by Julie Stewart
Sean Hennessy has lived in Merida for five years. Owner of a popular local restaurant, last year he also managed to squeeze in the penning of a 370-page thriller titled The Polo Affair, which has been described as “gripping” and “entertaining.”
You play polo, renovate houses, are a former model, run a successful Irish pub in a colonial Mexican town, scuba dive and snow ski, and now have written a novel. What don’t you do?
I seem to do very little other than work at the moment, but I have always enjoyed variety. I grew up in a big family and there was not the chance to do a lot of the things I do now, so I suppose I have taken every opportunity life has offered and maybe even created a few along the way. I have already lived in many countries and with every country come new possibilities.
The novel touches on a few of these aspects of your current life – Mexico and polo. Tell us briefly what it is about and why you decided to write it.
It is the story of a young Irishman in Mexico, who through his new found love of polo and a stormy affair with the niece of a retired polo player finds himself caught up in bad business, dirty politics and a race against the clock to figure things out. On another level it also deals with a person who lacks self belief and only when he is forced into fighting his corner does he learn about himself and others.
I wrote the book because there has never been a book written with polo at the center, and I thought everywhere I go I see the polo brand on shirts, but because of the sometimes exclusive nature of the sport very few people know anything about it. There are also a few twists in the novel that turn polo on its head. One of the biggest challenge was to explain some of the points of the game without the reader feeling he or she is getting a polo lesson. I believe the fast pace of the novel achieves this.
Have you ever fallen off your horse?
Too many times; you are only officially welcomed to the club once you have had your first fall.
What attracted you to playing polo in the first place?
The very first game I saw, I was totally hooked. I thought this was the most fun you could have while still dressed. The fact that I had no idea how to ride was a bit if challenge and in fact now I feel totally uncomfortable trying to ride with both hands and without a mallet.
What’s the best line in your new novel?
I think when the main character makes the observation about his girlfriend who is about to turn thirty ”that men spend time in relationships while women invest time in them.” I also like the line when a mounted player sees somebody he does not like pass by he suggests that “the dick should be under the horse as nature intended and not on top.” But then maybe that is a little bit crude?
Who is the target audience and why should they want to read it?
Anyone who enjoys travel should appreciate it as it is very much set in the Yucatan. It is a great escape novel, it suspends your belief long enough to feel you got lost in another life and a lot of us want that when we read for pleasure. With my first novel which was never published I wanted to be a literary giant like Joyce or Yeats. Now I take myself a lot less seriously and just want to entertain the reader with maybe a few of life’s truths thrown in.
One of my favorite quotes is: Life is too short to drink bad wine. Your favorite quote is: Life is too short to dance with ugly men. What does this say about us?
That we should definitely go out and party together.
You are originally from Kilkenny, Ireland. What do you think folks in Kilkenny would say about your Irish pub in Merida?
I have had a good few Irish people in through the bar and many have suggested I should move back and open there, the prices are better. What I wanted to create was an international CHEERS, I think we have achieved that, the place where everybody knows your name. We are a pub first and a damn good restaurant second.
Where else interesting have you lived and how do those locations compare to Merida?
Many years in Japan, also Bangladesh, Spain, and London. With my different jobs I was sometimes on a plane once or twice a week so travel is in my blood. My mother calls me her gypsy son. Merida was an interesting choice as I did not come here to work as a primary objective, I came here to live and then see what I could do second to support that. Merida has it all for me, wonderful people, great climate, safe, good beaches, good food, a sense of fun and oh did I mention polo.
Practicalities: where is the novel to be published and how do I get a copy?
It will be out on January 15th as an e-book with Amazon, Barnes and Noble and i-readers. It will also be available as a soft cover thru Lulu, my website www.thepoloaffair.com and Amazon. I will place it in a few local book shops and my bar, so you can read it with a pint.