Thursday, December 29, 2011

THE SECRET HISTORY OF YOUNG JAMES BOND, PART III

Name Game

Charlie Higson's third Young Bond novel would be somewhat of an experiment. First off, the book would be confined in time and space, taking place entirely in London over the course of a few days in December. It would also play host to a bold promotional idea that would excite fans, challenge the publishers, and bring some criticism from the press.

Higson explained his approach to his third book in a Q&A with fans on the official Young Bond website. "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."

Technology would also play a major role in the book, as Higson continued, "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 [Red Kelly]. It’s as different to Blood Fever as that book was to SilverFin."

Higson's working title was Shoot The Moon. "That idea of shooting the moon, of risking everything in order to win everything, seemed to me to sum up James Bond's character," he explained in 2006. "He’s willing to take risks like that and go out on a limb. I thought the title Shoot the Moon was very appropriate, but it was felt that it sounds a little bit wet. There’s something about the 'moon' sound that's a bit soppy, so that was rejected. That means that we’re now stuck in the position where we don’t know what the book will be called."


Six Days in December (referencing the compressed time frame), and The Big Smoke (slang for London), were also rejected. It was then that Puffin came on the idea to open up the title selection to fans.

The idea was proposed by marketing officer, Justin Renard, who explains, "As I was developing plans to promote the yet untitled book, there was a lot of correspondence discussing what to name it. It occurred to me that since fans of Young Bond consider him just as much a British Icon as they do James Bond, that it would be an original ploy to give them the chance to decide instead of us. I think my exact words are why should it just be to us who decide. Bond belongs to everyone. And once I pitched that initial idea, more great ideas started rolling in and the rest just sort of fell into place."

The competition was announced on the official Young Bond website on October 3, 2006. Fans could vote online for one of three possible titles: Double or Die, N.E.M.I.S.I.S. or The Deadlock Cipher. To help them decide, the site included an extract from the book and a note from Charlie Higson about the three titles. The winning title and cover art would be kept secret until the day of publication. Even the proof edition was jacketed only as "Young Bond 3" (which now makes for a nice collectible). The challenge was keeping the winning title a secret.

"Well as a matter of fact, the entire campaign timing was a challenge," says Renard. "The book was scheduled for publication just after the winter holidays and normally in book publishing all the advanced information for books—their title, jacket, spec, etc—are not only released to the public months in advance of publication, but the books themselves are printed well in advance. In fact book jackets can be printed as many as 6 months before the book goes out. We couldn't afford to do that and pull off this campaign, so we decided to throw all the old rules out the window."

Penguin assembled a task force to oversee the entire operation to ensure that not a single book would appear in advance of publication. Confidentiality agreements had to be signed to keep the outsourced marketing materials and distribution under wraps. All delivery staff were sworn to secrecy, and the factory workers who would do the individual book wrapping had to sign non disclosure agreements.

Still, Renard says, "There were so many close calls."

To facilitate the printing process, three different covers were designed with the three titles, all featuring the same skull and cross bones image. At the moment the votes were tallied, Puffin would call up the printer and tell them which one to proceed with.

(Interestingly, German publisher Arena Verlag went ahead and selected their own title, GoldenBoy, and used cover art featuring poker chips, a motif that actually seemed to fit the book better than the UK's ultimate skull and crossbones cover.)

But not everyone was a fan of the poll idea. Under the headline "Poor Show Puffin", UK newspaper The Observer published a stuffy criticism, calling the idea "an unprecedented and quite shameful failure of imagination. [...] The whole exercise does make the Browser despair at the sort of creatives publishers employ these days."

Puffin's Rebecca McNally fired back in a letter to the editor: "The Browser somewhat missed the point of our nationwide vote to decide the title of Charlie Higson's third Young Bond book. This is an initiative designed to encourage young fans to interact very directly with their favorite book brand in ways that they are wholly accustomed to doing with brands outside the book world - text voting, e-flyers and on-line polls are very much part of our readers' lives, and a natural way for them to express their opinions, share ideas with friends and be active members of a community linked by shared interests. It also gives us as publishers of books for children a real opportunity to listen to their opinions." McNally concluded, "If the Browser really wants to be part of the decision, he could always vote."

The title reveal event was held at Waterstone’s Piccadilly on Wednesday, January 3, 2007, and was attended by the UK press and fans, including twelve year old Billy Jones from Manchester who earned the opportunity to be named in the book when he triumphed at the Young Bond Stunt Academy in January 2006 (a Blood Fever promotion). Incredibly, the entire first printing were sealed inside a protective Mylar bag to conceal the cover and winning title. Even Charlie Higson didn't know what the title would be, although he privately harbored a preference for The Deadlock Cipher. With cameras rolling and cameras ready, Higson pulled the book free – "It’s Double or Die!"


"I’m still slightly trying to work out why Double or Die is called Double or Die," Higson would later confess. "But if you ask a load of kids to give a title to a book that they’ve never read, what do you expect?"

Double or Die became the #1 Children's Bestseller for the week ending January 13, beating out Disney's juggernaut High School Musical Book. In-store promotions helped boost sales, with Waterstone’s exclusive "Decryption Competition" offering fans the chance to "Be Young Bond" for a day. This included a chartered flight in a helicopter over London, an original collector's copy of The Times newspaper from 1935, and dinner for four in a West End restaurant.

