The new Clem Chambers thriller, The First Horseman, hits bookstores in November – and Crime Time is first to talk to him…

– Where did inspiration for the novel’s subject matter come from?

Mortality gets more interesting as you get older. A thriller often centres around escaping the Reaper, but in the end, for all of us, there is no escape.

But is there?

Death is escapable on many levels, why not ultimately.

Mosquitos do not pass on HIV even though they might have just fed from an infected individual. Yet they can give you Malaria

Why? Aren’t they just flying syringes?

Mosquitos kills millions without having to transmit HIV from their last host. In Africa in some places 40% of people are HIV+ yet Mosquitos don’t make that 100%. It’s Malaria that kills.

Biology and life sciences are fascinating subjects. Why do Tortoises live 200 years and dogs only about 14? Why should a dog die so young and a human so old?

Is there immortality in nature?


Can I have it too?


– How much research was involved in writing the novel?

A huge amount, but as I have a weird gift of retention of diverse facts, I already knew much about the broad subjects synthesised into the book. The fine details were yet more fascinating and I tend to forget how much time I spend digging into the science facts I incorporate. I would be doing it anyway. It one of those things I’m doing constantly. Research for me is a lifestyle.

– How long did it take to write? How/when do you find the time?

I write disgustingly fast. This is a result of years of journalism where I need to quickly churn out 500 words or 1500, sometimes at the rate of 1000 words an hour.

I suppose I think and plan a book for months putting all the pieces together in my mind. I start when I feel I have the beginning, middle and end sorted, then I write all day at the speed of my typing.

That’s 5000-10,000 words a day. I go into a kind of trance and the story just floats out from my subconscious like I’m reporting a film I’ve just watched. A lot of writers I speak to write a few hundred words a day. If I mention how it comes to me, they look at me in horror.

It seems strange but I’m not alone in this style, some writers are like that. Asimov for example wrote nearly 1000 books. There is even a psychological condition of writing millions of words called Hypergraphia.

Practically, I write a book on four weekends. That’s a target of 40,000 words. Then I take two weeks off other work and complete the remaining 60,000.

It’s wake up, write 5000+ words, have a nice dinner, drink a whole bottle of claret as a reward, sleep, repeat. I end up with a fat liver and a book. Its binge-writing.

– Do you have a ‘top writer’s tip’

Write the book in 100 lines. Turn each line into 1000 words. If a line is gnarly, turn it into 2 and write 500 words per line.

Don’t start till you have 100 lines.

If you feel wimpy write 200 lines, 500 hundred even, but if you can’t do this summary, don’t start writing.

When you have your hundred lines, it’s an easy process to write the rest.

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