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 (1)
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 artwork

Publisher: Puffin
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Released: 5th January 2006
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Publisher: Miramax Books
Format: Hardback
Pages: 368
Released: June 2006
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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
Death Sting
Blood Sport
Blood Feud
Blood Sisters


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 odd quirks.

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’ than friends?

(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.

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

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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