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  1. Exclusive interview: Charlie Higson brings Ian Fleming into the Twitter age

    Charlie Higson at Twitter HQ

    Charlie Higson at Twitter’s UK headquarters.
    Photo courtesy Twitter UK.

    If Ian Fleming were alive, would he use Twitter? The James Bond creator loved gadgets and technology, but would he embrace all there is to love and hate about the social media revolution as @IanFleming?

    It’s a proposition that inspired Young Bond author Charlie Higson (@monstroso) to partner with Twitter for the #BondTweets project, fittingly held on the eve of the Skyfall premiere. His mission? To condense each of Fleming’s 12 Bond novels into a single 140-character tweet.

    Between 2005 and 2009, Higson penned five novels and one short story exploring James Bond’s years at Eton in the 1930s. He’s also a long-time fan of Ian Fleming and within seconds of us starting our Skype chat, Charlie gleefully points out the set of Fleming hardcovers on the bookshelf behind me. Who better to bring the original Bond stories into the Twitter age?

    Casino Royale

    “I thought the conjunction of 1950s Ian Fleming with state-of-the-art Twitter was quite an interesting concept,” Charlie tells me. “I use Twitter a lot. As a writer, it’s a great way to get you to think very carefully about the words you use, how you use them and if there are other, simpler ways of saying what it is you want to say.”

    “Fleming was always into new ideas and new gadgets, so I certainly think computers would have appealed to him. Would he have used the internet and Twitter? I don’t know.”

    Dr No

    The task took Higson much longer than he thought it would. “What really appealed to me was the idea of trying to get across the essence of each book in 140 characters, without it sort of being a dry plot description. I tried to get across the bits of the books that I really loved, and to make each one entertaining in its own right.”

    “A hundred and forty characters is not all that long, so a lot of the ideas I had, I thought, ‘Well, I can’t do that — it just won’t fit.’ So, it was quite a challenge getting enough in there to make them fun to read.”

    Goldfinger


    As you would expect of a bonafide Bond fan, the tougher books for Higson to compress were his favourites, including From Russia with Love and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. “The best books have really good set pieces and characters and things happening. Those are the harder ones to sum up and get right because you’re worried about leaving stuff out that’s important to you.”

    Likewise, the easiest books for Charlie were his least favourite Bond novels, though he enjoyed crafting them into tweets. “I quite liked tweeting The Spy Who Loved Me because the book itself is structured into three parts, so I structured the tweet in the same way. You don’t worry about leaving too much out from that one,” Charlie laughs.

    The Spy Who Loved Me

    Charlie joined Twitter in late 2009. “I wish I’d been in that initial rush to Twitter,” Charlie says. “A lot of people established a presence and a style on there when there weren’t so many people using it. I think it’s harder now. On Twitter, you used to be able to be quite influential, but now you need to have the number of followers that Lady Gaga has.”

    The immediacy and reach of Twitter clearly has appeal for Higson. “I found the conversation part of Twitter to be quite fun. You could be having a conversation with people from all over the world at the same time. It’s a fantastic way of keeping in touch with people who read my books, with other writers, people you’d never normally meet, but as a sort of promotional tool, you have to use it very carefully. People don’t want you to go on there and say, ‘Buy my book now – it’s brilliant’. You have to think of ways to talk about your work so that it doesn’t come across like an advert.”

    Twitter has also opened up doors for the author – often literally. “Twitter is a fantastic research resource. If I’m writing a book and I want to go and have a look around somewhere, I can say on Twitter, ‘Does anyone here know anyone who works in the Tower of London?’ and within 10 or 15 minutes you’ve got several options. You can use Twitter for a lot of stuff that people who don’t use Twitter don’t realise.”

    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

    While Charlie didn’t attend tonight’s premiere of Skyfall at Royal Albert Hall, he will be watching the film tomorrow night at an equally exclusive screening with members of the Ian Fleming estate. Higson was impressed with Casino Royale, but was less thrilled by Quantum of Solace. He’s now keenly looking forward to what Skyfall has to offer.

