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Interview with author Charlie Higson ahead of his D.C. appearance

27-May-2010 • Young Bond

This Saturday, Charlie Higson will be signing copies of his latest work in the Young James Bond series, By Royal Command. Higson collaborated with Ian Fleming (creator of the British superspy James Bond) to plant the seeds of how James went from being a regular schoolboy to the world-renown Agent 007 of Britain’s secret service.

Higson is a prolific British actor, comedian, and author. His television credits range from writing and performing in BBC comedies such as The Fast Show, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), and Swiss Toni. Before tackling the young Bond series, Higson wrote four other novels in the early to mid 1990s: King of the Ants, Happy Now, Full Whack, and Getting Rid of Mister Kitchen.

The Young Bond novels are aimed at younger readers, concentrating on James’ school days at Eton. There are currently five in the series; Silver Fin was released in the U.S. in April 2005, followed by Blood Fever, Double or Die, and Hurricane Gold. His latest, By Your Command, was released in hardcover in the U.K. in late 2008 and only recently arrived in the U.S. through Hyperion Press. He has since written The Enemy, a young adult horror novel, currently released in the U.K.

The International Spy Museum is hosting Charlie Higson for an author signing this Saturday from 2 – 4 p.m. The museum shared with WeLoveDC a recent interview they had with Higson about his latest Bond novel.

How did you come to write the young James Bond series?

James Bond first appeared in a series of books written by Ian Fleming nearly 60 years ago, and although Fleming died some time back his family still look after the character he created. It was their idea to do series of books about Bond’s early life and they spoke to a number of writers about the project, both adult thriller writers and established children’s authors. I’d written some crime books that they knew about and they knew I was big Bond fan and had three boys of the right age so they checked me out and luckily they chose me, for which I will be eternally grateful. To be allowed to play in the world of Bond is a real honor and a thrill.

How much did Ian Fleming leave behind as clues for the life of the young Bond?

Very little, Fleming wanted to create the ultimate fantasy figure, a guy that all guys would want to be, so he didn’t tie him down with a boring domestic life, Bond lives in hotels, eats in restaurants, travels the world and seems to have no family or friends. It’s only in one of the last books – You only live twice – that Fleming tells us anything about his early life, when Bond goes missing presumed dead and an obituary is printed in the Times newspaper. This tells us briefly about Bond’s family and schooldays and was really all I had to go on.

What challenges did having Bond grow up in the 1930s pose to the writing?

I obviously had to do a lot of research to get the details right, but the time was so interesting that it gave me lots of plot ideas. There was a lot of political unrest in Europe at the time with the rise of fascism and communism, there was lots of plotting and counter-plotting going on so it was perfect for James Bond to get involved in. It was a great backdrop and there was a lot of space to go off and have wild adventures.

Which of the six actors to play Bond on screen would best represent the future of the young Bond in your opinion?

You know there’s a little bit of all of them. The toughness and charisma of Sean Connery, the old school upper class charm of Roger Moore, the seriousness of Timothy Dalton, the suaveness and style of Pierce Brosnan and the bruiser appeal of Daniel Craig. I guess the only one not in there is poor old George Lazenby. In the end though my Bond grows up to be Fleming’s Bond, the guy from the original books, who is different to the screen Bond in many ways.

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