Double or Die delivered on Higson's promise to be different book than the first two, and Bond fans could not help but notice that he appeared to be echoing Ian Fleming's original James Bond novels, with Double or Die sharing characteristics of Fleming's own third book, Moonraker. "I’m not slavishly thinking 'Right, I’ve got to this in the next one and this in the next one'", Higson would later explain. "But it’s quite fun to go through that same process that he went through when he was reacting to readers' comments and what people like or disliked in the books."

Young Bond visits "Paradice"
With its London locations -- including Highgate Cemetery, the Royal College of Surgeons, and an illegal casino and prizefight den called "Paradice" (which would receive a mention in Sebastian Faulks' 2008 centenary Bond novel Devil May Care) -- Double or Die is the Young Bond novel that showcases its period setting the best. Higson peppers the book with delightful slang and idioms of the period. Long forgotten brand names are resurrected like product placement circa 1933. The book also doesn’t skimp on the gore, especially during the exciting climax on the London Docklands and inside an abandon pneumatic railway. The fact that the henchmen, Wolfgang, comes away from each encounter with young James missing another body part is grisly good Bondian fun.

But the biggest surprise in Double or Die comes at the very end when we get a postscript featuring the adult James Bond driving his Bentley and reflecting on his earliest encounter with code-breaking and computers.

"Well, I have to tell you I’m of two minds as to whether or not it was a good idea," Higson would say after publication. "I think it was quite fun to do. Unfortunately, some of the kids reading it think 'Oh, so he’s not going to be a kid anymore in the books. He's grown up now is he?' But as soon as they see the next one they’ll know that’s not true."

Double or Die U.S. edition again featured original Kev Walker cover art

It turns out the "next one" would come sooner than anyone expected. Released as a promotional tie-in with Double or Die was the now collectible The Young Bond Rough Guide to London. The clever guidebook tie-in featured locations from the book along with modern London tourist destinations. But it was an advert on page 63 that rang the dinner bell for Young Bond fans. It announced that the fourth Young Bond novel would be released in just eight months!

Continue to Part IV


Saturday, December 24, 2011

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Here's wishing all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

THE JAMES BOND BEDSIDE COMPANION to be republished

Great news! Raymond Benson has revealed on his Facebook page that his classic James Bond reference book The James Bond Beside Companion will be republished in early January 2012. It will be released first as an eBook, followed by an audiobook and print edition a few weeks later. This is the updated 1988 edition that examines the Bond series up to The Living Daylights (in films) and Scorpius (in books). Cover art is below.

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

David Tennant chosen to read CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG FLIES AGAIN audiobook

PRESS RELEASE: The British actor David Tennant has been chosen by the family of Ian Fleming as the voice of fiction’s most famous flying car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. David has recorded the audiobook of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again, by Frank Cottrell Boyce, which will be available to download in time for Christmas.

The original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was written by James Bond creator Ian Fleming and Frank Cottrell Boyce’s version, published in October by Macmillan Children’s Books, is the first official sequel to the original tale of a magical flying car.

Lucy Fleming, niece of Ian Flemings, says: "We are thrilled that David agreed to read the audiobook. He is such a talented actor and his voice brings Frank Cottrell Boyce’s story to life with a wry humour and great characterisation. Chitty could not have been in safer hands with him behind the wheel! We hope that this audio book will add some extra sparkle as families embark on their own magical adventure this Christmas."

The audio download will be accompanied by an interview between Lucy Fleming, and David Tennant. In the interview he said: "The idea of a flying car is hard to better. I think we would all love to have a car that would take off, escape the traffic, and fly you to any country in the world."

Also in the interview Lucy Fleming and David Tennant pick up on the James Bond connections cleverly woven in to the story by Frank Cottrell Boyce. However neither reveal where they can be found, with Lucy adding how much fun it is for people to find them themselves. When asked if he could sum up Chitty in three words, David said it was "very clever, slightly surreal and hugely readable."

The audiobook will be available from the online retailers Audible and iTunes just in time for Christmas as an exclusive download from 21 December 2011 priced £10.99.

Since the publication of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again readers of all ages have been entranced by the family story, filled with wonderful characters, terrifying villains and exotic far-flung lands.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

First look at the CARTE BLANCHE "RED EDITION"

The good folks at MSE Books have sent over cover art for the special Carte Blanche "Red Edition" coming December 20.


Bound in red leather and limited to just 500 copies, the special edition will have a bullet embedded into the pages which will contain the limitation number. The price is £100 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk.

UPDATE: I've just received word that this edition is NOT signed as I originally reported. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Special CARTE BLANCHE "RED EDITION" coming Dec 20

Here's a nice little Christmas present!

The good folks at MSE Books in the UK (a great source for special editions and hard to find titles) have alerted me to an all-new special edition of Jeffery Deaver's Carte Blanche coming our way on December 20.

Known as the "Red Edition", it will be a hardcover bound in red leather with head and tail bands and a ribbion bookmarker. Limited to just 500 copies, it will have a bullet embedded into the pages which will contain the limitation number (now that's pretty cool).

The price is £100 and it is available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk. Unfortunately, there are no photos available yet, but I'm hoping to get some soon.

UPDATE: Photo revealed! Very nice. This appears to be another version of the Bentley Special Edition in red, and at a much more affordable price.

UPDATE 2: I've just received word that this edition is NOT signed as I originally reported. Sorry about that.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Final 2 JOHN GARDNER paperbacks appear on Amazon

Death is Forever ad from 1992
Amazon.co.uk now has listings for The Man From Barbarossa and Death Is Forever, which means ALL the John Gardner James Bond novels are now available to pre-order as new paperbacks from Orion.

