Seth Haddon scores his dream book deal

Seth Haddon was studying Ancient History at university, although his real passion lay in creating his own fictional worlds. He knew he wanted to make writing his career somehow, so he slipped into a creative writing subject. After reading a piece out in class, a fellow student recommended Seth look at the Write Your Novel program that she was doing at the Australian Writers' Centre.

“I'm eternally grateful to [that student] Amelia for this!” Seth told us. “We chatted for a while about it. At 22, I didn't have too much loose change, and I was only tutoring at the time. But I knew I had to take myself seriously to make this a career, so I dove right in.”

Seth took all the skills and tips that he learned in that class and has gone on to forge a career as a writer in the gaming industry. He has also published three books with Blind Eye Books and his latest novel, Volatile Memory, is being published by Tor Books.

“I absolutely believe I wouldn't be where I am without having attended the Write Your Novel program,” Seth says.

Starting young

Seth wrote his first book at the tender age of five, so it really has been a long-standing dream of his to be published. He knew he had plenty of stories to tell, but it was during the Write Your Novel course that he learned how to tell them well.

“My craft improved dramatically. I was a waffler, I didn't know how to prioritise information, and I tended to have very purple prose. I also felt touchy about feedback and criticism if I'm being honest with myself, but providing criticism to coursemates and having friends in the exact same boat made it easier to divorce my ego from my work and actually improve. Which is such a great thing about writing: you can improve! It's a skill you can work on!”

Seth also valued the practical information about the publishing industry and contracts, and how he would need to persevere to succeed. These insights helped him make informed decisions as he pursued his writing career.

“[The AWC course tutor] Pamela encouraged me not to give up and I realised from all her stories and from what I could see in class that a lot of traditional authors, or authors who are able to be published in any capacity, mostly just have a level of determination and stamina that sometimes prevents others from following through. I learned the importance of pacing myself and to keep going.”

Following the course, Seth snagged a mentorship with editor Nicole Kimberling at Blind Eye Books, which then led to the publication of his first two novels, Reforged and Reborn.


A different direction

With his latest book, Volatile Memory, Seth knew he had to follow a different tack.

“This was the first book I knew I would want to pitch to traditional publishers, and actually go on submission. I gave my agent Maeve MacLysaght a tiny heads up about my plan and got to work.”

The story for Volatile Memory had been brewing in Seth’s head since the Write Your Novel course.

“I wrote maybe 2000 words of it (vibes, very little plot) after Pamela suggested writing a palate cleanser. I'd written queer fantasy, and she suggested something else. Why not sci-fi?”

Seth went back to that idea and started to rewrite it.

“I took what I had and decided to plot this very carefully. As I am a waffler, I'd never successfully written a novella before. I plotted it very closely, worked out the scenes I'd like and the average length for each. Then I wrote this draft in a month. I went to the State Library of NSW every day and, when not at my contract job, would write this novella. After the first draft was complete, I printed out a hardcopy and edited it, trimming what I could, and making sure it worked.”

Seth’s agent started querying editors at publishing houses with the finished manuscript. Seth’s dream publisher had always been Tor, and when he found out a Tor editor liked his story, he was ecstatic.

“I felt a little insane. Publishing is notoriously slow, so I knew I would probably lose it if I kept my excitement high whilst we waited for an answer. When it finally came through, it was a few days before my second book Reborn launched. I ran to tell my parents and called my close writing friends. It honestly was such a relief. It's a strange little book, and I'm very happy it's found a home.”

About the book

Volatile Memory follows a scavenger named Wylla, who scrambles to survive in a galaxy dominated by commercial and military interests. Those who buck the gender binary or other forms of social control must survive on the speed of their engines and the skills of their masks. When Wylla finds a murdered woman with a mask so advanced it's a classified military secret, she is thrown into a cat-and-mouse game of survival as she tries to find out why the woman was killed – and how she is still very much alive in the mask.

Or as Seth tells us: “Masks, murder, and revenge!”

Seth now writes full time, working three days a week for a video game company, and using the rest of his time to write novels and work on his author platform. He has 50,000 followers on TikTok and 3000 on Instagram and encourages writers to not ignore that aspect of their craft.

“Writing to me also means building community and engaging with readers, so I'm active on social media and constantly brainstorming ways to promote myself.”

Seth believes that having faith in yourself and honing your craft is crucial to building a successful career, as he has.

“I highly recommended investing in yourself and your craft. You have to take yourself seriously. No self-deprecation, no downplaying your work or your art, no matter where you are in your career! Invest in yourself and trust yourself.”

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