Jeffery Deaver on Ian Fleming

The June 10 Houston Star-Telegram is carrying a nicely-done piece about Carte Blanche author Jeffery Deaver’s experiences with the world of Ian Fleming.

A lifelong fan of the literary James Bond after reading his first Fleming novel at the tender age of eight, Deaver says the excitement he felt from those books is one of the reasons he wanted to be a writer. After receiving an invitation from Ian Fleming Publications to write a (one-off) 007 adventure, he “took all of five seconds” to jump on board.

Photo © Associated Press

Carte Blanche, in updating the Bond saga to the right-this-minute post-9/11, post-7/7 world, has rung some changes on the character and his world that we’ve since heard about. He and the publishers also decided that Deaver would retain his own authorial style…

…that he would not attempt to write the book mimicking Fleming’s style.

“Sebastian [Faulks] is a brilliant literary writer and he pulled if off very well in his book… “But I would not presume to do that. Nor do I have the talent to do that.”

David Martindale’s article also lists some of the author’s favorite Fleming things: Favorite Bond novel, Favorite Bond moment, and favorite Bond villains and girls. You’ll have to read Jeffery Deaver attains double-o status as new Bond writer to learn which.

Published in the US by Simon & Schuster, Carte Blanche drops this coming Tuesday, June 14. Watch the HMSS Weblog for pointers to the reviews and reactions from the US-based critics, as well as our own humble editor’s thoughts.

Jeffery Deaver provides WSJ with tips about spying

Carte Blanche author Jeffery Deaver has an article in the June 4 Wall Street Journal about what he learned about espionage while researching the new 007 novel.

Here’s one sample:

To be a spy, you don’t need to break into top-secret facilities, climb through air ducts and make your way through laser beam fields. Yes, agents do some of that acrobatic stuff, as well as sit in front of really neat high-def monitors, a la Jack Bauer in “24,” while vacuuming up cellphone calls and emails. But a huge amount of “product,” as intelligence is called, comes from open sources, information available to everyone, found in newspapers, on TV, in unclassified government, corporate and nonprofit reports and from observations in public. You can be sure that somebody in Russia’s SVR, one of the KGB’s successor agencies, is jotting down notes about this article even as you read it.

To read the entire article, JUST CLICK HERE. In the print edition, the story appears on page 3 of the Review section.

Whither the literary 007?

Today’s Guardian carries a rather snidely-worded essay about the “surprisingly long list of authors who have written official 007 sequels.”

While taking time out to individually slag Kingsley Amis, John Gardner*, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks, and Jeffrey Deaver, the article does hint at some corporate-level kibitzing — with the James Bond character and the individual continuation novels — by the Fleming family and the UK and US publishers. (This is something we’ve heard about [albeit secondhand] from John Gardner, and [directly] from Raymond Benson. Much like the Eon films, it would appear that the literary James Bond is also a factory-built product.)

You can read the post by James Harker, (the Guardian Student Writer of the Year 2010, whatever that means), JAMES BOND’S CHANGING INCARNATIONS , at the Guardian website. There is a “comments” section available for readers to chime in with their own opinion on the matter.

* To give the devil his due, the piece says Gardner’s 007 novels are “readable.”

UPDATE: And the Carte Blanche reviews continue to roll in…

(UPDATED JUNE 5, 2011)

The much-anticipated new James Bond novel Carte Blanche, by American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, sees print today in the UK and Europe. A terrific publicity campaign, lasting for almost the previous year, has pushed the publication of this book to the level of a media event — something James Bond fans can be excited about, regardless of their personal reaction to the story.

The reviews are coming in. As with any James Bond vehicle, critical views are hugely leavened by subjectivity, depending on the critic’s personal experience(s) with 007’s fictional exploits in their own lives.

