Carmel Harrington delves deeper than ever with her latest release, The Life You Left.
What would you do if one day your life suddenly imploded into a million broken pieces? In my novel The Life You Left, my protagonist Sarah Lawler experiences three catastrophic events in quick succession.
First, her husband Paul, disappears, leaving Sarah with unanswered questions and unpaid bills. Second, a body is found brutally murdered amongst the sand dunes on Sarah’s local beach. Third, a childhood friend of Sarah’s returns into her life. But he is no ordinary friend, because Edward, is in fact an angel and he has a message for Sarah that will change her life forevermore.
The Life You Left’s inspiration came from several places, a spooky walk on my beach, the song She by Elvis Costello, a headline about a missing husband, but really it all started with conception of a strong female protagonist, Sarah, who actually doesn’t think she is strong at all. I have always believed that in life, it is only when faced with real adversity and heartbreak, that we truly understand our own inner strength. Or as in many cases, weakness!
Quite a few years ago, I had an experience in a shopping centre that sparked an interest about angels and mediums. I was having a bad day, the reason is not important now, but suffice to say I was in pain. This lady walked up to me and grabbed me by my hands, looked at me squarely in my eyes and firmly told me that things would get better, that all would work out and that I should know that right at that moment, I was surrounded and supported by incredible love from angels – including my very own guardian angel, who was right beside me at that moment.
My initial reaction to her words, to my shame, was to be suspicious of her intentions. I held on tightly to my purse, convinced that she was about to part us, but thankfully, theft wasn’t on her agenda in the least. She walked away quickly, without giving me a chance to respond or question. As I stood outside M&S, a little shell-shocked, I then began to think, oh I know her game, she’ll come back to me in a moment and tell me that if I pay her, she’ll tell me my fortune or some such. But no, that didn’t happen either. I never saw her again. She simply gave me a beautiful message of love and hope and looked for nothing in return from me.
When I had time to digest her message and I might add she was right, things did get better, much much better very soon afterwards, I then began to thing about what it must be like to be that woman, who quite possibly was alway met with skepticism when approaching people with messages about angels.
And so the nugget of an idea to one facet of Sarah’s character began to form. A woman who had a gift that gave her a unique window to people’s lives. I wondered, what would she do with such power?
Sarah’s story takes place in Co. Wexford, my own home town, in a small coastal village called Ballyaislinn. This is a fictitious location, but one I understand well as I have lived a lot of my life, as a child and now again with my own family in a rural idyll. I have heard many people joke about living in a small, tight-knit community, where everyone knows what you had for your breakfast. And it may seem like that at times, but of course that is not the whole picture. Because do we really know what is going on behind closed doors? Do we really know the deepest darkest innermost thoughts of our neighbours? Of course not, but Edward gives Sarah a unique window into the lives of those around her. How she reacts to this information gives a whole new dimension to the idea of a friendly neighbourhood watch! I found it really interesting to explore both Sarah’s journey to understand and accept her gift and indeed how to present that to the rest of her world.
I love getting into the heads of my characters and Sarah’s was one that was really fun to be in and I hope that the readers enjoy being there too! She’s complicated in many ways, because she has had many events in her life that could have broken her and she still bears the scars of them, yet somehow or other, she is still standing. I think it is the mix of her vulnerability and strength that I think readers are identifying with, because we are all onions aren’t we? With so many layers, that make us all unique and define us, our struggles, our loves, our regrets, our accomplishments, our history, our venerability and strength.
I hope that you, the fabulous reader, enjoys peeling back the layers in The Life You Left.
Thank you for reading,
Sarah, I’m not coming home tonight. If you love me, you will give me the space I need…Tell the children I love them.
It started out like any other day for Sarah Lawler; getting the kids ready for school, making the pack lunches and juggling baby Ella’s feeds. There was no way of knowing that her husband, Paul, would leave for work that morning and simply not come home. Now the questions are piling up quicker than the unpaid bills and, unable to answer her children’s questions about where their Daddy is, Sarah is getting desperate. But it turns out she isn’t quite as alone as she thought she was. When her beloved childhood friend, Edward, comes back into her life, Sarah thinks she’s finally been thrown a life line.
There’s just one problem with Edward: no one else can see him. Edward is an angel. And he has a message for Sarah that will change her life and the lives of others forever. For it is only in the most difficult of times that Sarah can discover how strong she truly is.
With husband Roger and children Amelia and Nate, Carmel Harrington says she lives 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. She recently fulfilled a lifetime ambition to be a writer as both a published author with HarperImpulse, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, and a playwright.