    “All the indications are good for Skyfall,” Charlie says. “I’ve deliberately tried not to read to much about it or watch too many trailers because I just want to go out and enjoy it for what it is. Although, I have heard from people who say that it really is very good.”

    You Only Live Twice

    It’s been around 10 years since Charlie Higson sat down to write the first of his Young Bond novels, SilverFin. “I had great fun writing those books. I remember how thrilling it was to sit down and type the words ‘The name’s Bond, James Bond’. It gave me a great, childish thrill. So, I was very pleased that after initial scepticism, the James Bond fan community did accept the books and accepted that I wanted to remain true to the spirit of Ian Fleming.”

    Since closing the book on his time as a James Bond novelist, Charlie has gone on to write the bestselling zombie thriller series, The Enemy. “I would’ve loved to have written more Bond books, but in the end, having written five of them, I was at the stage of thinking that I would really like to write something that was entirely of my own creation. It was a very difficult decision to make because I loved doing it and I’d love to do more. I had a full trilogy worked out with Bond’s time at Fettes.”

    Sadly for fans of Charlie Higson’s James Bond books, it doesn’t sound likely those plans will come into fruition. “They can’t wait for me forever to come back and write some more.”

    “Never say never again?” I put to Charlie hopefully.

    “Live and let die,” he fires back, with the quick wit of both a seasoned Twitter user and of 007 himself.

    With thanks to Charlie Higson. Follow him on Twitter at @monstroso. You can also check out the full collection of Charlie’s #BondTweets on the UK Twitter blog. Thanks also to Simon Branney.

    Matt Weston @ 2012-10-24
  2. Clap hands, here comes Charlie Higson – as James Bond

    image Wikimedia Commons/John Cox

    Radio Times yesterday reported Charlie Higson, renown comedian and Young Bond author, penned the screenplay to ITV1’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s ‘A Caribbean Mystery’. And while at it has taken the chance for a little private fun of his own. Higson included a minor cameo role for himself: a certain ornithologist called Bond, James Bond. This little wink is fitting in more than just one regard, after all Agatha Christie in fact introduced a character called “James Bond” as early as 1934 in her story ‘The Rajah’s Emerald’ – although very definitely not the James Bond Fleming had in mind nearly twenty years later when he borrowed the real ornithologist’s name for ‘Casino Royale’.

     

    ‘A Caribbean Mystery’, which follows Miss Marple’s investigation of a murder on the island of St Honore, will be broadcast by ITV1 in 2013. Director is Charlie Palmer, know for his work at ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Death in Paradise’.

     

    Here is the Radio Times story and here the discussion thread for this news.

     

    Thanks to CBn forum member ‘marktmurphy’ for the tip. And to CBn’s ‘zencat’ for the nudge.

    H.Sc. @ 2012-09-27
  3. Young Bond hits the back burner

    Despite having a website, if you want to find out what Young Bond author Charlie Higson is up to nowadays all the juicy details can be found on his Twitter account. There’s been talk about the possibility of a Young Bond series 2 as recently as July 2010, and that could still happen, but it’s definitely hit the back burner due to Higson’s busy schedule. Via Twitter he writes:

    Another missed posting on his Twitter account was the announcement for the title of the third book in his horror series that began with The Enemy in 2009 and was followed by The Dead the following year. In September of this year be on the look out for The Fear. Oh, and as of 11 January, he finished it.

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    Kevin Wells @ 2011-01-14
  4. Charlie Higson's The Dead published

    Cover art for The Dead

    Following the Young Bond series, Charlie Higson’s second novel has been published. Titled the The Dead it continues the story that began with 2009’s The Enemy about a group of kids that survived a worldwide sickness that effected all the adults turning them into zombies. The Enemy was recently released in the United States this year.

    What the publisher (Puffin) has to say:

    A terrible disease is striking everyone over the age of fourteen.

    Death walks the streets.

    Nowhere is safe.

    Maxie, Blue and the rest of the Holloway crew aren’t the only kids trying to escape the ferocious adults who prey on them.

    Jack and Ed are best friends, but their battle to stay alive tests their friendship to the limit as they go on the run with a mismatched group of other kids – nerds, fighters, misfits. And one adult. Greg, a butcher, who claims he’s immune to the disease.

