Monday, June 6, 2022

Dolly Considine's Hotel by Eamon Somers - Book Tour + Giveaway


Dolly Considine's Hotel

Eamon Somers

320 Pages

Unbound Digital (July 8, 2021)

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Dolly Considine runs a late-night drinking establishment catering to the needs of thirsty politicians and theatricals in Dublin's legendary drinking area, the Catacombs.

Julian Ryder (aka Paddy Butler) is an eighteen-year-old aspiring writer in need of shelter from his bullying older brother.

As the new live-in lounge assistant at Dolly Considine’s Hotel, Julian soon embroils himself in the shebeen’s gossip – and the guests’ bedsheets – and turns Dolly’s entourage into fodder for his literary ambitions. Reality quickly becomes difficult to separate from fantasy…

Set against the run-up to the Pro-life Constitutional Amendment of September 1983 and moving fluidly between the 1950s of Dolly’s youth and Julian’s Summer of Unrequited Love, the hotel becomes a stage for farce and tragedy. Between Julian’s fictions, Dolly’s Secrets, and narrow party politics – and featuring a papier-mâché figure of Mother Ireland giving birth and clashing sword-wielding dancers – this rich cocktail threatens to blow them, and even Ireland itself, wide apart.

Guest Post

Do I write to be loved?
When I was very young, did I think anyone could write stories? Maybe not, but I always thought that if I wanted to, then I could. I mean how difficult could it be? Later of course I learned that I had a lot to learn. In fairness to myself I thought I was more interested in writing for myself than in entertaining readers. No one needs lessons in how to keep a diary, they just do it. And writing stories was like writing someone else’s diary, a writer would just need a bit of imagination. But I eventually found I wasn’t satisfied writing just for myself, I wanted readers, and more importantly wanted their approval.

In my mid-teens I developed a bit of a social conscience in secondary school, and I particularly remember writing two essays (we called them compositions at the time) for my English teacher. To the best of my knowledge none of my teachers ever mentioned the word ‘research’ instead we were supposed to write from our experience. And later, in creative writing classes one of the regular instructions was ‘write about what you know’ which of course does not preclude research. But in the absence of either a directive to write about what I knew, or to do research, I discovered I liked research. For the two school essays (one on the Irish Travelling Community, and on the other regarding housing families in high rise blocks) I obtained copies of reports on both subjects. The Traveller report based on Irish research (I think my local library got it for me), and the other I sent away to Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO) in the UK.

I have no idea what I wrote in those essays, but whatever it was neither of them pleased my English teacher (we called him Sparky) who gave them disappointing marks. No adult approval there.

Some years later I tried to impress my future father-in-law by writing a fictional account of his grandparents moving from one rented accommodation to another using a handcart to transport their chattels through the streets of Dublin. His response was to suggest it lacked authenticity.

 Fast forward several years and under the influence of writers advocating what was called ‘The New Journalism’ (represented by Tom Wolfe and Truman Capote, etc.), I wrote a piece called Toner’s Chestnut for Irish music magazine Hot Press. One essence of the new journalism was that the writer reporting on (say) a boxing match, had to put himself into the ring with the boxers, or in my case up on stage with my fingers pressing the keys on Niall Jordan’s saxophone. The editor was not impressed.

At about the same time I started writing a novel, I thought it would be the answer to the very confusing and unhappy time I was having. And paradoxically, it was a very productive few months. I should have been sorting out my life, but it was easier to distract myself with my thinly disguised autographical dribblings. Perhaps I hoped to magically get a novel accepted, published, and up on bookshop shelves within a few weeks. Which might have addressed my financial difficulties at least, if not my more serious relationship and sexuality issues. Reality eventually kicked in.

Nowadays, I realise I probably write to figure out who I am.  And I suspect I am not alone in this. Other writers are figuring out things too. But I also want to entertain my readers, even as I try to confuse them. Isn’t that what Agatha Christie did? In her engaging entertaining mystery stories, she doesn’t want her readers to figure out the ending until she’s ready. Christie plays with her readers, cooking up red herrings and laying out attractive footpaths for them to follow which turn out to be cul-de-sacs.  

In Dolly Considine’s Hotel I wanted to play a different sort of game with my readers. I wanted them to feel their reading task should make them feel that in order to cross the log-jammed river separating them from their love, they would have to step from log to log, having to watch where they placed their feet, being careful not to slip or cause the log to roll and twist; never knowing if the next log will dip just enough to allow the crocodile lurking beneath the horizontal forest to rise up and take their leg.

I was reading an extract from Dolly Considine’s Hotel at an open mic event recently, and I got to a section that I think of as being deadly serious, I had on my ‘poignant voice’, but a group of women sitting together and sipping red wine, laughed. Was I surprised? No, almost everyone who reads Dolly remarks on the humour, even in the darkest moments.

Writing is fun, but also hard work, but it has helped me to learn a bit more about myself and the limits of my ability to change the world. But I keep trying, using the things I’ve learnt, including that people seem to pay more attention to humorous discussions than to serious lectures.

One close friend has suggested I write as a way of avoiding people, but I think writing is my way of meeting people. However, since the publication of Dolly Considine’s Hotel (my first novel) last year, I seem more willing to go out and be social. It is as if I am entitled to meet people and hang out, now that I’ve got a rhythm going with my writing obligations; I deserve time off for good behaviour, not to mention to listen out for Dolly’s readers’ side of the discussions I’m having with the world. Maybe I’ll go to the pub now. See ya. 


Author Bio:

Eamon Somers grew up above the small corner shop run by his parents in Dublin’s inner city. After brief careers as a shop assistant, trainee motorcycle mechanic, courier, office worker, lounge boy, community facilitator, double glazing installer he moved to London. He worked for two years in Haringey Council’s Lesbian and Gay Unit, drawing on his several years’ experience of community development work with the National Gay Federation in Dublin. Redundancy from Haringey caused him to stumble into the social housing development career he enjoyed for the following thirty-two years.

From his early writing classes in the People’s College in 1970s Dublin, his studies at Birkbeck College London, summer schools at the Irish Writers’ Centre, to more recent zooming sessions with poet Diana Goetsch (via Paragraph NY), Eamon’s lifelong commitment to learning the art of creative writing, is obvious His short stories have been published in various magazines including Tees Valley Writer, Automatic Pilot, Chroma, The Journal of Truth and Consequences (which nominated his Fear of Landing for a Pushcart Prize), also in Quare Fellas, a collection of LGBT+ fiction published in Ireland. He is currently working on revisions to his novel A Very Foolish Dream, - Highly Commended in the 2019 Novel Fair sponsored by the Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin. Dolly Considine’s Hotel is Eamon's debut novel.

Eamon is the happy father of three children. He and his Civil Partner Tomás are proud to be called Papa and Papi by their two lovely grandchildren. They increasingly divide their time between London, Dublin, and other parts of Ireland.

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