These last two holdouts show an August 2, 2012 release date. However, the release dates for the Gardner reprints has been fluid, so this might change. So far Orion has only revealed cover art for the first six books.

Watch out our special Gardner Renewed page for links and the latest release date information on all the Gardner-Bond reprints in the U.S. and UK.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Penguin sends JAMES BOND back in time

In 2002/2003 Penguin Books reprinted all the Ian Fleming James Bond books in the U.S. as trade paperbacks with terrific "retro" cover art by Richie Fahey. This was the first time in over 30 years that a single U.S. publisher had released all the Fleming books in a uniform set (Signet prevented this by holding onto their original publishing rights to these last two books). It was also the first time the UK texts were made available in the U.S., including the unedited Live And Let Die.

But most interestingly, this set from Penguin was the first to acknowledge on their covers that these original 007 stories are set in the 1950s and '60s. Until this set, publishers either updated Bond's look on their covers (Jove) or concealed the period setting behind iconic Bondian imagery (Berkley). Yes, this is your father's James Bond -- and there's nothing wrong with that!

These covers proved to be very popular and Penguin would release them in the UK as mass market paperbacks in 2006 with new introductions (which included Bond authors Charlie Higson and Jeffery Deaver). A new collection of short stories, Quantum of Solace, was released as a trade edition with a matching Fahey cover in the U.S. in 2008.


Also read:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Asa Butterfield would like to play YOUNG BOND

Asa Butterfield, the young star from Martin Scorsese's HUGO, was recently asked what his perfect role would be, and he reportedly replied: "Young Bond! Or some sort of sci-fi movie."

Now, the media took this to mean that he would like to play James Bond 007 in the future, but that isn't what he said. Sounds to me like he was referring specifically to Charlie Higson's Young Bond series. Heck, at his age, I expect he's had more experience with the Young Bond novels than the James Bond films.

I'm all for it! He's a great young actor and looks the part. Goodbye Daniel Craig. Let the Butterfield era begin!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

THE SECRET HISTORY OF YOUNG JAMES BOND, PART II

Fever Pitch

With sales of the first Young Bond novel, SilverFin, hitting 125,000 in the UK and the book making the Top Ten Children’s Bestseller lists for 11 weeks, a second Young Bond novel was assured. The original plan was to have a different author pen each book, but once Charlie Higson delivered the manuscript for SilverFin, it was clear he was the man to write the entire series. "I was having too much fun to let anyone else have a go," says Higson.

The second Young Bond novel was originally scheduled to be released only six month after the first. In fact, an ad in the back of the first edition of SilverFin promises Book 2 in Fall ’05. This was mainly to take advantage of the release of the new James Bond film, Casino Royale. But when that film was delayed a year, Ian Fleming Publications decided they didn’t need to rush the release and pushed Young Bond 2 back to Jan ’06.

Charlie Higson's second Young Bond novel -- which had the working title Double M -- promised action in Sardinia with pirates, smuggling, a torture scene, and a major shootout climax inside a cave. "I wanted to set the second book somewhere reasonably exotic," Higson told the BBC. "James Bond is known for travelling to such places. But it had to be somewhere James could get to during the summer holidays. That’s why I chose the Mediterranean. I didn’t want to use somewhere overly familiar like Greece or Italy or Spain. People don’t know much about Sardinia. It’s an interesting island with a history of banditry. I’ve been there a few times and I really like it. I saw an artist’s impression of a cave there. Inside are the remains of a Neolithic village. I thought it would make a great villain’s lair."


On July 11, 2005 Puffin announced the official title of Book 2 on the Young Bond website: Blood Fever. This time a £120,000 marketing campaign would promote the book, including a television advertising campaign which Puffin noted was "a first for the literary James Bond." Francesca Dow, Managing Director of Puffin, said: "We are delighted with the success of SilverFin and anticipate a huge second bestseller in Blood Fever."

Dow had reason to be optimistic. It was clear to all who read the manuscript that with his second book Charlie Higson had written not just another fine Young Bond novel, but one the best James Bond continuation novels by any measure.

"I’d written most of Blood Fever—certainly the first or second draft—before SilverFin came out," Higson would later explain. "So it wasn’t influenced by the first book particularly. I just wanted to push it a bit more into the, kind of, Bond world."

For Higson, pushing it more into "Bond world" included introducing a gay member of James Bond's family with the characters of Uncle Victor and his partner Polyponi.

"It’s not anything that children would pick up on but that’s there for the adult readers," Higson explained in an interview. "They are obviously a gay couple, and why not? Ian Fleming’s best friend was Noel Coward and I think there’s a reference to him in the book. Ian Fleming moved in those circles and knew a lot of people like that. I was interested in that kind of upper class-gay-expats group that ended up in Tangiers a lot of them in North Africa and certainly around the Mediterranean. I quite liked that weird Bohemian slightly outside of society kind of setup. I didn’t want to labour the point though. Fleming was very open minded and as I say Noel Coward was one of his best friends, but he did have a few digs at homosexuals in his books which is perhaps slightly regrettable."

Blood Fever hit bookstores on January 5, 2006 and became the UK’s #1 bestselling children’s book for the week ending 14th January, knocking The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe off the top spot, and even bettering SilverFin which had only climbed as high as #8 on the same chart. The very effective UK cover art showed an extreme closeup of a mosquito drawing blood, continuing the "creepy critter" motif established with the eels of SilverFin.

