Holly Seddon – My Publication Day.



It is my pleasure to welcome Holly Seddon to my blog to talk about what publication day means to her. Holly has had two novels published and I have read and enjoyed both of them.

How did you spend the day?

When my first book, Try Not to Breathe, came out in the UK, I was in Amsterdam where I live. I felt very weird and disconnected, and a little jealous as I watched my friends and family sharing pictures of themselves in bookshops with it, while I sat at home. So, this time, I made sure I was in the UK.

The evening was spent at my launch party, where I failed to eat anything (rookie error) and then got completely trashed. The run up to the party (and the dreaded speech) was full of welcome distractions like having my hair done and finalising the party play list.

Will you be following reviews from early readers or do prefer not to know?

I do follow reviews. I probably shouldn’t, it’s not good for the ego either way! Good reviews can be a little paralysing when you’re also working on your next book, while bad reviews can be tough to move past. You want to reply to reviewers and explain, or defend your characters, and of course you can’t do that.

I’ve been very lucky with reviews, but I am getting to the point where I’m trying to wean myself off the daily checks!

Is it emotional, getting the novel you have worked on for months into the public eye?

Very. With Don’t Close Your Eyes, I feel especially emotional about the characters being in the public eye. One in particular (I can’t say who without giving things away) broke my heart to write and so I was very moved knowing they were out there, and a bit protective.

If you have had books published before, does the feeling change?

Yes and no. I knew what to expect, so it wasn’t so heightened, but I still felt nervous, emotional, proud… and then drunk.

I often wonder and imagine that when your novel is published and you have been working on at least one novel since, is the book that is published less important?

That’s a good question. It’s not less important as such, but it can be jarring leaving the world of your current work in progress to revisit a plot, setting and characters that you finished working on some time ago. Embarrassingly, I actually forgot a minor plot point during an interview… hopefully I styled it out but it does happen!

And is it a distraction, welcome or otherwise having to focus on what is for you old material?

It’s a quirk of the job that’s unlike many other things. I guess people who work in films or television have a similar experience where they’ve ‘wrapped up’ months or years before and then have to talk about it like it’s as fresh for them as everyone watching for the first time.

I can’t think of many careers – certainly none I’ve had before – where that’s part of the job description. But it’s a privilege and I’m happy to do it.

What was your publication day treat? Champagne, cream cake, 10km run?

Bit of a weird one, considering I don’t eat meat, but it’s going to the burger joint Shake Shack.

We don’t have them in Holland and when we flew over to London for my first launch party last January, we took our youngest kids to Shake Shack for dinner and decided that would be our ritual. So, at lunch time on the day Don’t Close Your Eyes came out, during a heat wave, we were clustered around a small table eating burgers (or, in my case, a Portobello mushroom in a bap), fries and milkshakes. I probably should have chosen champagne…

Thanks Holly

IMG_0508                                           51jUYF1fNML

Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon – Review.


About the Book

Robin and Sarah weren’t the closest of twins. They weren’t even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruellest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another.
Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches – watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something she shouldn’t…
And Sarah? Sarah got what she wanted – the good-looking man, the beautiful baby, the perfect home. But she’s just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can’t be around her new family until she has come to terms with something that happened a long time ago. And to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.
But Sarah isn’t the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship…

My Review

Whilst I enjoyed reading Holly Seddon’s debut novel last year, Try Not To Breathe, I found this book to be much more gripping. Robin and Sarah are twins who are unidentical in every way. They don’t even appear to have the bond that you always hear about with twins.
The novel switches narrative between the two of them throughout the entire novel. Both in modern day and when they were children, when their lives started to disintegrate. Much of novel concerns emotional trauma and how each of the children coped. Mainly without any assistance from their selfish parents who don’t even seem to notice what they might be going through.
In modern day, Robin was struggling to cope. She is agoraphobic and has become fascinated about what she sees out of her window. The way that she deals with what is happening around her is convincing and upsetting equally. She could come across in her childhood and as an adult as being aggressive and unreliable but I loved her.
Sarah was more of a good girl. The sister who was always clean and tidy and good at being noticed. But she also had issues, she just handled them differently. I ached to know what had gone so wrong with her marriage and what her plans were to resolve them.
In no way at all did I see the twist coming. I went back over parts of the book and reread, just so I could see how easily I had been duped. It was jaw dropping.
This was a fantastic follow up and I’m certain it will be one of the top books for the summer.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received

Spotlight on Holly Seddon- character study.



All this week there will be a series of blog posts about Holly Seddon’s novel Try Not to Breathe. Today I am delighted to welcome to my blog Liz Barnsley asking Holly about her characters.

Holly Seddon – Character Questions.

Meet Amy – tell us a little about building Amy as a character. She is telling us her story from a very different place to the others. How did you make that work, giving her a voice?

