Sebastian Faulks has been named as the author of the new James Bond novel "Devil May Care", due out on 28th May 2008 to coincide with the Ian Fleming centenary...

Sebastian Faulks Named As Centenary Novelist
10th July 2007

Sebastian Faulks, one of Britain’s most admired novelists, is announced today as the author of a brand new James Bond novel, to be published next year by Penguin Books in the UK and Doubleday in the US. The book, entitled Devil May Care, will be published to mark the centenary of Ian Fleming’s birth - 28th May 2008. Ian Fleming Publications Ltd announced in July 2006 that a new Bond book had been commissioned and now, after a year of speculation, the author and title are revealed.

Faulks said, "I was surprised but flattered to be asked by Ian Fleming Publications last summer if I would write a one-off Bond book for the Ian Fleming centenary.I told them that I hadn’t read the books since the age of 13, but if when I re-read them I still enjoyed them and could see how I might be able to do something in the same vein then I would be happy to consider it."

After almost five years researching Victorian psychiatry for Human Traces, there was something attractive about a jeu d'esprit which, if I followed Fleming’s own prescription, I could write in about six weeks. On re-reading, I was surprised by how well the books stood up. I put this down to three things: the sense of jeopardy Fleming creates about his solitary hero, a certain playfulness in the narrative details, and a crisp, journalistic style that hasn’t dated."

Faulks continued, "I tried to isolate the essential and the most enjoyable aspects of the books. Then I took that pattern and added characters and a story of my own with as much speed and as many twists as I thought the reader could bear. I developed a prose that is about 80 per cent Fleming. I didn’t go the final distance for fear of straying into pastiche, but I strictly observed his rules of chapter and sentence construction. My novel is meant to stand in the line of Fleming’s own books, where the story is everything."

 
Above: The new 007 novel by author Sebastian Faulks will pick up from Ian Fleming's last James Bond adventure (pic: Deborah Feingold)

On the matter of how Fleming worked his magic, Faulks explained, "In his house in Jamaica, Ian Fleming used to write a thousand words in the morning, then go snorkelling, have a cocktail, lunch on the terrace, more diving, another thousand words in late afternoon, then more Martinis and glamorous women. In my house in London, I followed this routine exactly, apart from the cocktails, the lunch and the snorkelling. I found writing this light-hearted book more thrilling than I had expected. I hope people will enjoy reading it and that Ian Fleming would consider it to be in the cavalier spirit of his own novels and therefore an acceptable addition to the line."

Fleming’s last Bond book, Octopussy and the Living Daylights, was published in 1966. Forty two years later and in keeping with tradition, Devil May Care is set in the Cold War and the action is played out across two continents, exotic locations and several of the world’s most thrilling cities.

Alex Clarke, the editor at Penguin, comments, "Penguin UK is delighted to be publishing Devil May Care in May 2008 to mark the centenary of Ian Fleming's birth. When we heard that Sebastian Faulks would be taking up the mantle, we knew instantly there could not be a more fitting celebration of the most iconic spy in literature and film - Bond, James Bond. Not only has Sebastian picked up from where Fleming left off, but he has also brought his own exquisite prose to the cocktail party - and, in so doing, has written a tour de force that will thrill and satisfy every kind of reader and every kind of James Bond fan.”

He continues, “Devil May Care will be a superb addition to the James Bond publishing legacy. Penguin UK publishes all 14 of Fleming's Bond novels, the Charlie Higson Young Bond series, as well as Fleming's children's classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. To mark the centenary, we will be creating a special James Bond imprint, Penguin 007 - within which Devil May Care will be published in May 2008.

Right: Author Ian Fleming, who died in 1964

 

Sebastian Faulks is best known for his French trilogy, The Girl at the Lion d'Or, Birdsong and Charlotte Gray. Birdsong is regularly voted one of the nation's favourite books and Charlotte Gray was filmed with Cate Blanchett as Charlotte. The trilogy has sold almost four million copies in the UK. In all, Faulks has written ten books, including eight novels, the most recent of which, Engleby, was published to widespread acclaim in May this year.

Like Fleming, who was a journalist for Reuters and the Sunday Times, Faulks was a journalist for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, he was the first Literary Editor of the Independent and later became Deputy Editor of the Independent on Sunday.

Corinne Turner, Managing Director Ian Fleming Publications Ltd comments, “We had had Sebastian Faulks in mind for our centenary novel for quite some time. I have always enjoyed and admired his novels, but it wasn’t until I read On Green Dolphin Street that it occurred to me that he would be perfect for Bond. He has an ability to write totally convincingly in whichever period or genre he chooses, and that particular book made me think he might enjoy exploring the world of Ian Fleming and James Bond. I knew that it would have to be something very special to tempt him to have a go, and at the time didn’t make an approach. However, when we came to think of authors for our centenary novel and his agent, quite independently, suggested Sebastian, it was just meant to be.

“The Fleming family were delighted with the typescript when we received it. Barbara Broccoli, to whom we gave a sneak preview, said if I had told her the family had found an old manuscript of Ian’s in the basement, she would have believed me. Sebastian couldn’t have written a better book to celebrate Ian’s 100th birthday.”

Devil May Care is published to mark the Ian Fleming Centenary. The book is at the centre of a larger programme of celebratory events that will run throughout 2008.

 

Faulks remains with his usual publisher, Random House, and comments, "I am sure Penguin will do a great job with this book, but I would like to stress that Random House remain my publishers. Hutchinson and Vintage have done a fantastic job for me over the last 20 years and I will stay with them for as long as they will have me -- for another 20 years at least, I hope."


Faulks, 54, is best known for his novels "Charlotte Gray" and "Birdsong", both of which achieved critical acclaim with the latter placing #13 in the BBC's recent poll to find Britain's best loved novel. His latest novel, "Engleby", was released in May this year. Faulks is no stranger to 007 though. In 2003 he published "Pistache", a collection of short literary parodies including a hilarious piece where Ian Fleming takes James Bond shopping. He has also critiqued Bond films for the British press, including a rather negative take on 1999's "The World Is Not Enough".

Other authors that had been previously rumoured and subsequently ruled out included Martin Amis (son of Bond author Kingsley Amis), Stephen Fry, Frederick Forsyth, John Gardner, Lee Child, John le Carré, Charlie Higson and Ken Follett.

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