MI6 caught up with author Samantha Weinberg to talk about "Final Fling" - the third title in her James Bond cross-over trilogy The Moneypenny Diaries...

Samantha Weinberg Interview
26th May 2008

How did you arrive at the final title of the fird and final novel in the Miss Moneypenny Diaries trilogy?
It was originally called End Game, but my editor didn't think that was perky enough. I'm glad he made me think again, as Final Fling is perfect: it takes place partly in Scotland, and it was both Moneypenny's and my last dance.

Your writing style has change in this third book: the characters are more detailed and the adventure flows with a stronger narrative. How did you decide to take the story in this direction?
It came pretty naturally. I felt more confident about the characters, and because I had by that time outrun the time scale of Fleming's books, I had greater freedom to take them wherever they wanted to go without risking the chronology.

The book shifts focus towards Kate, and her adventure, had you planned this from the start?
Yes. I always felt that Kate's role would get larger - and more involved - as the series progressed. And I enjoyed writing her part too; it was fun to parallel Moneypenny's adventures in the modern world.

Can you tell us how the cover came about, a big difference from the earlier two novels? And what about the US cover?
To be completely honest, we (IFPL and me) weren't happy with how the covers were evolving and didn't feel they reflected what was between them. We discussed our concerns with John Murray, who consulted with a marketing expert, and agreed to a rethink resulting in Stina Persson's wonderful new concept.

I also love the US cover. I love it that Moneypenny's face is cut off, London in the background and the whole feel of it. Hopefully it was draw in readers - both men and women.


Above: First edition cover artwork of John Murray hardback (UK)

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How long did the book take to write, compared to the first two novels Guardian Angel and Secret Servant?
It was definitely the quickest by several months. Partly because there was little flying around the world to do - but mainly because I felt I knew the characters so well; how they'd think, feel and act.

Did you get to travel up to Scotland and Jamaica to research the locations?
Yes. I'd been to Uist before and loved it. I have a friend with a house there, and we went back before I started writing Guardian Angel. And I was always desperate to get to Jamaica - it's so much a part of
Fleming and Bond - and luckily managed to wangle a trip there to stay at Goldeneye and write about it for Harper's Bazaar a year or so ago. This time around the research was easier because it wasn't so tightly tied to real historical events, or to Fleming, so I could let my imagination fun loose.

There is a lot of death in this book, can you tell us how you conceived of the different characters demises?
That would be giving too much away! Suffice to say that Moneypenny's final fling was always in the back of my mind, but until I started thinking seriously about Final Fling, I didn't have a clear vision about how and why it happened.

Now that the trilogy story is complete, how does Gillon Aitken feel about the closure for the characters?
Gillon and I are in constant contact. He is also Sebastian Faulks's agent, so he has been as deeply enmired in the Bond world as I have. I can't really speak for him, but I know he's enjoyed the journey too, but I suspect, with all the centenary excitement, he also deserves a little break.

Looking back on how you felt at the start of the trilogy do you feel that you've completed this series? Which of the three books did you find the most rewarding to write?
Yes, I think so. The trilogy seems to have a shape and logic to it. I loved writing all three, though GA was the most nerve-wracking and perhaps, because of that, the most rewarding. It really was a giant leap for me.

Your books will finally be hitting the US market this month, how will you personally measure their success in America?
I just hope some people get to read them - and enjoy them, and keep Moneypenny's flame burning a little longer...


Above: First first edition US paperback artwork for the debut novel Guardian Angel.

Can you tell us a little about the two short stories you've written in 2006 ("Moneypenny's First Date With Bond", "For Your Eyes Only, James") and how these came about? Will be seeing more of these stories in the coming years?
I wrote the first one, For Your Eyes Only, James (NOT my title) initially as a way of promoting Secret Servant, but enjoyed the process so much, I wrote First Date. They were my first - and as yet - only short stories I've ever written. I don't have plans for another at the moment, but never say never...

Will you be revisiting the character during an earlier time or do you think her story has been fully told?
I have no plans to do so at present. I've been living with Miss Moneypenny for 4 1/2 years now, and I think we both need a little time apart.

Do you think you've grown as a writer, over the last few years, along side Moneypenny and Kate?
Definitely. I never thought I'd have the guts to try fiction, and I'm so glad to have got this opportunity to do so. I think Final Fling is the best of the three, so in that sense, I must have improved a little.

Can you tell us a little about your fondest memories with Moneypenny over the last few years?
Going to stay with Sir Peter Smithers in Switzerland for Guardian Angel... Driving around Cuba in a big old car looking for the missile sites... Talking to Lois Maxwell on the phone... Sleeping in Fleming's room at Goldeneye... Working wth IFP - who have been fantastic from start to finish... And really, those this might sound a little odd, getting to know Miss M. It's been a privilege.

Related Articles
Miss Moneypenny Diaries - Literary Coverage
Samantha Weinberg Interview - Book One
Samantha Weinberg Interview - Book Two (1)
Samantha Weinberg Interview - Book Two (2)

Many thanks to Samantha Weinberg