In recent years, the Literary 007 has been staging a massive comeback for all James Bond fans. There have been the recent (and excellent) Titan releases of the 007 newspaper strip stories, Charlie Higson’s Young Bond series, the beginning of The Moneypenny Diaries series, and much more. Today, CommanderBond.net has the honour of interviewing an author of one of these new literary 007 releases. Paul Michael Kane, author of 007 A Literary Dossier, (which had a limited release in February 2006, and is due for an unlimited release TBA) spoke with CBn on his Bond book which covers the novels by Ian Fleming, Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, and Raymond Benson.
Details are also revealed about new additions to the upcoming unlimited release of 007 A Literary Dossier, as well as a second James Bond book that Paul Michael Kane has planned. Enjoy.
Thank you for agreeing to the interview. To start things off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am, by trade, a graphic designer. I do, however, have a background in journalism. I’ve written for a variety of newspapers and magazines including CFQ, The International Writer’s Open Forum and Blue Harvest Magazine.
I began work in the publishing industry in 2004 with the debut of my first comic book, The Perfect Victim. Aside from the various Bond projects I have in production, I am hard at work on my first novel, The Forgiven (a gothic/crime noir yarn), as well as a series of spin-off Perfect Victim novels and a variety of other projects.
I am a married man of 7 years and the very proud father of a baby girl. These two ladies in my life are the sole reason I get up in the morning and fight the good fight. Their unconditional love and support is what enables me to do the things I love and are why I get to enjoy life to its fullest.
How did you become a James Bond fan?
The first time I picked up a Bond novel, I remember my father telling me I was too young to read Ian Fleming. We had just seen For Your Eyes Only in the theaters (my first Bond Film!) and I wanted to read the book on which the movie was based. I did manage to skim a few pages while Dad wasn’t looking and I remember being disappointed at how different it was from the film. My young mind didn’t know the definition of a film adaptation back then.
A number of years later, in junior high school, there was a literary program initiated to help students enjoy reading. The program was called Silent Quality Uninterrupted Reading Time—given the unfortunate acronym, S.Q.U.I.R.T. Everyday, for 10 minutes, students would have the chance to read a book of their choice. One day I had forgotten my reading material and rushed to the shelves of my science teacher’s room and found a well worn copy of Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger. I was hooked! Since then, I’ve managed to put together a fairly complete first edition library of Fleming, Amis, Gardner and Benson—not to mention a number of the 007 spin-off titles.
As a personal note, I still have that copy of For Your Eyes Only that dad wouldn’t let me read. He passed his PAN edition paperbacks down to me and they are a nice addition to my collection!
What inspired you to create 007 A Literary Dossier?
This isn’t going to sound as prestigious as I would like it to. I had this huge comic show coming up in February of 2006—The first ever New York City Comic Convention. My comic title, The Perfect Victim had been out for the better part of two years and I needed something new on my table at the show. I had just recently finished reading Dirk Pitt Revealed, a nice summery of all Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt adventures. I reasoned that I could do something very similar for the Bond books, but gear it towards comic fans. I’d put a comic style illustration on the cover and write short abstracts designed to introduce new readers to the world of the Literary James Bond! I knew it was something I could put together fairly quickly as I’ve read each book a number of times. I set a budget for a limited print run. I never, in my wildest imagination, thought it would receive so much attention.
I’ve got e-mails from people like Raymond Benson and John Griswold, author of Ian Fleming’s James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming’s Bond Stories, asking for copies! Sadly, Raymond and John will have to wait till the second edition as I sold out of every copy at the NYC Comic Convention. I did, however, keep a couple for myself. Numbers 001 and 007, of course!
What did the research for this book consist of? How long did it take you to write it?
As I mentioned above, the NYC Comic Convention was approaching–a mere four months away, so my research consisted of quickly skimming through the various titles on my bookshelves. I made notes on my laptop as I reacquainted myself with the chapter titles, then set about creating a schedule. I am fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to work from home, so I set out to write 4 abstracts a day. A few weeks later, the first draft was done and my wife gave it a quick once over. After some edits it was off to the printers. The book arrived just in time to debut at the Comic Con!
The book covers the novels by Ian Fleming, Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, and Raymond Benson. You’ve mentioned before that a second and larger print of 007 A Literary Dossier is coming in the future; any plans to cover the novelizations and newer literary adventures, such as the Young Bond series by Charlie Higson?
The second edition of the 007 Literary Dossier will have an unlimited print run and feature a larger page count. It will be expanded to include Charlie Higson’s books, the various movie adaptations by Christopher Wood, John Gardner and Raymond Benson. The Moneypenny Diaries will also be included and even the R.D. Mascott book 003 1/2 – The Adventures of James Bond Junior.
