1. Young (Bond) at Heart

    By Matt Weston on 2006-04-19

    Matt Weston

    It’s safe to say the literary Bond is in very good hands, and as a self-confessed nay-sayer to the very idea of a young James Bond, I stand here before you now, merrily tucking into a very large slice of humble pie, eagerly awaiting any Young Bond news I can get my adult hands on.

    On 12 April 2006, Charlie Higson attended the ‘Festival of Foyles’ at Foyles bookstore in London to mix and mingle with fans of all ages as the author of the Young Bond book series, including SilverFin, and the recently-released Blood Fever. And where better for a Bond author to speak about his work than in a bookstore with its very own pirhana tank (and chocolate fountain, and magician, and man on stilts).

    Foyles, London

    Foyles, London

    The event began at 2pm sharp with Charlie Higson taking a seat and began spouting his extensive knowledge of the 007 canon to enthralled youngsters and learned older fans alike. His audience sat and intently listened to the knowledge of Bob Holness as 007 (in a South African radio adaptation), the famous anecdote of Peter Lorre, as the deceased Le Chiffre in 1954’s Casino Royale, rising from the dead to exit the stage, and later his feelings on an aging Roger Moore clinging to his licence to kill a touch too long (he also ruled out any possibility that Moore would star as Young Bond in any future films).

    The 100-plus audience attending ranged from children of 5 or 6 years old to fans in their 70s, a terrific sign of the sprawling market Higson has cracked over the past two novels. Charlie retold the story of how he was approached by the Ian Fleming Estate to write a series of novels for children, the realistic angle he wanted to take with the series, and the process he went through in writing his first Bond novel, SilverFin.

    Charlie Higson talks to fans

    Charlie Higson talks to fans

    Higson shared a number of amusing anecdotes from his experiences of writing three Young Bond novels (the third is due to be published in January 2007; he has just begun work on the fourth), including his sons being the ones who push for more violence in the books (according to Higson, his son begs for each new character to be bumped off as soon as they’ve been introduced), and his bulletproof theory as to why Young Bond doesn’t see much action with the ladies – even kissing (‘Boys don’t like kissing’).

    All too soon, the floor was opened for questions, with the varied age of the audience – including their experience with James Bond – resulting in a wide variety of questions, from issues of copyright and licencing, right through to whether, as characters of the ‘30s, Young Bond and King Kong would ever duke it out (curiously, Charlie did mention he was hoping to have Young Bond catch the original King Kong film in cinemas in a future book).

    Blood Fever and SilverFin

    Blood Fever and SilverFin

    But what everyone was waiting for, was any news concerning upcoming books in the series. Higson was admittedly careful in what he divulged (‘the Secret Service minders are watching,’ he cautioned me, when I asked him about the proposed Young Bond graphic novels), but dropped enough hints to keep his public happy and waiting.

    On the topic of Blood Fever, Higson revealed that, as with SilverFin, there is a connection to a future villain Bond will face off against in Fleming’s Thunderball.

    Charlie also dropped a number of hints about what to expect in Book 3, which is due in January 2007. The book is completed, with Higson currently battling with publishers over the title (which Higson admits is always the hardest part of writing a Bond book) and cover art (Book 3 does not have the ‘creepy animal’ aspect that his previous two novels did). Both will be presented on the official Young Bond site as soon as possible.

    In Book 3, Bond’s Aston Martin features more prominantly, with James using it to escape from the villain’s lair, only to have a horrible crash, which results in him getting his Bentley (the literary Bond’s car of choice). The London-based novel also has its climax take place in the Docklands area, which teases had a tremendous atmosphere in the 1930s.

    More exciting is the revelation of the location of Book 4, which Higson says will be set in Mexico and the Carribean (Higson had previously said Book 4 would be set in the Alps, where Bond’s parents met their demise… could this be the location of Book 5?).

    Perhaps the biggest news was that the publishers of the series seem to be playing coy with regards to how many books Higson is contracted to right. With the tremendous success of the series, it seems

    CBn's Matt with Charlie Higson

    CBn’s Matt Weston with Charlie Higson

    On the film front, Higson revealed IFP have had movie offers from everyone ‘from Steven Spielberg, down’ but are still focussing on establishing the the books. Curiously, Charlie did seem like the idea was a real possibility, even going so far as to say, the longer they hold off on filming, the more books they have to work with and the less likelihood of changing actors throughout the series.

    As a final miscellaneous titbit, it seems IFP are still keen on adult Bond adventures (he used plural) in the future.

    All too soon, the event wrapped and Charlie Higson graciously signed many a copy of SilverFin and Blood Fever for his legions of fans (yours truly included).

    All in all, Charlie Higson presented an informative and entertaining discussion of all things Bond to the delight of all who attended. A very big thank you to Foyles, IFP and, in particular, Mr Higson, for a jolly good show!