Blood Fever would hold onto #1 for an amazing eleven weeks. A second edition was quickly released that boasted on its cover; "The Number One Young Bond Bestseller." In-store merchandise, such as a set of seven Young Bond collectors cards (from Waterstones) and a Young Bond pin (Ottakar’s), helped boost sales. Blood Fever was chosen by Nicolette Jones as the Sunday Times Children’s Book of the week. Once skeptical Bond fans praised the book as worthy of Fleming. Young Bond had arrived!

Blood Fever is a tougher, darker, much more violent book than SilverFin. The somewhat timid youngster of SilverFin has grown into a teenager with all the confidence, athletic skill, and luck of Ian Fleming's secret agent. He coolly defies the villain, finds kinship with bandits, and derives visceral excitement by diving off high cliffs and driving fast cars. When forced into a gladiatorial boxing match with a much larger boy, Bond relishes the opportunity to "get his fight on."


A highlight of Blood Fever was the promised torture scene, which involved James Bond being spiked to the ground and fed on by mosquitoes. Higson explained in detail how he came up with his torture scene in my second interview with him on CommanderBond.net:

"Well, obviously I’ve got to come up with a torture which isn’t too horrible because then we wouldn’t be allowed to use it in the books if it’s too graphic. I can’t have him having his testicle crushed in a nutcracker and things like that. So the idea of doing it via third party, by a mosquito, works very well. But it’s mainly having spent many holidays as a kid in the Mediterranean. Certainly for an English person, where we don’t have mosquitoes, one of the vivid memories of going on holiday in the Mediterranean is being bitten to shreds by mosquitoes. So I thought that’s something that kids could relate too. Always in the books I’m trying to think of things where a kid could think, 'Yeah, I can imagine that. I can picture being in that situation.' The thought of being tied down in the middle of a mosquito swamp is pretty unbearable, I thought. So it had some resonance."

The Young Bond series was a hit in the UK, but U.S. sales were less robust, despite two book tours by Higson and superb reviews, including one by the New York Times praising Blood Fever as the "far better" than the new Alex Rider novel, Ark Angel.

As with SilverFin, Blood Fever was released in hardcover in the U.S. by Miramax/Hyperion. This time, however, they didn't stick with the UK cover motif (despite using it on the proof edition) and instead commissioned original artwork by Kev Walker that featured Bond on the bow of a ship. A gun in his hand, which can be seen on the prototype artwork (right), would not make the final cover.

One oddity is that both SilverFin and Blood Fever were edited in the U.S. In SilverFin several gruesome passages are changed – such as when the eel comes out of the dead Meatpacker’s mouth (it emerges from his shirt collar in the U.S. edition). Even Bond’s innocent wrestling match with Wilder is toned down, removing a reference to Wilder’s "muscular legs gripping him like steel." All references to Red Kelly drinking beer and smoking are omitted, which results in almost a full missing page.

While the edits in SilverFin are somewhat understandable (considering Disney was the publisher's parent company), the edits in Blood Fever are perplexing. A particularly disappointing change for Bond fans is the omission of a clever nod to Fleming in Chapter 17. The villain hosts a dinner party where among the attendees is "Armando Lippe from Lisbon" – whom Higson confirmed was intended to be the father of Thunderball villain Count Lippe. But the U.S. edition, for reasons unknown, omits the name Lippe from the paragraph. Instead, Ugo’s dinner guest is now "Count Armando from Lisbon."

But the real issue behind the U.S. slow start seemed to lie with Miramax Books, who did not put nearly the promotional support behind the series as did Puffin in the UK. The reason for this was Miramax was undergoing a management shake up with parent company Disney. Matters came to a head when Harvey Weinstein split off his Miramax film production and distribution from Disney, leaving parts of the company, including Miramax Books, behind. With the issue resolved, IFP negotiated a new deal under Disney-Hyperion, but this would mean the series in the U.S. would trail a year behind the UK, a situation that would be exasperated when Puffin decided to shoot for two Young Bond novels in 2007.

Continue to Part III


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Amazon lists 4 more JOHN GARDNER reprints

Amazon.co.uk has listed four more paperback reprints of the John Gardner James Bond novels. Never Send Flowers, SeaFire, GoldenEye, and COLD all show a November 8, 2012 release date (although these dates have been shuffling somewhat). These terrific reprints are being released by Orion Books in the UK.

Only The Man From Barbarossa and Death Is Forever are missing in action.

Watch out our special Gardner Renewed page for links and the latest release date information on all the Gardner-Bond reprints in the U.S. and UK.

Monday, November 28, 2011

U.S. JAMES BOND movie tie-in editions

Okay, here's one I know many have been waiting for -- the U.S. movie tie-in editions and novelizations. It's a Bond literary tradition that goes back to the start of the film series in 1962 that the corresponding Fleming novels would be reissued in new editions that feature the film on the cover in some way. While various publishers took over tie-in duties, I'm treating these as their own "set". They start off straight forward enough, but things start to get tricky as the filmmakers started using short story and original titles. But before I get into the details, here are the paperbacks laid out in all their cinematic splendor.


