Anna McPartlin chats about Somewhere Inside of Happy and the highlights and challenges of being a writer.
Can you tell us a bit about Somewhere Inside of Happy?
It’s a story of a desperate mother and two lost boys. On the first day of 1996, 16-year-old Jeremy Bean and his best friend Rave go missing. Over the next five days the search uncovers an unbearable secret about Jeremy and changes his mother’s life and the lives of those around her forever.
Where did you get the inspiration for the story?
I saw a clip of The Ellen Degeneres show on YouTube. She was crying. She spoke about a boy who gave another boy a Valentine card in school. The next day the card recipient came back to school and shot this boy. She said that both families lives were destroyed, one boy was dead, the other was now a killer. She asked the question what was this book learning at home to make him think that the appropriate response to a Valentine card from a boy was to kill. It really moved me and haunted me. Where does hate and intolerance come from? How it is fostered? Somewhere Inside of Happy is about intolerance, judgement, fear and isolation. It’s also about love, comfort, joy and strength.
How would you describe your heroine, Maisie?
Maisie has made mistakes because she believed or was led to believe they were for the right reasons. All she’s ever wanted was an easy life. She doesn’t want for much, material things don’t interest her. She’s all about love. When she loves she’s all in. Maisie married a man she should never have married and for a long time she allowed herself to be abused but she was never weak. She just needed support to leave. She’s got backbone. She’s a fighter, a trooper. Someone you’d want in the trenches with you. She has a lot to learn but she’s willing. Maisie isn’t as confident as she should be. Her self-worth has eroded over the years. All she needs is someone to believe in her and then anything is possible.
What challenges did you face in writing this novel?
This book just poured out of me. I’d been thinking about these characters and their story for so long before I put my fingers on the computer keys. The real challenge was editing it down.
What are you most proud of about the book?
I’m proud that my publishing company, Transworld, trusted me to tell this story.
What do you hope readers take from it?
It doesn’t matter where you grow up, how educated you are, what your sexual preference is, how much money you earn, what you drive or what size your house. Those things don’t define you, your spirit, ability to empathise, love and fight for what’s right, do.
What have been the highs and lows of your career as an author?
I walked away from two publishing companies after my fifth book, The Space Between Us. I’d been in contract for the five books and I just needed some space and time to reimagine. That was a low point but then I wrote The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes out of contract and it turned everything around. ‘Rabbit’ has most definitely been the high point of my career.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
Doing what I love for a living. I’ve always told stories, even when I worked 9 to 5 for 10 years in an insurance company. I’d come home and write nights and weekends. It’s a passion so the fact that it’s my career fills me with an indescribable joy.
What is the worst thing about being a writer?
There is no downside to being a writer. Sorry, I know that makes me sound like an ass but it’s how I feel. I just can’t complain.
Can you tell us a bit about what’s next for you?
I’m currently researching my next book, Five Weeks to Freedom. I’ll be writing it in the summer and I’m really looking forward to living in that world for a while.
‘And just like that my boy was gone.’
Maisie Bean is a fighter. A survivor. Seventeen years ago, she went on a first date that went so badly it was enough to put the girl off chips. The marriage that followed was hell but it gave her two children: funny, caring Jeremy and bullish but brilliant Valerie.
Just as it seems everything might finally start going right, sixteen-year-old Jeremy goes missing. The police descend and a media storm swirls, over five days of searching that hurtle towards an inevitable, terrible conclusion.
Maisie is facing another fight, and this time it’s the fight of her life. But she’s a survivor. Whatever the odds, she’ll never give in.
From the bestselling author of The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes comes this heart-breaking yet uproariously uplifting new novel about love, resilience and the life-changing power of hope.
Anna McPartlin is a novelist and scriptwriter from Dublin. After a brief stint as a stand-up comedian, she turned her hand to writing and is the author of the international best-selling titles, including Pack Up The Moon and The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes.