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Travel, Caravanning, Susan Sarandon & Oprah by Carmel Harrington

Writing.ie | Magazine | Women’s Fiction
things I should have told you

By Carmel Harrington

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Tearing the envelope to reveal leaving certificate exam results.

Being the first to say I love you, hoping to hear the words back.

Stepping on judgmental weighing scales at your slimming class.

Waiting for that job offer, the perfect role for you.

&

Publish day

All heart thumping, sweaty palms, stomach flipping, pulse racing moments. You’ve poured your heart and soul into each, you feel quietly optimistic, early feedback seems good. You’re proud, you’re hopeful, you’re  excited, you’re bursting with love from all of the goodwill and support you are getting. But nonetheless there’s an undeniable truth –  you have the fear.

The Things I Should Have Told You, my fourth novel is out this week and I have all of those feelings. I adored writing this book. I fell in love with the Guinness Family and now Pops, Olly, Mae, Evie and Jamie all live inside my heart forevermore. So I care deeply about how you, the readers, react to them.

Inspiration for my stories comes from many directions. Initially, it was Olly and Mae who began to whisper to me. A couple who have forgotten how to love, to communicate, to understand. Their children, Evie and Jamie, came next. Evie, a lot like my younger book-geek self and joyful Jamie, a whole lot like my son. Pops, the grandfather in my story was last to come, but became the heart of the story almost immediately. There’s a lot of my grandparents in pops. Wise, loving, kind, selfless.

First and foremost, I wanted to write an authentic and moving portrait of a contemporary Irish family, that most could identify with. I wanted to explore the complex dynamics of family life and how lies and half-truths can tear people apart. Ultimately I wanted to write a story that explored the true meaning of home, of family, of love.

carmel harrington 2As I teased out some of the issues that each of the Guinness’s have to deal with, an interview I watched between Susan Sarandon and Oprah Winfrey popped into my head. Susan sets her children a humanitarian project as they become teenagers – a rite of passage if you like. Her thoughts on this impressed me. We’re lucky in Ireland, in the main we have shelter, food and don’t fear for our lives on a daily basis. I spoke to my husband Roger and we agreed that when our children were a little older, we would find a way to do our own humanitarian project. In the meantime, we’d do our best to teach them that the world is both a big and a small place. That abject poverty can sit side by side with lavish wealth and kindness can be found in the most remote and unusual of places.

I knew I wanted to incorporate a family undertaking a humanitarian project into the story and quickly began to research possible ways I could do this.

Then I started to think about my own travels. I’ve backpacked around the Greek Islands, worked in Maputo, Mozambique, whale-watched in Fremantle Harbour in the Australian sunshine, flown around South Africa in a two-seater Cessna, survived an earthquake in the Philippines and snorkelled in the Caribbean seas whilst holding hands with my husband. I’ve wept in the Garden of Remembrance in Berlin and joyfully watched my children do the hot-dog dance with Mickey Mouse in Disney World. These travels have given me some of the best adventures of my life. And there’s no doubt that these experiences have helped to shape me into the woman I am today.

What if my family, who are fractured and under stress were sent on an epic adventure that helped them see the world from a new perspective? What if this vantage point changed them? The story was beginning to take shape. But where would I send them?

I started to think about my own family holiday’s as a child. We caravanned a lot! And there was this one weekend, when my dad arrived home with a camper van, he’d borrowed. He told us all to pack a bag and then we took off on an adventure for the weekend. That camper van was magnificent to me. One of my life goals is to own one again.

It was these childhood memories that filled in the last blanks of my story. The Guinness Family, torn apart by events of the part twelve months, would travel around Europe in a camper van called Nomad, in an effort to stitch themselves back together.

Throwing them into such a small space, for an extended period, seemed like the perfect way to explore the relationships between husband and wife, parent and child, and how lies and half-truths can tear people apart.

Do they find their way home to each other? Well you’ll have to read to find out.

I’m off to have a gin to help calm those PUB day nerves.

(c) Carmel Harrington

About The Things I Should Have Told You

Every family has a story…

But for the Guinness family a happy ending looks out of reach. Olly and Mae’s marriage is crumbling, their teenage daughter Evie is on a mission to self-destruct and their beloved Pops is dying of cancer. Their once strong family unit is slowly falling apart.

But Pops has one final gift to offer his beloved family – a ray of hope to cling to. As his life’s journey draws to a close, he sends his family on an adventure across Europe in a camper van, guided by his letters, his wisdom and his love.

Because Pops knows that all his family need is time to be together, to find their love for each other and to find their way back home…

The Things I Should Have Told You is in bookshops now or pick up your copy online here!

This is what the critics say:

‘Anyone who loved the great Maeve Binchy will adore this gorgeous gem of a book’ – Claudia Carroll

Every family has a story…

But for the Guinness family a happy ending looks out of reach. Olly and Mae’s marriage is crumbling, their teenage daughter Evie is on a mission to self-destruct and their beloved Pops is dying of cancer. Their once strong family unit is slowly falling apart.

But Pops has one final gift to offer his beloved family – a ray of hope to cling to. As his life’s journey draws to a close, he sends his family on an adventure across Europe in a camper van, guided by his letters, his wisdom and his love.

Because Pops knows that all his family need is time to be together, to find their love for each other and to find their way back home…

‘Carmel Harrington…will make you see life in a different way’ – Woman’s Way

‘A wonderfully life-affirming, heart-warming book. Carmel Harrington writes with such honesty, you’d have to be made of stone not to laugh and cry along with the Guinness family on their European journey. I loved it’ – New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor

‘I always feel a little richer for having read one of Carmel’s books…this inspiring and emotional family-centred read stole my heart’ – Between the Lines

About Carmel

Carmel Harrington is an award winning author from Co. Wexford.  Carmel’s page-turning novels are to be translated into eight different languages and are regular chart toppers. She is a regular on Irish TV, as a panelist on TV3’s Midday Show and is Chair of Wexford Literary Festival.

Her other bestsellers include Every Time A Bell Rings, The Life You Left and multi award winning Beyond Grace’s Rainbow (Kindle Book of The Year & Romantic eBook of the Year 2013). For more information on Carmel, visit www.carmelharrington.com or find her on Facebook or Twitter @happymrsh

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