Out-Of-This-World Sci-Fi That Bends Your Mind
Interview With Seth Halleway, Sci-fi Author
Seth Halleway and I connected over Twitter towards the end of Summer 2022. We struck up a conversation, evoking the idea of this interview... Check it out! Guaranteed, you'll want to read Fable's End.
... totally top shelf SFF… kinda like Game of Thrones and Dune…
... detailed and believable worlds, with all the epic coolness of the classics, while being as easy to read as watching an Indiana Jones film.
... out-of-this-world sci-fi that bends your mind and goes down easy as a slice of pizza
(Here's an anecdote: Later in the fall, Seth Halleway invited me to join him on Mastodon. So I too created my Mastodon profile. Come check us out! Mastodon is a great social network. It's a wonderful, honest alternative to the bird site. I meet lots of good people there nowadays. Thanks for inviting me over, Seth Halleway!)
Fable's End After centuries of warfare, a world of conquerors has at last defeated their enemies and destroyed their god-like creators. With their society now teetering on collapse and an aging ruler close to death, two young scions from legendary imperial families contend to take control. One has a progressive vision for changing their world by integrating their former enemies. The other has a darker plan that calls for the expulsion and extermination of those who once opposed them. Only one can succeed, and their struggle to destroy each other may be the spark that burns their empire to ashes. Get Fable's End Here
Seth Halleway, tell us about yourself. Where are you from and where are you based currently? What first got you into writing?
I’m an Aussie sci-fi author who’s done a bit of everything throughout his life. I’m into tech, video games, artificial intelligence, languages and cultures. I’ve lived in East Asia and the U.S. for a good stretch of time, but I’m back home in Oz and loving life here. I’ve always enjoyed writing too but, to be honest, for most of my life I never felt I was good enough to complete a novel. I actually got into writing during the pandemic because things were just so nuts and I needed an out. My first book “Land of the Free” was basically me just writing how I felt the US would end up in thirty years time. I released it figuring it’d get trolled and nothing but 1-star reviews. To my surprise I had people writing to me and telling me how cool the story was. So I figured I might try writing all the other books I have floating around in my head.
On your profile, you describe your writing as out-of-this-world sci-fi that bends your mind and goes down easy as a slice of pizza. (I love it.) Tell me about how you came to define your writing style.
It’s a wild description, but I think it best describes what I aim for when writing. Basically, I want someone to pick up one of my books, read it and go away feeling like it was a fun trip that was worth the price of admission. The thing about me is I really don’t like reading. This is especially true for the big titles that define the whole SFF field. Name anything by one of the classic SFF authors out there and you can be pretty sure I haven’t read it. I’m talking even fundamental stuff like Lord of the Rings or Foundation. It’s not that I haven’t tried reading them, I have… but I gave up after ten pages or so because they just couldn’t hold my attention. My goal is to write books that people like me (who don’t really read much) would start, finish and enjoy. That means detailed and believable worlds with all the epic coolness of the classics, while being as easy to read as watching an Indiana Jones film. That’s why I like the pizza analogy: you know you can get it delivered to your door, hot and delicious with complex toppings, and even if pizza isn’t your favorite you know it’s still going to go down pretty good.
What books have influenced you and your writing the most? What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read? What book are you currently reading?
I really haven’t read that much, but one of my big favorites is Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Andy Weir and Ernest Cline are also great writers whose books I’ve really enjoyed. I mentioned PKD earlier, and William Gibson might be there too, but I sometimes have trouble following his style. At the moment, most of my reading is beta reading for fellow authors and giving feedback. I enjoy it because it gives me a chance to help out. There are so many creative writers out there, and there are some with dreams of getting picked up by publishers or making movies from their books. I always hope they get what they’re wishing for.
What does your writing process look like? What comes first, plot or characters? Why? Do you plan your writing thoroughly, or do you discover your story and characters as you write?
To be honest, my writing process is more me sitting down and watching a movie play in my head, then trying to describe what I saw as best I can. Some people say I’m lucky my creativity works like that. Still, I often agonize about how best to describe scenes or determine correct POV’s etc. It’s like seeing the Star Wars movies play in your head - that’s great… but then how do you put those stories onto the page in a way that captivates people’s attention? That’s not so easy, and it’s one of the reasons I always put off trying to write anything. I just didn’t feel I could do it.
What is the hardest part of being a writer—or of the writing process?