Signet, who published all the Bond novels in paperback in the U.S., created movie tie-in editions for eight films total. A standout among the Signet tie-in's is You Only Live Twice (1967). For some reason, Signet did not create new cover art with poster imagery, but instead simply added a pink sticker to the cover of their standard paperback edition. Interestingly, you can also find copies of Signet's series Casino Royale with a tie-in sticker, even though they also did a proper tie-in cover with the '67 film.

Bantam, who took over paperback publishing duties from Signet in the '70s, released Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Live and Let Die (1973) in nice paperback tie-in editions. A hardcover book club edition of Diamonds was also released with this movie cover. Because Signet had retained the rights to the last four Fleming books, they returned to do the official tie-in for The Man With The Golden Gun in 1974 (I believe this cover was the first image I ever saw of the flesh and blood James Bond 007).

Ian Fleming did not want his 10th book, The Spy Who Loved Me, adapted into a film apart from the title, so likewise no tie-in was done. Instead screenwriter Christopher Wood wrote the first "novelization" of a Bond film under the title, James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me. It was released by one-time Bond publisher Warner Books. The novelization idea appears to have caught on and Wood returned to write a novelization of the next Bond film MOONRAKER (1979). This book was the first to be published by the new Bond publisher, Jove Books, under the title, James Bond and Moonraker.

Tie-in’s returned with 1981's "back to basics" Bond film, For Your Eyes Only. Jove Books released this collection of Fleming short stories as the last book in their paperback series with a banner touting the Roger Moore movie. Marvel also released a mass market paperback of their comic book adaptation. Signet did not do a tie-in for Octopussy (1983), the 13th Bond film. Unsurprisingly, no one went near the legal quagmire that was the unofficial Thunderball remake, Never Say Never Again (1983) with Sean Connery.

New paperback publisher Berkeley would reissue a copy of their colorful For Your Eyes Only series paperback in 1985 with a banner announcing the last Roger Moore Bond film, A View To A Kill -- although some might consider Ballantine's four Fine Your Fate paperbacks as the true tie-ins for that particular film. AVTAK was also novelized, in a fashion, by Judy Alexandrer as The James Bond Storybook of the Movie A View To A Kill (right). The kid friendly book was published by Grosset & Dunlap and the copyrighted page does list Glidrose Publications, so...

When the ball came back to Signet, they again passed on doing any kind of a tie-in for Timothy Dalton's 1987 debut Bond film, The Living Daylights (a title that's part of the Octopussy collection). This is a great shame because a look at a German tie-in edition shows us what could have been.

Novelizations returned with a vengeance for 1989s Licence To Kill (see what I did there?), the first Bond film to carry a non-Fleming title. Official continuation author John Gardner penned the book, which was published by Charter using a combination of movie artwork and the paperback series art that included the somewhat odd cover blurb: "Now a Major Motion Picture" (as if it had ever been anything else?). Licence To Kill would be the only novelization to be published in hardcover in the U.S. Not only is there a hardcover book club edition, but The Mysterious Press in New York published three different hardback editions (four if you include the special 26 "lettered" editions of the maroon cover), although their dust-jacketed edition was created primarily for sale in the UK.

The Mysterious Press Licence To Kill hardcovers

John Gardner came back to novelize Pierce Brosnan’s first Bond film, GoldenEye (1995). Raymond Benson, who took over continuation novel duties in 1997, provided novelizations for Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999), and Die Another Day (2002). All the Brosnan Bond novelizations where published by Boulevard Books.

Daniel Craig's debut Bond film Casino Royale (2006) marked a return to Fleming titles, and also marked the return of the traditional tie-in. Penguin, which had released all the Fleming books as trade editions in 2002 with attractive retro covers, released a new mass market edition of Casino Royale with a cover blurb saying, "Now A Major Motion Picture". For Quantum of Solace (2008), IFP took the unique step of creating a new collection of Ian Fleming short stories under this title. This can be thought of as the ultimate tie-in, although the U.S. edition by Penguin doesn't actually refer to the film at all.

Finally, there are several curious "hybrid" editions that are worth seeking out. As you can see by the photos below, these hybrids features the movie art, but all text referencing the films is stripped away. So far I've seen hybrid editions of Signet's Doctor No, Thunderball, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Signet hybrids

So what might IFP and Eon have planned for Skyfall next year? That's open for speculation.

Click here to see the UK James Bond tie-in editions.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

CARTE BLANCHE trade paperback released in UK (?)

Carte Blanche has been released in the UK as a trade paperback by Hodder & Stoughton...at least I think it has.

Amazon shows the released date of November 24, but also shows that it will ship in "2 to 4 weeks." (My own order from The Book Depository has yet to ship.) Also, I've seen no fanfare or adverts for this paperback release, and Amazon lists another paperback with this exact same cover art for release in May (I've been told this is the mass market edition).

It's all a little confusing, and is certainly a contrast to Devil May Care, which received new cover art and a major new ad campaign when it was released in trade paperback in 2009.

The U.S. gets the paperback edition of Carte Blanche in January.

Monday, November 21, 2011

THE SECRET HISTORY OF YOUNG JAMES BOND, PART I

On March 8, 2004, Ian Fleming Publications teased a major announcement on their website. It read:

"We know that many of you are waiting for news of our next publishing project and we’d like to thank you for your ongoing patience. We will be making an announcement shortly, so please keep watching this news page."

James Bond fans were abuzz. The literary 007 had gone into eclipse after Raymond Benson’s The Man With The Red Tattoo and Die Another Day novelization in 2002. Now it appeared new Bond books were on the horizon. But what kind of books would they be?

