James Bond’s connections to Ireland

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Here’s to a long life and a merry one
A quick death and an easy one
A pretty girl and an honest one
A cold beer and another one!

In the spirit of the holiday, maybe point you in the direction of Ireland’s largest newspaper, the Independent. The venerable organ has recently put together a list of items connecting the Emerald Isle with the world of James Bond. Sadly, it’s not a long list, and to quote even a small portion would probably put us in violation of fair use laws. Nevertheless, you’ll probably enjoy checking it out (especially with a Guinness or two under your belt), and possibly even learn something new. So hie your fine self over to their website for some 007 Irish Connections, and read up on it.

The paper also had recently run an entertaining history of the James Bond film series,
Ah, Mr. Bond: We weren’t expecting you to last 50 years, which starts off with a terrific anecdote:

On a boiling hot afternoon in early 1962, four friends were walking along a beach in Jamaica when, from across a sand dune, a man shouted at them to lie down.

The man was Terence Young, director of the first Bond film Dr No and he was about to shoot the soon-to-be-famous scene in which Ursula Andress strides, goddess-like, from the sea, wearing a barely-there bikini and an elusive pout.

The quartet of pals had unwittingly walked directly between the camera and Andress as she was about to emerge from the surf. They were poet Stephen Spender, critic Peter Quennell, playwright Noel Coward — and Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond.

It’s one of our favorite behind-the-scenes stories of James Bond filmmaking, and a great way to start off an entertaining and informative read. Enjoy!

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.

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

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.

NPR on “Project X”

Jeffrey Deaver in London

Today’s update of the National Public Radio website has a little nugget of a piece of the upcoming “Project X” James Bond novel by Jeffrey Deaver.

(As an immediate side note, the article asks the question

The more we read about this summer’s so-so blockbusters and outright bombs, the more we think … wouldn’t it be nice to have a James Bond movie right about now?

Just imagine how a Bond movie would absolutely rule this summer’s mediocre box office!)

We’re not sure there’s anything in it that’s really stop-the-presses new for fans of the literary 007, but Glenn McDonald’s article Where’s James Bond When You Need Him? On Next Summer’s Bookshelves serves nicely to keep interest up.

(It also gives us the opportunity to say that the next issue of Her Majesty’s Secret Servant will be featuring a much more in-depth interview with the new James Bond author!) Watch this space…

Jeffrey Deaver discusses ‘Project X’ book

Jeffrey Deaver, commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications to write a new 007 novel, has disclosed a few details to the DR. SHATTERHAND’S BOTANICAL GARDEN Web site.

Deaver tells Shatterhand that “Project X” (the codename for the new book) is a “reboot,” with Bond being born in the early 1980s. Some characters will return but others will not. The author says “an extensive outline” is in place and that he will start writing the new novel soon.

Here’s the video interview Shatterhand did with Deaver. (Also here’s a shoutout to Jeremy Duns who linked it on his Facebook page, which is where we saw it):

UPDATE: The interview caused a lot of discussion on the message boards of the Commander Bond.net Web site and you can read some of it BY CLICKING HERE.

Meanwhile, here’s a BBC interview with Deaver back on May 28: