Interview with Ray Sullivan

Author of Hotel California

Ray Sullivan is a British author born and raised in north Wales. He completed a 24 year military career in the Royal Air Force before returning to north Wales to work in the public and private sector. He is currently a lecturer in aeronautical engineering when not writing. Ray's writing is impossible to pidgeon-hole - his novels range from sci-fi, to military adventure to comedic. His latest book is Hotel California, a dark comedy thriller.

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What is Hotel California about?
  • Most of us have had a favourite musician shrug their mortal coil way too soon. Buddy Holly, Freddie Mercury, Elvis perhaps - and would love to think that they didn't die, but just retired.

    What if there was a location, a luxury island that the rich and famous could retire to permanently, able to shrug their fan base off, just enjoy the trappings of their wealth without the need to face their public or, worse, tour the world to just stand still?

    In Hotel California it is suggested that such a place exists, a secret remote South Sea island where artists can retire to. They have to trade their future royalties and their freedom to gain access to the island, there's no communication with the outside world and their final resting place is an unmarked shallow grave.

    The book follows the journey of 1980s punk rock star, 1990s reality TV star Ricky Maggott. Fed up of touring to feed his drug habit, his drinks bill, paying for his ex and dodging both the taxman and his former band mates who all want a slice of him and his wallet.

    So Ricky gets his manager to arrange a meeting, and nearly two years later finds himself being transported to the island known in the music industry as Hotel California while his fan base is bereft with grief over his apparent death during a routine operation.

    One such mourner is Aiden McKie, music journalist and long time Ricky fan. However something about Ricky's death doesn't ring true and Aiden starts to ask questions, questions that set in motion events that result in multiple deaths and ultimately information about the whereabouts of Hotel California.
Is it based on the Eagles song of the same title?
  • There's no mission bell, no dark desert highway. There's almost certainly some woman with lots of pretty, pretty boys she just calls friends, but that's not central to the story. Neither are mirrors on the ceiling - that's so seventies, but then again so are many of the residents, so if they want said mirrors, then I'm sure hotel management will arrange for it. The central theme is that, for enough money you can check in but there's no illusion regarding checking out, you never can leave afterwards.

    The book is certainly inspired by the song, but not based on it.
So, is Hotel California a thriller?
  • It's a dark comedy that qualifies as a thriller as well. There are dark killings, there are multiple examples of drink and drug abuse, and there are characters who may resemble famous persons you assumed to be dead - but of course any such similarity with persons dead or alive is unintentional and accidental. It's fast paced and will keep you reading while the actions bounces across three time zones - the UK, Los Angeles and an un-named South Sea location.
What was the most difficult part of the plot in Hotel California?
  • Those three time zones. By necessity the story had to unfold rapidly to maintain the impetus. Ricky arrives at his new location around the time the world learns he has died, Aiden smells a rat soon after and starts enquiries that triggers a psychopathic killer on his tail, and as he flies to Los Angeles a British detective becomes involved in the trail of death following Aiden.

    Ultimately I had to spreadsheet all the concurrent events to make sure the timeline was consistent and believable, and that resulted in changes to the plot to make it work better.
Is Hotel California only available in paperback?
  • Its available in both eBook and paperback form. The link provided on Profile takes you to the Amazon UK paperback page - I suspect that if you reside outside of the UK it will try to redirect you to your local Amazon page for the book - the paperback is available through Amazon pretty much across the globe.

    It should provide you with the option of buying the eBook version as well, through Amazon.
Are you running any promotions on Hotel California now?
  • For 2020 I'm experimenting with Amazon Select where I have to only sell my books through them. I don't like it, but I'm giving it a year to see if it results in greater exposure. I may return to other formats in time. To answer the question, Amazon allow me to run free promotions from time to time which I do partake in. If my book is out of your budget, or you prefer to wait for free promotions, then keep a sharp lookout - I tend not to publicise them. The only thing I ask is that you post a review on Amazon after reading the book - good or bad, how you found it. Not a lot to ask for a free read
Can I contact you?
  • Sure, love to engage with readers. My author email is:

    Drop me a line and I'll chew the fat with you
If Hotel California were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role? Who did you have in your mind’s eye when you wrote him/her?
  • Tricky. I'd like to think that new upcoming actors would be given a chance with HC. It's just got that vibe.

    I'd like to think some well established music would feature though!
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For celebrities, death is only the beginning of the end.

Imagine you are a rock star, a very famous rock star, very rich, very popular and very tired/bored/fed up/ and being chased by the IRS/ex-wives/old band members. What do you do?

Touring to pay the back tax isn’t going to work – more money just to pay the taxman, the ex can find you from your tour schedule and you’ll probably need to enlist the assistance of the old band members to hold the tour anyway. They’ll probably want paying for the last tour as well as the new one and worse, they’ll probably expect to use the same hotel.

Ignoring the situation doesn’t work either. Taxmen just don’t go away; nor do ex-wives. Old band members might forget about you, depending on whether they’re in-between rehab or not.

Just disappearing seems attractive, but not only will the taxman, your ex-wives and former band mates keep on looking to find you, so will your fans, the biggest pain-in-the-ass group ever to make a talentless singer rich and famous, who seem to believe collectively that they deserve to poke into each and every facet of your miserable life. And then there’s bloody Hello magazine….

Suicide might seem like a good idea, tax is someone else’s problem, the ex can go to hell – you can meet up later. But it’s so very final. If only there was a way to disappear, appear to die but actually keep on living. That’s when you need to get your manager to arrange a meeting with Tony Morroney, General Manager of Hotel California, located on a mysterious South Sea island, populated with the allegedly dead but rich and famous – rock stars, film stars, dictators who got out before the Russians got to the bunker, that kind of elite. As long as you’ve got the money, future earnings and can commit to never leaving the island, never contacting your family and loved ones and agree to be buried on the island in an unmarked shallow grave when you finally shrug your mortal coil, then Hotel California may be for you.

Don’t get worked up over the grave, you should have a fabulous one your fans flock to in pilgrimage all year round. You get a great send-off while you’re alive and your royalties rocket (ex-dictators may have to sell off stolen artwork to stay solvent, because Hotel California is very much a one-way journey; run out of cash and that shallow grave is your only destination).

The hotel has been there a long time and Tony is just the latest in a long line of very discreet and ultimately ruthless managers of the hotel that you can check out of anytime you like, but you never can leave.

When 1980s Punk Rock star Ricky Maggott dies suddenly of a complication during a routine operation his fan base is bereft, none more so than Pulitzer Prize winning music journalist Aiden McKie. Like most fans who have followed Ricky since his punk rock entry in 1985 until his untimely death, Aiden swallowed the whole story about the autopsy, the burial and the highly tax efficient release of a box set of all of Ricky’s recordings within hours of his death.

Then he started to see issues with the facts and took his grieving head off and put his journalist head on. He started asking the right questions of the wrong people, found himself being targeted by a ruthless assassin and has to flee. But to where? Well, in his investigation he finds out about Hotel California and makes his way there. Once there he finds that the residents are not all happy about the arrangements and while he can cope with all the sex, drugs and Rock n’ Roll Hotel California throws at him, it’s the killing he can do without.