With the announcement today of Sebastian Faulks as the author of the 2008 Ian Fleming centenary novel, Devil May Care, further details have been revealed regarding what he has in store for the literary James Bond…
‘I was surprised but flattered to be asked by the Fleming estate last summer if I would write a one-off Bond book for the Ian Fleming Centenary. I told them that I hadn’t read the books since the age of 13, but if, when I re-read them, I still enjoyed them and could see how I might be able to do something in the same vein, then I would be happy to consider it.’
He continues: ‘On re-reading, I was surprised by how well the books stood up. I put this down to three things: the sense of jeopardy Fleming creates about his solitary hero; a certain playfulness in the narrative details; and a crisp, journalistic style that hasn’t dated.’
‘I do think the basic character has lasted and it is a combination of vulnerability and ruthlessness. That is the key to his appeal as an agent and a human being.’ – Sebastian Faulks on James Bond
‘What I liked about them was that you had the sense of this single, vulnerable man who was in extreme jeopardy all the time.’
Faulks continues where Fleming left off in 1966 with the short story collection Octopussy and the Living Daylights, the last of original 14 James Bond books which have sold 100 million copies since.
Devil May Care is set in 1967 when ‘Bond is damaged, ageing and in a sense it is the return of the gunfighter for one last heroic mission. He has been widowed and been through a lot of bad things… He is slightly more vulnerable than any previous Bond but at the same time he is both gallant and highly sexed if you can be both. Although he is a great seducer, he really does appreciate the girls he seduces and he doesn’t actually use them badly.’
Noting that the book is about about ‘80% Fleming,’ Faulks said while writing Devil May Care, he was determined ‘to keep the story driving on. I wanted to write a book that Fleming would have approved of and made him smile. I couldn’t wait to get to my desk every day.’
‘After almost five years researching Victorian psychiatry for Human Traces, there was something attractive about a jeu d’esprit which, if I followed Fleming’s own prescription, I could write in about six weeks.’
‘I found writing this light-hearted book more thrilling than I had expected. I tried to isolate the essential and the most enjoyable aspects of the books. Then I took that pattern and added characters and a story of my own with as much speed and as many twists as I thought the reader could bear. I hope that Ian Fleming would consider it to be in the cavalier spirit of his own novels and therefore an acceptable addition to the line.’
Faulks has written ten books, including eight novels, the most recent of which, Engleby, was published to widespread acclaim in May this year and remains with his usual publisher, Random House. ‘I am sure Penguin will do a great job with this book, but I would like to stress that Random House remain my publishers.’
Alex Clarke, the senior editor at Penguin UK, said: ‘When we heard that Sebastian Faulks would be taking up the mantle, we knew instantly there could not be a more fitting celebration of the most iconic spy in literature and film. Not only has Sebastian picked up from where Fleming left off, but he has also brought his own exquisite prose to the cocktail party–and, in so doing, has written a tour de force that will thrill and satisfy every kind of reader.’
Devil May Care is due for release on 28 May 2008. It will be published by Penguin Books in the UK and Doubleday in the US.
Keep watching CBn for all the latest news and details on Devil May Care, the Ian Fleming centenary novel by Sebastian Faulks.
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