1. The Charlie Higson CBn Interview II

    By johncox on 2007-09-01

    CAUTION: While there are no major plot spoilers contained in this interview, Charlie does speak at length about character relationships and motivations in Hurricane Gold. For those of you wishing to remain 100% spoiler free… beware.

    In February 2005 CBn had the honour of being the first Bond website to interview author, comedian, and

    John Cox

    “The Fast Show” star Charlie Higson, who had just been announced as the new James Bond continuation author. At the time, Higson’s first Bond novel, SilverFin, had yet to be released, and a question hung in the air: Would fans embrace a series that featured a 13-year-old James Bond?

    Now, two years later, Higson’s “Young Bond” novels have been published in over 23 countries with sales of the first three books topping a half million in the UK alone. The Young Bond DossierThe books have been praised by critics and embraced by Bond fans young and old. This Thursday, 6 September, sees the fourth book in the series, Hurricane Gold, published as a hardcover by Puffin Books. It is expected to be another bestseller.

    Now John Cox of The Young Bond Dossier once again sits down with Charlie Higson for CBn to find out how his journey has been, and what’s in store for James in the final two installments of his Young Bond series.

    The Charlie Higson CBn Interview II

    JC: The last time we did a CBn interview was right before the release of SilverFin, and now here you are working on the final book. How has the journey been, and has the series turned out the way you envisioned?


    Well, it seems to have gone by very quickly. But it must have been a few years ago that I started writing SilverFin. I had no idea where it was going to go. You know, they said they wanted five books but if the first one hadn’t done well, there wouldn’t have been any more, so…

    JC: Oh, really? There was a cut-off?

    CH: Well, I think they probably would have had it go to two or three, but nobody’s going to keep publishing books that aren’t successful. Luckily, everywhere except over your side of the pond they’ve done really well. That’s the only thing that we’ve yet to crack—The States. And we’ve had some comings and goings with publishers, but I think that’s been sorted out now. But over here it’s been absolutely amazing.

    QUOTE: Well, obviously I've got to come up with a torture which isn’t too horrible...

    The success has been quite phenomenal really. You know, I always thought “Yeah, the first one will sell a bit on the name of James Bond. After that, who knows?” But luckily the kids here seem to like that kind of old-fashioned action-adventure story.

    JC: Before we talk about the new book, I just wanted to play catch up a little bit. I know you’ve already done a lot of interviews about Blood Fever, but I don’t think anyone has asked how you came up with the mosquito torture—which I think is a new Bondian iconic torture.

    CH: Well, obviously I’ve got to come up with a torture which isn’t too horrible because then we wouldn’t be allowed to use it in the books if it’s too graphic. I can’t have him having his testicle crushed in a nutcracker and things like that. So the idea of doing it via third party, by a mosquito, works very well. But it’s mainly having spent many holidays as a kid in the Mediterranean. Certainly for an English person, where we don’t have mosquitoes, one of the vivid memories of going on holiday in the Mediterranean is being bitten to shreds by mosquitoes. So I thought that’s something that kids could relate too. Always in the books I’m trying to think of things where a kid could think, “Yeah, I can imagine that. I can picture being in that situation.” The thought of being tied down in the middle of a mosquito swamp is pretty unbearable, I thought. So it had some resonance.

    JC: Something else that I think has emerged as a Bondian classic is what I call the “breakaway henchman” of Double or Die. (Charlie laughs) The henchman who comes away from every encounter missing a body part. Was that planned, or did it evolve as you wrote? It felt like maybe it was something you discovered on the way.

    CH: It did start to evolve as I was writing it and I started to think, this is a good thing, this sort of steadily diminishing villain. Most of my stuff evolves as I write. I tend to write quite quickly. I have rough ideas for characters and situations and I’ll write a quick first draft and I’ll keep changing even as I go through the first draft and I’ll go back over it and over it. And, yeah, definitely I went back and added a few more. I added a couple of things I eventually took out because it was kind of getting a bit too much.

