimist and definitely a glass half full lady. My family, both the O’Grady’s and the Harrington’s are really important to me and I would do anything for them. Likewise for my friends, of which I have some pretty cool ones. I love a good night out and if you met me on one, you’d probably find me in Cistin Eile, our favourite restaurant in Wexford, or in Freddie’s our local, with a glass of brandy and ginger in front of me. But my happiest place to be is at home with Rog and the children.
What was your inspiration for Beyond Grace’s Rainbow?
Actually it was a conversation with my best friend Ann that sparked the idea initially. We were having a conversation about adoption and how hard it is for adopted children growing up not knowing their family medical history. So the idea of Grace, my main character began to take seed. I thought it would be a really interesting storyline to develop, not only for Grace to come to terms with the diagnosis of cancer, but also realising that the biggest hope for her recovery lay in the hands of an unknown biological family.
Also, one thing I’ve always believed to be true, is that often friends are the family you choose. I wanted to build a network of amazing friends for her, each with their own interesting stories to tell, but always by Graces’s side. So I started developing Graces’s character and building up a family of friends for her and before I knew it, I had a novel!
When you were writing, did the book take any turns that you were not expecting?
Absolutely. I start off with a an idea and a general direction I feel the story will take me, but it always shifts and changes as the characters begin to become real to me and their personalities take over.
For example, initially I wasn’t sure if Liam, Graces’s ex boyfriend and father to her little boy, would be a strong or a weak man. And sometimes it’s only when a situation of extraordinary circumstance is thrust up in you that you find out yourself what you are truly made of. Graces’s illness certainly showed Liam who he really was.
And initially when I started writing about Graces’s search for her biological father, I didn’t know who the father would be. That developed as the story came together.
Who was the easiest character to write for?
Actually I found them all pretty easy to write and there is a bit of me in each of them. I don’t think any of them stand out in my mind as easier than others. My best friends have told me that they see a lot of me in Grace. And I recognise that. It is really inevitable that certain traits in me would appear in my characters, especially the ones I’m closest to.
Who was your favourite character?
Now that’s like asking a mother who is her favourite child! I grew very attached to them all. I was quite protective of Abby and really wanted her to find her happy ever after, and I’m not sure her story is over yet at all. Gerry I enjoyed so much as he really is the dramatic, extravagant side of my personality. We both love movie quotes and fashion. Tom was a dream to write as he’s just rock solid and we all need a Tom in our lives. But I suppose Grace will always have a special place in my heart.
Do the names of your characters hold any special meaning to you?
That’s a really lovely question. Picking names for characters is tricky! Grace is a family name. My grandmother was Corinne Grace and she died from cancer. I, along with my Mother and sister Fiona were with her in her final days and I wanted to honour her brave battle with cancer by naming my lead heroine after her. One or two people commented on how much I seemed to know about cancer, unfortunately it was from first hand experience with my Nana.
Here’s two little bits of Trivia about names for you Tanya! The pseudonym that Tom uses when he is under cover is my fathers name – Michael O’Grady! And my best friend Ann, named two of her children Abby and Sean, not knowing that I had called two of my main characters the same name. She had yet to read the book when naming them!
Beyond Grace’s Rainbow dealt with hugely emotive subjects, did you find yourself affected while writing the book?
By the time I finished the novel I was a blubbering mess! I felt every emotion that the characters felt and really struggled with some of the story lines. When I wrote the first draft of the novel I was single, but when I revisited it in 2012 and rewrote it, I had become a mother myself. So the subject of a mother with a young child facing a critical illness took on such a new meaning for me. I became very attached to Jack, Grace’s son and worried for him every time Grace got sick. As a mother, I think one of our greatest fears is not being around to watch our children grow and become adults. It’s a sobering subject and I really wanted to treat it with respect and not trivialise it.
Anyone who knows anything about you knows that you live for your family, Is it hard to fit writing around bringing up a young family?
Yes, my family is my life and my greatest joy. But, small children take up a lot of time and it’s become very tricky to get time to myself to write!
I can make plans to have time to write but if a child is sick, it’s Mummy they want. And my family will always come first. End of!
Luckily, Roger, is very supportive of my writing.