  • Jeremy Jehu, in the May 26 Telegraph gives the novel a very nice four-star review.
  • That same day, the Guardian‘s Stephen Poole was’nt, um… quite as happy with it.
  • Mark Sanderson of the London Evening Standard said, on May 26, Carte Blanche Is Another Fine Mr. Bond Yarn, in a positively glowing review.
  • In the May 27 Independent, Boyd Tonkin has a thoughtful, knowledgeable, and quite positive review.
  • Jennifer Selway, in the May 27 Scottish Daily Express, said it’s a “slightly mischievous take on Ian Fleming” in her 5/5 review.
  • May 29’s Sunday Guardian‘s Stephanie Merritt said “fans will approve of Jeffery Deaver’s James Bond” in her glowing review, a much different opinion from her colleague above.
  • The Independent‘s Alexandra Heminsley concurred with her colleague on May 29, saying “It’s hard to imagine anyone not being impressed by this novel” in her review from last Sunday.
  • Peter Millar, writing in Sunday’s the Times, states “Carte Blanche is a worthy homage to the myth, but it is hard to see how much longer publishers can go on making silk purses from a franchise that is a bit of a sow’s ear” in his three-star review of May 29.
  • In the June 3 Financial Times, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney tells us the history of the post-Fleming James Bond, in a knowledgeable piece that fans would do well to take in. The article culminates in a rather unenthusiastic review of Carte Blanche: “[Deaver’s] Bond is truer to today’s culture of managerial efficiency, but he has also lost much in the translation. 007 fans might have to face an unpalatable truth: their man is a shadow of himself in the 21st century.” Read Relicensed to kill, and think for yourself.
  • The June 4 issue of Ireland’s Independent carries an anonymously-written review that sings Deaver’s praises but has reservations about Carte Blanche: “It’s pretty entertaining, but it’s not a great Bond novel — nor a great Deaver one.” You can read the whole review here.
  • The Sunday Express of June 5 carries its second review. This time, critic Angela McGee says: “…Carte Blanche is excellent fun, a great read and Jeffrey Deaver has breathed new life into an old favourite.” Read the rest of her enthusiastic review here.

Keep watching this space, as we’ll update it with further reviews as they come in. If you haven’t read it yet, check out The HMSS Interview with Carte Blanche author Jeffrey Deaver!

Author Jeffrey Deaver and James Bond's Bentley Continental GT

The Times runs excerpts from Carte Blanche

News Corp.’s The Times of London today has excerpts of Jeffery Deaver’s new James Bond continuation novel, Carte Blanche. The Times is a subscription-only Web site, so you’ll have to pay to see it. You can CLICK HERE to access the Web site, where you’ll be prompted how to pay for access.

007 and Aston Martin: development of a myth

When Prince William and his bride pulled out of Buckingham Palace in an Aston Martin convertible, it didn’t take long for people to make the connection between the royal couple’s ride and 007. The Reuters news service (Ian Fleming’s one-time employer) ran a video it called James Bond moment for royal newlyweds. Meanwhile, some 007 fan Web sites wrote up the connect such as THIS EXAMPLE

No question, Aston Martin is viewed as 007’s ride. Bond driving an Aston Martin is a modern myth, one that thrived for decades. But the original connection was much more modest.

In Fleming’s 1959 novel Goldfinger, Bond drove an Aston Martin DB III from MI 6’s car pool. “Bond had been offered the Aston Martin or a Jaguar 3.4. He had taken the D.B. III. Either of the cars would have suited his cover — a well-to-do, rather adventurous young man with a taste for the good, the fast things of life.”

Richard Maibuam introduced the DB V model in his first draft of the screenplay for the 1964 film. However, he took it out in his second draft in favor of a Bentley, the literary Bond’s preferred personal car, according to film historian Adrian Turner, who reviewed all of the film’s drafts for a 1998 book. The DB V returns in later drafts by Maibaum and Paul Dehn. John Stears, the film’s special effects man, added various extras not in the novel.

Goldfinger, of course, was a big hit and the Aston Martin was one of the movie’s attractions. The DB V returned in Thunderball. Different Aston Martin models could be seen in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever (a visual joke in the background in a shot of Q talking to Bond on the telephone), The Living Daylights, Die Another Day, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

Some authors of Bond continuation novels have tried to equip 007 in different rides. Raymond Benson’s 1997-2002 run included Bond in a Jaguar. Jeffery Deaver’s upcoming Carte Blanche, a reboot of the literary 007, features the agent in a Bentley. There’s a special limited-edition of the new novel that plays up the Bentley connection.

None of that, though, is likely to shake the association between Bond and Aston Martin. The royal wedding on April 29 is just another example:

UPDATE: We’re reminded that the DBV (or DB5, depending on your preference) also appeared in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, even though the main “Bond cars” were BMWs. In Raymond Benson’s novelizations of the films, we’re told Bond bought the car for his personal use after MI 6 was had decided to sell off the car.