    Image: Charlie Higson

    It’s very nice when you’re writing and you suddenly get an idea like that. You know it’s the terrible question you always get asked is “where do you get your ideas from?”. And who knows really? But that one definitely came about through the processes of writing.

    JC: Actually, I think you just partially answered my next question, and that’s how much of the books you outline before you start, and do Ian Fleming Publications have any input on the story?

    CH: When I started I had initial discussions with IFP. We talked about where they’d like the fifth book to be set and where it all might end up and some of the themes, so I started thinking of a kind of story that would go through all five books. Then I immediately started thinking I need to do some skiing in one of them at the Alps, there needs to be some underwater thing… So I started thinking about all the Bond themes, and working them out roughly where they might lay in the books. I’ve changed that slightly as it’s gone on. So I plan things out to a certain extent. I like to know where each book’s going to end up. But getting there I don’t always know.

    I’d written most of Blood Fever—certainly the first or second draft—before SilverFin came out. So [Blood Fever] wasn’t influenced by the first book particularly. I just wanted to push it a bit more into the, kind of, “Bond world”. And then when I started getting reactions to SilverFin, that slightly started to influence how I was going about the third book. But then of course the second book came out and I started getting reactions to that, and I was thinking “Oh, dear. Have I gone down the wrong route with this third book?”

    But, in the end, you can’t be swayed by what people think. And particularly you have to be careful trawling the Internet and seeing people’s comments and kind of knee-jerk responses to things. You gotta in the end stick with what you want to do—what I like writing about and getting a reaction off my kids. But it is quite fun trying to switch the books around a bit and make them all a bit different and surprise people. Certainly with the new one, with Hurricane Gold, I’ve done a completely different kind of a structure for it. Because I thought it was starting to get a little bit obvious that you’d have the first third of the story in Eton, and then he’d go off, out for a big adventure. In Hurricane Gold there are no scenes at Eton at all.

    JC:No scenes at Eton? That’s a surprise.

    CH:Well, there are letters from his friends at Eton and from Mr. Fairburn, so you’ve got this kind of parallel story of what’s going on at Eton. And Bond is round the other side of the world cut off from all that and his kind of feelings about that.

    QUOTE: I had to go back and think, 'Well, why on earth is it called SilverFin?'

    But I thought, yeah, let’s switch it around a bit and just launch him straight in at the beginning fully into the adventure. Because I was feeling—I may have gone through this elsewhere, I don’t know—after Double or Die which was cold, grey England at Christmas, I really thought it was important to send him off somewhere hot and glamorous for the next one. And in fact, that was kind of the reaction Ian Fleming got after Moonraker. He got lots of letters from people saying “We don’t want to see Bond in Kent. We want to see him somewhere nice and sunny. We don’t want to think about England anymore in the winter.” So I’m sort of trying to vaguely, as you know, echo the way that Fleming’s five books went.

    JC:So that has been a conscious choice—to echo the Fleming books?

    CH:As I’ve gone on, it is kind of helpful to have something like that. And just think “Well, yeah, I mean, he tried…” Because Moonraker was very much like a sort of detective story—a procedural thriller. I have my suspicions actually that it was something he was probably working on even pre-Bond and he kind of thought “Yeah, I can use that for Bond.”


    CH: Yeah. Because it is very different from the other ones. And yet it is one of the more popular books. It does seem to come out quite high in polls quite a lot. But I’m not slavishly thinking “Right, I’ve got to this in the next one and this in the next one.” But it’s quite fun to go through that same process that he went through when he was reacting to readers’ comments and what people like or disliked in the books. So all the sort of wintry skiing stuff that was going to be in the fourth book I’ve just about managed to shift it into the fifth book, which will open in the Alps. And then he kind of drifts through summer after that. So it’s got a bit of everything in book five. But book four, by sending him off to Mexico, I could just about get him somewhere warm and exotic before he has to get back to Eton. But as usual, he’s living quite an action-packed life (laughs).

    JC: One last question about Double or Die. The postscript at the end when we meet the adult James Bond… That was unlike anything that’s yet been in a Young Bond novel and I was wondering where that idea came from and what you think about it?


