A new “Hotel Story”, entitled Mr Smith Sees Red, is due out this autumn.
Mr Smith Sees Red will be my 11th Hotel Story. I write a new one each year as a birthday present to my girlfriend Gözde, who is a hotel general manager.
In Mr Smith Sees Red, Ms N’s new deputy at the hotel, Mr Smith, seeks to support an anti-prostitution drive by the country’s morally irreproachable Prime Minister Kaya, whose hypocrisy was first exposed in the story The Two Rooms. Ms N believes Mr Smith’s actions are hostile to women; and corrupt.
Ms N solves the problem of Mr Smith in an ingenious and, I hope, entertaining way.
The Hotel Stories: a disclaimer
Gözde points out, correctly, that the extraordinary events in the Hotel Stories are not based in any way on reality (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site). You will understand why she insists on this if you read them.
On the other hand, many of the events in the Hotel Stories are inspired by tales I have been told by hoteliers. Examples include the customer producing a dead rabbit from her pocket in The Swedish Woman; how Chateau d’Yquem and foie gras are used to win a contract in Hotel Corona; and the morality policy introduced by Mr Smith himself in Mr Smith Sees Red.
Other inspirations come from my own experience. Francois, the sleazy diving instructor in Seven Ukrainian Girls, was based on a gentleman running a scuba course I attended in Fuertaventura. I think Francois gets what he deserves. Some readers say his fate is too harsh – please tell me what you think!
The hole in the ground where the secret police headquarters used to be in The White Blouse resembles a building site next to a hotel I visited in Central Asia.
As for the idea of importing young, vivacious animateurs to liven up a sleepy beach resort, as in Seven Ukrainian Girls – I’ve seen it happen at Club Med and elsewhere.
How to read the Hotel Stories
The advent of Mr Smith sees Red is a good time to review how to read the Hotel Stories; and the order they come in.
With eleven Hotel Stories in circulation (or twelve – see below), you may welcome a bit of a steer.
The first seven Hotel Stories I wrote are gathered in Seven Hotel Stories, available as an e-book or a paperback. Since then three more have appeared as individual e-books: Seven Ukrainian Girls, Total Control, and Hotel Corona. Mr Smith Sees Red will be the fourth of these “orphan” stories – not yet available in a collection or as a paperback.
If and when I complete fourteen Hotel Stories, I hope to produce a second collection in paperback. Perhaps by then the Hotel Stories will have appeared on Netflix.
How to read the Hotel Stories: chronology
I do not write Hotel Stories in date order. Ms N and Tatiana are too unpredictable for that. A story may pop up that belongs early or later on in the series.
But a rough chronological list might run like this:
1. Britches: how Ms N and Tatiana first met. Tatiana has been in the hotel only a few weeks; Ms N is the newly-arrived Director of Rooms.
2. The Two Rooms: Ms N, recently appointed Deputy General Manager, must deal with an obnoxious guest and a hypocritical politician. The Two Rooms was actually the first Hotel Story I wrote.
3. The Swedish Woman: Ms N is now acting General Manager, or GM, as she seeks to solve the mysterious murder of her boss in a hotel elevator before the notoriously corrupt police arrive.
4. Mr Smith Sees Red: Ms N has recently taken over as GM of her hotel. But she faces challenges from her new deputy, who is related to high-ups in the chain’s Houston HQ.
5. The White Blouse: Ms N, accompanied by Tatiana, has been temporarily sent to the country of C– to fix some awful problems at a hotel there (this story is not suitable for children). The White Blouse introduces Susan the Engineering Manager.
6. Total Control: on her return from C– to resume her duties at her old hotel, Ms N faces challenges from the owner, Mr Dolgov, and from Mr Kevin Coatts, a hotel consultant.
7. Seven Ukrainian Girls: the chain has sent Ms N to a resort hotel to sort it out for the Prince, the interfering owner who cannot understand why his the hotel is underperforming.
8. Hotel Corona: Ms N is working as GM in the original hotel, alongside Tatiana. The COVID pandemic means the hotel must close; Ms N sets out to do good, deploying a bottle of Chateua d’Yquem.
9. Gents: Tatiana and Ms N attend a conference in Florida. Ms N wants to become GM of the Ultra Platinum-branded super deluxe London Heart of Mayfair Experience. So does her enemy, the chauvinist Mr Buddy Knox.
10. Ask for Scarlett: Tatiana has become GM at the remote but sumptuous Caravanserai Ultra Platinum. But everything keeps going wrong. Ms N flies in from London to help her.
11. The Three Heads: again, Ms N must come to the Caravanserai Ultra Platinum to help Tatiana with problems caused by a visiting social media sensation and Tatiana’s no-good boyfriend.
Who is Harry Lime?
Did I say I wrote only one Hotel Story per year? An exception is Who is Harry Lime? Evil and charisma in “The Third Man”. An Austrian magazine commissioned the story, in which Ms N and Tatiana explore Viennese sites connected with the film The Third Man. Although it features two famous Viennese hotels, it is not really a Hotel Story. You can read the whole text at the link.
Please write a review or two
If you have read any of my books – including individual Hotel Stories– I’d be slavishly grateful if you would write a review on Amazon. Reviews boost books in Amazon’s algorithms. A single sentence is enough – or more, if you feel like it. Thanks again!