The HMSS Interview: Jeffery Deaver

We were intrigued to learn, in May of last year, that the next official James Bond novelist would be American (and Chicago’s own!) crime writer Jeffery Deaver. Best known for his Lincoln Rhyme detective series (its first entry, The Bone Collector , was filmed in 1999 with Denzel Washington as the quadriplegic detective), and his Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award-winning World War II thriller Garden of Beasts, he may have been viewed as a surprise choice for the assignment. But the author of these brainy mysteries also has a personal fondness for scuba diving, skiing, fast cars, and guns, as well as having started his career as a journalist. Sound like anybody we know?

“The novel [now titled Carte Blanche – ed.] will maintain the persona of James Bond as Fleming created him and the unique tone the author brought to his books, while incorporating my own literary trademarks: detailed research, fast pacing and surprise twists,” Deaver tells us, and we’re looking forward to see how he does it.

On last year’s book tour for his novel Edge, he made a stop in Franklin, Tennessee, at the “Killer Nashville” mystery writers conference, where he was Guest of Honor. HMSS sent our good friend — and Deaver’s fellow lawyer — Mark Henderson to chat with the author about his thoughts on tackling the 007 saga.

Photo © Mark Henderson

Jeffrey Deaver, proud owner of some groovy HMSS swag


HMSS: George Bernard Shaw said that the English and Americans are two people separated by a common language. How intimidating is it for you to not only attempt to write an iconic character, but do so in a foreign idiom?

JEFFERY DEAVER: It is a writer’s responsibility, as a novelist, to step into the minds of all his or her characters. Doing that is something that I happen to enjoy a lot. I am a rather empathetic person. I don’t mean that in a good sense, that I care about people necessarily. What I mean is that it is easy for me to take a look at somebody, if I know anything about their life, through either research or having lived these sixty years, and write about them with some credibility. I have written about elderly African American characters. I’ve written about teenagers. I’ve written about women. I’ve written about heroes. I’ve written about bad people. And I seem to have a facility, I won’t call it talent, but I have a facility with a little bit of diligence and research, to step into the mind of someone who is different from who I am. So that has not posed a challenge at all in creating the Bond character as we now know him, although he is British…technically Scottish and his mother was Swiss, but he is a British citizen.

HMSS: Ian Fleming adjusted that over the years to accommodate for Sean Connery.

JD: Right, and we didn’t find out until reading Bond’s obituary [in You Only Live Twice]. So writing about a modern British agent is not then particularly daunting. I did a great deal of research and spend a lot of time in Great Britain, so that doesn’t bother me at all. I will say one thing: I am extremely aware of the responsibility of creating a character who echoes in the time of his creation. He was as you know, and as readers of the books know, unique in thriller fiction. Especially when he came about, we had never seen anyone like that before. Of course, suave and sophisticated, and yet a bit existential. He said, and this is not an exact quote, that he lived life to the fullest because he expected to be dead by the mandatory retirement age from the SIS, which was in the 40’s. 45 I think. So I am creating a character that has those elements that Ian Fleming created, and yet I am bringing them into a story of my own. So, is it daunting? It is no more challenging than writing any other character of mine. I have set books in locations other than those I am indigenous to, through research, and one just has to roll up one’s sleeves and get the job done.

HMSS: Fleming’s James Bond character was very much a product of World War II — forged in the crucible of a truly existential conflict. That’s not only where his fierce loyalty to England (and to M, who for Bond personifies England) comes from, but also his carpe diem attitude towards life. Your James Bond will have been born in 1980. What will have made him into the man we understand to be, and will recognize as, 007?

JD:The question was posed to me once, how can you create a hero, and model him on an essential cold war hero, where the great bear of the Soviet Union was the great threat on the horizon? My response was, how many attacks were there by Russia on the soil of England or the United States during that period? And the answer is none…they did a lot of bad things, assassination and so forth, but nothing like 07/07, the bombing of London, nothing like the Madrid train bombing, nothing like our 9/11 attack and some of the crazy people in America who have tried to carry out other attacks. The threat wears a different guise, but it is nonetheless a genuine threat: good versus evil. My Bond will be a veteran of Afghanistan. He was a soldier over there. And so he is a patriot. He will do anything he needs to do for Queen and country. He believes in freedom and democracy. He believes that bad guys should not get away with bad things. So that was one of the easier transitions actually. He still has the same carpe diem attitude because he puts his life on the line every day. And in my book, without giving away details, there are situations where he is threatened, not only his life (I am not going to kill him off in the first third of the book), but could he sustain a tragic injury forever? I am not saying yes, I am not saying no, but certainly, he is willing to risk everything to make sure the Realm is defended. So, he is not going to miss a moment of life.