    Well, I have to tell you I’m of two minds as to whether or not it was a good idea. I think it was quite fun to do. Unfortunately, some of the kids reading it think “Oh, so he’s not going to be a kid anymore in the books. He’s grown up now is he?” But as soon as they see the next one they’ll know that’s not true. I kind of felt everybody knows that James Bond does grow up to be a spy. It’s not a great surprise. We know he’s going to live in each of the books and carry on and do things. And I wanted to talk a bit about the whole Alan Turing thing and ENIGMA and that kind of world. And I thought rather than just putting a sort of dull postscript about what went on, I thought, “Well, let’s try just to have a little glimpse of adult Bond.” It was quite fun writing, actually, because I could call him “Bond”, rather than “James”. I did at that point start thinking, you know, it might be fun to write an adult Bond novel after all.

    JC: Oh? Any chance you may write an adult Bond novel?

    CH: Well, when IFP first approached me they said “We are looking at writing some new James Bond books” and I thought Christ how would you do that? That’s going to be really difficult trying to do a new adult Bond and try and keep him James Bond. And what can you do that hasn’t been done before?

    QUOTE: It's my attempt at a fictional Caribbean island in the great Fleming tradition.

    And then they said, “But it’s for children and it’s about him as a kid” at which point I thought “Oh, right. Okay, now I get it. We might have some fun with that. I can twist it round and have some more input for myself.” So I easily got very excited about the project. And, obviously, over the years the question of adult Bond books has come up in discussions with Ian Fleming Publications. Just in conversation. And, you know, I thought, “Well, could I pull it off?”

    I mean, it’s been great fun writing the kids’ books and there’s a certain degree of freedom you get. You think, “This is a little bit implausible, isn’t it?” Well, it’s a kid’s book! (Laughs) I think actually that was some of the strength of Ian Fleming. As he said, he was really a kind of permanent adolescent. He wrote things that a lot of writers would have thought “Oh, no, that’s a bit implausible, that’s a bit far-fetched or whatever.” But [Fleming] thought, “No, let’s do it.” And so he was kind of freed of those restraints, and that’s what makes his books so much fun really. So I think maybe one day it might be nice to have a crack at the adult Bond. I mean—I’m really excited to see what Sebastian Faulks has done with it and what he’ll come up with. I think that’s going to be a really terrific book.

    JC: So you haven’t had a peek at the manuscript for Devil May Care?

    CH: No. No. God, you know how secretive IFP are. I did know the name before the announcement, but not long before. As you know, they play their cards very close to their chest. But I am hoping I will get a kind of proof copy.

    JC:Okay, let’s talk about Hurricane Gold. You already mentioned that you changed the location from the Alps to give Bond a little fun in the sun. Mexico is a great choice because Bond has actually never been to Mexico.

    CH:No, you know, Fleming was quite limited in his choice of locations. He just wrote about places that he’d been to. From Russia with Love he’d just gotten back from a trip to Istanbul and he was obviously excited by it. A lot of them are set in Jamaica obviously because he knew that really well. He loved the Alps.

    Image: Charlie Higson

    He’d spent a lot of time there as a kid. And the Japan [book] came about by a trip that he’d taken.

    I was actually torn between Mexico and North Africa as a location. But then I read somewhere that Fleming was never keen on North Africa and always dismissed it as a location for Bond. I don’t know what his objections were but he didn’t like the idea of North Africa. So I thought well, Mexico. And then I can start in Mexico and end up in the Caribbean. Geographically it makes sense. I thought I really had to have something in the books of the Caribbean because it was such a big deal for Fleming. And I’ve always loved Mexico and wanted to write something about Mexico. I love the food and the music and growing up on all those cheesy westerns and 1930s thrillers that are set there. So it was just quite fun for me.

    JC:It’s a great choice. I’m excited about it. The island, where the criminals are…

    CH: “Lagrimas Negras”.

    JC:Is that fictional or based on something real?

    CH: No. It’s totally fictional, yes. It’s my attempt at a fictional Caribbean island in the great Fleming tradition (laughs).