This new edition will also feature some original artwork commissioned just for this volume. Some of the artists will include Chris Ring, artist on my first comic The Perfect Victim, the very talented Matt Busch and Sarah Wilkinson—both of Lucasfilm, Ltd. fame—and many others. I am remaining loyal to the Dossier’s original intent, that being to appeal to comic book fans, so that’s why I’ve got some of the best comic artists I know to contribute their work.
Can you explain to us about the process of start to finish? Did the book end up roughly as you imagined it would?
I like to think that as long as you stick to certain philosophies, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. One of the philosophies I abide by when writing is A.P.E. First you have to ANTICIPATE what you want to accomplish. During this phase of production, I look at the project from a reader’s point of view. What would make me pick this book up? Why am I going to pay good money for this product? Next is PREPARATION. This is where I set my schedule and budget. How many books do I think I can sell. How quickly and effectively can I write this thing. The last is EXECUTION… setting all other things aside and writing the damn thing out. It’s a pretty effective philosophy when you stick with it. The book turned out exactly how I thought it would because it’s how I envisioned it—self-publishing gives me the creative freedom to call all the shots.
What was the most difficult aspect of writing this book?
As always, the hardest part is the Execution mentioned above. I have a day job and family responsibilities that must take precedent over any extracurricular activities, especially ones that may not pay the bill right away. So finding the time to sit down somewhere for a few hours and write is always the challenge. There some late nights to contend with, but after a successful bout at writing something down, it makes it all worth it.
Tell us about the cover – did you approach the artist with a list of what you had in mind?
The cover artist on this book was Roy Cover, a very talented creator. The original piece has two other characters on it, Blofeld and OddJob. They looked too much like their movie counterparts, so I digitally removed them and handed the piece to colorist Thomas Mason. Once I had the colored files, I set about designing the rest of the cover, the background image, cover type and all the stuff on the back cover. It’s amazing what modern technology has provided small time publishers with. You can do an entire book from the seclusion of your office and put out a very slick piece of work.
It was previously mentioned that the first printing of this book, limited to 250 copies, would be set apart for the 2006 New York Comic-Con, back in February. How was the event? Any stories to share?
How was the event? It’s was, quite simply, the best show I’ve ever done. I the years I’ve been doing these conventions, I’ve never had a show go so well for me. Not only did I sell out of the first edition of the 007 Literary Dossier, but came pretty close to selling out of my other titles as well!
Response to the Bond books was as expected. I had posters printed of the cover of the book and had them plastered behind me as well as skirting the table. I turned a lot of heads with that book and am very thrilled at meeting so many Bond fans.
The highlight of the show was talking with a movie producer out of California about my title The Perfect Victim. I must say I am quite excited about where these talks might lead!
Concentrating on the many great James Bond novels, do you have a personal favourite?
I have to say that my all time favorite Bond book is actually not a Fleming title. Though I do love all of Ian’s work—I mean he created and set the standard—I have to say that Icebreaker, by John Gardner, was my all time favorite read. It is the one I’ve re-read the most. A very well crafted read with double and even triple crosses. It holds up well to this very day!
Bond fans often compare the continuation novels to Ian Fleming’s original 14 novels and short story collections, what is your take on this matter?
My take is this—I love them all, no matter who’s writing them. Sure there are some better than others, but this happens with every author. I mean look at The Spy Who Loved Me! I see what Fleming was trying to do, but it just didn’t have the same appeal to me as his other efforts did. I, for one, am always looking forward to the newest book and really hope they manage to put together more adult tales in the coming years. I’ve been enjoying the young [Bond] novels, but I like my Bond with a little more seasoning on him; a harder edge. There is a market for it as my little effort as proven to me. People want more Literary Bond. We’ll just have to wait and see what develops.
You’ve mentioned that you are planning another James Bond book for the future. Is there anything you can let us know about it?
After this latest edition of the 007 Literary Dossier, my plans are to take an in-depth look at the ‘Graphic 007’—that is, I am going to be doing a book on the various comic books titles featuring James Bond, 007. I feel the need to distinguish that this particular book will not cover the amazing amount of comic strips out there—I’ll save that for yet another volume! This book—I am still toying around with the title—will feature reviews and synopsis of every James Bond comic title out there, including Mike Grell’s Permission to Die and Paul Gulacy’s The Serpent’s Tooth. I also plan on doing exclusive interviews with as many creators, both artists and writers, as I can get a hold of.
There are some logistics yet to be worked out for this book. I have to get my hands on some titles that are not in my library, but I love a good hunt. I am looking to release this one sometime mid to late 2007. It will also feature some original artwork and be an unlimited release.
I should note that to keep tabs on these and my other works, please visit pmkane.com for the latest on all my projects and appearances. I love meeting new faces, both on-line and at the various shows I attend… hope to see/meet/chat with you soon!