For me the hardest part is the dilemmas it causes. One of those is I want my stories to be popular, but at the same time I don’t care to be a famous author. Another is the environmental cost of the publishing business. Deforestation is a real problem, and I’m always thinking about how printed versions of my books contribute to that in some way. It’s still sorta true that getting your book into chain stores is a benchmark for ‘making it’ as a writer. It’s an attitude that’s changing as eBooks become more accepted, bookstores disappear and prices of paperback books go up. I’ve always wrestled with the part of me that wants my stories to get out there, but without taking the traditional route of mass market publishing. When I moved back to Australia I did look into getting my books into a chain store. But, when I sat down and did the math, I realized that I’d need to sell scores of books throughout every store in that chain just to match what I’ve just done online already. Seeing that really made me stop and think, because if I can already reach so many people without needing to have books printed, then maybe I should just carry on doing things that way.
What are you most proud of in your writing journey so far? (No matter how small!)
After I released Fable’s End, people wrote to me to say “Hey this book is totally top shelf SFF… kinda like Game of Thrones and Dune… but you do your stories in a way that’s just so fun and refreshing. I couldn’t put it down because I needed to know what happened next!” I breathed a sigh of relief as that’s exactly the kind of response I was hoping for.
Do you favor traditional publishing, or self-publishing? What’s your favorite and least favorite part of publishing?
I’m for self-publishing all the way. People tell me I’m silly for doing that because my books would easily be picked up by a publisher. Like I say, though, I don’t really have the desire to be a famous sci-fi author or make millions from my books. I wouldn’t say no to those things, of course, it’s just they are second to me finding a way to publish my vision as is, unmodified or changed under the persuasion of industry gatekeepers.
Self-pub comes with one major drawback, of course, in that you have to do everything yourself. I actually enjoy being the everything guy juggling all the responsibilities.
What’s the title of your current work in progress? Can you tell us a little about it?
It’s called “Embers of Wrath” and it’s the book that comes after Fable’s End. I won’t say much more, other than if you like the first book you won’t go wrong getting this next one either.
Embers of Wrath (Coming March 2023) Across the vast expanse of a hostile planet an endless war rages. A once besieged empire has turned the tables on their foes, leaving a trail of destruction and death in its wake. In the lakeside town of Parak the citizenry enjoy peace under the watchful eye of the gods and the old ruler who protects them. But peace has a way of making restless those built for warfare. Corruption and decedence has spread through the populace. As the people lose reverence for authority and take the sacred ones for granted they will test the patience of their creators. Should the gods decide to intervene their punishment will be a hell unlike anything the people could prepare for. War is heading for Parak, for when the mortals forget their gods, the gods will remind them why they are mortals. More on Embers of Wrath Here
Now tell us about your latest book, Fable’s End. What do you hope readers will take away from it? What inspired the idea for the story?
Two pieces of music inspired the entire world of Shentonia, of which FE is just one story of many. The main thing I hope people take away from FE is that feeling you get - you know the one: when you walk into a movie theater with popcorn, and it’s like the most excellent show you’ve seen, and then you come out from the dark room afterwards and you’re like ‘Huh? Oh, yeah, it’s still daylight and I’m back in reality now! What just happened to me?!”
Can you talk a bit about Fable’s End’s protagonists; who they are and what they do that makes them very special?
The thing about the protagonists of FE - and all their ancestors, in fact - is they’re victims of forces more powerful than themselves. They come from a race of people who were designed by these sociopathic gods that controlled almost all aspects of their lives. These gods not only engineered them to be divided by caste and always act subservient, but they also only permitted them to live around thirty years - seemingly to stop them gaining any real wisdom through age. What’s even more challenging for the protagonists is that their society was engineered to be imperialistic and jingoistic, but their enemies have all been destroyed. Now in the absence of war and with their gods being long gone, none of them know what to do. So not only are they trying to deal with questions regarding their self-identity and purpose, they’re also trying to figure out how to stop their civilization from collapsing around them.
I definitely want to read your books now! Where should I start?
Just pick up a copy of Fable’s End. If you really like that one you should see what comes next. There are plenty of stories set in the world of Shentonia on the way.
Seth Halleway is an Australian-American sci-fi author. Formerly a resident of Chicago, he's enjoyed stints as a linguist, a teacher, and an explorer - not necessarily in that order. A lover of all great movies and music of the 1980s, when he isn't indulging in fits of nostalgia he's either writing or playing video games, sometimes trying to do both at the same time.
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