MI6 talked to Young James Bond author Charlie Higson about series continuity throughout the five books...

SilverFin: In Conversation With Charlie Higson (5)
26th December 2005

MI6 talked to Charlie Higson earlier in 2005 about his work on the Young James Bond series. Speaking for the first time to a James Bond website, Charlie Higson discussed his work on SilverFin and the future of the Young Bond series in this serialized MI6 interview.

Which characters will return post-SilverFin?

His school friends are a constant, but it's not quite like Harry Potter again. The books aren't all going to be with "Ron & Hermion"... They play a greater and lesser role in the books as they go on. But as with the adult books, each one is self-contained.

So the occasional character will dip in and out?

Yes. Mr Merriot, the tutor, is a constant figure. His best mates are through the books, but in the second novel a couple of his friends are in the beginning but they don't play a major part. In the third book one of them does though. Again, I didn't want it to be too formulaic. And the thing about James is, he does operate alone. So whilst in the book he may meet up with say Felix Leiter, he is very much his own man on the missions. I wanted that for these books, so it wasn't like "Famous Five" with him going off with his chums.

There is a reference to Bond's housekeeper May in SilverFin. Will you be referencing any more of Fleming's famous characters such as Goldfinger or Honey Rider?

Not really... It wouldn't make any sense for him *directly* meet any of the major villains. I didn't want to get too cutesy like that. In SilverFin, if people want to dig for them, there is a reference to one of the villains in the later books.

Above: Young James Bond

In terms of the plots through the books... For the first three book I've taken some classic Fleming elements. The second book is based largely in Sardinia, so that stands in for the exotic foreign location. I couldn't have James travelling too far because it took a lot longer in those days. The Mediterranean, certainly for British reasons, relates well. On the third book, there's a large Alpine element to it, with James learning to ski and stuff like that.

Will you be using the Young Bond series to clear up a few of the grey areas of Bond's character, such as his birthday?

I don't think I'm the man to do that. I don't think I could presume to say this is his birthday, etc. It came up actually, because in the second book there's a character that asks about his past, and I suddenly thought, what sign of the zodiac is James Bond? But of course Fleming never gave a birthday. But there is a date, Armistice day, which seems to be accepted. I've left it open. I don't want to clear up any grey areas really, obviously I've had to specify certain things like members of the family Fleming never mentioned, but I think it would be slightly presumptuous of me to start filling in too many blanks.

Above: Uncle Max

Bond stays within Britain in SilverFin. He will be travelling abroad in future missions, how will you explain a 13 year-old enjoying international travel in the 1930s?

Well I've established the fact of the Aunt has been quite well travelled. The fact was he had a Swiss mother and a Scottish father, and the implication from the obituary Fleming wrote is that he probably did live abroad a bit because he said he was fluent in different languages. So, I think that establishes that he had a fairly international upbringing.

Obviously travel in those days was nowhere near as widespread as it is now, but actually through things like Eton, there were a lot of trips abroad. Things like skiing and exchanges... But yeah, I couldn't have him going all around the world. The reason I kept him in Britain for the first book is because Fleming said his family was from Glen Coe, I thought it'd be good to explore that whole Scottish side of him and his family.

The highlands of Scotland can be pretty remote and wild places, it's obviously not as exotic as Japan or Jamaica, but there is a certain amount of foreign-ness about it. But I thought it was equally important to take him somewhere hot and get him swimming in the second book as Fleming loved swimming and snorkelling.

There a couple of aspects to the book which may prove unsettling for politically correct parents. Firstly, the drugs element in the story (needles and pills, one character is forced to endure it) and secondly the gore (dead body dragged into a boat, torture of twin brother, dissection, blood n guts). Do you expect to come in for any criticism for this, or is this considered OK for the age range by the publisher?

Yes, there is quite a lot of extreme kids literature out there now, mainly in the fantasy/horror genre. You know, kids love violence. It'd be nice if some people did get upset about it! It might encourage more kids to read it. If I give some kids some nightmares then that's a good thing really. I'd rather them have nightmares about eels than something that could actually happen to them. But it's James Bond. Parents are going to know what they're getting in to if they're going to buy their kids the books. I believe the violence is no more extreme than you would get in a Bond film.

The drugs angle, the injections and things, that is quite a tricky aspect. But I hoped it would have a bit of modern resonance anyway - the whole business of drugs in sport and that kind of thing. The book is obviously anti-drugs, so I hope it doesn't encourage any kids to go out and get injected!

I had to tone some of the stuff down for the Americans, but not that much really. I know that one of the tricky things for the Bond fans is smoking.

A 13 year-old like James Bond at Eton probably would have smoked, but I have the part in SilverFin where his uncle is smoking himself to death, which we understand now... there was some evidence starting to come out in the late 1920's about the health risks of it. But back then cigarettes were prescribed if you had a sore throat or a bad cough! So there is that conversation with his uncle where James says "well I'm never going to smoke", which we know is not true later on, and Max says "I wish I had the certainty of youth, the first World War did it for me". So the implication is that the Second World War did it for James, and he'll become a heavy smoker then.

Personally, I don't want to do anything that would encourage smoking, so I don't mind upsetting some Bond aficionados that he should be smoking at a young age. I don't smoke, neither should they. Drinking, on the other hand, should be encouraged for young kids [laughs].

Above: Aunt Charmain

Which of the Bond girls were your favourites?
I remember when TMWTGG came out I did like Britt Ekland, but in retrospect, I always had a thing for Madeline Smith. She was only in the start of LALD when she got unzipped by a magent, I don't know whether she'd count though. But really - you can't beat Tatiana Romanvoa in her black choker and nothing else!

What is your favourite Bond moment?
The gun barrel. You have the music, which is a huge part of Bond's success, and the gun barrel coming across. That's Bond!

Stay tuned to MI6 for the next installment. Many thanks to Charlie Higson.

Young Bond Novels
Blood Fever
Double Or Die
Hurricane Gold
By Royal Command
Shoot To Kill

Young Bond Central
Young Bond Articles
Young Bond News
Play Young Bond Games

SilverFin : 01 - 02 - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06
Blood Fever : 01 - 02 - 03 - 04
Double Or Die : 01 - 02 - 03
Hurricane Gold : 01 - 02 - 03 - 04 - 05
By Royal Command : 01 - 02 - 03