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Charlie Higson talks more Young Bond to British press

08-Mar-2005 • Young Bond

The announcement of the creation of a teenage Bond has outraged legions of fans, says Charlie, who has followed their comments on fan websites - reports icNewcastle.

"When it was announced, the James Bond websites - and there are a lot - were completely furious. Their attitude was, `You can't make James Bond a kid - he's a drinking, smoking, womanising assassin. Ian Fleming would turn in his grave'.

"They are very protective of the whole thing but I hope when they read it they'll change their minds."

In his defence, Charlie has logged on to the chatlines of some of the Bond websites under a pseudonym to suggest that they ought to give the book a chance.

"They are all mad collectors, so they all say, `I will of course buy a book but I won't like it'."

The young Bond isn't as self-assured, suave and sophisticated as the older character made famous by the likes of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Pierce Brosnan. Charlie has set the first book in the 1930s when Bond is 13 and there is no trace of M or Moneypenny.

Ian Fleming's family had definite ideas of what they wanted - a straightforward, approachable style which wouldn't alienate kids.

"They didn't want an in-joke, parody-type, knockabout book. Some of the people they approached wanted to take it down that route and possibly make it too much their own thing."

In SilverFin, the young Bond is a vulnerable character who is initially victimised by this American bully but soon shows the inner strength that is to see him through.

"In the Fleming books he's a more interesting and more complex character than in the films. He does get hurt, upset and cross and he's always getting captured and tortured and beaten up and he doesn't like it.

"I wanted the boy to be the same. I wanted to show how the boy became the man, how events in his childhood shaped how he was when he got older.

"In the adult books he's quite a lonely man because his job is going out killing people. He can't get too close emotionally to women because he might be called away at any moment and have to face death.

"I wanted to show in my book that, while he has lots of friends, there's something quite private about him and he's a bit of a loner."

While it's billed as a book aimed at nine to 12-year-olds, there are several gruesome and graphic scenes, including one in which a body covered in eels is dragged from a lake.

Charlie, who lives in London with wife Vicky, a graphic artist, dismisses the suggestion that such scenes might not be suitable for children. He read every chapter to sons Frank, 12, Jim, 10, and six-year-old Sid as he wrote them.

"They had lots of suggestions. They always wanted it to be more violent and horrible. Frank just wants everyone killed off all the time.

"Strange things will upset kids. My kids will happily sit through Jaws, but one of them wouldn't watch the film Matilda for years because something about the school teacher freaked him out. The trigger is not necessarily the most gruesome or violent thing."

Vicky also reads his work but doesn't criticise. "You can't rely on your spouse to be any form of critic or genuine sounding board," he smiles. "It's their job to say you're a genius."

He consulted Fleming's nieces but says he wasn't party to the inner workings of the Fleming estate. "They are very protective of what they do and are quite secretive. They have various other James Bond projects on the go and it's all quite hush hush."

Thanks to `JP` for the alert.

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