    JC:Unless it’s a surprise, can you tell us what the title Hurricane Gold refers to?


    Well, as with all the other titles, it came very late in the day after many, many different titles. In fact, my working title for the book was “Lagrimas Negras”, which was very quickly rejected by the publishers as being incomprehensible to English readers. As I said, we went through lots of titles. There was originally in the book a big sequence that was set in a gold mine. But I changed that because I felt in Blood Fever we’d kind of done the silver mine thing. So in the end I changed it to an abandoned oil field, which there were a lot of in the 1930s in Mexico. There was a big oil boom there.

    But the publishers had got very excited about the idea of gold. And obviously there was a lot of stuff about the Mayans and Mayan gold in the book. And they said “we’d love to have gold in the title somewhere” because they were working on this concept of making a gold book. These days, you’ve got to think about marketing even as you’re writing the book. And there is a hurricane early on in the book. So those were the two themes. Then I was kind of knocking around and I thought “Hurricane Gold” actually sounds quite good. It’s quite a nice combination for a title. So I suggested that to them and they jumped at it, at which point, as with SilverFin, I had to go back and work it into the book a bit.

    But I did—I came up with an ancient Mayan saying, which I created, which is the concept of “hurricane gold”, which is a great treasure which if you hang on to it, it will destroy you and all your family and bring your house down about your head. And that’s kind of the theme of the book is this secret that everybody’s fighting to get hold of which is destroying anybody who does get hold of it.

    Image: Charlie Higson

    So if you read to the end of the book the title does makes sense. And I quite like when you do get a kind of theme or something you can think up, even after you’ve written maybe the first or second draft, and then you can go back and work it in. It gives an extra dimension to the book.

    And exactly the same thing happened with SilverFin because we eventually came up with this title of SilverFin, at which point I had to go back and think, “Well, why on earth is it called ‘SilverFin’?” So I made up the story of the Scottish legend of the big fish and I named the loch “Silverfin” and I named the serum “SilverFin” and it kind of all worked very nicely actually. I’m still slightly trying to work out why Double or Die is called Double or Die (laughs). But if you ask a load of kids to give a title to a book that they’ve never read, what do you expect?

    JC:Well, there is gambling in the book—

    CH:Yeah. I mean, I did try and work in a bit of that, the concept of—well, they “shoot the moon”—which is what the original title was—it’s similar to that. It’s kind of “all or nothing”.

    JC:I know you had a favorite of the three, but I don’t think you’ve ever said what that was?

    CH:Well, it’s a bit like asking a father which is their favourite child.

    JC:Oh, not the books. I’m talking about the titles. The three title choices.

    CH:Oh, the titles. Right. Well, I quite liked “The Deadlock Cipher”.

    JC: I suspected that was your title.

    CH:But it is a little bit… sort of Sherlock Holmesy. It’s quite a nice title. I don’t think actually, in the end, it really is much of a James Bond title. And I know that some of the kids, having read the book said “Oh, yeah, maybe it should’ve been called ‘The Deadlock Cipher’” But, you know, they didn’t know what it meant. And it was confusing for them. And also a lot of them thought it was “The Deadlock Kipper”. Do you have kippers in America?

    JC:Kippers? We don’t have kippers here. At least, if we have them, they’re not called kippers.

    CH: It’s smoked haddock. Smoked fish that a lot of people have for their breakfast. It’s called a kipper. Yeah, a lot of kids thought the title was “The Deadlock Kipper”, (laughs) which wasn’t right.

    QUOTE: I did at that point start thinking, you know, it might be fun to write an adult bond novel after all.

    No, I think it was a little bit too artsy-fartsy and erudite for a James Bond title. Anyway, I liked all three of them so I was happy with the choice in the end. It was pretty obvious that the kids were going to go for [Double or Die] because it sounded like a James Bond title.

    JC: It does. It looks good in print too. I know you test your books out on your boys as you write them. What’s their reaction to Hurricane Gold and do they have a favorite Young Bond novel? Or maybe a favorite gruesome death?

