Ripon author inspired by the dark side

Ripon author Gary Dolman.
Ripon author Gary Dolman.

He’s a fan of Val McDermid and Tolkien, he’s been inspired by living in Harrogate and Ripon and he’s currently celebrating having his first novel published.

Ripon author Gary Dolman’s The Eighth Circle of Hell is is set in the Harrogate of 1890 and uses the disturbed and fractured memories of an elderly workhouse inmate to explore the twin horrors of child sex abuse and dementia.

Published by Thames River Press of London, the idea behind this hard-hitting horror-fantasy-drama came when Gary visited his late father who was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Gary said: “One day I was visiting my father in a Ripon care home and one of the other residents, who was also in the later stages of Alzheimer’s, suddenly cried out, begging some uncle to stop, screaming that he was hurting her.

“It made me begin to imagine what sort of horrors she must be reliving and that sparked the idea behind The Eighth Circle of Hell. “

The Victorian age is often held up as a shining era of British history, a time of wealth and power, of civilisation and philanthropy. but it was also a time of cruelty.

Gary said: “We think of child trafficking and organised abuse as being a modern-day phenomenon but in fact it was even worse in Victorian times.

“Victorian Harrogate was the pre-eminent spa of the time, a place of gentility and healing and it seemed to add to the poignancy of the novel’s theme to set it there.

“My novel contains references to Starbeck and Knaresborough and even to the Harrogate Advertiser!”

Gary only started writing four years ago but has been a voracious reader all his life. His influences are numerous and wide including Dickens, Doyle, R.L. Stephenson, Orwell, H.G. Wells, Stephen King, John Grisham and Thomas Harris.

The title of Gary’s book comes from the epic poem, Divine Comedy by Dante. The eighth of Dante’s nine circles of Inferno – of Hell contains those guilty of the sin of seduction.