Carmel Harrington – Q&A

Today I’m pleased to welcome Carmel Harrington to the blog. Carmel is the author of the best selling Beyond Grace’s Rainbow and The Life You Left. Her new novel, Every Time a Bell Rings, is published by Harper Collins in ebook format on 15 October 2015 and in paperback on 19 November 2015. Carmel kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about Every Time a Bell Rings.

It was inspired by the beloved Frank Capra movie It’s 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 1980’s. 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 – Tess’s. 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 Ha’Penny Bridge in Dublin and wishes she were never born. 

It’s 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. Every Time a Bell Rings is based on Its A Wonderful Life. Who would you lasso the moon for? 

Now if that’s not the most wonderful QUESTION ever! I would lasso the moon for my husband Rog. I’d do anything for him. He is without doubt the greatest love of my life. I am very lucky to have found him. And to be loved by him. Yep, he gets my lasso, every time.

3. The book is set at Christmas. What is Christmas like in the Harrington household?

I adore Christmas, so from 1st December, we are in full Christmas mode. We decorate the house with two trees, sparkly lights and garlands upon garlands of wreaths. We bake. We stock our store cupboards up with terribly naughty but gorgeous foods. If we are not listening and singing to Christmas songs, we’re watching Christmas movies. We wear the cheesy matching jumpers. And we all love both buying and giving presents to our loved ones. Every moment is about family, friends and love. 

4. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?

I don’t plan really at all. I like to just write, non stop, for the first draft and see what happens. My characters are forever surprising me! But then, on the second draft, I go back and make changes, edit like crazy, add, delete characters. Make it work.

The process depends on the distractions I have in my life at the time. I wrote Every Time A Bell Rings, the first draft in ten weeks. The rewrite took another month. 

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

Spend time with my family. I bake with my daughter, we sing and dance a bit, just for our own pleasure!, read and love walks on our local beach. 

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

Ah no, this is impossible to answer. I can’t. Don’t make me! haha …

7. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. What question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

Oh, what a GOOD question. I’ve never been asked who my dream interviewer would be. And the answer is Oprah. I adore her. I reckon if we met, we’d be great friends.

Thanks for answering my questions and appearing on the blog.

About the book:

GetAttachment (12)

“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 Moyes.

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

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 moments.

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


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Leah says:

    What a brilliant idea to base a novel around It’s a Wonderful Life! This is a really inspiring interview. Thanks!


    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Leah, isn’t it just a great idea. I love the film so the book sounds very appealing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Joanne says:

    Fabulous interview. Love the ‘who would you lasso’ question!


    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks very much, I thought it too perfect an opportunity to miss 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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