    CH:(Laughs) They like all the deaths. Yes. I mean, actually funny enough, the bit that still really sticks in their mind—certainly with the two youngest ones, because they were very young when they read it—is the opening sequence of SilverFin with the eels and the mutant man in the loch, which does seem to freak out quite a lot of kids, that chapter, which is kind of nice. No, they don’t have a favourite particularly. And yeah, luckily they did really like the new one. I made sure it’s fairly non-stop action from the beginning. It’s a kind of… not exactly a roller-coaster ride, but the central image—theme—of the book is this rat run, a homage, if you like, to Doctor No and his… I don’t know how he describes it, but his kind of “corridor of pain” that James Bond has to work his way through. The guy who runs this island has his own equivalent. It’s much bigger and more elaborate.

    JC:Is that the Avenue Of Death?

    CH:It’s the Avenue Of Death, yes, which is a series of passages with traps and dangers you have to work your way through. And so to a certain extent the whole book is structured like that when James starts off, and he’s got to work his way through these series of disasters and problems, and eventually he arrives at the island and then he has to do the whole thing again in miniature in the Avenue Of Death. So I did make sure that it was pretty rollicking action from the beginning so my kids don’t get bored. Because I remember when I was reading Blood Fever to them, we were about halfway through, and one of them said to me: “Dad, when’s the story going to start?” And I was thinking, “What are you talking about? We’re halfway through the book. It’s been nothing but plot.”

    Image: Charlie Higson

    But what they actually meant was, “When’s there going to be another fight?” As far as they’re concerned, that’s what story is. It’s a lot of fighting—loosely separated with a bit of talking and some scene-setting. So I kind of felt, Let’s start the story on page one in Hurricane Gold and then push it through. So it’s a good reaction. Jim, my twelve-year-old, said a really nice thing to me. When I finished it, he was silent for a moment, and then he said, “Oh, I wish I could have adventures like James Bond.” And that’s exactly the response I want to have from kids—just think “What a great adventure! Wouldn’t that be fun to do!” So luckily, yeah, they do still enjoy the books. I have made sure that there’re a lot of very grisly and gruesome deaths in the book that will stick in a child’s mind.

    JC: You mentioned “adventure novel”. I know you just did a program about the reemergence of the boy’s adventure novel. My sense from the plot description is that Hurricane Gold maybe leans more toward a classic boy’s adventure novel than a James Bond novel? Or am I wrong?

    CH: Well, the background to it is spies and stolen secrets. And I think certainly when he gets to the island at the end, it is very much a homage to Doctor No and any kind of those—the criminal base at the end. So I think there are a lot of Bond elements in it. There are these American gangsters, so there are echoes of Diamonds Are Forever which is—obviously—about gangsters, in that case, diamond smuggling. In this case, it’s gangsters involved in smuggling something else.

    It’s interesting, as the books go on, I’m less worried about pleasing the kind of James Bond purists. And, at the same time, there’s nothing in the books that will grate. It all fits in with Fleming’s scheme and his facts, and there’s the usual allusions to things in the adult books. But what’s interesting is over here in England, Young Bond is very much seen by the kids as character in his own right. They’re not constantly relating it back to James Bond and the adult Bond and all that. They enjoy the books for what they are, and the character in the books for who he is. And that sort of gives me a little bit more freedom. That being said, book number five probably will be the most similar in themes and plot elements to a Fleming book. And it certainly moves much more into the world of the Secret Service.

    JC:You anticipated my next question. So is book five going to be your From Russia With Love?


    Well, yeah. I mean, it’s the one where it all gets quite serious and grown up. There’s a lot of stuff about Russian spies, German spies, stuff that was going on in the 1930s, the whole kind of drift toward the Second World War and all that. So it is very much saying, “This is where James Bond’s life is going to go.” But it will mean I’ve burnt quite a lot of bridges. I’ve said I’m not going to do any more Young Bond, and I can’t because I do eventually have to deal with Bond leaving Eton. He’s been there a lot longer than his allotted time, as you know. And so he very much needs the end of that period of his life in book five. But it may be that I can go on and do another stage in his life, or something different, but it would be very difficult to write any more Young Bond books after Book Five. It’s interesting, Fleming himself after the end of From Russia With Love left it in a position where maybe that was the last one. Maybe Bond was dead and he wasn’t going to do anymore. So there are all those kind of echoes of Fleming and what he was up to.

