Music & Me – Carmel Harrington
“Music & Me” is a feature in which authors talk about their musical influences, their favourite musicians and their “musical guilty pleasures”. This week’s
victim guest is writer, Carmel Harrington. Carmel is an author from Co. Wexford, published with Harper Collins. The Things I Should Have Told You, Every Time A Bell Rings, The Life You Left and Beyond Grace’s Rainbow are translated into eight languages and are regular chart toppers. She is also a panellist on TV3’s Midday Show and Chair of the Wexford Literary Festival.
What are your earliest musical memories?
Singing along to musicals, on Sunday afternoons. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Calamity Jane were firm favourites. Whip crack away! There was always an eclectic play list at home on the record player. Yes, I said record player. I’m that old! My mother adored The Beatles, Smokey Robinson and The Supremes, while my father was more of a Furey Brothers, Brendan Shine or Johnny Cash kind of man!
One of my earliest memories was seeing The Wombles play on Wimbledon Common. I was out with Daddy and he spotted them filming a music video, mid 1970’s. So we stopped and watched them do their thang! It was so exciting and I thought I’d never get home to boast to my brother and sisters. Remember you’re a Womble …
Who or what were your musical influences growing up and why?
I played the tin whistle and can still play a mean polka today. I also, wait for it, used to be in a school band and we reached the finals of Slogadh one year. We sang “The Sound of Silence”, by Simon and Garfunkel. That again, was my mother’s influence!
I started to develop my own taste in music, when I was twelve or thirteen. Spandau Ballet, Wham, AHA, Paul Young, The Housemartins, all firm favourites. I’d spend hours listening to the radio, with my finger poised over the record button on my cassette recorder, to make my perfect compilation tape!
And MTUSA, with the late great Vincent Hanley made Sunday afternoons interesting. If you were a child/teen in the 80’s, you watched that show.
Does music influence your writing?
Music brings me back to certain periods in time for sure – the power of an old song can trigger vivid memories. In two of my books, Every Time A Bell Rings and the novel I’m working on now – 72 Derry Lane, there are scenes set in the 1980’s. Playing my best of collection from that era, really helps.
Do you listen to music while writing, editing, etc.?
No. I like quiet. Music just gives me too much distraction. I’d end up dancing, or singing along.
Is there one particular novel or piece of writing you wrote that was directly influenced by a piece of music?
Not really. But there are certain songs that feature in my books quite a bit. In particular in Every Time A Bell Rings, two songs play a role – “O Holy Night” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. Every day, before I worked on that novel, I would play both songs, to get me in the right frame of mind. And I wrote that book in the summer!
What music are you listening to at the moment?
I’m in an Adele state of mind a lot lately. But I’ve been playing my Paul Young CD again, because he’s coming to Wexford in October. I’ve got my tickets and fully intend storming the stage.
Musically, what’s your guilty pleasure (or is there such a thing)?
Music isn’t a guilty pleasure for me. I adore it. We sing all the time at home. A lot of the songs from my childhood, became lullabies for my children. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, is one of our favourites. And my kids love that song, “7 Years”, so we play that a lot.
Carmel launches her new novel “The Things I Should Have Told You” in Dubray Books, Grafton St., Dublin on Sept. 15 at 6.30PM, and in The Book Centre, Wexford on Sept. 16 at 6.30PM.
Derek Flynn runs Writing.ie's SongBook blog, and is an Irish writer and musician. He has a Masters in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin. He’s been published in a number of publications, including The Irish Times, and his fiction was featured in 'Surge', an anthology of new Irish writing published by O’ Brien Press with the aim of showcasing “the very best of the next generation of Irish authors”. Online he can be found at his writing/music blog – ‘Rant, with Occasional Music’ – and on Twitter as @derekf03