Questions about IFP’s new Double O novels

Ian Fleming Publications “Double O” logo.

Ian Fleming Publications has announced a new series of novels by Kim Sherwood intended to expand the James Bond literary universe.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

Who is Kim Sherwood? C&W, which represents her, has a biography.

Kim Sherwood was born in Camden in 1989 and lives in Bath. She pursued her MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, before teaching at UEA and the University of Sussex. Kim is now Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England, and teaches prisoners. She has written for MslexiaLighthouseGoing Down SwingingThe Telegraph, and elsewhere. Kim makes frequent media appearances, including BBC Radio 4 Front Row, BBC Bristol, and Griefcast. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @kimtsherwood

Kim began researching and writing Testament, her first novel, after her grandfather, the actor George Baker, passed away, and her grandmother began to talk about her experiences as a Holocaust Survivor for the first time. Testament won the 2016 Bath Novel Award, was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Award, shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel, and won the Harpers’ Bazaar Big Book Award.

In 2018, Kim received support from the Society of Authors’ Authors Foundation Grant for her second novel. Drawing on adventure fiction, the literature of roguery, travel and life writing, A True Relation will explore issues of gender, genre, and place.

Kim is also the author of the forthcoming Double 0 trilogy, and is the first woman to author a 007 novel. 

Her grandfather was George Baker? Yes, the same George Baker who played the real Sir Hilary Bray in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and a Navy officer in The Spy Who Loved Me. Baker also played one of the many Number Twos in the Patrick McGoohan series The Prisoner. Baker enjoyed a long career as an actor.

When will the new Sherwood novels be set?

During the present day, according to the author herself. She disclosed the information in response to a question on Twitter.

The new Sherwood trilogy of novels will come on line just as Anthony Horowitz is wrapping up his three-period-piece Bond novels (one set at the start of Bond’s career, one set in the middle and the upcoming third after the events of The Man With the Golden Gun novel).

How significant is this?

It demonstrates that Ian Fleming Publications continues to be interested in spinoffs. It has previously commissioned Young Bond novels and The Moneypenny Diaries. Meanwhile, Eon Productions, maker of the James Bond films, has said it’s not interested in Bond spinoffs.

What’s the future of 007 continuation novels?

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

007 authors William Boyd and Sebastian Faulks and friend.

Another James Bond novel has been published. So where does the series go from here? Ian Fleming Publictions (formerly Glidrose) has been all over the place.

From 1981 until 2002, continuation novels by John Gardner followed by Raymond Benson were published pretty much on a regular basis.

A new regime then took control of the literary 007 and that changed. The literary secret agent went on hiatus while novels featuring a young James Bond and The Moneypenny Diaries were published.

Since 2008, and the return of an adult Bond, Ian Fleming Publications has veered from period piece (Devil May Care) to total reboot (Carte Blanche) back to period piece (Solo).

The only thing the novels have in common is name authors: Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd.

The question is whether that strategy is working. There were reports (such as THIS ONE ON THE MI6 JAMES BOND FAN WEBSITE) that sales have tailed off in the U.K. since Faulks’s Devil May Care, published the same year as the 100th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s birth.

Novels written by John Gardner and Raymond Benson attempted to maintain a sense of continuity, with stories playing upon one another. The current IFP management seems to prefer one-off adventures that have no connection to each other.

Part of that stems from the choice of employing big-name authors — their James Bond will only live once.

“They find it fun and enjoyable but they’ve got their own books to write.” Corinne Turner, Corinne Turner, managing director of IFP, told The New York Times in a story PUBLISHED THIS MONTH.

Strictly a guess, but don’t expect another adult James Bond continuation novel soon. IFP has announced a new Young Bond series, with Steve Cole taking over from Charlie Higson. So IFP will be busy.

Also, based on The New York Times story, IFP doesn’t sound like it intends to change direction for the literary adult 007. So, if IFP opts to keep going for big-name writers, perhaps it will keep 007 off the market for a while to let demand build back up.

For the moment, there’s no incentive to make a major change. Eon Productions has made clear it has no interest in using continuation novels as the basis of 007 movies.

Eon co-boss Michael G. Wilson criticized the Gardner novels in the 1980s and ’90s. Meanwhile, John Logan, one of Skyfall’s screenwriters, was hired to write the next two movies, the first of which won’t be out until two years from now.

So the next time you read about a 007 author saying his story has “been sent to Eon,” the best-case scenario was the novel was placed on a shelf.