In part one of an MI6 exclusive interview, author Charlie Higson discusses the his new Young Bond novel Hurricane Gold...

Hurricane Gold: In Conversation With Charlie Higson (1)
5th September 2007

Exclusive: MI6 caught up with Young James Bond author Charlie Higson to talk about his new "Hurricane Gold". Speaking for the fourth time to MI6 about the series, Charlie Higson talks about the elements and influences in Hurricane Gold in part one of this serialized MI6 interview.

Originally you hinted that book 4 was to be set in the Alps - why the change of locale? What made you chose Mexico for the story?

Well, I felt that because Double Or Die was very much set in England and in the middle of winter, I thought it would be better in the next book to go somewhere completely different. Somewhere hot and exotic again. Also, because I knew what the main action was going to be in book 5, I knew that had to be reasonably close to hand. So the only opportunity to do a big exotic trip was going to be in this book, so I've actually shifted the Alps in to book 5.

I felt that the Caribbean needed to feature somewhere because it was so central to Ian Fleming's life and his books. Mexico, being right 'next door', seemed like a good location for a book that hadn't been done by Fleming, and ending the book in the Caribbean would lend enough Fleming feel to it. I've always loved Mexico - films, books, music, food, clothes... everything about it really, so I thought it would be good fun to write about it.

Were there any other locations you toyed with for book 4?

No, I don't think so... The book slightly came out of the blue because I'd had a rough scheme for the five books and then I shunted two books-worth of ideas in to one book - all of which is now in book 5 - it was going to be two different books. That all meant I was completely freed up for this one, so I thought I'd have fun with it and get completely away from Eton.


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This is the first book not to feature Bond at Eton. Was that a conscious decision to shake up the formula a bit?

Yeah, I didn't want it to get too formulaic and samey. If a book is part of a series, people like to have recurring themes in them, and the best Fleming books are the ones that follow the standard "Bond" storylines. But I did feel it was going to get a little bit much to the first third of the book at Eton again, and then he'd go off to his adventures. I thought kids might get a bit bored of that.

I've made sure Eton has a presence there with the three letters from people at Eton in the book, which keep us in touch with what is going on there. I felt it would be fun for readers when they hit book 5 to go back there and meet everyone again.

On the subject of Fleming's formula, we've talked before about how you've echoed certain elements of how Fleming structured his early books. What features or themes - if any - of Diamonds Are Forever do you think are present in Hurricane Gold?

Well, there is the American setting, but it's not the United States. But there is that echo of Fleming's fourth book there. Also, the fact that the villains are gangsters of one sort or another. So those are the similarities I worked with, but I'm hoping they end there! Diamonds Are Forever certainly comes out near the bottom of lists of popular Fleming novels.

He was very much going for the American market, trying to get the American's interested, and he was using the research he'd done about the diamond trade. I think the problem he had was that he didn't quite come up with villains who had much of a presence. You never really get to know the Spang Brothers.

And perhaps Fleming's attempts at the local dialect didn't quite hit the mark...

Yes, it's always a tough thing to get that right. I made sure I was reading a lot of American crime books when I was writing Hurricane Gold, just to get the rhythms in to my head. Whether I've pulled it off with the American dialog I don't know.

Speaking of the villains, who do you consider the central villain in Hurricane Gold?

El Huricane is more of the classic Bond super-villain, but he's a slightly more enigmatic figure, not completely black and white. Well, it's Mrs Glass really. She's the villain that Bond has to face up to.

A lot of the critics who look back at the books or the films tend to say they're only as strong as their villains. Do you think you can have a successful Bond adventure with a mixture or a group of villains as opposed to one iconic figure?

Well, for this book I think El Huricane has that iconic presence, and I hope he is a memorable figure. So I think he probably fulfils that role. I hope the gang are interesting enough and fun enough to hold the readers attention, and I certainly think that Mrs Glass is quite a powerful presence in the book, especially the fact that she's a woman.

The book is rich with location detail, have you visited Mexico for research?

It's mainly stuff from reading. I was hoping to go out there and do a specific trip for it but didn't have time, so I just immersed myself in as much of it as I could. For the purposes of the story, in a way I've had to create locations anyway. I had to create an imaginary geography, an imaginary town. I had a slight fear that I might go out there and think 'I can't make this story fit in the real place', and it might have diverted me from what I wanted to write. It's a shame I didn't have a chance to go there and get a bit of extra local stuff, but I figured that Mexico has probably changed so much since the 1930s anyway, that I was better off using stuff that was written from the time.


How did you come up with the rat run, was it based anything from your research?

It's more of a homage to Dr No really, where in the book Bond has to go through this series of pain tests that Dr No has devised. It was a nod to that, and the concept is quite central to the whole Bond mythology. Also, Dr No was set on an island in the Caribbean as well. My starting point was to do something like that, and I like the idea of Bond preparing himself for it and trying to beat the odds.

Hurricane Gold is released on Thursday 6th September 2007 in the UK. Stay tuned to MI6 for more of this exclusive interview.

Many thanks to Charlie Higson.

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Hurricane Gold
By Royal Command
Shoot To Kill

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