M J Arlidge Interview
18th August 2021
This month Orion will re-issue John Gardner's debut Bond novel with a new introduction from author M J Arlidge
By MI6 Staff
On August 19 2021, Orion are set to re-release John Gardner's 'Licence Renewed', first published in 1981. After a dirth of continuation novels, Gardner was appointed to be the next man to follow Kingsley Amis and fill Ian Fleming's huge boots. Gardner would go on to make a massive contribution to Bond in print, with 14 Bond novels and two novelisations of the films to his name. Now on the 40th anniversary of the publication, Orion wil reissue 'Licence Renewed' with a new introduction by author and screenwriter M J Arlidge. Arlidge, known for his ten novels spanning 2014-2021 featuring Detective Inspector Helen Grace, was first introduced to Gardner's work this year. And, as he tells us in this interview, he's excited to read more.
Can you tell us a little about your first encounter with James Bond?
I first found Bond through the movies. I have vivid memories of sitting down in the Hendon Odeon to watch 'For Your Eyes Only' as a young boy. Needless to say, I was blown away - by the ski chases, the deadly assassins, the amazing stunts. That movie started a love affair which continues to this day.
How has Fleming/Gardner influenced your writing?
It’s hard to pinpoint any specific influence, though anyone who writes thrillers can’t help but be influenced by the Bond phenomenon. 'Thou shalt not be boring' was clearly something Fleming (and indeed Gardner) lived by in life and in art, doing everything to the max. I try in my own small way to do the same.
How did you feel being approached to pen the introduction to John Gardner’s first 007 novel? How long did it take?
Obviously I was incredibly honoured. I have to confess I hadn’t read Licence Renewed so it was a great thrill to dive into a new and exciting Bond adventure. It didn’t take me long to write the introduction - I’ve been longing to write about Bond for years.
When did you discover John Gardner as an author?
When I asked to write the introduction. I am new to John Gardner’s work, but I’m already totally sold and planning to read many more of his wonderful thrillers.
Have you read all of Gardner’s 007 books? Which stands out to you?
As above, I’ve only read Licence Renewed. So I’d have to say that was the best!
What was the first James Bond book you read?
'Live And Let Die'. I’ve always loved the film, plus it was one of the very first Bond books, so my literary journey started there.
What is your favourite 007 story?
I love them all, but my favourite iteration of Bond is the film of The Spy Who Loved Me. Ski chases, the amphibious Lotus and, best of all, Jaws. I can’t get enough to that metal toothed monster.
If given the chance of writing a Bond book would you?
Without hesitation. Where do I sign?