1. Charlie Higson's James Bond Formula

    By Devin Zydel on 2006-07-24

    The Young Bond Dossier reports on a new interview (on the official website) with Young Bond author Charlie Higson. Higson describes his formula for creating a winning James Bond novel. The interview follows:

    Before writing these books I re-read all of Fleming’s Bond books to try and soak up some of his genius. I didn’t try to write in his style, though, which would be impossible. I did try and make my books similar – the plots, the characters, the type of situation that Bond gets into are all based on the original books.

    The basic elements of a great Fleming Bond book are as follows…

    1 – M gives a mission to Bond. (As Young Bond isn’t a spy, this part is obviously different in my books – but they do start with Bond finding out about problem that needs to be solved).

    2 – The villain show himself and Bond meets him.

    3 – Bond upsets the villain’s plans in some way – or the villain upsets Bond’s plans.

    4 – The girl shows herself.

    5 – Bond gets close to the villain.

    6 – The villain captures Bond (he sometimes captures the girl as well).

    7 – Villain tortures Bond.

    8 – Bond beats the villain and his henchmen.

    9 – Bond recovers from his injuries and gets friendly with the girl, then loses her.

    I try to stick roughly to this plan.

    In discussing the all-important role of the villain in the Bond formula, the author had this to say:

    A good villain needs to stick in the mind, be creepy and scary and be very nasty. And there needs to be a reason why they are doing what they are doing, they can’t just doing be evil for the sake of it.

    Ian Fleming created the best villains – Goldfinger, Blofeld, Dr No, Red Grant, Rosa Klebb, Irma Bunt… As I said before I try to keep to the style of Fleming, so my villains are similar to his.

    In Fleming’s books, the villains are all older than Bond and tend to be rich and powerful. They are all in a way like father figures, or evil headmasters if you like. [Ed note: Yes! Mr. Higson gets this in a way that, in recent years, the Bond film-makers have repeatedly fumbled, making their villains Bond’s age and even younger!] People who should be well behaved and are well respected, but who are secretly hatching terrible plots. Fleming partly based his villains on real people – like Mussolini, or the Satanist, Alistair Crowley. The hardest thing is coming up with what the villains look like, and making them memorable without going down the clichéd route of having them badly scarred, or with claws for hands – although in the end you do have to do a bit of this, otherwise the villains all look the same and don’t stick in the mind. I made Lord Hellebore extremely handsome. Ugo is very pale, almost like a vampire.

    The villain in the third book is English for a change.

    Charlie Higson

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