Attend a reading and book signing by The Tysen Hotel author — the witty and charismatic Donna Gormly — Sat., March 2 from 2-4 p.m. at the Preston-Royal Barnes and Nobel. The book is getting some impressive buzz on Amazon. If you’d like to give it a read, be one of the first five people to email us at editor@advocatemag.com with the subject: “Tysen download” and I’ll send you a promo code to download a free e-book. UPDATE: all the downloads are gone – thanks! 

Donna Gromly's first book, The Tysen Hotel, is about life in a tiny religious town.

Donna Gromly’s first book, The Tysen Hotel, is about life in a tiny religious town.

After teaching English and creative writing at Eastfield for almost three decades, Donna Gormly wanted to write a novel based on community college in the 1970s. But this other story — one about religion, politics and social dynamics in a rural Missouri town — was living inside her. So she penned her first novel, “The Tysen Hotel,” about a woman who challenges a small town’s influential Baptist preacher in an effort to protect her loved ones.

The characters, who she says “sat on her shoulders as she wrote,” are largely based on people Gormly grew up around, though she has changed the names. Changing the names was tough, she says, because “they had such fabulous names in real life.” But she captures the nomenclatural essence with fictional characters such as Sample Forney and Ray Redeem.

The plot — which capably carries themes of love, power lust, abandonment and resilience tempered with a rich sense of humor — is full of fiction. The frightening and unflinching Baptist preacher, she insists, is not necessarily her father (never mind that her father was a “fire and brimstone” Baptist preacher).  But most of the strange little anecdotes in the novel are real. “Those parts that seem too crazy to be true, such as the story about a fast-moving three-legged dog, and about the character known around town for having [an enormous sexual organ], are the true parts,” she says. Gormly tells us she has been in discussions about selling a screenplay version of “The Tysen Hotel”. Meanwhile, the 79 year old, who lives in Lake Highlands with her husband Paul, plans to begin work on a second project — the one about college.

Order “The Tysen Hotel” via Amazon.com, barnesandnobel.com or donnagromly.net.