Hodder & Stoughton (UK) cover

HMSS: Was it your choice to set the new Bond novel in the present day, and if so, why?

JD:It was a mutual decision. When the Fleming Estate contacted me, I said that I would only want to do it if it were set in the present day, and they said we agree, that is what we were hoping for too. And the reason for that is the original books were not period pieces, of course. They were a product of their time, and Fleming, being a former journalist and intelligence agent, gave them the Cold War ambience. He was a great writer of manners, as they used to call it. So he would look at people in his books, or rather James Bond would, and draw conclusions about them. And they were right on about classes of society, men and women, attitudes of course reflecting the spirit of the time… not quite what it is today…and that is my Bond will be doing. Exactly the same thing.

HMSS: Fleming had been a journalist prior to writing the Bond novels. He credited that experience with giving him attention to detail and pacing, not to mention being able to write with some dispatch. Does your experience as a journalist enhance your writing in a similar fashion, or do you find it gave you other skills that are important? Do you feel like being a former journalist will help you carry on the Bond tradition?

JD: I had not thought about it, but I think it is probably true. I have a very meat and potatoes style, a journalistic style, as Fleming did. Although, he was capable of brilliant word-smithing. Go back and look at the beginning of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where he is seeing the woman who turns out to be his wife, Tracy. He observes her, in what is a masterful use of flashback. This scene where he is at the beach and Bond is reflecting on his life, as a child going to the beach, responding to when the sun is going down. It is brilliant writing. I aspire to do that, but I do know that my writing style matches the narrative of my books so I am pretty content that I will produce a very satisfying prose.

HMSS: How much of a challenge is it to make the villains truly evil in the modern day, without making them look clichéd?

JD: This book as every other book of mine will have an emotional content to it. A thriller does no good if you do not feel the book in your heart. And you do not feel it in your heart if the characters are cliched or cardboard. I have created sympathetic characters on the good side that have faults, and I have created villains who are to me unique. I have not ever seen any characters like the villains I have created, and yet that resonate with some truth. They will not be cliches. They will be horrific and yet there will be a reason why they are horrific. To put it in context, look at a character like Hannibel Lector who did horrific things, yet had an odd sympathy. So that is the sort of atmosphere I am trying to bring to my book.

HMSS:Will any of Fleming’s recurring characters appear in your novel, and if so, which ones?

JD: I don’t want to say too much, but I will say that the core of his allies are drawn from to populate the book. I can say there will be no bad guys from the past. They are entirely my creation. So, let’s just say that characters like M, Bill Tanner the chief of staff, Miss Moneypenny, of course will be back.

HMSS:Fleming was influenced by reading the novels of Sapper and Buchan during his formative years. Besides Fleming, what authors would you say have had the most influence on your writing?

Simon & Shuster (US) cover

JD: Going back into classic mysteries, Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. Agatha Christie, by the way, was one of the masters of the twist. You don’t hear about her so much any more. The BBC had a Miss Marple series that was quite well done, and of course the Margaret Rutherford series which I saw when I was quite young. I sort of relate those to the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes series. Rather broad Hollywood films for a larger appeal. The Holmes series with Jeremy Brett had a more subtle appeal. He was the Holmes for me. Anyway, those were major influences on me. As well as John le Carré, in terms of style, his writing is breathtaking. The intrigue within the intelligence community is fascinating. As far as hard-boiled fiction, I don’t read a lot of it. Mickey Spillane and so forth. Now international intrigue, Frederick Forsythe wrote one of my favorite books of all time, The Day of the Jackal. The original movie was excellent. And I also enjoyed Alistair MacLean. The books were quite lean. The late Elliot Kastner, who was a friend of mine, came up with the idea for Where Eagles Dare and talked MacLean into writing the screenplay, from which he later wrote a novel.

HMSS: You won the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award from the British Crime Writer’s Association, for Garden of Beasts. The hero of that novel is a hitman for the mob who is sent by the United States government to kill a German who is in charge of organizing Nazi Germany’s re-armament. He is a hitman with a conscience and only kills bad guys. How will your James Bond compare to that character, Paul Schumann?

JD: It is not a coincidence that Schumann was who he was. The 00’s were sanctioned to commit assassinations for the government in the Fleming novels, and I think there are two references to this never reconciled there. There was a question whether it was awarded first so he could go kill, or afterwards, indicating that he had killed in the line of duty. My Bond will stay true to that, but you have to be kind of careful, because the SIS publically and vocally disavow targeted killings. The CIA does not here: they fire drones. The SIS has disavowed it. Anyway, Paul Schumann was a hitman with a conscience and James Bond is the same thing. For instance, in one of the Bond short stories, “The Living Daylights,” where he is supposed to kill an assassin in Berlin, when she turns out she is a female, he shoots her in the hand rather than kill her.

