How marketing of 007 novels evolved over a decade

007 continuation novel authors William Boyd and Sebastian Faulks and friend, 2013.

It seems that Ian Fleming Publications has altered how it markets James Bond continuation novels over the past decade.

In 2008, in time for the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ian Fleming, IFP brought out Devil May Care with Sebastian Faulks “writing as Ian Fleming.”

You got the feeling that this was a bit of a lark for Faulks.

A decade ago, the author gave an interview to The Financial Times.

“Fleming’s guiding principle was to write without pausing to reflect or edit,” wrote Rosie Blau of the FT. “By contrast, Human Traces took Faulks five years. But for Devil May Care he followed Fleming’s lead and gave himself six weeks: ‘You don’t have those long moments where you ponder for about an hour: ‘What is he thinking now?’”

The thing is, Fleming did a lot of revisions once his draft was done and he headed home after his annual winter trips to Jamaica. If you’ve ever visited Indiana University’s Lilly Library where many Fleming manuscripts are stored, you can view how 007 creator’s marked them up extensively.

In other words, Fleming didn’t spend six weeks and shove out a novel. But you wouldn’t have gotten that impression from the 2008 FT interview.

After Faulks, IFP had a series of Bond one-offs by other “name” writers, including Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd.

Anthony Horowitz, author of Trigger Mortis and the upcoming Forever and a Day

Trigger Mortis, published in 2015, appeared to follow that pattern. Another “name” author, Anthony Horowitz, came up with a story that took place immediately after the events of Fleming’s Goldfinger novel.

For the 110th anniversary of Fleming’s birth, Horowitz has returned. His story again relates to the timeline of Fleming’s originals. This time, Forever and a Day is billed as a prequel to Casino Royale, Fleming’s first 007 novel.

The “writing as Ian Fleming” gimmick is long gone. Faulks was the only one of the recent continuation novel authors who tried it.

At the same time, Forever and a Day, isn’t getting the big launch that Devil May Care received a decade ago.

In 2008, the literary Bond could be found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean pretty quickly. This time out, Forever and a Day will be published in the U.S. more than five months after it debuts in the U.K.

Intense U.S. fans of the literary fans, of course, can arrange to buy a U.K. copy and have it shipped over. But it’s still not the event Devil May Care was in 2008.

Fleming’s papers: Life as it is vs. how it should be

Ian Fleming

This week, The Indianapolis Star (a paper where the Spy Commander worked for 17 years) had a feature story about how Indiana University is the home to a collection of Ian Fleming’s first-edition books and 007 manuscripts.

Understandably, this made its way around social media. Some British 007 fans decried how a library in the United States had custody of this material.

I understand the sentiment. But when you look at things how they are compared with how they should be, the situation becomes more complicated.

Ann Fleming

Specifically, Ann Fleming (1913-1981), the widow of Ian Fleming, had no use for James Bond.  She thought she was marrying the foreign editor of The Sunday Times of London.

Instead, she got married to an author who was in the process of creating James Bond.

Ian Fleming died in August 1964. Ann eventually sold off Ian’s collection of rare first-edition books (the primary interest of Indiana University’s Lilly Library). As part of the deal, she threw in many Ian Fleming manuscripts of James Bond novels.

As a chaser, the university received Fleming correspondence with the likes of (among others) Raymond Chandler, Allen Dulles and Robert F. Kennedy.

Anyway, during a discussion about this on Facebook, some British fans decried how the papers concerning the most British of heroes were housed in the United States.

I understand that. It is not what you’d expect.

The thing is, if Ann Fleming hadn’t sold the collection off, she probably would have just chucked it all in the trash. She wasn’t a Bond fan and it was taking up a lot of space in her home.

The question is not why are Fleming’s papers in the United States. The answer is known: Ann sold them off (for $150,000, according to The Indianapolis Star story).

The question is are the papers in safe hands? The Lilly Library at Indiana University has holdings including a Gutenberg Bible. The answer appears to be yes.