MI6 talked to Young James Bond author Charlie Higson about how the character's obituary by Ian Fleming will be explained in book five....

SilverFin: In Conversation With Charlie Higson (6)
2nd January 2006

MI6 talked to Charlie Higson earlier in 2005 about his work on the Young James Bond series. Speaking for the first time to a James Bond website, Charlie Higson discussed his work on SilverFin and the future of the Young Bond series in this serialized MI6 interview.

How will you approach Fleming's back-story of Bond at Eton and how he was expelled?

Well... there's the rub! The IFP presented me with the plan for Eton to be the background for all the books. Two of the things that attracted them to the Eton scenario was that a) it is quite an extraordinary and exciting school, and b) that it's right next to Windsor Castle. Without giving too much away, the Royal Family will come in to it later on. But it does present the problem that his obituary says that he was booted out after two terms.

The reason they wanted to keep Eton on was that they felt kids liked books in a series to be along the same lines - the adult books are along the same lines. We like the fact that he goes in to see M, flirts with Moneypenny, receives his mission… you don't want that changed.

So Eton acts like the Secret Service in a way, in that it's always in the background for Bond, and it's a springboard for things to happen.

But it does come back to that problem with the obituary...

So the first thing in my defence is that Fleming himself was not consistent in his backstory or his detail, sometimes because he didn't remember what he'd written in one book to the next.

In the obituary, the implication is that the incident with the maid was sexual; we are lead to presume they were having sex. But in one of the short stories he does say that Bond lost his virginity in Paris at the age of sixteen. So, okay there may have been a sexual element perhaps, but it conflicts with the other details.

 
Above: Hellbore's Castle from SilverFin

As for the fact that it happened after two terms... Well, my main thing in my defence, and I think it's pretty cast iron, is that the obituary was written by the head of the Secret Service about a spy who was actually active around the world at that time. Now what are the chances of the obituary being the full truth? It's pretty slim, wouldn't you say? Which is one argument that is doesn't fit with other things Fleming had written in previous books.

The fifth book involves elements of a fairly major nature. Basically, it is decided that things need to be hushed up, kept out of the way and swept under the carpet, official secrets, the government and the establishment closing ranks and all that, trying not to let out what has really happened, and that Bond is never allowed to speak about it ever again. Which is why he never mentions it when he's an adult! And so, they actively go about changing the dates and circumstances. He does leave early. It does involve an incident with the boys' maid. But so that the general public and the newspapers can 't put two and two together, the exact dates get altered and obscured, so that James's activities and involvement never come to light.

I hope that people can have a sense of fun about it.


Above: Wilder Lawless
 

But there will always be a few people who take it all too seriously...

Yes, I know, and until the fifth book is written this is constantly going to come up. But as I said, Fleming changed his facts as the books went on, so the Secret Service's obituary is not going to be an exact account of his life.

I hope to have fun with the maid incident and show that it was a lot bigger and more complex than what was presented in the obituary, and that the obituary is a deliberate attempt to cover the truth up. And I hope it will also help explain some of his attitude towards women in later life.

So you're hoping to set up some of his character traits later on?

Yes, as far as I can. I was keen in the first book that he got cut down the face at one point, and I wanted that to be the scar that he has in later life. But upon reading the Fleming books more closely, it does imply that he didn't get the scar until he was older. There's a bit where he's looking in the mirror and he says that he as a younger boy would not recognise the scar and the cold eyes and the cruel mouth, so the implication is that he didn't get the scar until later, so I had to hold off on that one. So my scar heals! But it's a foreshadowing of what is to come.

Are you definitely confirmed for the third, fourth and fifth books as there were reports you were only 100% for the first two?

Yes, well they are very happy with what I'm doing. If all goes well and the books are successful and popular then I'll carry on. But obviously, if things go wrong....

There's a parachute clause?

Yes [laughs]... I think there needs to be with anything like this. Five books like this is a major undertaking. We all have to see how it pans out. That said, the five books are planned and plotted.

Would it be too far fetched to start thinking outside those five books?

Ha ha, well, IFP have lots of plans for ways of doing other things with the character. But those plans at the moment don't involve me.

Which is your favourite movie?
It's probably a coin toss between Dr No and You Only Live Twice. Dr No because in the 60's when I was a kid films were shown as double bills, so whenever they brought out a new Bond film I got to see Dr No a few times more than the others. Connery was physically at his best in it too. In terms of what I enjoyed most when it came out, it would be You Only Live Twice. It set so many of the classic Bond elements.

What did you think of Die Another Day?
To be honest, I haven't seen it! I was up for going to see it, but I got put off. I thought, I'm not going to enjoy this - I can't go and see a film with an invisible car. I'd seen clips of that bad computer generated water skiing sequence, and I thought this was just going to spoil the whole Bond thing for me. I will get around to watching it though. But I didn't go to see it because I am a fan. I thought, uh oh, this is another Moonraker. I think maybe Eon Productions think they went a bit too far with it too and are reconsidering what they get up to.

Stay tuned to MI6 for the next installment. Many thanks to Charlie Higson.

Young Bond Novels
SilverFin
Blood Fever
Double Or Die
Hurricane Gold
By Royal Command

  Essentials
Young Bond Central
Young Bond Articles
Young Bond News
Play Young Bond Games

Interviews
SilverFin : 01 - 02 - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06
Blood Fever : 01 - 02 - 03 - 04
Double Or Die : 01 - 02 - 03
Hurricane Gold : 01 - 02 - 03 - 04 - 05
By Royal Command : 01 - 02 - 03