After his seventh James Bond adventure 'Scorpius'
was published in 1988, author John Gardner talked
on the series so far...
Gardner Keeps Bond Alive
12th January 2012
By the summer of 1988, author John
seen his seventh of his James
Bond continuation novel 'Scorpius'
published, was preparing the next ('Win, Lose Or Die') and had
a new contract
to provide the novelization to the new Timothy Dalton film "Licence
To Kill". He gave an interview to the AP about his Bond duties
Gardner Assumes Ian Fleming's Pen To
Keep James Bond Alive
- Associated Press - June 1988
John Gardner is not just a thriller
writer but a master of a very special art: the posthumous sequel. At
his home in the English village of Bloxham, west of London, the 61-year-old author
writes James Bond novels, having picked up where 007's creator, Ian
left off when he died in 1964.
While American writer Alexandra Ripley
is just beginning a sequel to Margaret Mitchell's "Gone
With the Wind", Gardner has already turned out seven Bond
novels, each a best seller in the United States. The most
recent, "Scorpius", is in its sixth consecutive week on
the New York Times best-seller list.
"It was a challenge, a little honor,"
Gardner recalled of his decision to accept a publisher's
offer in 1979 to write a Bond sequel.
He had already made a name with his books
about the adventurer Boysie Oakes, and with such clock-and-dagger
yarns as "The Dancing Dodo" and :The Nostradamus Traitor."
He had also written two novels featuring Sherlock Holmes'
nemesis Professor Moriaty.
So when Glidrose Publications, Bond's
literary copyright owners, offered him a shot at 007 himself,
thought, "Why not? If I don't do it, somebody else will."
Gardner was then living in Ireland as
a tax exile, and already on Bond sequel, "Colonel
had been published in 1968 by author Kingsley
under the pseudonym Robert Markham.
Above: Cover artwork for the UK first
edition hardback published in June 1988 by Hodder & Stoughton.
Gardner first encountered Bond while in bed
with the fly in the early 1960, when his wife, Margaret, brought "Casino
Royale" and "Dr.
No" from the library. "I
was absolutely enchanted," he recalled.
"Fantasy, formula and fun are the three
F's of Bond writing," he said. The exploits of the suave,
self-possessed hero, a man both dressed and licensed to kill,
demand a lot
from a writer, Gardner said. The trick, he says, is to make the
Bond novels "look as if they've been thrown off in one afternoon.
You can't let readers see the joints anywhere."
"I sit down to do Bond and within about four
days, I'm cutting lines out and making it run very fast," he
said. "Every chapter I write I have to go back and say, 'no,
you can take two lines out there and you can say that in three
words.' It has to be tight. These are books to be read in an
airplane or on a beach."
Above: Cover artwork
for the large Print (left) and UK paperback first edition
His contract calls for two more Bond novels. Under a separate
agreement he is writing the book of the forthcoming "License
Revoked" [Note: The 1989 film would ultimately be titled "Licence
To Kill"] the first Bond movie not drawn directly from a Fleming
Movies, Gardner said, post the greatest obstacle
to sequel-writing. "People remember the movies far better than
the books," he said.
"There's a universal myth that Bond drove an Aston Martin. He
didn't, except for a very short time in 'Goldfinger.' He drive
a very old Bentley."
Above: German and Italian
covers for 'Scorpius'.
Gardner said he had tried to bring his champagne-drinking hero
up to date with AIDS and glasnost. "You can make him a man of
the '80s, make him adapt to the women's movement, the structures
under which we live, all that," he said. "But I've had to get
round the business of him transporting arms on normal flights,
and of course the technology has changed so greatly."
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome posed specific
problems for the libidinous Bond. He tried to work in a joke
but his publishers rejected it. Nor is he allowed to give Bond
depth: "I can't in any way relate to him as a character like
I can to my own. Bond is one-dimensional: that is one of his
His novels are kiss kiss, bang bang adventures."
He is reticent about his earnings from the Bond books, saying:
"I get a percentage of a percentage of a percentage. It puts
a tiny bit of jam on top of the money I earn through my other