It's a story about high-tech thrillers, perseverance, serendipity and above all, the power of Nottingham. Adrian Dawson, best-selling author of Codex and Sequence, told Nottingham Confidential how it all happened.
When I wrote my first book Codex I was living in Leeds but not long after I met my girlfriend Jo who was from Nottingham and I moved down here to be with Jo and I've been in Nottingham for about seven years now. When I first wrote Codex I sent a copy to Patrick Walsh from Christopher Little Literary Agency and they snapped it up on the spot and then it turned out they were J K Rowling's agent, pretty much the largest agent in the UK, I didn't know that, but obviously when I got down there and I realised who they represented I was a bit taken aback! I had meetings with Patrick that intrinsically were saying, "you are going to be the next big thing, your book is going to be huge and fantastic" and for a couple of years, they tried in vain to sell it to publishers. Because it was 1999 and there is an artificial intelligence computer in Codex, I got comments such as "it's a bit millennial" because at that time, everyone was talking about computers and what was going to go wrong. Then in 2002 Dan Brown came along with Angels and Demons and everyone said "it's a bit Dan Brown". So the agency, with all respect to them, all but gave up. They tried everybody and everybody rejected it. So I spent another year trying to find another agent unsuccessfully- no one was interested. I had a fairly successful day job as the creative director of an advertising agency so I carried on doing that for the next 8 or 9 years.
Then I was at a party and though a friend of a friend of a friend I met Last Passage who were looking to set up in Nottingham with some money to put into developing a publishing business using the latest technology. It was very serendipitous! I do genuinely remember the roll of the eyes when I said oh, I've written a couple of books. Because in that time, in my spare time, I'd all but completed Sequence as well. I was still writing, I hadn't given up. So I told Last Passage the full story of the book and Last Passage were looking to put some money behind a new author in the modern realm and that's how we found each other.
It was Last Passage's desire and intent to launch the book in print as all publishers do, but it's very expensive so they developed a business model to launch it digitally, which anyone can do, it's fairly easy, but to also put behind that a strong advertising and PR campaign and try and spread the word to compete with the approximately 10,000 new titles which come out every year. If the book was well received and sold it would go into print with Last Passage paying the author's percentage, with their percentage going into launching the book into print. What nobody expected, least of all myself, is that we launched it digitally and within a week the Apple iBookstore had it as their featured book, Amazon featured it in various emails and it sold and sold and sold. And in six months it had became the number one best selling thriller in the UK iBookstore beating everyone.
I cannot deny I felt vindicated! I believed I had a strong book and I believed it had a marketplace. From June to December it grew and grew and the real kicker came at the end of 2010, in the mysteries and thrillers section, a short story by Peter James was at number one, my book was at number two and was therefore the number one selling full-length thriller. And behind me was Michael Connelly, other Peter James books and Lee Childs.
With everything to do with Nottingham, my life changed. I had been a workaholic, single, running an ad agency, trying to write novels in my spare time, rushing round, I had no real life. Then I met my partner and the decision was made for me to move from Leeds to Nottingham and from the minute I did that, I got a life, I got a loving girlfriend, loving stepson and coupled with all that, all the success from writing. Nottingham is now my life. And I must also give credit to Nottingham Waterstone's because when we first released Codex in print, they gave me so much support, they are absolutely brilliant. Waterstone's will do whatever they can to publicise local authors and I was fairly nervous about doing signings but they put me so at ease, it was wonderful. they make you feel like a king. Although I would have been happy with the ebook succes, I dreamed as an author of having my book in print so it's an absolute honour to fit in places like Waterstone's and independent book shops and see people buy my books. Books to me is paper.
I watch a film every day and my writing is unbeliveably influenced by film. In Codex it's no secret that the Afro-American world-weary FBI agent is based on Morgan Freeman and Robin Williams is the main character. I'd be absolutely over the moon if my books were turned into films and they were actually cast. Two film companies are currently looking at Sequence but I'm trying not to get too excited!. But if Hollywood comes knocking and gives me a million, I won't move abroad, I love Nottingham and I'm staying here.
Last Passage are currently running a competition in conjunction with Adrian Dawson's new novel Sequence. Following clues using techniques outlined in the book you can work out the location of an object hidden somewhere in the world. If you guess the location correctly your name goes into a draw for an iPod Nano with a hyper-cool Lunatik Watch strap. But if you actually travel to the location, there is a object hidden there, a genuine antique worth a lot of money! Full details are available on Adrian Dawson's website http://www.adriandawson.co.uk/index.php/competitions/hide.html
You can find out more about Last Passage at http://www.lastpassage.com/