In part one of an MI6 exclusive interview,
author Charlie Higson discusses writing the new
Young Bond novel Hurricane Gold...
Hurricane Gold: In Conversation With Charlie
14th September 2007
Exclusive: MI6 caught up with
Young James Bond author
Charlie Higson to talk about his new "Hurricane
Speaking for the fourth time to MI6 about the series, Charlie
Higson talks about
writing the latest adventure in
part two of this serialized MI6 interview.
When writing, did you feel that a 14
year old could be as mature as Bond behaves in this book?
Well he's gone through a lot in his first year at Eton.
He's faced up to a lot of stuff and he's learnt a lot.
The other thing is that, because we don't see him at school,
he's having to cope in the outside world from page one.
And it's possibly that once he's out of school, he's not
always going to be a schoolboy.
My intention through the books was always
to start him as a fairly ordinary schoolboy with all the
of schoolboy thoughts and feelings, and to show over the
course of the books the various terrible things that happen
to him, and how he might end up as this kind of cold-blooded
government assassin. When the first book came out some
people grumbled 'oh, he's not properly James Bond', 'he's
not this cool guy who knows everything'... That's what
I wanted. By the end of book five - he will be more of
that. But we will also see that, by becoming that person,
he has lost quite a lot in terms of his innocence and humanity.
Above: Author Charlie Higson
at the launch event at Waterstones in Piccadilly, London.
Book five is what really tests him to his limits,
emotionally more than anything. He has had to deal with a lot
of physical stuff in Hurricane Gold. Book five is about putting
through the same kind of ringer but more of an emotional ordeal.
I think it will be very clear by the end of the series where
he has ended up.
In each of the books Bond learns some life skills. In
this adventure he learns about explosives, jujitsu and you
re-enforce his determination.
What other skills do you feel the character has gained from this
fourth adventure, and possibly in the fifth?
Well the next one... Because the Alpine location is moved in
to book five, it will have a lot about learning to ski, mountaineering
and stuff. It will also be a lot more about espionage and undercover
training. Not "officially", but that's what will be
happening to him.
For Hurricane Gold, I put the jujitsu
in there because Fleming put it in Bond's obituary - in You
Only Live Twice - that he
did some jujitsu when he moved from Eton to Fettes. So this
is showing some steps in the direction of those lessons. Fleming
putting in his books stuff that he was interested in, whether
it was playing golf or playing cards...
Was there anything you personally find interesting
that you fancy throwing in?
Well, I'm not much of a James Bond figure! [laughs]
I don't have much to offer... I don't think skills like writing
computer are going to be very valid... But really, a lot of this
stuff has been interesting for me, like the learning to drive
a car in SilverFin. Whilst I knew all that stuff and had done
it at school, it was very interesting to go back and really break
it down and fully understand how a car works. So, I've been discovering
the stuff alongside Bond.
Were there any major changes during
the editing process this time around?
Once I got to editing, no... For this one, it was during
the time I was writing the first draft that things changed
a lot. Mrs Glass started out as Mr Glass... I was about
half way through the book when I decided it would be interesting
to make him a woman. I tend to start knowing where I want
to end up, and some of the characters and incidents, and
kind of like seeing where it goes. I do change it around
alot as I write it. But having finished the first draft,
there were probably less changes to this book than the
previous ones because the plot is a simpler and straight-forward...
being a basic cross-country chase.
Did you ever have the fictional island as somewhere real,
or was that always the intention?
Well it was based on - as I say in the introduction to
the book - the idea of a secret hangout where rich criminals
on the run could go and hideout and retire forever. That
was another reason it was set around Mexico. It was taken
from a book called The Getaway by Jim Thompson.
Above: Models promote the new
book on launch day by standing around reading... in
In his book, the location is somewhere in the
mountains in Mexico, but I didn't want to completely rip him
off! [laughs]... and I liked the idea of an island in the Caribbean
because of the Fleming echoes. It had to be an imaginary island
because I had to create a whole history for it, and reasons for
why this island could exist. But, it's nice to mix it in with
historical research so there are enough elements of reality that
people could think it's a real place.
Were there any sequences that you had originally
planned for the book that didn't make it?
Well, the majority of what I had originally
for book four got shifted in to book five. I realised that the
I I had first
planned for books four and five were slightly thin and I weren't
entire books in themselves, but by putting them together it would
make a very interesting story. So, pretty much everything I had
for book four has gone in to book five now, which left me with
a completely 'free' book. I thought I'd just have fun with this
one and do something completely different.
What do you think the readership's reaction
will be to the villain surviving at the end of the book?
I think it's very clear that Bond has won, he's
beaten everyone, and he's escaped. By that point, we're focusing
on him escaping
the rat run and escaping Lagrimas Negras, and we've seen the
fate that is awaiting Mrs Glass. But yes, it's not a completely
'Hollywood' ending in that we don't see her, like, eaten by sharks
or something... But I think we've had enough deaths in the rest
of her gang, and the final humiliation of exposing her is - I
My only reaction so far is reading it to my
kids, and they haven't complained or said 'let him go back and
shoot her' [laughs]... It is slightly tricky because I can't
have Bond actually kill anyone. He can't be fully instrumental
in wiping someone out, although he does come close to it with
Strabo in the book. I thought it was
quite satisfying that she's left as this lonely figure in the
tower at the end. But, there's only so many ways you can have
your villains hoisted by their own petard...
Above: First edition UK hardback
Yes, the film "Licence To Kill" hangs
itself on that same premise which is he can't directly
so he's comes up with great conspiracies to bump off everyone
without doing it himself until the very end. Was that a
policy given to you, or was it a rule you created for yourself
when you started out on this series?
Well there were two reasons... One is
the fact presented by Fleming, that he makes very clear,
is that Bond does
his first killing to get his double-o status when he was
in the secret service during the war. So, I couldn't have
him kill anyone as that would go against the facts as
given by Fleming. And secondly, he is a 13/14 year-old
books for children and I couldn't have him running around
In the second book, Blood Fever,
I had the character Zoltan, a pirate who switches allegiances
to Bond. So he can go
about killing people, which puts Bond in that slightly
more dangerous company and less of a goody-two-shoes character.
It's about getting him in to that world
as much as possible without him running around with a machine
down loads of baddies in colour-coded jumpsuits.
Gold was released on Thursday 6th September 2007
in the UK. Stay tuned to MI6 for more of this exclusive
Many thanks to Charlie Higson.