HMSS: What is your favorite James Bond movie, and why?

JD: From Russia With Love, because it was most true to the book. It was almost a literal interpretation of the book. What I really liked was the subtlety involved. None of the broad Hollywood techniques. It had Robert Shaw as one of the best villains of all time. It encapsulated the gritty spirit of the Fleming novels. I know fans enjoy some of the more recent films, and I would say that my second favorite is the new Casino Royale . It was exactly what I had pictured a high budget production of a Bond movie as being. There were no overly clever special effects. Just a good espionage thriller. And Daniel Craig is fantastic.


Carte Blanche will be published on May 26 in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton, and in the USA on June 14 by Simon & Shuster. Mr. Deaver’s official website is JeffreyDeaver.com. HMSS’s interviewer Mark Henderson can be E-mailed here.. Thanks to both gentlemen for a terrific interview!

Amazon.com’s intriguing description of new 007 novel

Amazon.com, in its listing for Jeffery Deaver’s upcoming James Bond novel, Carte Blanche carries this description:

James Bond, in his early thirties and already a veteran of the Afghan War, has been recruited to a new organization. Conceived in the post-9/11 world, it operates independent of MI5, MI6 and the Ministry of Defense, its very existence deniable. Its aim: To protect the Realm, by any means necessary.

A Night Action alert calls James Bond away from dinner with a beautiful woman. Headquarters has decrypted an electronic whisper about an attack scheduled for later in the week: Casualties estimated in the thousands, British interests adversely affected.

And Agent 007 has been given carte blanche.

That suggests that Deaver’s novel will be an extensive reboot of the Bond literary franchise.

Among the Bond continuation novels, Kingsley Amis’s Colonel Sun was published just a few years after Ian Fleming’s last published works. John Gardner (whose first Bond novel was published 30 years ago) and Raymond Benson timeshifted Bond to the 1980s, ’90s and ’00s, but their novels (and in Benson’s case, short stories as well) made references to events depickted in Fleming’s original stories. Sebastian Faulks’s 2008 Devil May Care (“Writing as Ian Fleming”) was a 1960s period piece.

Deaver had previously indicated his story would have an entirely new timeline but now, assuming the Amazon.com description is accurate, is even changing 007’s employer. We’ll see how it goes.

(We noticed this via Kevin Collette, so thanks, Kevin.)

Happy 58th anniversary Casino Royale; Sony confirms Bond 23 plans

Turns out today, April 13, is the 58th anniversary of the publication of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale.

So much has been written, there’s not much more we can add except to note this particular anniversary occurs as Bond is stirring from a bit of a slumber.

Next month will see the publication of Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver, the first 007 continuation novel since 2008’s Devil May Care. And work is proceeding on the to-be-titled Bond 23, which will debut on Nov. 9, 2012. Sony today officially announced it will co-finance and distribute Bond 23, according to the Hollywood Reporter’s Web site.

The deal was cut by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half of the 007 franchise. MGM’s bankruptcy last year helped delayed the Bond film.

Jeffery Deaver unveils Bond novel title, Carte Blanche

Jeffery Deaver disclosed via Twitter that his James Bond novel, featuring a rebooted 007, will be called Carte Blanche. You can see a photo of the author with copies of the novel BY CLICKING HERE. To view the official Web site of the novel, JUST CLICK HERE.

The book was announced with the working title Project X. Unlike other 007 continuation authors such as Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, Raymond Benson and Sebastian Faulks, Deaver’s book won’t even attempt to have the same continuity as the Ian Fleming originals.

Amis (writing under the name Robert Markham) saw his Colonel Sun novel published in 1968, three years after Fleming’s last novel. Gardner and Benson (whose novels were published from 1981 until 2002) “timeshifted” Fleming’s Bond into a later time period while still making references to Fleming stories. Faulks’s 2008 novel Devil May Care was done as a period piece (set in 1967) and Faulks was billed as “writing as Ian Fleming.”

Carte Blanche is due to arrive in the U.K. on May 26, two days before the 102nd anniversary of Ian Fleming’s birth, and a few weeks after that in the U.S. You can follow Deaver on Twitter. CLICK HERE TO SEE HIS TWITTER PAGE.