I have a horrible habit of writing about things that then happen.
For instance, my previous book, The First Horseman, heavily features Ebola and an African plague. In The Hacker Chronicles I blew up the World Trade Centre and after I finished writing it, THEY did.
This kept me from publishing.
No Exit Press picked me up for my financial thriller series on the back of these first two books [Dial Up for Murder and Log On for Crime]. They wanted financial crime and I gave it to them.
Like an old Apple 1, with a hand written ‘thank you’ note from Steve Jobs, they languished in a cupboard, almost forgotten.
At the time I didn’t want these books published. A key reason was the aforementioned World Trade Centre attacks, but there was more to it than that.
There was the issue of people reading the drafts then effectively going: "Oh now I get it, the reason you were successful so young was you’re a criminal mastermind." That is a really off-putting reaction, but I got it time and again. The more I’d laugh it off, the more people wanted to believe it. I didn’t want people to think I was an underworld figure; that might prove inconvenient for my sinister plot to rule ze vurld.
Then there is the fact there is a lot of sex and swearing in Dial Up for Murder and Log On for Crime. Editors would not just cut off your filthy tongue; they would slice out all your sex, so that seemed like a reason to forget about looking for a publisher and instead move on to new work.
Then things began to change.
Firstly the rampant success of Mr. Grey took the shades off sex between the covers and it felt like my younger, raunchier style might actually fit with the times. If Harold Robbins could get away with it in the 1960s, what is the problem? To hell with the young adult market.
After all these years, I’m now old enough to escape being conflated with the nefarious plots of the books and I’m hoping 9/11 is distant enough for a narrative that blows up a New York skyscraper, even if written years before those attacks, to be read without drawing an unfortunate reaction.
Then the latest fashion struck: retro is in, especially techno-retro. Not a month goes by without journalists wanting to hear about the old days of the birth of computer games and the online revolution.
After 30 years I’m going to be an overnight success.
Do you remember the Sinclair Spectrum, smoking on a plane, car phones you kept in the boot because they were the size of a modern laptop computer? Do you remember the Escort XR3?
There is a whole generation fascinated with the years when PCs and home computers exploded into the mainstream. Retro-tech has gone mainstream and with that my books are not dated but stare out from a period that people want to go back to.
So sex, swearing, crime and 1200/75 modems that squeak and squeal are suddenly a hot narrative. The harsh landscape of 80s London and the computer revolution come together to produce a gritty techno noir. Not only was it the birth of the digital revolution, it was the birth of cyber crime.
Dial Up for Murder by Clem Chambers is published by CreateSpace.