A month later, IFP revealed the big news:

"In Spring next year James Bond will return as we’ve never seen him before. Ian Fleming Publications Ltd is thrilled to announce that in March 2005 Charlie Higson will take us back to where it all began in the first of his novels introducing the teenage years of the boy who was to become 007."

Bond fans were mortified.

"Oh dear God!" cried one post on CommanderBond.net, the largest online James Bond fan forum with a highly vocal and opinionated membership. Others joined the pack: "IFP, what are you thinking?" -- "Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad idea." -- "No Good Will Come of This" -- "The end of James Bond as we know it!"

The fans had reason to be skeptical. This wasn’t the first time James Bond has been aimed at the kids market. In 1967 Glidrose published The Adventures of James Bond Jr. 003, a book that featured James Bond's nephew, and Eon Productions had produced a James Bond Jr. cartoon series in the early 1990s, which included a plethora of tie-in merchandise. Both projects did not find great favor among the public or fans, so the idea of yet another "Junior James" series seemed ill-advised.

The choice of Charlie Higson, a well-known UK comedian and star of the popular The Fast Show, did not necessarily quell fears. True, Higson had written three critically acclaimed adult thrillers and won a James Bond trivia contest on the UK TV quiz show, IQ, but it was unclear of he had the chops to write a James Bond novel, let alone a proper children’s book.

Suspicion about the concept rained even in the popular media as talk show host Jonathan Ross spared with Higson over the concept on his BBC radio show:

ROSS: James Bond for kids?

HIGSON: Yep.

ROSS: Shame on them and shame on you!

HIGSON: No it’s very… it’s proper… cause..

ROSS: James Bond is for grownups!

HIGSON: But it’s James Bond as a kid.

ROSS: No don’t do it Charlie.

HIGSON: I’ve done it.

ROSS: Don’t do it.

HIGSON: It’s a very very good book…

ROSS: Then don’t send it in.


HIGSON: Well it’s done.

ROSS: I don’t want to see James Bond as a boy.

HIGSON: Don’t read it then…
ROSS: …well maybe with you writing it, actually it might work.

HIGSON: No, it does.



Young Bond Begins

The origin of what become known as the Young Bond Series lay in the reorganization of Glidrose into Ian Fleming Publications in the late 1990s. Until then, Glidrose, holder of the James Bond literary copyright, was owned by Booker PLC, a conglomerate that also owned the Agatha Christie estate and was involved in numerous other businesses. About three years into Raymond Benson’s tenure as the official Bond author, the Fleming family bought back the 51% of Glidrose from Booker and changed the name to Ian Fleming Publications (IFP). The new regime oversaw the last few Benson books as they started considering new ideas, including the idea to do a series of James Bond books aimed at the lucrative children’s market.

Charlie Higson
Kate Jones, a talented editor and publisher, played a critical role in the creation of Young Bond and the selection of Charlie Higson as author. Jones had worked with Higson on his four adult thrillers, King of The Ants, Happy Now, Full Whack and Getting Rid of Mr. Kitchen. "I learnt a great deal about pacing and structure from Kate and her suggestions were always very welcome and always improved the books," says Higson. Jones, who had courageously beat cancer in the '90s, developed the relationship between IFP and Penguin, which resulted in fresh reprints of all the Ian Fleming novels in attractive new paperbacks in 2002. She then joined IFP as a consultant and worked with them on their ongoing project to relaunch the literary side of Bond.

Higson recalls, "I was working on a sitcom [Swiss Toni] some time around 2002/2003 when Kate approached me with a top secret project. She explained that IFP wanted to remind the world that Bond had started life on the page, and also what a good writer Fleming was. Alongside a campaign to put Fleming back in the limelight, IFP were looking for respected ‘name’ authors to revamp the literary side of Bond, starting with a new series for younger readers. Kate had come to me because she thought I might be right for the job – although I was only one of a number of different writers she approached (including Anthony Horowitz, who, luckily for me, turned them down)."

Jones explained to Higson that they were looking for an established writer of either children’s books or adult thrillers who was a fan of Bond and Fleming, who understood boys, who was marketable, and would be willing to work within a strict framework. "I guess I ticked enough boxes for them because I got the job," says Higson. "Although at the time the plan was to have a different author write each installment."

Jones laid out IFPs outline of the proposed series to Higson. "I was to stick, as far as possible, to Fleming’s timeline and fit in with any facts presented in the original books. I was to set the series at Eton with a regular cast of characters. Bond was not to be a teenage spy, but he should have an important teacher in his life whose surname began with an M!"

At first there was debate about how much the "James Bond" name should be used in these new books, especially if there was any ambition to spin them off into a film series. It was suggested that maybe Higson could come up with a nickname for Bond that could be used in substitution. But Higson rejected this idea, feeling this boy had to be "James Bond" in name or the series really wouldn’t work. Nevertheless, there remained marketing restrictions on using the James Bond name on the covers, so Young Bond became the official brand name of the series (some foreign publishers, such as Arena Verlag in Germany, used the "James Bond" name regardless).

