An Interview With Gary Giblin
James Bond's London is one of the most important books for any Bond fan to own. A reference guide to locations throughout London with a relation to Bond, whether it be literary or cinematic Bond, it is filled with interesting facts and great detail on Bond's London. It's available from SpyGuise for US$20.
Now onto our interview with the books author, Gary Giblin.
Tell us about yourself.
I'm 42 and married to a wonderful woman, an English teacher, named Lisa. I live in the midwestern state of Indiana, in the house I grew up in. I have been writing on Bond for the last six years, which includes consulting work for MGM/UA. I used to work as a National Trainer for the Encyclopaedia Britannica company and my degree is in education. I love movies, travel, linguistics, mystery novels, and all things British, esp. Bond and Hitchcock.
How and when did you get into Bond?
I have always been a memorabilia collector and in 1974, at the age of 15, I decided to start collecting Bond–posters, books, toys, etc. I started writing a Bond reference book in college–but (un)fortunately, Raymond Benson beat me to it! (But his book is a gem, so I can't complain.) In any case, I've been addicted to both the movies and the books ever since.
What made you decide to write a book like this?
I have always been interested in identifying and visiting film and TV locations and so on a whim, I prepared a short guide for Lee Pfeiffer's Let's Bond in Britain Tour in 1997. It proved popular enough that Lee suggested I expand it into a book. I'm thrilled that more and more people
enjoy reliving a favorite film through its locations.
Who was the biggest help in writing this book?
The biggest help was my wife, who read and re-read the book and made many helpful suggestions. After her, and not failing to mention my publishers' contributions, I'd have to say that Bond production designer Peter Lamont was the greatest help. As I say in the book, he was never, ever too busy to take my calls and answer my questions–even during the production of TWINE. I cannot praise him enough. He is a genius and a marvel, and one of the nicest people I've ever known.
You've said you spent three years on "James Bond's London" and "James Bond's Britian" can you give us a rough outline of how that time was spent? (i.e. How much was used for research? How much was used for travel)
I actually started the book in January of 1998 and shortly thereafter flew to the UK, where I spent about three weeks looking for and photographing locations for what was then called "James Bond's Britain". This meant that in addition to London, my assistant (and friend, and former boss!), Chris Gardner, and I traveled all over England and Scotland, including the rather remote spot where the "From Russia With Love" helicopter chase was filmed. I then continued writing and researching at home for a few months, then went back to London in the summer of '98 for more legwork. I was finishing up the book in 1999 when I learned that TWINE was to include extensive London and UK location work. So, the decision was made to wait and include material from that film. Then in 2000, after TWINE, we decided that there was so much information that the book should be split in two. Thus began the rather arduous process of separating entries and creating the second book, "James Bond's Britian," which will be published in 2003 and will include the British locations from the new film.
There are so many Bond locations in London, some of which have changed over the years, how did you go about locating all of them?
In several different ways. One way, of course, was to consult production documents and the filmmakers to find out where things were shot. In some cases, it involved me taking reference photos from the films and walking all over London till I found the spot (e.g., the building seen out the window of the big conference room in "Thunderball".) In the case of the Secret Service HQ shown near the beginning of "Dr. No," I used books of aerial photos of London to spot the complex, which, if you look closely, can be seen to be located on the river.
Are there any Bond locations you couldn't find?
Until I started talking with Peter Lamont, there were several! But after that, I'm pretty sure that every Greater London location ever shown in an Eon film is included in the book.
Which location one was your favorite or most interesting? Least favorite?
I have a number of favorites–including the office where Ian Fleming worked for Naval Intelligence during WWII. It had been taken over by the Foreign Office and used for storage, but thanks to some very kind people in that department, I was able to get inside, and even have the space in front of the fireplace cleared away so that i could "replicate" that famous photo of Ian standing there so regally in his Commander's uniform. It was also thrilling to get inside Fleming's office in Fleet Street and to visit the Royal Air Force base which has appeared in several Bond films, including "Goldfinger," "Octopussy" and TWINE.
How did you prepare for writing the book? Was there any sort of process you went through while writing it?
First I re-read every novel and story, taking detailed notes, and then I re-watched all the films, and, again, took copious notes. I also read as much on Fleming and the films as I could and then began making a location list and organizing it by district. Then I researched the places themselves, their histories, etc., so that the book might have a little extra appeal beyond simply saying, "Oh, this is where this was filmed and this is where Fleming got his shirts." And, as I said, I spent several weeks in the UK and spoke with a number of people who were involved in the films, including Lamont, John Glen, John Stears and Reg Barkshire, Broccoli and Saltzman's
former partner on the Eon board.
For those who don't know, tell us a little about "James Bond's Britian" which will be released in 2003.
JBB will detail all the film, book and Fleming locations in the UK OUTSIDE London. This includes Pinewood Studios, the Aston Martin company, Fleming's final resting place, the TWINE pipeline in Wales (and elsewhere), the "Goldfinger" and "TND" golf club, the Moonraker rocket site from the
novel, Sean Connery's birthplace, and on and on, as well as the many British locations from the new film.
Why such a big gap between the release of "London" and "Britian?" Weren't they orignally going to be one volume?
Yes, but because there was so much material we decided to do it as two books. My original manuscript, without pictures, was over 400 pages. It was either cut a massive amount of text (to keep the book reasonably priced and easy to carry around London) or issue it in two parts. And this way, we can release the second part in about a year and so include all the new locations.
You left out the locations of the non-Fleming novels. Was there ever any plans to include them? Or did you know from the get-go that you wanted to focus on Fleming's Bond
I am an unabashed Fleming fan and, I must say, defender. As far as I'm concerned, what he wrote is gospel–about Bond, his life and his world. So, no, I never intended to include anything from non-Fleming novels. What anyone else says about Bond–where he dines or drives or whatever–simply doesn't mean anything to me. And it's the same with the non-Eon Bond films.
None of thi
s is to slight the other writers or filmmakers. I respect what they have done. But for me, none of these works is truly "James Bond".
Since they will always be making Bond films, do you have any plans on keeping the book updated with the new locations?
Yes, I certainly envision updating the book.
Do you have any plans on writing any more Bond location books? For instance, will there ever be a "James Bond's America"or "James Bond's Europe?" Having read "James Bond's London" I would love to see more books of this nature from you and Daleon.
Yes, I have already started "James Bond's America" and would like to do a "James Bond's Europe" as well.
Besides the meeting with Mr. Snowman (See CommanderBond.net or SectretIntel.com), do you have any other stories about your trips abroad?
Finding the helicopter location from "From Russia With Love" was most memorable. Going solely on a remark in a Bond reference book, we went to Lochgilphead, Scotland…and just asked the locals. "Och, the helicopter!" They all knew the place, but getting there was still difficult…driving, parking, hiking, then trying to pick out the exact spot. And finally we spotted the rock where Connery crouched to shoot down the helicopter. And just below it, rusting there for over 25 years, was a piece of the helicopter!
And finally, do you have any other books in the works?
Well, thanks for asking. As a matter of fact, my next book is "Alfred Hitchcock's London," which Daleon will publish later this year. It is similar in format to "James Bond's London," with locations from his 20-plus English films, as well as from his source novels and, of course, his life. It was written with the cooperation of several of his collaborators (including Bond production designer Syd Cain, who worked on Hitchcock's "Frenzy"), as well as his daughter Pat.
I would like to thank Lee Pfeiffer, Daniel Dykes, and, of course, Gary Giblin for allowing time for me to interview him! James Bond's London is available from SpyGuise.