What is your favourite book?
That’s so difficult. I’ve quite an ecclectic taste, loving women’s fiction right through to gritty novels, with a good smattering of horror and science fiction thrown into the mix!
And I’ve read 100’s of excellent books over the last 35 years or more!
The books however that have stayed with me are the ones I read when I was a young girl, borrowed from my local library in Wexford. Can I say 3? Because I can’t pick between these!
Louisa M Alcott’s Little Women, perhaps the original chick lit author! I really identified with Jo so much. I was a tomboy, always out and about with my brother John, but I desperately wanted to write too!
Tolkein’s Lord of the rings was the first big book I tackled when I was 11 I think. When I say big, I mean big in size! My sisters Fiona and Shelley say they still remember seeing me with my nose in that book. Tolkien took me into a world far far away that was magical, wondrous and scary and I loved it. I’ve reread that a few times over the years.
Harper Lee’s To kill a mockingbird. This book was the first book with an adult theme I read and the first that made me cry. Books that make you feel a strong emotion are the ones that stay with you I think.
Who is your favourite author?
I’m afraid I can’t answer that! I love lots and lots. All of the above, Dr Seuss, Marian Keyes, Dean Koontz, Maeve Binchy, Suzanne Collins, Sophie Kinsella, Harlen Coben, James Parterson, JK Rowling and the list goes on and on and on!
Did you expect Beyond Grace’s Rainbow to have the success that it does?
Not in my wildest dreams. A few of my close friends and some family had read it and all had told me it was good, but in fairness, they have to say that! So, I was very nervous putting myself out there. But I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker. I decided to throw myself into the literary ring so to speak and see how it went. I figured the worst case scenario was it would bomb and would soon be forgotten about. I am so proud that it went to no 1 on the iTunes fiction charts and stayed there for a few weeks.
I’ve had over 70 five star reviews now on various retailers sites and each and every one of those mean so much to me. It means a lot to an author when a reader takes the time to put pen to paper and say that a story has touched them. I also received a lot of emails and pm’s on Facebook from readers who were very moved by Graces’s story. I will always treasure those as they gave me the confidence to continue this journey.
When can we expect more from Carmel Harrington?
Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve completed my second novel and am currently in the process of rewriting the first draft. I’m not happy with the ending so am working on that at the moment. This novel is about a single mum, Sarah who is psychic! I’ve also been working on a further two story lines for no 3 and 4 so don’t worry, there is plenty more to come!
Enough book talk, time for a few random questions to get to know Carmel;
What is you favourite TV Show?
At the moment it is Grey’s Anatomy.
When did you last laugh / cry?
I last laughed a few minutes ago! It’s taken me all day to answer these questions, because I’m getting to them in between being Mummy! Amelia makes me laugh all the time. She’s quite an actress and has just been putting on a little dance routine for me, which involves a lot of bum shaking!
I cried last night. A friend had some bad news.
What is you favourite quote?
The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams. Oprah Winfrey
Do you believe in Karma?
Yes, I believe in karma. What goes around comes gloriously around! It might take a little bit of time but eventually all bad deeds catch up on a person.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned?
If someone shows you who they truly are early on, believe them. I talk about this with my friends. I think when you meet someone, either a romantic someone or just a friend, if they do something that raises what I call a red flag, then why would you ignore that and hope for the best that it won’t happen again. This is something I am going to do my best to instil into my children. I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I made when I was younger and waste time on the wrong people. Now I choose only to surround myself with people I like and love and who in return like or love me back!
Who would play you and Rog in the story of your life, and why?
Love this! Well Rog would be played by Daniel Craig. He’ll like that answer! I think Daniel could get Rog! On first meeting My husband you might think he is quite serious, but spend a little bit of time with him and you find a really great sense of humour and killer wit. He makes me laugh all the time.
And for me, well I think Sandra Bullock or maybe Julia Roberts could play me. Both are mothers and of similar age to me. And I always love their movies.
Besides your children, what in this life are you most grateful for?
Ok, so aside from Rog and the children it would be my health. I’ve watched people very close to me deal with some serious illnesses recently and I know I’m lucky to be healthy. What’s that saying, your health is your wealth? That’s true for sure.