In his own books, Ian Fleming was vague about about Bond's age, and never gave him a firm birthdate. The Young Bond team decided that Bond would be born in 1920 and the first book would find him in 1933 at the age of 13 (although the final book never actually states this). Respect for Fleming’s original literary canon would be key and a creative control that all would take very seriously. According to Higson,"It was decided very early on that James should very much not be a teenage spy figure; we didn’t want to go down the cheesy Cody Banks/Spy Kids route. We wanted him to be a real boy at a real school." The bible would be Fleming’s obituary of Bond which appeared in You Only Live Twice. In it, Bond’s Eton school days are recounted:

"It must be admitted that his career at Eton was brief and undistinguished and, after only two halves, as a result, it pains me to record, of some alleged trouble with one of the boys' maids, his aunt was requested to remove him." - Ian Fleming, Chapter 21, Obit, You Only Live Twice

Higson started his research at Eton. "The Flemings have a good relationship with the senior librarian there, Michael Meredith, who has incidentally created a fine Ian Fleming archive in the library, including many first editions. I think the college is quite proud of its associations with James Bond." Higson also consulted outside sources. "There is a wealth of material published about Eton, much of which I have read, but the most helpful book was one written by Bernard Fregusson [Eton Portrait, 1937] about what it was like to be a boy at the school in the early thirties."

Higson decided that eels would play a major roll in the book, and not just because they terrified his wife. "I needed a bad animal," he explained in an early interview. "Finding a new dangerous animal for a Bond project is tough. We’ve had all the obvious ones -- octopus, giant squid, tiger, sharks, crocodiles etc. etc. But I wanted something scary that kids could relate to and might actually think they could come across in their own lives. Eels were the obvious choice. But, as eels are fairly benign and would never attack a human, I had to make them mutated eels, which led me to some of the mechanics of the plot."

As with the other continuation novels, the title would be a collaborative/committee decision. "My working title was Out Of Breath," says Higson. "But this was a little too Elmore Leonard. We wanted something that sounded suitably Bondian but wasn’t too specific in it’s meaning. Between IFP, myself, the publishers and everyone else involved we came up with loads of titles – and in the end SilverFin was the one most of us agreed on." It was a title Higson felt perfectly captured the essence of a young James Bond novel. "It’s silver -- not quite gold."

Higson submitted his first draft to Kate Jones, who worked with him on the structure and the essential Flemingesque qualities of the book. IFP then had their read and made a few helpful comments. "For instance," recalls Higson, "my first draft had James with a dog – the family explained that Ian had hated dogs, so the dog bit the dust!"

The manuscript was then submitted to Puffin where it was edited by Rebecca MacNally. Higson points out, "Rebecca was less concerned with the authentic Bond/Fleming elements of the book, she was happy to let IFP worry about that side of things. She was a hugely experienced children’s editor – and let’s not forget that the target audience for these books is ten year old boys – and she just wanted to make sure that SilverFin worked as a novel for kids."

Higson had finished SilverFin before the series was ever announced to the public, and he faced his critics in his first pre-publication interview (with your truly), where he candidly revealing that he was well aware of the negative reaction from fans.

"I look at all the websites and have been following the arguments with great interest," said Higson. "It’s useful to know what people are thinking, though, of course, these books are aimed at a younger readership than the fans who take part in the forums. I fully understand the fans’ reservations and scorn – I’d have felt the same way if I’d heard that someone else was doing this project – but I hope I can prove a few people wrong."

Cover art for SilverFin, featuring an eel motif that IFP planned to use worldwide, was revealed on August 18, 2004. According to Penguin marking officer Justin Renard, "The look established with SilverFin was considered the perfect formula of clean, sharp design that is accented with a silhouette of an iconic creature to represent the darkness inside and imply that this will be no day at the beach."

Also revealed where plans for an ambitious publicity campaign by UK publisher Puffin Books. The "inescapable" £50,000 advertising blitz would include in-store displays, street posters, "invincible" trade advertising, bus-supersides, and a "Young Bond privileged access microsite." Puffin also confirmed that the second Young Bond adventure would be released in November 2005.

The U.S. rights were scoped up by Disney owned Miramax Books, a sale that garnered newspaper headlines. "The Miramax name coupled with the James Bond brand is a powerful combination," stated Miramax topper Harvey Weinsten. "It is an honor to be connected to the Ian Fleming estate and to be involved in one of the world’s most recognizable icons." (However, unforeseen circumstances would prove this partnership to be less than satisfactory, as we shall discover.)

SilverFin hit UK stores as a trade paperback original on March 3, 2005 to strong sales and excellent reviews. Even the most vocal critics had to admit that the book was a respectful of Fleming and successful as a James Bond novel for kids. The eel cover art was given a sparkling treatment on the first edition. In the U.S., SilverFin was released as a hardcover on April 27, 2005.

Talk of a film started almost instantly.

The Guardian reported that that the success of SilverFin "has quickly provoked fierce competition between film-makers" and that companies like Miramax and DreamWorks where making "heavy pitches." The paper also reported British film companies had approached the estate, including Heyday Films, the English company that makes the Harry Potter series for Warner Bros. The tabloid press quickly started speculating who would play the young James Bond, most suggesting (unimaginably) that Daniel Radcliff was a lock for the part. Some reported that a deal was already in place.

However, Corrine Tuner, currently the managing director of IFP, who along with Kate Jones and Zoe Watkins oversaw the creation of Young Bond, responded to the reports; "We are not doing a film deal yet because we are confident that the books can stand alone for a while. Book buyers everywhere keep telling us they would buy the title even if it was nothing to do with a strong brand like Bond, simply because it is so well written."

Charlie Higson would add, "We’ve certainly had a lot if interest from filmmakers. But we want to get the books established first and not rush into making films, otherwise people only know your characters from the films, and they may be different from how they are in the books."

