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Pretty Ugly

a novel by Sean Hillen

Your brilliant modeling career is over, you just put a friend in a coma and you're living proof of a mega cosmetics company cover-up.

Oh, and an investigative journalist is trying to find you, cos you're a hot story.

Where would you go? On the coolest place on earth, of course... The Forgotten Land.


Cosmetics create beauty, but when that turns ugly, it's lethal.


An engrossing read that combines philosophical insight and humor linking the complex worlds of medicine, media and modeling. A novel about corporate and political corruption, individual redemption, about the sacrifices demanded to unveil truth, and a search for self meaning amidst the ghosts of unforgiving conscience.

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“Pretty Ugly” is a fascinating tale that takes us from Kansas City to Washington, D.C. and on to Ireland – a genuine tour de force from a global journalist turned global novelist. It’s a fast-moving triumph from a writer who really knows his way around human relationships, especially those involving politicians, editors, doctors and even strangers lurking in the mysterious fogs of Éire!


Political science professor and founder of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies, University of Mary Washington. Multi-book author, Fulbright scholar and national commentator, including The Washington Post, Reuters, The Chicago Tribune and MSNBC.


Arts & Entertainment Reporter and Columnist for the 'Las Vegas Review-Journal' newspaper and author of 'Cult Vegas.'

"Start with a natural raconteur who is at home in Romania as Kansas City. Add a shot of old-school newspapering, a sinister dose of big medicine and the right mix of Irish humor and moral indignation, and you get a novel as bracing as a shot of Jameson."

"Seasoned journalist and writer John Sean Hillen has filed a story that’s as entertaining as it is timely.  "Pretty Ugly" is a richly written novel that is both journalistic procedural and cautionary tale about the cosmetics industry, politics, and corporate journalism. When they collide, it can be pretty ugly."


Novelist, writing coach, former CBN White House correspondent and senior copy editor for CNN’s ‘The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.’ Adjunct journalism faculty member at University of Maryland-College Park.

Pretty Ugly, a novel by Sean Hillen

“Rich in detail, this is a novel by an astute observer. Sean Hillen is a curious and peripatetic writer and he gives his readers a remarkable sense of place and time in this elaborate story of political, journalistic and medical intrigue. From a midwestern newsroom to the halls of Congress to the ‘brown-black turf bogs beyond Cnoc Fola,’ Hillen not only takes us on a narrative journey, he places us there.”


Newspaper bureau chief, editor and Congressional and White House correspondent, past president of the Washington Press Club Foundation and former member of the Congressional Standing Committee of Correspondents



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During a 40-year media career, Sean Hillen has been war correspondent, medical reporter, arts reviewer, travel writer, editor, publisher and author, as well as media trainer and creative writing coach with Ireland Writing Retreat. Born in Belfast, northern Ireland, he wrote for Belfast Telegraph newspapers and The Irish Times before emigrating to the United States to work at the United Nations Media Center in New York. From there he moved to the Midwest with Scripps Howard Broadcasting, now an NBC-affiliate, and then The Kansas

City Times, becoming the daily newspaper’s health and science correspondent. Sean’s writings have also appeared in other newspapers including Time magazine, The Wall Street Journal, the Daily Mail, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Business Post, as well as specialized publications such as American Medical News, the national newspaper of the American Medical Association, American Nurse, national magazine of the American Nurses Association, and Nursing Times in England. After winning regional and ... continue



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