Amy is at the heart of Try Not to Breathe’s story. She’s a victim, a hero and in some ways the narrator. Throw in the fact that she’s unconscious for most of the book, it was a challenge!
Luckily I could see Amy so clearly in my mind. Everything about her from the way she looked, spoke and dressed to her inspirations, her ambitions, the things she was passionate about and the things that drove her mad. She was fifteen in 1995, like me, and culturally we had similar backgrounds and interests but she is a braver girl than I was, someone with whom I’d have loved to be friends.

And Alex? What made you decide to give her the problems you did, tell us a little about how you built her personality – and talk a little about tying the two together within the narrative.

Because the story started with Amy, the Alex role started from a practical point of view – I needed someone to find Amy and become interested in her story. It made sense for that to be someone naturally curious – a journalist – and someone with some of the skills needed to start investigating.
But why would such a competent and experienced journalist be covering local news stories and living in a small town? From there, her challenges appeared. I hadn’t planned what they would be, but as I started writing her more, it became clear to me.
Alex is challenged but she’s not useless, that was very important to me. She has the skills – deep down – to help Amy and get her justice, but she also has a lot of layers of rot getting in the way.
Alex has lost everything, but unlike Amy’s broken life, her losses come from her own actions. Alex is also stuck in a very deep rut. But unlike Amy, it’s down to her alone to drag herself out. And until she meets Amy, she has no reason to try.
The two women have other similarities too: the same age, growing up in similar towns, same aspirations. Alex achieved hers and then threw them away while Amy never got the chance to try. Alex feels a debt to Amy for that reason.

In between these two is Jacob – struggling to move on in a world without Amy. Talk a little about his motivations and personality. How you fit him into the wider picture…

Ah yes, Jacob. My only male point of view! Without giving anything away, Jacob is connected to Amy in a deep way but it’s an anachronism, out of time, he’s not supposed to be connected to her at all, not any more. So although he is fundamentally good and honest, he has to behave in dishonest and devious ways. And because he’s not a fundamentally dishonest and devious person, he makes a pig’s ear of it.
When I was first inspired to write a story about patients like Amy, it was in part because I was moved to tears by stories of the loved ones left behind. Unable to grieve because there’d been no death, but living with a huge loss all the same. That experience deserved space in the story.

How do you come to your characters generally speaking – is it the basic premise for the story first, then the characters appear? Or do you tend to get a strong sense of “somebody” then build a narrative around them?

Generally I have the rough idea of the story, or the nub of it, but before I get into any intricate plotting, the characters come into play. I can’t plot anyone’s actions (and most stories are driven by characters’ actions) without knowing who those characters are and why they might do the things that they do.
Amy was the first character who ‘came to me’, if that doesn’t sound too pretentious! Her condition – persistent vegetative state as it was called at the time – was the spark of inspiration behind the story, but as I imagined her life and the people in it, the other characters bubbled to the surface. That’s not to say they all stayed prominent or even made the final cut, but it all started with Amy.
Sometimes I make notes on the characters, other times I build Pinterest boards and Spotify playlists but honestly, I soon abandon all of this because they live so vividly in my head. It means I’m not quite ‘there’ in my real life because there’s an intricate competing world in my imagination, I’m probably not fun to be around when I’m in the thick of a work in progress, but it’s the only way I can do it! These people have to be real to me, so they can – hopefully – be real to readers.


With thanks to Liz and Holly for their time. You can see my review here

You will be able to read more on Christine’s blog tomorrow

Try Not To Breathe by Holly Seddon

imageA great debut novel by Holly Seddon, Try Not To Breathe is an excellent read that you will not want to put down.
Alex is a freelance journalist whose life is a wreck. Her marriage had collapsed due to her alcoholism and both have a major influence on her life. The alcohol controls her whole life, she only works certain hours then she can be back home with nothing to disturb the drinking. Amy is the same age and from the same area but her life could not be more different. She was attacked fifteen years earlier and has been in a comatose state since.
Alex is trying to write her come back article in which she is looking at comatose patients and how they might be more responsive than people think and Amy is the patient on who she focuses.She starts to visit her, plays music that she knows she likes and tries to get some answers on who attacked her.
I really liked Alex, she knew she had to get her life back on track and was trying her hardest to prove to herself and people around her that she would succeed. The addiction was fascinating, I’ve never read a book where it showed how controlling it could be. How she accepted the consequences that the addiction was having on her health.
The narrative switches between the characters and time since the attack. Amy’s narrative was quite eerie, it showed that she was aware that her life was different, she knew who attacked her but she didn’t know why she had no contact with most people she knew or how life had moved on.
It didn’t go the way I thought it would, there were a few surprises during the read and I think I  suspected most people who were in the book.
This was a really addictive read, yet another that is likened to Girl on a Train (I really wish they wouldn’t do this). I found it nothing like, but it is a very strong novel and will probably be a huge success.
Thanks to the publisher for the review copy received.