The truth was while many film companies and filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg, did express serious interest in Young Bond, making a deal that didn’t involve Danjaq/Eon Productions -- who own the cinematic rights to 007 -- was complicated. The plan would remain to see the book series a success before films were even explored, and despite occasional flare up in the media (who continued to flog the idea of Daniel Radcliff well into his 20s), the idea of a Young Bond films series remained (and remains) in a state of limbo.

But in 2005, books are what mattered, and while SilverFin silenced the critics, what came next would turn many into die hard fans.

Continue to Part II


Thursday, November 17, 2011

JAMES BOND in the '90s: the complete Coronet set

In 1995 Coronet revamped the James Bond series in the UK with vibrant new covers by David Scutt, Bill Gregory and Paul Robinson. This would be the last set to include Colonel Sun and the only set to include John Gardner and Raymond Benson titles. This series overlapped the end of the Gardner era and the beginning of Benson, so a handful of their first editions received the series treatment, as did two novelizations (kinda).

This Coronet series is notable in that it is the most complete set of James Bond books to date, and maybe the most complete set we'll ever get. Aren't they glorious!


There are a few curiosities in the Coronet set to watch out for. First and foremost are the two editions of Dr. No. According to some fine detective work by Devin Zydel on CommanderBond.net, rejected artwork by Bill Gregory depicting a knife in Honey's (?) hand was "mistakenly" used on the 9th edition only. Copies of Dr. No before and after feature the more common spider art by David Scutt. Not sure why this happened (or even how it could happen), but I personally prefer the knife artwork. This rogue Dr. No is definitely one to seek out (ISBN 0-340-41899-0).*

Coronet curiosities

Another paperback of interest is a 2003 omnibus containing the first three John Gardner books. Even though this was published well after the Coronet series had ended (and IFP were reissuing the books with new covers through Penguin), the book uses the old series logo and artwork from their 1995 For Special Services.

There was also an early plan to release John Gardner's novelization of GoldenEye with this series artwork (the prototype cover featured a bearded Pierce Brosnan). While the final Coronet GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies paperbacks would ultimately sport stand alone cover art, the spines would retain the James Bond Coronet series logo, so they still line up pretty well on the shelf with the other books and could still be considered part of this series. (There are two variations of TND, but I'll get into that when we get into novelizations as a set.)

Finally, for us completists, in 1998 a special Tomorrow Never Dies VHS box set was released in the UK that included a copy of the Raymond Benson Zero Minus Ten paperback from Coronet. The paperback is identical to the retail version, except for the lack of a barcode and ISBN on the back and the inclusion of the words: "Promotional Copy Not For Resale" (right). It's actually noted on the copyright page as being a first edition, so...

On a personal note, I've never been able to locate a copy (at a reasonable price) of Coronet's Win, Lose Or Die for my own collection. I believe it's the only John Gardner paperback that I'm missing. Can anyone help a brother out?

*UPDATE: Stewart Larking, the man who designed all these covers, got in touch with me to share The inside story of the two DR. NO covers.

Also read:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

IAN FLEMING'S naval jacket to be auctioned Nov 22

A naval jacket worn by James Bond creator Ian Fleming during World War II will be auctioned at Bonhams in London on November 22, 2011. Here is the full description from the Bonhams auction website.

Lot No: 461
FLEMING (IAN)
Naval jacket worn by Fleming during the Dieppe Raid of 1942, whilst he was serving in the Naval Intelligence Division, a double-breasted navy blue jacket with deep red lining, eight buttons, stretched fabric collar and pocket trims; together with the accreditation card of John F.C. Bryce, as a foreign correspondent on the North American Newspaper Alliance, SIGNED BY FLEMING in his capacity as European Vice-President (2) 
Estimate: £5,000 - 7,000, € 5,800 - 8,100

Footnote:
COMMANDER FLEMING'S NAVAL JACKET. At the outbreak of war Ian Fleming joined the Naval Intelligence Division, where he was "quickly promoted from lieutenant to commander. He liaised on behalf of the director of naval intelligence with the other secret services. One of few people given access to Ultra intelligence, he was responsible for the navy's input into anti-German black propaganda" (ODNB). Primarily based at the Admiralty's Room 39, Fleming accompanied the allied troops as an observer on the "Dieppe Raid", an assault on the German held port carried out on 19 August, 1942.

Provenance: Gifted by Ian Fleming to Ivar Bryce, a friend since his school days at Eton. Fleming dedicated Diamonds Are Forever to him and borrowed his middle name (Felix) for James Bond's best friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter. The dust-jacket of Diamonds featured an illustration of a diamond known as "Afghanistan" which belonged to Ivar's third wife Jo Bryce, and many of the local names in the book are based on Bryce's farm in Vermont where Fleming was a regular visitor; Bryce's niece Janet married David Mountbatten, third Marquess of Milford Haven, and the jacket is being sold by his great nephew, Lord Ivar Mountbatten.
Exhibited: For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond Exhibition, Imperial War Museum, April 2008-March 2009.

The auction also includes two first editions of Casino Royale (Lots 456 & 457). Auction estimates are between £4000 and £8000 per book.


UPDATE/RESULTS: The jacket sold for £13,750 ($21,417). The better condition Casino Royale also sold for £13,750 ($21,417). The other Casino grabbed £4,750 ($7,399).

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