Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Harper Impulse Day Three with Carmel Harrington and Beyond Graces Rainbow!

I've got a super treat today because visiting with me is the gorgeous (if you don't believe me, scroll down and look at her picture) and limitlessly talented Carmel Harrington!! Whoo Hoo! I love this girl. Besides being an all around fabulous, witty and generous soul, she is an artist extraordinaire and lives in Ireland. Hello! Guess who's coming to visit, Carmel! LOL I'll be knocking on your door soon!!

***Carmel's digital photo art is featured during her interview.
She graciously sent me several pieces to use for today's post! Whoot!***

So, let's start by telling everyone how your writing career began.
I’ve always been a book worm (nerd!) and read voraciously as a child and teenager.  I was forever scribbling in my journal and I secretly harbored an ambition to be an author and one day, see my work on a bookshelf in my local library.  But like a lot of people, I ignored my creative self for decades until a story about a young mother called Grace took root in my head and I had no choice to but get it down on paper.  I wrote the first shaky draft then left it gathering dust for over 6 years (the shame!) until I eventually got the courage to finish it in 2012.  So I am what you might call a late starter to writing!
Six years?!? You're right! I'm wagging a finger now. Imagine the audacity of keeping this lovely story all to yourself! I know Grace's story is a romance, but I'm not sure of the sub-genre. Moving forward, will you stick with the same type of story or write across lines?
I think the story dictates to me which sub-genre I fall into!  Beyond Graces Rainbow falls in the contemporary romance genre but my writing does lean towards suspense/mystery I think!  I have been told by many that my writing is emotive and if you read the reviews of Beyond Graces Rainbow, the words tear jerker and Kleenex pop up more than once!  Is tearjerker a subgenre? Sleep of Dreams my second book, which will be published by HarperImpulse at the end of this year I think has both feet firmly in the suspense genre but with a sprinkling of paranormal too.
Wow! That's awesome! Any time my stories are described as tear-jerkers, I'm happy. But, of course, I'm evil that way, making my readers cry. I'm just dying to read your work now. Tell us, of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite and why?
I’m not sure I could pick a favorite, as that would be like asking me to choose a favorite child! But having said that there are a couple of characters that are special to me.  Grace in Beyond Graces Rainbow will always be in my heart, as she was the first character I dreamt up and there is a lot of me in her.  Gerry was a lot of fun to write as he is so over the top and that appealed to my dramatic nature!  If Gerry did exist I reckon we would get on beautifully! In my second book Sleep of Dreams, there are a couple of proper nasty characters in it and they were enormous fun to create and develop.
I love writing a right evil antagonist. They are just so much fun! Have you ever considered self-publication?
Absolutely, I have already done so with Beyond Graces Rainbow.  Thankfully it got really great reviews and even made the bestsellers charts, (yes I have the screen shots!) winning a kindle book award in March of this year.  All of these little wins gave me an excellent platform to get noticed by first my literary agent Tracy Brennan and then ultimately with my book publisher HarperImpulse who offered me a 2 book deal, which has now turned into a 3 book deal. It’s hard work, self-publishing, though and also not for the faint hearted and there is no doubt that with the backing of a reputable publisher like HarperImpulse, I have a much better chance at longevity in this industry.
Congrats on all the wonderful accolades! The more I learn, the more I can't wait to dig into your stories!! What are you working on now?
I have several WIPs on the go at any one time as my mind is always buzzing with new ideas.  But then one of them will just capture me and I’ll have to finish that.  At the moment, the story that is taking over everything else is a sequel to Beyond Graces Rainbow.  I’ve been asked a lot to write this and I wasn’t sure if I would or not.  But a few weeks ago I started to think about Abby and Gerry a lot and wondered where they might be in 2013.  I spoke to HarperImpulse about my ideas and they love them, so we’ll have another peek over the rainbow in 2014 I think!  The sequel will revisit all of the old gang but will focus more on Abby and Gerry’s story, with a few new characters too.
Fabulous! That's wonderful news! So with all these projects percolating, do you take time off in-between or dive right in to the next story?
I definitely need a few weeks in between writing one novel and starting the next.  I need to find a way to say goodbye to the characters I’ve grown to love during the writing phase before starting to develop new ones for the next book!
I do the exact same thing. In fact, I usually end up having myself a nice little crying jag once the book is send off into the cybersphere. What about your reading tastes? What’s on your nightstand (or downloaded onto your Kindle) right now?
Next on my book list to read is Lori Connelly’s Outlaw of Cedar Ridge.
It looks so good, doesn't it? I have this one too! LOL Who is your favorite author and why?
I think it’s impossible for me to name just one author, as it changes so often!
How about a Superhero? If given the choice, which one would you most love to date and why?
Hmm, that’s tricky.  There’s a few I would be happy to have come rescue me from a burning building.  But I’m not sure I could date a man who looks better in lycra than me, so that rules out quite a few.  Batman is tempting cos’ he has a butler and that could come in very handy! I think I will choose Iron Man if I may!  He’s quite witty and very clever and would certainly keep me entertained.  Plus he’s a billionaire and that can’t hurt ;)
I love Iron Man! He's one of my most favorite! LOL Let's talk real life heroes for a second. Does your husband read your work? And, if so, what’s his reaction?
My husband Rog does read my work, but he was a little reluctant to at first I think.  It must have been a bit daunting for him, as if he didn’t like my writing he would have been in a very difficult situation admitting it!  After he read Beyond Graces Rainbow, he told me he got very emotional at the end and that was a big moment for me, knowing that he got lost in the story enough to feel moved by it.  He has almost finished my second book Sleep Of Dreams now.  He does read my blog every day too, if only to keep an eye on what I’ve said, as along with all the H’s he often gets a mention!
Aw, that's gonna make me cry! What a great guy! Okay, give me the five top words your best friends would use to describe you.
I decided to ask some friends to answer this question for me and this was the general consensus!  Thank Goodness they were in a good mood the day I asked them!!! Fun, Compassionate, Wise, Chatty and Loyal.

