Friday, May 19, 2006

CHARLIE HIGSON reveals Young Bond 3 working titles & details

In an exclusive Q&A with fans on www.youngbond.com, author Charlie Higson has provided loads of info on Young Bond Book 3, including working titles, plot details, locations, and his ambition to make this third Young Bond novel a “Da Vinci Code for kids.”

Here’s the scoop from the man himself:

“The third book in the series will be out in January 2007 (just realised there’s a 007 theme to the year! Hope that’s a good omen). The working title for the book is ‘Shoot The Moon,’ but as we never stuck with the working title on the first two books it’s unlikely we’ll end up calling it that. Another working title is ‘The Big Smoke’ (which is the nickname for London – where most of the book is set).

I wanted to send James to a big city, as the first two books had mostly taken place in the countryside. I chose London because I live in London, I know it well and I love it. There are some fascinating unknown corners, and I wanted to do a sort of Da Vinci Code about the city, in which James has to follow a series of cryptic clues, to find out what’s going on and save the day.

As usual the book didn't end up anything like I imagined it was going to be, but there is still more of a mystery/clue solving element to this book than the first two. It’s as different to Blood Fever as that book was to SilverFin.

The background of the story is that an Eton master (Alexis Fairburn) has been kidnapped. He manages to send a coded message explaining what’s happened to him, and it falls into our hero’s hands. James then has 5 days to find out what’s happened to him before time runs out.

As I say, the story takes place over the course of one week in December, just before Christmas. (Another working title is ‘Six Days In December’.)

The missing master is a crossword fan (so he is good at making up clues) and a mathematician and the story is also about an early attempt to build a computer.

There’s lots of action, several nasty deaths, a car chase, a couple of explosions, a set of evil villains, a beautiful girl, and a climax in the old London docklands (when it was still full of ships).”

Later in the Q&A, Charlie spoke at length about this climatic location...

“In the 1930s the London docks were the biggest and busiest in the world. Docklands was known as the City Of Ships. People used to say there were so many ships in the Thames you could walk across their decks from one side of the Thames to the other without getting your feet wet. Now the whole area has been developed into a modern city (it’s where Canary Wharf and the City Airport are). The area used to be the heart of the old East End - The working class, cockney part of London. It was a really fascinating place with some very colourful characters, and I thought it would be a great setting for the climax of book 3.

Other parts of London in the books are the amazing Highgate cemetery in North London, the Hunterian museum at the Royal College Of Surgeons and Regent’s Park (Bond fans will know the significance of the park).”

The author also related how he got the ideas for each Young Bond novel, including Book 3...

“As I say, my initial idea was to do a sort of Da Vinci Code for kids. I wanted to have James solving some weird clues to find out what was going on. But as Bond is an action hero rather than a Sherlock Holmes type, I have put in more action and less clues. But I do still think that kids like the idea of clues and codes and secrets so there is quite a lot of that stuff still in there. I also wanted to write about some of the lesser-known corners of London. I got some of this in, but, again, the adventure story took over - I didn't want it to be guidebook, after all. I wanted to write about computers and code-breaking, so this is at the heart of the book. Proper computers weren’t built until the Second World War, but people were thinking about them in the thirties. I also wanted to bring back a character from an earlier book.”

Finally, Charlie teased that we will see the first Bondian “gadgets” of the series...

“...in book 3 there is an early computer, a pneumatic railway under London (driven by air pressure rather than electricity) and one of the villains has a combination weapon called an Apache – look it up on the internet and you’ll see what it is. Maybe one of you could e-mail in a picture if you find one.”

Fantastic stuff! And this is just a small sampling of what else is in this interview. To read the entire Q&A, head on over to www.youngbond.com and click on James’ trunk to enter the forums where the complete interview is posted.

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