    I just hope that my book four, Hurricane Gold is better received than Diamonds Are Forever, which does tend to come out somewhere near the bottom of any list of Fleming books. It didn’t quite have what people wanted from a Bond book. But I am confident that I’ve got some great villains, some great characters and some great action sequences, and it’s probably more like Doctor No—which then again was a slightly different Bond book. It was going more into that almost sort of sci-fi area and more of a fantasy area. Although there’s no sci-fi or anything in this book, it does have a different feel from the other three. But I like that.

    JC:You mentioned the characters in Hurricane Gold… I’ve learned a little bit about the Bond girl, Precious Stone, which I think is a dynamite name, and I’m wondering how you come up with a Bond Girl name that’s outrageous but not Austin Powers parody?

    CH: It’s very tricky, and I’ve noticed on the websites it does kick up a storm of discussion about “Is this a crap name or not?” I don’t know. Any of the Fleming names you could have put them down on paper, if you’d never read the book and knew nothing about Bond, and said “This girl is called ‘that’”, you’d think “Well, I’m not sure about that as a name”. But once you read the book and you accept it and she becomes a character then you buy into it. I think if in the process of the book the character works and the girl becomes interesting, you can, if you want, call her anything you like. But, yeah, it’s hard to think of those names. Especially as I can’t do anything sexual—which Fleming was fond of—because of who I’m writing for.

    Actually in the first draft of the book she wasn’t called Precious, she was called Amaryllis Stone. I like the name Amaryllis and, obviously, there was a Fleming connection.

    QUOTE: So it is very much saying, 'This is where James Bond’s life is going to go.'

    A cousin, I think she was a cello player, who is alluded to in “From A View To A Kill” rather cheekily by Fleming. So yeah, there is a member of the Fleming family called Amaryllis and I just thought it was a great name to use. But the character in the book starts as a real bitch, a real nasty piece of work. Spoilt. But as she goes through these adventures with James—they’re kind of thrown together—she toughens up and you realize that underneath it all, she’s quite tough. By the end, the two of them are, taking on the world together.

    But IFP were a little worried. They thought, “Well, you know, she does start a slightly unpleasant character. Might it upset the family?” So, I wasn’t totally wedded to the name, so I thought, “Well, I’ll try and think of another name.” And she already had the surname of “Stone” so I thought “Well, actually, Precious Stone is quite a good name, and it’s quite good for the character, this kind of southern belle who lives with her father who absolutely dotes on, and so he’s called her “Precious” and she’s lived up to her name. I think it’s the kind of thing that by the end of the book hopefully you sort of forget what she’s called and just accept the character on the page. And actually, I’m not sure if in the book it’s ever spelled out as “Precious Stone”. She’s always called “Precious”. I think maybe it’s mentioned toward the end what her name is. But we know she’s called “Precious”, and her surname is “Stone”. But she’s always referred to as “Precious” rather than as “Precious Stone”.

    JC:I think it’s a great name, and “Precious” wasn’t an uncommon name in the ’30s…

    CH:No. Exactly.

    JC:The character of Jack Stone, the World War I ace? Is he based on anything in real life?

    CH: Nothing specific, no. In fact, when I started, he wasn’t a World War I flying ace, he was a kind of oil magnate. But in the writing of it, I wanted to slightly change where he was coming from. There’s quite a lot of themes in the book about what happens to heroes when they’re not needed anymore, and it became quite interesting in terms of the whole sort of myth of Bond—you know, how someone in wartime can be a great hero, doing great things, and then if you do those same things in peacetime… because in wartime to be a hero, you’ve got to kill a lot of people. So this is someone who was a big star, big hero, did all the kind of air shows after the war and all that sort of barn-storming stuff and then is quietly forgotten by the world and his money disappears. So he has to… well, you’re going to have to read to find out what happens to him.