Favorite cocktail?
Mojito’s all the way!  Although I could never say no to a Cosmopolitan or a Bellini.  Actually scratch that, I’d never say no to a cocktail full stop!
Carmel, you are my kind of girl! What are your hobbies?
I love photography and in particular digital photo art.  I like to combine my writing and love of photographs together and have quite a few Carmel originals scattered around the house ;)
Thank you so much for visiting! Now let's take a peek inside Carmel's Beyond Graces Rainbow.
~ * ~
When Grace Devlin, a young single mother receives the devastating news that she has cancer she feels like she has been hit by a truck.  But she knows that she must fight with every core of her body to beat cancer, as she refuses to leave her adorable little boy Jack all alone in the world.
To further complicate matters, Grace is told that her best chance of survival would be to receive a bone marrow transplant from a family member. As she was adopted as a baby, this means she must make the brave decision to embark on a heart breaking search for her biological family.  This search will unravel a web of lies and deceit that has spanned over thirty years in rural Ireland.  And just when she thinks life can get no more complicated, Jack's estranged father Liam is back in town and he's made it clear that he's not leaving until he's won her back.  Grace is confused and scared as old feelings that had been long buried are back in full force.
Helping Grace muddle through this are her gang of friends.  Tara and Sean are desperate for a baby of their own and we watch the emotional turmoil as they face disappointment month after month. Abby meanwhile, is single and lonely and has decided it's time to find her one true love.  The friends resident drama king Gerry steps in and is determined to play matchmaker.  Tom, Gerry's boyfriend plays a key role in helping Grace find her biological family (whilst trying to keep an eye on Gerry, who has a habit of maxing out their credit cards!)  Beyond Grace's Rainbow will suck the reader into Graces world where friendship, courage, loyalty, laughter and above all love are abundant.

~ * ~

Grace was abruptly pulled back from her daydreaming by a demand from Gerry.  ‘Right Grace, I’m in suspenders here for too long!  Why are we all here?  Don’t tell me you’re preggers again!’ Gerry laughs.

‘Nah couldn’t be that Gerry, the sperm of the devil hasn’t been around for years now!’ Tara joked.

Tara was talking about Liam.  She never missed an opportunity to have a dig at him, never forgiving him for leaving Grace on her own. 

‘Very funny Tara.  When are you going to stop laying into Liam?  He’s guilty of a lot of things, but sperm of the devil is going a bit far I think.  Remember he’s Jack’s Dad.’ Grace responded a bit sharply.

Seeing Tara’s hurt face made Grace feel instantly guilty for snapping at her.  She was only joking after all.  She smiled lamely to try to take the sting out.

