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Jeffery Deaver gives insight into the roots of his 21st century Bond

18-Apr-2011 • Literary

In an extensive interview with the Her Majesty's Secret Servant blog (conducted by Mark Henderson), "Carte Blanche" author Jeffery Deaver discusses how he created 007 for the 21st century.

HMSS: Fleming’s James Bond character was very much a product of World War II — forged in the crucible of a truly existential conflict. That’s not only where his fierce loyalty to England (and to M, who for Bond personifies England) comes from, but also his carpe diem attitude towards life. Your James Bond will have been born in 1980. What will have made him into the man we understand to be, and will recognize as, 007?

JD:The question was posed to me once, how can you create a hero, and model him on an essential cold war hero, where the great bear of the Soviet Union was the great threat on the horizon? My response was, how many attacks were there by Russia on the soil of England or the United States during that period? And the answer is none…they did a lot of bad things, assassination and so forth, but nothing like 07/07, the bombing of London, nothing like the Madrid train bombing, nothing like our 9/11 attack and some of the crazy people in America who have tried to carry out other attacks. The threat wears a different guise, but it is nonetheless a genuine threat: good versus evil. My Bond will be a veteran of Afghanistan. He was a soldier over there. And so he is a patriot. He will do anything he needs to do for Queen and country. He believes in freedom and democracy. He believes that bad guys should not get away with bad things. So that was one of the easier transitions actually. He still has the same carpe diem attitude because he puts his life on the line every day. And in my book, without giving away details, there are situations where he is threatened, not only his life (I am not going to kill him off in the first third of the book), but could he sustain a tragic injury forever? I am not saying yes, I am not saying no, but certainly, he is willing to risk everything to make sure the Realm is defended. So, he is not going to miss a moment of life.

HMSS: Was it your choice to set the new Bond novel in the present day, and if so, why?

JD:It was a mutual decision. When the Fleming Estate contacted me, I said that I would only want to do it if it were set in the present day, and they said we agree, that is what we were hoping for too. And the reason for that is the original books were not period pieces, of course. They were a product of their time, and Fleming, being a former journalist and intelligence agent, gave them the Cold War ambience. He was a great writer of manners, as they used to call it. So he would look at people in his books, or rather James Bond would, and draw conclusions about them. And they were right on about classes of society, men and women, attitudes of course reflecting the spirit of the time… not quite what it is today…and that is my Bond will be doing. Exactly the same thing.

HMSS:Fleming was influenced by reading the novels of Sapper and Buchan during his formative years. Besides Fleming, what authors would you say have had the most influence on your writing?

JD: Going back into classic mysteries, Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. Agatha Christie, by the way, was one of the masters of the twist. You don’t hear about her so much any more. The BBC had a Miss Marple series that was quite well done, and of course the Margaret Rutherford series which I saw when I was quite young. I sort of relate those to the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes series. Rather broad Hollywood films for a larger appeal. The Holmes series with Jeremy Brett had a more subtle appeal. He was the Holmes for me. Anyway, those were major influences on me. As well as John le Carré, in terms of style, his writing is breathtaking. The intrigue within the intelligence community is fascinating. As far as hard-boiled fiction, I don’t read a lot of it. Mickey Spillane and so forth. Now international intrigue, Frederick Forsythe wrote one of my favorite books of all time, The Day of the Jackal. The original movie was excellent. And I also enjoyed Alistair MacLean. The books were quite lean. The late Elliot Kastner, who was a friend of mine, came up with the idea for Where Eagles Dare and talked MacLean into writing the screenplay, from which he later wrote a novel.

Read the complete interview at HMSS Weblog

Reproduced with permission from HMSS.

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