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Good news for writing retreat coach, Sean Hillen

Many congratulations go to one of Ireland Writing Retreat’s leading trainers, Sean Hillen, who has just signed a contract for translation of his novel, ‘Pretty Ugly’ and has been selected to host a special event at the Seamus Heaney HomePlace, developed in honor of the Irish Nobel Laureate poet.

No better way to seal a publishing deal than beach-side under blue skies and sunshine. Alexandra Turcu (left) and Cosmin Perta (center), editors at Editura Paralela 45, celebrating with Sean Hillen (right).

Good news also is that Sean will be a writing coach during the upcoming September retreat in Ireland and also the one in October in Paris.

Long-time journalist, editor and publisher, Sean worked at the United Nations Media Center and was a national chairperson for the US Fulbright Commission. He has written for publications as diverse as The Irish Times in Dublin, The Times in London and Time magazine in New York.

Officials in the international department of Romania publishing house Editura Paralela 45, established in 1994, have already begun translating Sean’s novel, which focuses on the dangers from toxic materials in everyday cosmetics and corruption within the beauty industry.

‘Pretty Ugly,’ linking the US cities of Boston, New York, Washington DC and Kansas City with western Ireland, also features a Romanian biologist (based on someone Sean actually met and interviewed while a foreign correspondent) who experiments with substances extracted from insects, as well as turf, to help keep skin young and healthy.

An American experience, but debating common illnesses and dilemmas such as corruption, consumerism, social manipulation and exploit, brilliantly set in an exciting story, Sean's novel, 'Pretty Ugly,' is a must-have for my contemporary universal literature collection,” said Cosmin Perta, editorial director at Editura Paralela 45 and an award-winning author himself, having written five novels, five books of poetry and two collections of essays.

Added Alexandra Turcu, editor at the publishing house, “It is the first time we have translated and published a living Irish writer so we are excited about the prospects. It is an intriguing subject for a contemporary novel and it’s also very interesting that one of the key characters in Sean’s book is from Romania.”

Sean is delighted. “It’s always a compliment when a foreign publisher decides your book is worthy of translation. And having been told I’m the first living Irish writer to be translated by Editura Paralela 45, I guess I’ll just have to make sure I don’t die before publication date.

Nobel Poet Laureate, Seamus Heaney, bequeathed the world a rich literary legacy.

The event at the Seamus Heaney HomePlace located in the village of Bellaghy, 45 minutes from both Belfast and Derry City, focuses on the poet’s spirituality.

Heaney, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, was born Catholic but as his life progressed, some say his religious beliefs changed. The evening event on Tuesday November 22 at performance space, The Helicon, will focus on if and how Heaney’s views on religion transformed and the nature of the spirituality he embraced.

The event also features:

- Martin O’Brien - award-winning BBC producer who was also former editor of The Irish News and a senior correspondent for the Belfast Telegraph. Martin is a communications consultant religious affairs commentator.

- Noeleen Hartigan - CEO of the Humanist Association of Ireland. Noeleen has worked with groups as diverse as the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, Simon Communities of Ireland and Amnesty.

- Anne F O’Reilly, a 30-year lecturer in Religious Studies, who focuses on sacred poetry in workshops and performance.

Born near Bellaghy in 1939, the eldest of 9 children, Seamus Heaney wrote over 20 volumes of poetry and criticism, and edited several widely-used anthologies. He gained a first-class honours degree in English Language and Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast, later qualifying as a teacher and taking up various posts. He died in Dublin in 2013 and is buried in Bellaghy.

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