Sunday, December 2, 2012

"It's an ordinary mission that goes hideously wrong."


William Boyd has provided some information about his upcoming James Bond novel in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. The mention of an "ordinary mission" that "goes hideously wrong" is new and intriguing. Here's the section of interview dealing with Bond.

You're also working on the new James Bond novel. Can you tell us anything about it? 
I am being annoyingly tight-lipped. It's 1969 and Bond is 45 years old. This is not the young hotshot spy anymore, this is a man who's maybe not quite as limber or confident as he was in 1953. There's no mountains full of atom bombs or a bubonic plague that will destroy the world. It's an ordinary mission for a middle-aged spy that goes hideously wrong.
Did you get a lot of leeway in terms of the story? 
You have total freedom. There's no point in asking somebody like me or [Devil May Care author] Sebastian Faulks to write a Bond novel if you then say "You have to do this." There are certain boxes you have to tick, but within those relatively few parameters you're free to invent your own story. That's one reason I went back to read all the novels again. In those novels was a lot of information about Bond and his tastes, his moods, his dark side. So that's what I've really plundered the novels for rather than cars with ejector seats.

William Boyd's Bond novel will be published in Fall of 2013 by Jonathan Cape in the UK and HarperCollins in the U.S and Canada.

13 comments:

  1. Oh how things have changed for the new breed of continuation authors...

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  2. A past it agent involved in an ordinary mission that goes hideously wrong? I just hope it doesn't involve Viagra...

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  3. Intrigued (or not) that Boyd doesn't use Deaver and his modern Americanised tripe as a reference point, but does Faulks and his half arsed effort...

    Still, fingers crossed, eh?

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  4. I don't care for the whole "return of the old gunslinger" thing. I don't think that's an effective way to pitch Bond, especially as I don't think 45 is all that old. But I do really like the "ordinary mission gone hideously wrong". There's something to that.

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  5. Interesting that he's given free reign. I always thought that the authors had very stringent guidelines. Man, I hope Bond doesn't wind up diffusing a bomb while dressed as a circus clown, a la "Octopussy".

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    1. Why is Bond defusing an atomic bomb dressed as a clown any less Bondian than skiing down a mountain in a cello case or using a row of crocodiles as stepping stones? The bomb defusing scene in Octopussy has great suspense, urgent dialogue, awesome stunt driving, tense music and a real sense of relief when the timer went off with a second to spare. He could have been dressed as a nun, it still would have worked. In my opinion.

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    2. There's Film Bond and there's Book Bond. Film Bond can ski down a mountain in a cello case, step over crocodiles, or diffuse a bomb in a clown outfit, but I usually expect the continuation Bond books to take 007 a little more seriously. Just my opinion.
      I only mentioned the above because I recall reading ( I think it was an interview with John Gardner's son, Simon) that JG had strict guidelines from Glidrose Publications as to what he could and couldn't include in his continuation books. If the modern continuation authors are to be given free reign, then that's great, but I don't want to read a Bond book that puts our hero in ridiculous situations. After all, we have several Moore and at least one Brosnan film that did that.
      Again, just my opinion.

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  6. I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait! That's a great tease while revealing pretty much nothing. I'm feeling really good about this one, though...

    David, I think he probably referenced Faulks because he seems to be in the same "series" as Faulks. Even though IFP hasn't specifically spelled it out, it looks to me like every other book will be a "literary" author writing about Bond in the past, and every OTHER book will be a contemporary thriller writer writing about Bond in the present (or maybe will always be Deaver). So it would make sense for Faulks to reference the last person to write about the Bond of the Sixties. At any rate, he's already shown far, far more respect for the character and for Fleming in interviews than Faulks did at this point, when he merely used interviews as opportunities to remind the world that he was so much better than Bond and was merely having a lark by slumming in waters so far beneath his literary brilliance. Boyd, by contrast, seems both respectful of Fleming AND excited to be writing Bond himself! And his approach already sounds more creative than Faulks' failed attempt to write "as" Fleming.

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  7. It is just me, but doesn't the part of " a ordinary mission that goes hideously wrong" resembles a bit Skyfall?

    Nevertheless, I am excited to see the result of Boyd's take
    on Bond. He seems to understand Fleming. And it seems that he's enjoying writing a Bond novel.

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    1. The ordinary-mission-going-hideously-wrong scenario is a spy story staple, used from "The Sandbaggers" series from the early '80s through to "Spooks". From John Buchan (don't quote me on that) through to John Le Carre. What's going to be interesting is the way in which Boyd will do it.
      I'm looking forward to this one, Mr. Boyd.

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  8. At the end of the day, any new book Bond is better than none, isn't it? We'll all still read it!

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  9. Tanner, I suspect Boyd sees more in his own career that is like Faulks - nationality, background, style, output, etc - rather than the run-of-the-mill-thriller-centric American output of Deaver. However, the point I was trying to make is that if Boyd is drawing parrallels with Faulks, he seems to be ignoring the fact the Faulks book wasn't, er, very good.

    I hope Boyd doesn't fail to see that Faulks is to be improved on, rather than aspired to.

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    1. I'm sure any great fan of Fleming, a writer or a reader, would come to the same conclusions. Devil May Care was a 'best of' compilation, quite lazy in places. I doubt anyone could aspire to it. If anything, it should be used as an inspirational motivator - "let's see you do better" sort of thing! To which most authors worth their salt would say "Sure. That won't be difficult.".

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