    They must work together if they want to make it in this terrifying new world. But as a fresh disaster threatens to overwhelm London, they realize they won’t all survive

    You can pick up The Dead from Amazon.co.uk. Following the same schedule that Higson’s books have in the past, it will likely make its way to the United States around May 2011.

    In other related news, Higson’s official site, http://www.charliehigson.co.uk, was recently launched offering news and information on his current and past works. The site was designed by Frequency who also designed Anthony Horowitz’s site. Higson’s site also includes a forum where you can discuss his many projects. Not to dissuade you from joining, but the biggest and best place to discuss Higson’s works, at least for Bond, is right here at CommanderBond.net (hey, it’s just worth noting – again).

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    Kevin Wells @ 2010-09-16
  5. Charlie Higson in discussions over Young Bond's future

    What does the future hold for Young Bond? James Bond fans may be one step closer to finding out today after Charlie Higson revealed via Twitter that he is meeting to discuss a number of his properties, including Young Bond, The Enemy and Monstroso.

    The Dead, Charlie Higson’s sequel to The Enemy, will be published in September 2010. The book is the second in a proposed trilogy.

    In May, Charlie Higson raised the possibility of a new trilogy of books set during James Bond’s Fettes years.

    You can follow Charlie Higson on Twitter at @monstroso.

    Keep watching CommanderBond.net for all the latest Young Bond news.

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    Matt Weston @ 2010-07-09
  6. The Blades Library Book Club: Hurricane Gold

    Welcome back to The Blades Library Book Club – the place for quality discussions of the books of James Bond!

    Charlie Higson's 'Hurricane Gold'

    Charlie Higson’s Hurricane Gold

    Every two months a James Bond 007 novel is chosen for the club members to read. A thread is posted in the CommanderBond.net Discussion Forums listing locations where you can find the novel. Discussions about the book will go on as the book is read and when it is finished. Another thread will be created so that club members can post their review and give a rating on the current book.

    All fans of the Literary Bond are eligible for membership. All you need to do to sign up is register on the CBn Forums (it’s free and only takes a minute) and then post your name in the sign up thread.

    The Book Club’s 39th Book

    We are progressing though the James Bond 007 novels in chronological order, since quite a number of members are using the club as an opportunity to read the books for the very first time. After progressing through the Bond novels by Ian Fleming, Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Raymond Benson the club most recently moved onto Charlie Higson’s Young Bond era and now continues with his fourth novel: 2007’s Hurricane Gold.

    Obtaining The Book

    Ordering online should be fairly easy. Hurricane Gold can be ordered online from the following sources:

    Discuss other places to buy Hurricane Gold or where you got your copy in this thread.

    Discuss The Book While Reading

    Want to talk about the book while reading it? Post a new thread in The Blades Library.

    Review And Rate The Book

    After you have finished reading Hurricane Gold, you can discuss it with other club members in The Blades Library, and give the book your personal rating out of five in this thread.

    If you have any questions or suggestions just post them in a new thread. Happy reading.

    *New* Archive Of All Past Read Books

    Additionally, club members can review or comment on any of the past read books in the club any time they want. Click here for the full archive of the past read books in the club.

    Previous Books Read

    Devin Zydel @ 2010-06-16
  7. Charlie Higson's Hurricane Gold released as Playaway audiobook

    The Playaway audiobook edition of Charlie Higson’s Hurricane Gold has been released by Blackstone Audio in the US.

    Literary 007 fans can order this edition of Higson’s fourth Young James Bond novel from Amazon.com, where it retails for $59.99. Gerard Doyle acts as the narrator for this release.

    In addition, Blackstone will next release By Royal Command this July on the Playaway audio format. Also read by Doyle, this too can be ordered online:

    Charlie Higson's 'Hurricane Gold'

    Charlie Higson’s Hurricane Gold

    James Bond is on a much-needed vacation in Mexico at the home of ex-flying ace Jack Stone. But his holiday is cut short when a hurricane hits. As the storm ravages the community, a gang of thieves lies in ambush – they want Stone’s safe, and will kill for its contents. Stone’s children, Precious and JJ, are kidnapped, and James must embark on a perilous chase through the jungle to rescue them and retrieve the stolen items. The clues ultimately lead him to the island of Lagrimas Negras, a haven for deadly criminals, controlled by the ruthless El Huracan.

