MI6 caught up with author Samantha Weinberg to
talk about "Final Fling" - the third title
in her James Bond cross-over trilogy The
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
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
it. Hopefully it was draw in readers - both men and women.
Hardback - Amazon UK
Above: First edition cover artwork
of John Murray hardback (UK)
Paperback - Amazon UK
How long did the book take to write, compared to the first
two novels Guardian
Angel and Secret
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
Did you get to travel up to Scotland and Jamaica to research
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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...
Lois Maxwell on the phone... Sleeping in Fleming's room at Goldeneye...
Working wth IFP - who have been fantastic from start to finish...
really, those this might sound a little odd, getting to know
It's been a privilege.
Moneypenny Diaries - Literary Coverage
Weinberg Interview - Book One
Weinberg Interview - Book Two (1)
Weinberg Interview - Book Two (2)
Many thanks to Samantha Weinberg