British novelist William Boyd sets new James Bond book in the late 1960s.
The best-selling British novelist told Reuters on Thursday (April 12) that he will put his knowledge of Cold War espionage to good use to pen the next adventure of the 007 character created by Ian Fleming, who has grown into a global book and film phenomenon.
Boyd is the third writer in recent years to be invited by the Fleming estate to write an official Bond novel. U.S. thriller writer Jeffery Deaver wrote "Carte Blanche" in 2011, and Sebastian Faulks' "Devil May Care" was published to mark Fleming's 100th birthday in 2008.
The author of "Restless", "A Good Man in Africa", "An Ice-Cream War" and movie and TV screenplays said the Cold War espionage genre runs through a lot of his writing. He has worked with three of the actors who have played Bond and has been close to the story since he was a boy.
"I had been very interested in Ian Fleming, the man, for quite a long time. I actually put him as a character in my novel 'Any Human Heart', which was filmed and so somebody acted Ian Fleming in the film version of my novel. I've written pieces about him. I knew somebody who knew him very well, all sorts of insights into the man. And there's a strange coincidence that three of the Bond actors - Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig - have all acted in films I'd written. I got to know Sean Connery very well. I know Daniel Craig really quite well. I don't know who's pulling what strings, it's very strange how it's come about, here I am actually writing a James Bond novel," said Boyd.
While Boyd has sworn to keep the details and title of the next 007 adventure secret, he said the book will mark a return to the classic Bond character in his mid-40s who is navigating the end of the swinging '60s. He declined to be drawn into conversation on any of the countries Bond might travel to.
"Well I think there will definitely be ladies (in the book) and that's part of the appeal of writing a Bond novel. There are certain things that have to occur. There has to be at least two love affairs, with very interesting, possibly deadly women, and also there's relationships with M, his boss, (M's secretary, Miss) Moneypenny, Q section that would make his various gadgets. You'd be a fool to not include these in your novel because they're what makes the world of Bond so beguiling and so, but you have to give it your own spin. What particular gadget will Q section come up with in my novel? You will have to wait and see," he said.
Boyd - whose latest novel "Waiting for Sunrise" came out in February - said his previous espionage-themed books and time spent in late 1960s London during his youth made him comfortable with the subject matter.
"There is a pressure but it's actually quite an exciting challenge, that's the way I'm looking at it. I've written two novels that deal with the world of espionage, and I've written pieces on (British author of espionage books) John Le Carre, for example, so I'm very familiar with that Cold War, World War II, world of secret service operations. So I'm not having to research that, I feel quite at home in it so to suddenly take Bond and put in it, the world I remember from 1969, I was a young lad but I remember it vividly, is not in a way daunting. I feel quite sure of myself that I know what I'm talking about," he said.
The challenge for Boyd is to try and put his own stamp on a global franchise that has seen Bond leap off the pages into a film series that celebrates a high-tech contemporary character -- currently played by Daniel Craig -- and the official literary figure who remains closer to Fleming's original template.
But says the Fleming family allowed him to make the book all his own, as long as it had the hallmarks of Bond: "You're very free to write your novel, that's what's attractive in it for me. There's no sense in having to copy Ian Fleming or somehow channel Ian Fleming, and produce a posthumous Fleming novel, it will be my novel. It will just be with a character everybody's heard of."
The book, which is yet to be titled, will be published in the U.K. in late 2013 by Jonathan Cape - Fleming's original publisher and an imprint of Vintage Publishing - and by HarperCollins in North America.
With the original James Bond movie "Dr. No" celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the release in October of new Bond film "Skyfall," there will be plenty of buzz to build on ahead of the novel's release.
"I'm trying not to think too much about the anniversary surrounding it but it is interesting to think it's (nearly) 60 years since the first Bond appeared (with the publication of Casino Royale on April 13, 1953). And here he is as global figure of Britain as the queen, or the Houses of Parliament, or beefeaters, or Princess Diana. He's somehow up there in that global perception of our country and I don't think Fleming ever anticipated that."
The Bond catalogue is one of the most prized in publishing, with global sales totalling more than 100 million copies.
Ian Fleming's estate said earlier this year it had signed a 10-year deal with the Random House Group to publish the James Bond back list both in print and e-book format.
Boyd said the negotiations with the Fleming estate took a bit longer to finalise than his decision to take up the challenge when he was first asked to be the next Bond author.