    But there’s a lot of discussion about “What is a hero?” and what happens when a country doesn’t need its heroes any more and forgets about them. I read quite a lot about the air aces. Most of them were killed before they were about 20. They were about 18 or 19 year olds when they were air aces.

    QUOTE: It's interesting, as the books go on, I'm less worried about pleasing the kind of James Bond purists.

    JC: Interesting. A very interesting character for James Bond to encounter…

    CH: Yeah. He is—and as the book goes on one realizes that Jack Stone is not all that he seems. And there’s a lot of stuff about the relationship between Precious and her dad, and, of course, James Bond not having a father, he’s sort of jealous, I suppose, in a way, of her relationship with her father.

    JC: That just reminded me of something that maybe you can’t answer, but I’m wondering if at any point in the series—I guess it would have to be the next book—you’re going to deal with Bond’s parents’ deaths?

    CH: Well, I have thought that about that a lot. And Book Five is a lot about climbing in the Alps and obviously Bond’s parents died in a climbing accident in the Alps. But I kind of decided early on that it might be a bit pat, a bit obvious, if, you know, they were spies or they got caught up in some plot and were bumped off. I think that sort of thing has been done quite a lot in kids’ books of this nature. So I’ve resisted that. I haven’t fully decided, but I think I will resist that, because again, it might be something that you think he might have mentioned in his adult life. It may have had some resonance to him. Particularly if it was to do with a foreign power or something. So I think I will leave it just as an accident. There are some more revelations in Book Five about his family and spying and references back to Uncle Max, but I think I’ll leave that just as an accident and not go into the great mystery of Bond’s parents. It’s a bit Harry Potter. It’s a bit Alex Rider, the Anthony Horowitz books. I think I’ll just leave them quietly in their graves. (Laughs)

    JC:You’ve shared a lot about Book Five. Do you have a working title that you want to share with us now?

    CH:No. No. (Thinking) Something came to me the other day, but I forgot to write it down and it’s gone now. No. I don’t even have a working title for this one. It’s just Bond Number Five.

    JC:It must be close to finished. Or at least your first draft must be close to finished?


    I wish it was. I’m a bit behind. Actually, what happened was Book Four was not meant to be out till next year. Next January or February. And I had quite a busy year this year. I knew the first half of the year I had various other writing jobs, so I delivered Book Four early to Puffin, and pushed it through to make sure it was finished well in advance so that I could clear the decks to get on with other writing before I started on Book Five. But, of course, publishers being publishers, they got the book early and said “Well, we’ll publish it early!” So they brought publication forward by about four or five months, which basically means that I’m four or five months behind on Book Five. We obviously want to get it out for next year for the centenary, so I am working on it and I’m going to work on it through the winter, but it’s going to be quite tight up against the deadline at the end.

    JC:So the plan is to release the book next year?

    CH:Yeah, towards the end of next year. I mean that would be great for the centenary. There’ll be the Sebastian Faulks book. There’s some various big stuff the family has planned. There’ll be the paperback of Hurricane Gold. There’ll be the graphic novel of SilverFin. And there’ll be the last of the Young Bond books. It should be a good year. If I can finish the f——ing thing! (Laughs)

    JC:Finally, was there anything in the series that you wanted to do that you weren’t able to do. A location? Or a Fleming reference?

    &nbspWell I’m still trying to get quite a lot into Book Five… so, no, I think I’ve done everything I’ve wanted. The thing with books is they never turn out anything like you expected them to. And particularly me, because I don’t plan things down to the last full stop. I leave it quite fluid in the writing. And it changes a lot from one draft to another. And so, oftentimes the book you end up with is not the book you set out to write. But certainly in terms of locations and characters and stuff, I think I’ve covered the James Bond world. And, yeah, as I say, any last loose threads will be tied up in Book Five, I hope.

    JC: Thank you Charlie for being so generous with your time and answers. I think I can speak for most Bond fans that we really enjoy the Young Bond series and look forward to the release of Hurricane Gold on Thursday.

    CH: Cheers then. See ya.