MI6 talked to author Charlie Higson on the launch
of his second Young James Bond book "Blood Fever"
about the new adventure...
Blood Fever: In Conversation With Charlie Higson
5th January 2006
Exclusive: MI6 caught up with Young James Bond
author Charlie Higson about his second novel Blood
Fever. Speaking for the first time to a 007 website about
the new book, Charlie Higson discussed his work on Blood Fever
and the Young Bond series in this serialized MI6 interview.
Both SilverFin and Blood Fever are quite long Bond
novels, how long will the other novels be that you create?
It is interesting about the length because page numbers
can be very deceptive. The books I’m writing seem
to be coming out at a regular length of around 90,000 words.
I’ve just finished the third one and it has come
out at about that length. I wish I could write them shorter
I could write more of them. But I don’t seem to be
able to manage it. It seems to work at that length, the
kids seem to like it.
I do find with children's books that kids do tend to like
to get engrossed in a book and really drawn into it. If
you do it too short it becomes a bit lighter and throw away.
It was always the plan that these would be proper novels
and not sort of cheap quick cash-ins.
What were the other titles for the book and why was
Blood Fever ultimately chosen?
Doing titles is a hard thing and we went through a lot
of permutations. The reason we went for Blood Fever is that
it has layers of meaning - the stuff about the torture involving
mosquitoes but there is also the idea of blood lust which
is one of the themes of the book.Also blood in terms of
family and blood ties, there’s a lot of stuff about
that in the book. So we quite liked the idea that there
were several layers of meaning to it.
Above: UK Puffin 1st edition paperback
Released: 5th January 2006
Publisher: Miramax Books
Released: June 2006
I did notice actually looking at some of the websites that there
was a lot of speculation that it was going to be about doing some
type of mass infection. [Editors note: Once the title had
been announced, some fans assumed the plot would involve some
kind of blood disease, as in Raymond Benson’s last 007 continuation
novel “The Man With The Red Tattoo”]
Original Working Title
Double M (based on the symbol
of the evil organization, and a play on double-oh-seven
and M from the adult books)
Other Titles Considered
The Zodiac Web
Dance Before You Die
Out of the characters we see in Blood Fever, which
was the hardest to develop?
The trickiest thing in writing a Bond book is coming up
with a good villain. Because I’m trying to structure
them like the Ian Fleming books and use them as the inspiration,
the villains are going to come out like Fleming's villains
and be up to the same sort of things that his villains got
up to. In a sense his villains are all variations of the
same theme, this kind of rich powerful megalomaniac.
In terms of characteristics they’re different but
the characters are all fairly similar throughout the Fleming
books. So, inevitably the villains in my books - by trying
to do it in the in the Fleming style - are going to be similar
to his. Trying to coming up with new quirks for various
villains, names, is difficult. Well actually the hardest
thing of all is what the sinister plan is, so the villains
are a difficult area.
Is there any one villain from either the films or the
books that you drew inspiration form?
Well as I say his villains all tend to be quite similar.
The book [James Bond: The Man and his World] by Henry Chancellor
has very interesting coverage of the development of the
villains and Ian Fleming’s attitude and relationships
to rich powerful men - that he was slightly in awe of them
and inferior, felt slightly out of his depth with people
like that. So in terms of who they are, how they talk and
what they’re like, there isn’t a huge difference
between Goldfinger or Drax or even Blofeld if you break
it down . The differences come in their histories and their
I’m trying to steer clear of giving them a wooden
leg, an iron hand, three eyes or some kind of hideous deformity.
I’m trying to get away from the idea that disabled
people are in some way evil.
Bond’s Uncle Victor and Polyponi seem rather close
in the book. Is there something more to it? Are they ‘more’
(Laughs) Well of course they are, I mean it’s not anything
that children would pick up on but that’s there for the
adult readers. They are obviously a gay couple, and why not? Ian
Fleming’s best friend was Noel Coward and I think there’s
a reference to him in the book. Ian Fleming moved in those circles
and knew a lot of people like that. I was interested in that kind
of upperclass-gay-expats group that ended up in Tangiers a lot
of them in North Africa and certainly around the Mediterranean.
I quite liked that weird Bohemian slightly outside of society
kind of setup. I didn’t want to labour the point though.
Fleming was very open minded and as I say Noel Coward was one
of his best friends, but he did have a few digs at homosexuals
in his books which is perhaps slightly regrettable.
How do you think the levels of "sex", sadism
and snobbery in this one compare to SilverFin?
Well I’ve tried to keep away from the whole snobbery
aspect. A genuine boy at Eton in the early 1930’s
would have been a terrible snob and elitist and would have
very strong views in support of the British Empire and stuff.
So I wanted to get away from that a bit and it was obvious
that Fleming always saw Bond as a bit of an outsider. But
also, he always tried to make sure that Bond was the sort
of person who could mix with all levels of society and was
not judgmental about the working classes.
Sex is tricky in these books because they are aimed at
kids who are younger than James Bond who will be reading
it. Boys particularly at that age don't want to be reading
about kissing and cuddling. However, I did find on SilverFin
that there is a kiss involved and I was sort of testing
the waters lightly. I didn't really get any complaints and
some feedback saying “it’s James Bond, it could
of gone a little further”.
Above: Author Charlie Higson
There are two Bond girls in the new book. Two Bond girls: standard
good girl and bad girl. One of them has a heavy crush on James
but he’s too busy to do much about it. And the other one,
they are too involved trying to escape death to get up to much.
Although, I was trying to mirror some of the relationships in
the adult books where they sort of escape and flop onto a beach
together, exhausted in a semi naked state - which was an echo
of the sort of situations that Bond gets up to in the adult books.
But it’s a tricky one doing any emotional, obviously sexual
stuff in a kid’s book.
But sadism, there is plenty of that, kids love violence, so that
is not a problem. People getting their throats cut and shot, there’s
a lot more violence and mayhem in this book, there’s much
more of a Bond feel with the films I suppose with the big battle
in the cave. I had to tone down a quite a lot of it for the publishers,
but I did try to keep a high level of mayhem in there. But I always
try and balance it with a bit of genuine feeling about real people
getting hurt and dying. Its not just “bang bang” and
people fall over and that’s it.
Stay tuned to MI6 for the next installment.
Many thanks to Charlie Higson.