Jeffery Deaver on updating James Bond
Details about the next James Bond novel – tentatively called Project X – remain sparse, but author Jeffery Deaver has dropped some more hints about his approach to writing about 007 in an interview with the News & Observer.
The bestselling thriller writer confirmed that his Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award-winning book Garden of Beasts was what landed him the 007 gig. “What happened was, a book of mine, Garden of Beasts, was a hit in Europe. It’s a historical thriller about a hit man in America given the option to go to Berlin for 1936 Olympics and assassinate the guy that was helping Germany rearm after World War I.”
“It’s actually my favorite book of any I’ve written, and it won an award in Europe that was sponsored by the Ian Fleming estate. When I accepted the award, I said how it meant a lot to me because I had read all the Bond books when I was young and they were a big influence on me.”
“I didn’t think anything of it beyond that. Then out of the blue, my agent got a call, and – was I interested in writing the next James Bond novel?”
“The Russians never did attack America; the threat of nuclear war didn’t happen. It’s hard to generate tension with those things anymore.” – Jeffery Deaver
However, there were a number of hurdles to overcome before Deaver accepted the offer. “I almost had to turn it down due to legal issues with my other publishers. And I also didn’t want to do a period piece. The Russians never did attack America; the threat of nuclear war didn’t happen. It’s hard to generate tension with those things anymore. There are new threats other than Cold War threats. But as it turns out my fears were unfounded because they want me to write a book in the modern day.”
“I joke that I have a co-author, Mr Fleming, because his estate is looking over my shoulder.” – Jeffery Deaver
But how exactly does Deaver plan to update Ian Fleming’s quintessential spy for the 21st century? “I’m writing the book myself, but I joke that I have a co-author, Mr Fleming, because his estate is looking over my shoulder. The work that I’ve done has been preliminarily approved. But I do have to go back and forth with them to get the details straight, which we’ll do over the next few months.”
“The book will be set in mid-2011, which is when the book will be coming out. Bond is a 29- or 30-year-old agent for British security, doing what he did in the original books. And he will be a veteran of the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. You’ll see the cast of characters readers are familiar with – Miss Moneypenny and M – but updated for the present day.”
“The character in the books is much more complicated. He’s darker. He’s a killer.” – Jeffery Deaver
It’s clear Deaver is taking his time to craft a well-plotted adventure. The author’s finished outline runs at about 180 pages. “What I’m doing is taking two templates, or formulas. One is taking the very complicated and edgy character that Fleming created. If people know Bond only from the movies, that’s just one interpretation. The character in the books is much more complicated. He’s darker. He’s a killer. The 00 classification, the license to kill, didn’t mean he was allowed to kill someone defending himself. It meant he was sent out on assignment for the express purpose of assassinating someone.”
“It takes a very special kind of person to do that. Now in fact, he rarely did. In some books, he didn’t kill anybody. He took a life if he needed to, regretfully. He didn’t enjoy it. Which, I think, makes him all the more human. He’s a flawed character. So that’s template one. And that will all translate into the modern day very well. It’s a post-modern character, really.”
“The other template is my kind of storytelling – very intricate plotting, very fast paced. The book will take place over only a few days. There will be exotic locations – and that’s part of the Bond formula as well, of course. It will have a lot of twists and turns and misdirections, and several big surprise endings.”
Be sure to check out the full interview, in which Deaver discusses more about his approach to thriller writing, in the News & Observer.
Deaver plans to deliver the Project X manuscript by 30 October. The book will be published around 28 May 2011 by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK and Simon & Schuster in the US.
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