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Donegal-based novel becomes first to link US and Ireland on the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’

~ Wednesday, January 4, 2017

(Description from publisher. I have ordered this and will weigh in after I’ve read it. -Aine)

With the intriguing title of ‘Pretty Ugly,’ international journalist, Sean Hillen, has emerged as the first author to pen a novel linking Ireland with the United States set exactly on the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ – and he’s chosen the rugged Donegal coastline as the setting for much of the book’s dramatic action.

Summed up by the phrase, ‘Cosmetics create beauty, but when that turns ugly, it’s lethal,’ the contemporary suspense novel is a rocky ride through the murky undercurrent of corporate and political machinations bridging the complex worlds of medicine, media and modeling, in both the US and Ireland, with a surprising touch of magic realism, Celtic-style. The plot links Donegal and Belfast with Kansas City, Boston, New York and Washington.

Grounded in cutting-edge medical science and following extensive research by Sean, who worked at the UN Media Center in New York and was a former medical correspondent for a US daily newspaper, ‘Pretty Ugly’ focuses on a key contemporary health issue – the extensive and unregulated use of nanoparticles, particularly in everyday cosmetics.

“Cosmetic companies are so rich and powerful in the US, they have prevented a succession of high-profile politicians including former Senator Edward Kennedy and national regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration from analyzing what toxic materials are in the products we see every day on our supermarket shelves, both for men and women,” said Sean. “One of the main questions my novel deals with is the physical horrors these rogue nanoparticles, a thousandth time smaller than a human cell, could create when they flood through your body in the bloodstream to key organs such as the brain and heart. The other issue in my book involves the struggle faced by traditional media including newspapers in face of the ever-widening Internet.”

Facing some terrible truths, an unlikely trio of characters – an investigative journalist, a skin specialist and a celebrity model – embark on a dangerous mission, to lift the veil of secrecy on a powerful cosmetics company intent on concealing the health hazards from toxic ingredients in one of its lucrative products. Ironically, the greatest risk is contained inside an ordinary concealer – nanoparticles so tiny they infiltrate nerve and blood cells causing untold damage. If the trio move fast enough, they can save lives. If they don’t …

Sensing a national exclusive, Colm Heaney, an impassioned emigrant Irish medical reporter, embarks on a strange quest to Donegal, in search of Patricia Roberts, a former Miss America in hiding after a bizarre accident left her severely scarred, both mentally and physically, and a close friend in a coma. Discovering the beauty queen is involved in a medical experiment using the most ancient of skin rejuvenation remedies – simple bog turf – Colm then finds himself involved in a major investigation that reveals corruption at the highest levels of American society, with high-ranking figures in the corporate and political worlds facing off, willing to risk everything to protect their exalted positions and principles. Bribery and paparazzi become key elements in the story.

“Far be it from me to say, ‘Pretty Ugly’ would make an excellent gift,” said Sean. “But think of it this way. It has a pretty cover, it’s a pretty good read and it’s a pretty size so it’s bound to look extremely pretty wrapped up with nice colorful paper or inside a seasonal red stocking. As for the ‘ugly’ bit. Keep in mind, ‘Beauty is in the mind of the beholder.’ Sean also hopes “Pretty Ugly’ can help kick-start what he terms ‘literary tourism’ in Ireland’s economically marginalized northwest, with more tourists coming to Donegal to see places they read about in his novel such as Gola and Tory Islands, Dunlewey, the Poisoned Glen, Gaoth Dobhair, Cnoc Fola (Bloody Foreland), the village of Bunbeg, local music venues such as Teac Jack, Teac Hiudái Beag’s, and many others.
Book can be purchased on Amazon. in print and as an e-book and you can find out more about Sean on his website


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