Senta Rich is a writer who is making a name for herself with her debut novel, ‘Hotel 21’; but this is hardly surprising as after a degree in philosophy, she began her career as an advertising copywriter, before moving onto radio plays, magazine articles, TV and film work... even as I type, she has a feature film in development… this woman knows her way around words!

Buy Hotel 21 by Senta Rich at Chapters Bookstore Ireland

Hotel 21 is a "bright’ novel; even the cover is bright and cheerful, but it has real depth and an eye for the nuances of human interaction that I was really touched by - it’s an easy read that packs a punch as it takes us for a romp through the world of hospitality, hotels, and what goes on behind the ‘Staff Only’ doors!

But what makes Senta Rich's writing truly special is her ability to infuse her humor with heart. Despite the almost dark circumstances in the book, there is a real sense of empathy and compassion for the characters. Noelle may have chosen her job in order to live almost devoid of the joys that make life worth living, but she is also a smart and resilient young woman, trying, by very unconventional methods, to make the best of a bad situation. Noelle and the people that she works with, although maybe a little eccentric, are given moments of humanity and vulnerability that make them feel real and relatable.

Overall, ‘Hotel 21’ is a hilarious and heartwarming debut novel that showcases Senta Rich's talent as a writer. It's had me laughing out loud, sniffling a little bit, but also rooting for the characters and feeling a sense of warmth and connection. If you're in the mood for a fun and uplifting read, then this is the book for you.

Oh, and Senta had the good sense to go to university in Liverpool and settle in Dublin, so we know she has bags of nouse!

What was the first book you bought yourself?
The Survivor by James Herbert. I was 12 years old and I bought it at a secondhand book stall. It led to reading more horror books, until I realised it wasn’t thrill and excitement I was feeling, but fear and terror. I don’t read horror books now.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Try writing a novel, maybe? But seriously, I think all writers are on their own journey, as are all people. I don’t think I’d go back and change anything. We are where we are, I believe that.

Did publishing your first book change your writing process?
No, if anything it solidified it more. I write 9.30 – 6 daily, or thereabouts, often working seven days a week, mostly because the weekends are lovely and quiet with no emails or deadlines. Novel writing fits nicely into this routine because the deadlines are long.

What were you most wrong about when you imagined being a writer?
I didn’t realise how lonely it would be. I’m a really sociable person who loves to be around people, so the lack of human interaction every day can be hard for me. My husband has been saying for years that we should order our groceries online to save time. But I like going to the supermarket. Sometimes I bump into people I know and have a natter. I also like chatting to the shop staff. And we know that secondary interactions are important for mental health and the more you have a day the better. For this reason, I will continue going to the supermarket until the end of time.

Which 3 books do you think everyone should read?
This is a tough question to answer. Books, film and art is so subjective. But I will say this. My son, who is nineteen and living in London now studying music, doesn’t really read fiction. Then a few weeks ago he asked me to recommend some novels for him. I immediately got online and sent him ten books. The top three were: 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

Do you have a favourite book to gift and if so, what is it?
For the last few years, it’s been Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. I think I’ve gifted it at least 9 times.

What song always gets you on the dance floor?
Get lucky by Daft Punk (I love Nile Rodgers).

Tea or Coffee?
Tea. While I truly believe coffee is the most delicious thing on the planet, I just can’t drink it. I end up drinking more and more, going to bed at night looking forward to having it in the morning, and then I start overthinking everything and get palpations. Sadly, me and coffee are not a good fit, so I stick to tea.

Do you Google yourself?
Sometimes. For professional reasons I think it’s good to know what comes up if someone else were to google you. I’m not on social media so I never expect to find anything new. It’s normally a quick glance. And about 20 years ago, my sister googled me and found someone writing

Why do you love Chapters?!
I love the space and light, and the friendly staff. I also love how you buy and sell secondhand books. No book should ever end up in the bin.

Buy Hotel 21 by Senta Rich