MI6 caught up with Simon Gardner, son of the late author John Gardner, to talk about the 30th Anniversary of 'Licence Renewed' and the new reprints...

Gardner Reprints Interview

9th July 2011

MI6 caught up with Simon Gardner, son of the late author John Gardner (who wrote an unsurpassed 14 James Bond novels and 2 movie novelizations) to talk about the 30th Anniversary of 'Licence Renewed' and the new reprints...

How did you come about with the idea to re-issue the books?
It was something the family had been hoping would happen eventually. We realised that the 30th Anniversary of 'License Renewed' was coming in 2011 so that was something to aim for. In early 2010, the groundswell started via a lot of the Bond fansites. This really helped to get a lot of interest in the whole 30th Anniversary of the first John Gardner continuation novel. We had re-worked the www.john-gardner.com website and set up a Facebook page and Twitter account and through that we got even more positive feedback. IFP picked up on this and our agent went into discussions with IFP and the Fleming Estate. In some respects it was a no brainer.

30 years had passed since License Renewed, so there is a whole new generation of Bond fans out there who have not read any of the Gardner continuation novels. Corinne Turner at IFP fully understood that and was very keen to get behind the re-issues. Of course it is great that in the UK ORION put the best deal together and also wanted the first 5 Gardner Bonds as hardbacks for their new imprint Swordfish.

Why have only the first 5 novels been issued as hardbacks?
You would have to ask ORION that. But I think the idea of a smallish hardback print run for collectors and libraries appealed to them. You can't find the John Gardner Bond's in libraries anymore so I am really pleased we have at least the first 5 back in hardback and accessible to a wide number of people. Also ORION were able to obtain the rights to use the Jonathan Cape jackets, which including the Chopping (License Renewed) cover, are wonderful artworks. The first 5 in my opinion have the best 'Flemingesque' jackets. I think that may have had a lot to do with it. The whole series will be released in paperback over the next 12 months or so.


Above: The late John Gardner

What made you stick to the original artwork for the UK release?
Chopping did the Licence Renewed artwork, but I heard that he wanted way too much money for the second jacket, so the other jackets were done in the 'style of Chopping'. I am a graphic designer myself and fully appreciate the 'Old School' imagery for the first five books. I think Ian Fleming would have approved of these jackets, John Gardner certainly did. Using the original jackets will certainly appeal to all the collectors out there.

Did you have a hand in selecting the US cover art? If so what made you go down that route?
No, I certainly had nothing to do with the choice of artwork for the Pegasus US jackets. In fact we still have not seen the final finished artwork. What has been released so far I am reliably informed are 'Works in Progress.' So I am as interested as anybody to see what will happen with the US cover art.

How were the introduction authors selected?
That was Claiborne Hancock, the owner of Pegasus Books. These introductions are just for the US editions. I was very surprised that he asked me to do one, surprised and delighted. Otto Penzler was a dear friend of my Father's and they were involved on numerous projects together. Raymond Benson is also an obvious choice as he has run the gauntlet of being a Bond continuation author. Raymond is a wonderful guy and became a true friend of my father before he died.

Upon reflection, it is hard to believe that it has been 30 years since the first of your late father's Bond books? Are you still surprised to be involved with Bond all these years later?
I am extremely surprised to be having anything to do with Bond to be honest with you. I suppose that when I was art directing the new look website I realised more than ever that Bond was going to be the central focal point of the site. Bond is bigger than anything else my father did. This did annoy him at times but at the end of the day Bond is huge. In fact since his death I think Bond is bigger than ever. You are right in saying that it is hard to believe that 30 years has gone by since the first John Gardner Bond book. Where the hell did all that time go?

What has been the most memorable for you with regards to the world of Bond?
As for the most memorable 'Bond' moment, there are a few that spring to mind. Firstly after my father died, the amazing amount of Bond fans who sent messages of sympathy at his passing. Then when we re-launched the website I really did become aware of the size of 'Bond Family' and how many fans still held my late father's work in high and also not so high esteem.

While he was writing the books, I think getting to see the SAAB (The Silver Beast) all kitted out with the gadgets, and when he was writing the movie tie-ins the constant daily screenplay updates being delivered by courier services which just cracked me up. He would wait until the weekend to write as the scripts were in such a constant flux all the time there was no point in working on the tie-ins on a daily basis.

However, the most memorable moment recently was going to the launch of Carte Blanche in London and meeting people who I had only swapped emails and Facebook messages with. That day was wonderful as I met Jeffery Deaver who was so kind, describing my father as "an iconic author of espionage fiction." Lots of love shown that day for John Gardner by many, many people.

Many thanks to Simon Gardner.

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