Meet Holly Seddon Author Of The Woman On The Bridge

'Strangers On A Train meets The Pact' is how reviewers have described Holly Seddon's fifth, high-paced thriller The Woman On The Bridge, now out in paperback. In our exclusive interview Holly reveals the book's original concept, her plotting plan, what she's currently reading and why inclusion of a Tesla caused consternation with one reader...

You can download the ebook of The Woman On The Bridge from Amazon or buy the hardback from Thriller Women's list at NB: if you buy books through this link we may earn a commission from, whose fees support independent bookshops.

Front cover of The Woman On The Bridge by Holly Seddon

TW: Holly, congratulations on the release of your latest novel, The Woman on the Bridge. It’s an absolute cracker of an opening to a novel – there is no gentle easing-in here! What was the inspiration behind this, your fifth book?

HS: Thank you so much! You’re right, it probably has the most breakneck pacing of all my books.

Originally, the idea was for a group of women in various states of peril to meet online - anonymously - become fast friends and exact revenges for each other. I really liked that idea but it wasn’t coming alive on the page, largely because so much of the dialogue was online. I was still very keen on the idea of fast friendship, how rare that is as an adult and how intoxicating it might be… so that part stayed! And I’m always a fan of a slippery slope adventure…

TW: Reviewers have said that it’s the kind of book that hooks you in very quickly and doesn’t let go. Was it always your intention to open with the breathtaking scene on the bridge?

HS: Yes and no! The image of the woman on the bridge came to me fully formed once I’d decided to throw away the previous ‘online’ version of the story and move into the real world. And once I had that image, the rest fell into place very quickly.

There were a few iterations of the opening, all in the same setting, and this was the most dramatic and exciting. I have to admit, it was really good fun to write.

TW: What is your process to plotting out a rollercoaster-style non-linear timeline? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

HS: I am a plotter, but I generally need to stop about half-way, replot, and then start again. Plot points and character actions that make sense on an outline can feel contrived and hackneyed when you actually write them, plus when you get to know the characters, new opportunities emerge. That’s almost always the case for me, anyway.

TW: On average, how long does it take you to write a first draft? Do you show it to anyone as you go? Has the process got easier with each new book?

HS: I generally have a false start, which eats up a few months and sends me loopy but ultimately helps me start again stronger. Once I start that ‘proper’ draft, I’d say it’s about four months to get a full first draft that’s fairly clean. I used to share chunks of work-in-progress with my agent, but that was largely down to a lack of confidence and actually, it was a bit counterproductive. My agent is BRILLIANT, but a lot of that very early draft will be rewritten and rejigged, so it’s a waste of her time and mine to noodle over stuff that might end up in the bin. Now I write the whole thing, do a structural edit myself, then a line edit and then send it. I do share little snippets that I’m proud of to my friend Gillian McAllister though, she’s pretty much the only person I’d trust outside of my agent and editor to see any work in progress!

TW: Do you think it is essential for writers to have a literary agent in today’s publishing marketplace? How did you get your agent?

HS: To be traditionally published, I’d say it’s very important. It’s not impossible to get a publishing deal directly through publisher’s open submission windows and various schemes but agents are about more than that first UK deal. They help with foreign and screen rights, they get the best deal possible, they advocate for you with publishers, they give editorial insights etc. I’m saying this from the spoilt position of a well-agented writer… but I would certainly aim for representation.

It's obviously different for self-published authors but that’s not my area of expertise.

I got my first agent via the usual ‘slush pile’ submissions route. When I decided to change agent, it was easier as I was established but still a bit nerve-wracking. After parting ways with my former agent, I reached out to several agents I admired, who other authors I trust recommended, and asked if they were interested in a chat. From the very first email, I felt a great rapport with Sophie Lambert and by the time we met in person, I was certain she was the right one and finally exhaled when she offered representation.

TW: What made you want to set up a podcast (The Honest Authors Podcast) with fellow author Gillian McAllister?

HS: Kind of for the reasons above. It can seem like getting that first bite from an agent, getting that elusive publishing contract is the finish line. You’ve wanted this for so long! But actually, it’s the start of a different journey and one that’s quite cloaked and opaque. When we started (I was published just a little before Gilly) we had so many questions and didn’t know who to ask. People didn’t really talk openly about the dips and bumps, and we were trying to work stuff out as we went. Like, what is this lingo? How do promotions work? What’s a good retailer order?

We learned an awful lot simply through experience, and we wanted other debut and hopeful authors to be able to learn from our honest accounts of life as published writers. But we also wanted to continue learning, and we’ve interviewed loads of other authors and publishing experts. There does seem to be a growing (and needed) trend of greater transparency and honesty about the publishing industry, and we’ve happily played our small part in that.

TW: You’ve been open on your podcast about readers’ reviews of your novels. Genuinely, do negative reviews bother you? Do you read reviews of your work and do you take anything from them?

HS: I read them, not all of them in minute detail but at least a skim. I like to see what people have connected with and enjoyed, and - painful as it is - it’s useful to see if there are any consistent ‘complaints’ people have. If there are, that can be a learning experience. But reading out the really vicious ones on the podcast has helped take the sting out of them and is far healthier than responding to them and arguing my case! “You misunderstood, dummy, what I meant was…” is never a good look. Readers are entitled to their opinion and so long as it’s about the work and not personal, I can brush it off.

TW: What is next for Holly Seddon? Would you ever consider writing in a different genre?

HS: Yes I would (and have – my third novel, Love Will Tear Us Apart, is considered commercial fiction) but I would use a pen name!

The truth is that I genuinely love writing in my genre and feel like I’m honing my niche in it with every book, so I would never want to abandon that. But on the fiction side, I love grounded speculative work and literary fiction. I’m also very interested in cold war and cultural history and would love to write a narrative non-fiction book. And then there’s scriptwriting… But all of this would only ever be an addition, an affair, not a replacement.

TW: Have you ever driven a Tesla?

HS: Hahaha yes, I have. I actually drive one… The reason I’m laughing is because the vast majority of reviews for The Woman on the Bridge have been really positive but there was one that was absolutely brutal and the main thrust of the reviewer’s ire was that they thought I’d taken a bung and got a free Tesla in exchange for the mentions. Man, I wish. We pay for our car like everyone else and it’s our greatest luxury. I actually wrote this novel during lockdown in The Netherlands, where we lived at the time. We were still allowed to drive without many restrictions and there wasn’t a lot else to do. So I spent a lot of time driving, thinking and listening to music, and clearly that was absorbed into my writing process!

Quick fire questions: 

TW: Novel you are reading right now?

A: Taste for Death by PD James.

TW: Favourite psychological thriller?

HS: I know many will argue with the genre classification here but… Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Fight me!

TW: A book you wish you had written?

HS: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

TW: Favourite place in the world to read a book?

HS: A balcony in the sun with a big mug of tea.

TW: Best advice you’d give to an author just starting out?

HS: Always listen to your gut.

Thanks Holly!

Black and white headshot of author Holly Seddon

More about The Woman On The Bridge:

How far would you go to save a perfect stranger?

Maggie is trapped. Dumped on her wedding day, rejected by her family and hounded by a man determined to make her suffer.

Charlotte is desperate. Double-crossed by her only friend and facing total ruin, she will go to any lengths to save what matters.

Two women, one night. A decision that will change everything.


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