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Like Walking on Air: Mosaic by Caragh Bell

Writing.ie | Magazine | General Fiction | Interviews

By Caragh Bell

“How DO you do it?”

I can’t count the amount of times someone has said this to me.

I suppose it’s a fair enough question. I work full-time as French and English teacher, I’ve written six books, and I have five children and a puppy.

When I wrote my fourth book, Echoes of Grace, I only had four children, the youngest of whom was three and a half years old and pretty civilised. (When I say civilised, I mean sleeping through the night and potty-trained). I remember saying in interviews how Echoes just ‘flowed’. I would rise at 5am and write. Uninterrupted, I finished the book in six months.

Suddenly, baby number five made a surprise appearance. My early starts disappeared as I frantically grabbed any hour of sleep I could. Add that to a busy job, a daily commute, corrections, and keeping the house in some sort of shape, and you get the picture.


Note: My fifth surprise baby is not as ‘civilised’ as his predecessors were at the same age.

Not at all, in fact.

He’s what I call a ‘pandemic toddler’ and is superglued to me constantly.

Why? Because he’s accustomed to continuously having me around.  None of the other children had such long periods en famille. He sleeps in his ‘spot’ between me and my husband. He thinks it’s his God-given right to sit on my lap all of the time. He can’t leave me alone for longer than three minutes. He asks me to pour juice, he spills said juice, he demands some more while I mop up the puddle. He asks that I change Cocomelon to Peppa Pig and then five minutes later, change it back again. He orders me to butter his toast in a certain way, pour even more juice, cut his sandwich in triangles, not squares. The list goes on.

He eyes my laptop suspiciously. He doesn’t like this thing that takes Mummy’s attention away from him. He does everything in his power to stop Mummy from using it (see above).

To be fair, he has a point. My laptop was like an extra limb for so long, but not for writing books. I taught my classes online for both lockdowns, sitting in front of a screen all day. After hours of sharing tabs and pleading with students to turn on their cameras, the last thing I wanted to do was type a few chapters of my book. In fact, I became allergic to computers. Lots of people saw lockdown as the ideal time to write something. They say that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while quarantining during the Plague.

Fair play to him. I bet he didn’t have Wi-Fi problems, a dictator/toddler demanding X, Y and Z, and a puppy running around peeing on everything. Lockdowns are not conducive to writing when the house is full.

The guilt was the problem. I knew that time was slipping by and that deadlines had to be reached. I couldn’t cope with my family/school/writing personas thrown together in a complicated mêlée. How could I concentrate when the dishwasher needed to be emptied? The clothes washed and the floor brushed? Confronted with this all day, every day, I started to panic. There was no division. No separation. My brain was about to combust.

So, how did Mosaic make it to the printers? When restrictions were lifted slightly in the summer, The Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen reopened to the public. Ludgate is Ireland’s first rural digital hub and an absolute Godsend. I got dressed in proper clothes (not the habitual baggy sweatpants and t-shirt ensemble). I brushed my hair and put on a dab of mascara. This made all the difference. Seriously. I felt more productive therefore I was more productive. Armed with a coffee and my trust Mac, I headed down to my hot desk at Ludgate. I spent three glorious hours a day typing furiously, totally focused. No one interrupted me, I concentrated solely on the task at hand, and slowly my book began to take shape. I started with three main characters and wrote an outline of the plot. Then, I went back to the beginning and added in other characters, layering the story as I went along, making sure that everything slotted into the right place. I think I redrafted parts five or six times, inserting scenes and removing others. I researched various events and places, scribbling down notes on paper as I went along. Then, after three (or maybe a little more) hours of living in another universe, having imaginary conversations between characters in my head, I’d walk home.

Guilt free.

Walking in the front door, pandemic toddler would rush into my arms and tell me how he missed me and how I’m his best friend. He’d smother me in kisses and then ask me for a cookie, picking up on my apparent joie de vivre and taking full advantage.

My advice? Get out of the house. Get away from distraction. Even if it’s to a local café. Remember Carrie Bradshaw when her apartment was being renovated? Find some space where you can get in the zone. Compartmentalise your day. Home is home, work is work, and writing is writing. Even if you have to type a few chapters in the car. Separate them all out and get it done in the allocated time frame. Dipping in and out, here and there, will not yield results. There is nothing like that feeling when you’ve accomplished your writing goal.

You feel like you’re walking on air.

(c) Caragh Bell

About Mosaic:

‘Fame is a funny thing… the whole world knows your name, but no one really knows you.’

Madison Ryan is Irelands pop princess. Adored by her millions of fans, she seems to have it all. Luxurious hotels, celebrity-filled parties, and millions in the bank, she is one of the most famous women on the planet.

Yet all that glistens certainly is not gold. No one sees the loneliness, the insecurity, the surreal existence that accompanies fame. When Madison meets her old friend, Cliona O’Connor, she hires her as her assistant. As she reconnects with her past, she realises that you should never forget where you come from.

We follow Madison on her journey of self-discovery. Secrets are revealed, hearts are broken, scandal follows scandal, but she never gives up. Like a mosaic, lots of broken pieces come together to make something whole.

Sometimes something is worth fighting for. No matter what.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Caragh Bell is an Irish author from West Cork who has published five books with Poolbeg Press. She enjoys writing popular, romantic fiction as it offers escapism in a world saturated with bad news – her books are light, funny and addictive. Her trilogy – INDECISION, REGRETS and PROMISES – is set in Ireland; ECHOES OF GRACE is set in the wilds of Cornwall and her fifth book, GABRIELLA, is based in New York. Her sixth book, MOSAIC, is due for release in November, 2021.
Caragh has a French and English degree from University College Cork and also a Masters in Education.

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