‘Gerry is right thought.  I’ve put off telling you my news for long enough now.  I did get you guys around here for a reason.’  Making sure everyone had a full glass, Grace figured it was now or never. 

‘No getting anything past you lot!  I’m not sure how to start.’ Grace faltered.  ‘This is harder than I thought.’ 

‘Are we talking ‘It could happen to you’ kind of news? Gerry interrupted with a smile.  ‘Nicholas Cage, Rosie Perez winning the lotto.  Nick gives half his winnings to a waitress played by Bridget Fonda.  Rosie goes frigging nuts!’ With every word Gerry’s voice had raised a pitch with excitement.

‘Jaysus Gerry, you don’t have to give a synopsis of every movie you quote - we have been to the cinema on occasion too you know!’ Tom quipped.

‘Fraid’ not, Gerry.  No lotto wins here.  No Nick Cage either for that matter!  I suppose it’s more of a Terms of Endearment moment actually.’  Grace responded. 

Gerry loved it when his friends played along with him.  With a big grin he started his narrative.

‘Jack Nicholson, Shirley McClaine, Debra Winger.  God Jack was gorgeous in that movie.  As for Shirley, she was simply divine.  Can you guys remember that scene in the hospital? I swear I needed Valium because I was crying so much.’

And with that Gerry stopped.  The meaning of what Grace had just said hit him and for everyone else too.   Four pairs of eyes turned away from Gerry and looked at their friend.

‘Right, I need you guys to be strong.  No tears, OK?’  They all nodded silently, so Grace continued.  ‘It’s a bit of a bitch, but I’ve got cancer.’

This was the first time that Grace’s friends had all been silent.   Tom found his voice first of all.  ‘Grace, this is one sick joke.  Not even a good one.  See, nobody’s laughing.’ He gestured maniacally around the room.

Grace thought this was the first time she’d ever seen Tom look scared.

‘It’s not a joke though, is it?’ Abby asked Grace.

‘No pet.  It’s no joke.  Or at least if it is, the joke is on me.’ Grace answered softly.

Sean then spoke quietly.  ‘If you guys have any questions, I’ll answer them for you.’

Tara jumped up then, angrily pointing at Sean, barely able to get the words out, ‘You knew about this Sean? You knew and didn’t tell me.’

~ * ~

This story is so hot off the press, I just got the buy link this morning!
Go here to find Beyond Graces Rainbow  

With my husband Roger and two beautiful children Amelia and Nate, I live a pretty idyllic life in Ireland, full of stories, songs, hide and seek, Mickey Mouse, walks on the beach, tickles, kisses, chocolate treats and most of all abundant love.   To make life even more perfect, I have now fulfilled a lifetime ambition to be a writer as I am both a published author with Harper Impulse and a playwright.   I believe in Happily Ever After’s because that’s what happened to me.
Here's where you can find Carmel on the web:
Tomorrow we're taking a short break from our HarperImpulse tour for a special treat! Stay tuned!!



Unknown said...

That was beautiful. I had goose bumps up my arms when I read your extract.
Lovely post, AJ.
All the best,

AJ Nuest said...

Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for stopping by! I agree about that excerpt!!!! I've been buying books like mad this week. Looks like I'm buying another one again today. LOL It's been such an awesome treat to have all of you here!!

Carmel said...

AJ thank you for having me on your lovely blog and for all of your kind words! The art is a lot of fun but a hobby, nice around the house though!

And Wendy, I'm so glad you liked that excerpt. I wondered which part to share Thank you x

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Lovely to meet you, Carmel.

Hmmm. There I was, reading along and thinking, this gal sounds like a lot of fun, a fellow martini-an, :-)My favorite kind of chickie. But then I got to that excerpt. As a survivor, the scene was brutally accurate and a little too familiar. Well done. Best of luck with your release.


AJ Nuest said...

I am so gonna cry. Love you to bits, Mac! Thank you so much for stopping by. XOXO

Carmel said...

Oh Mac, thank you first of all for the best wishes. I'm happy you are a survivor, but sad you had to experience the pain (in every sense of that word) firsthand.
My family have been touched way too much firsthand too.

Here's to a lot more martini cocktails eh? x

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

What? No Margaritas? What a nice interview, Carmel (smooches for AJ). Loved your excerpt, very touching. Good luck, darlin'. I'll soon be a HI girl, too...or maybe I should say I'll be their token wrinkle.

Unknown said...

Congrats, Carmel. Lovely post!