In one of my posts earlier this year, I mentioned my plan for a new series of novels featuring Clement. The idea was to set these stories in the early ’70s, and they would revolve around Clement’s life back in the day. And, for those stories to be truly authentic, they would need to convey language and views typical of the time – if they’re not truly authentic there’s no point writing them. However, society has changed dramatically over the last five years and as a consequence, I’ve decided to shelve the project.
I originally posted about this decision in The Broadhall Social Club on Facebook. The majority of the replies were supportive and most people said they understood my decision but felt frustrated by how overly sensitive society has become. I feel that frustration too, but there are still way too many people suffering racism, homophobia, sexism, and other forms of prejudice on a daily basis. We’ve made great strides over the last fifty years but there’s still a long way to go.
As Clement himself would say: society is a bit fucked at the moment and we need to sort ourselves out.
Some people suggested Clement’s lack of political correctness in the original four-book series wasn’t a problem, and therefore it shouldn’t be a problem in the new series. However, those books were set in modern times so Clement’s views were seen as outdated, and the likes of Beth were there to set him straight. If I set a book in 1971, there won’t be a Beth, and every character will use language that is now considered wholly inappropriate (or downright offensive).
To write a series of books authentic to the time would involve way too much self-censorship, and I don’t think I’m a skilled enough writer to navigate a path through all the potential pitfalls. It would be like trying to re-write some of those classic ’70s sitcoms like Till Death Us Do Part or Man About The House – there would be a public outcry if they were authentic to the originals.
However disappointing this decision might be, it’s based on good intentions because I don’t want to alienate readers or provoke controversy. I deliberately stay clear of politics and contentious issues on social media because I just want to write my stories and live a quiet life – I definitely don’t want to encourage a potential shitstorm of negative publicity. Nor do I want to offend any individual or group, inadvertently or otherwise, or stoke division.
I genuinely hope you can understand how I’ve come to this decision. It has been made after a lot of thought, and soul searching.
RIP Clement. It’s been a blast.