    James will have to use all of his instincts and cunning if he’s going to outwit El Huracan and escape with his life. But the only way off the island is through a treacherous maze, La Avenida de la Muerte – the Avenue of Death. On this terrifying trail of greed and betrayal, only danger is guaranteed. Survival is not.

    Be sure to keep checking the CommanderBond.net main page and our Discussion Forums for all the latest Young Bond-related news.

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    Devin Zydel @ 2010-06-08
  8. Danger Society: The Young Bond Dossier paperback now shipping

    'Danger Society: The Young Bond Dossier'

    Danger Society: The Young Bond Dossier

    Charlie Higson’s indepth guide to the Young James Bond series is shipping a few days early from Amazon.co.uk.

    This new paperback edition of Danger Society: The Young Bond Dossier is published by Puffin Books and retails for £6.99.

    Touted as the complete and definitive guide to Higson’s Young Bond, the aptly-titled Danger Society: The Young Bond Dossier includes in-depth character profiles, information on the cars, weapons and exotic locations, plus photographs, maps, and illustrations by artist Kev Walker.

    As an added bonus, the book also features a brand new Young Bond story by Higson entitled A Hard Man to Kill. For more details on that story, click here.

    As always, keep turning to the CommanderBond.net main page and our Discussion Forums for all the latest Young Bond-related news.

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    Devin Zydel @ 2010-05-27
  9. Charlie Higson's Young Bond is back in the US

    Charlie Higson’s literary James Bond is back in the USA.

    Charlie Higson's 'By Royal Command'

    Charlie Higson’s By Royal Command

    Today marks the release of several major Young Bond titles stateside, including:

    • By Royal Command in hardback
    • By Royal Command on audiobook (CD, Cassette and MP3 CD)
    • SilverFin: The Graphic Novel in hardback and paperback

    The By Royal Command hardback is published by Disney/Hyperion and features all new cover artwork from artist Owen Richardson. This title is also made available in three different audiobook formats courtesy of Blackstone Audio.

    SilverFin: The Graphic Novel, featuring the artwork of series regular Kev Walker, is available as both a hardback and paperback. Cover artwork is similar to the UK edition, which was released in late 2008.

    All of the above Young Bond items can currently be ordered from Amazon.com—many of them at a discounted price…

    By Royal Command

    SilverFin: The Graphic Novel

    Be sure to stay tuned to the CommanderBond.net main page (and our Discussion Forums) for all the latest news from the world of Young Bond.

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    Devin Zydel @ 2010-05-18
  10. SilverFin makes the cut in Puffin's top 70 books

    Charlie Higson’s SilverFin has been honoured by appearing in Puffin’s list of its top 70 books, drawn up to mark the publisher’s 70th birthday.

    The novel, which introduced us to Young James Bond, is one of four books to feature in the “Best Heroes” category.

    Higson’s The Enemy was also recognised in the “Best Blood and Guts” category of Puffin’s list.

    The list features a selection of books from Puffin’s rich history from classic novelists such as Jules Verne, Lewis Carroll and L. Frank Baum to contemporary writers including Eoin Colfer and Rick Riordan. Five of the 70 novels were penned by children’s favourite (and You Only Live Twice screenwriter) Roald Dahl.

    Georgina Hanratty, manager of south London children’s bookshop Tales On Moon Lane, told guardian.co.uk, “The Puffin list continues to look remarkably strong. So many of the books it promoted in the seven decades have just gone on and on. They provide a long, robust spine to children’s books. And the recent acquisition of authors such as Eoin Colfer, Meg Rosoff and Charlie Higson just adds a fresh new layer.”

    Puffin recently published Monstroso, a novella written by Charlie Higson as part of its Pocket Puffins series, also launched to celebrate the publisher’s 70th birthday.

    Keep watching CommanderBond.net for all the latest Young Bond news.

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    Matt Weston @ 2010-05-07
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