Bond is back in print. Carte Blanche is the latest edition to the James Bond canon, written by thriller writer Jeffrey Deaver – he of the quadraplegic detective Lincoln Rhyme in The Bone Collector and subsequent novels.
Deaver is only doing three events in the UK. The book was launched at St Pancras on Wednesday complete with a girl on a motorbike (BSA Spitfire) and Royal Marines rapelling down from the roof to deliver the tome; the third is at the Hay Literary Festival.
The middle event though was a real coup for my local bookshop Mostly Books. They linked together with the truly high-tech Bondian location of the Diamond Light source at Harwell just outside Abingdon (left), to tempt Deaver into the Oxfordshire countryside for a talk about the book. No Bond event could be complete without a car or two either … Bentleys in this case (see below) – for Bond is back in his original marque for this book.
Deaver, as you might expect, was a consummate pro at the microphone, throwing in lots of humour into his talk.
The new Bond book is set in 2011 with a thirty-something Bond joining a new top secret government agency with one aim – to protect the realm. The action moves from Serbia to Capetown via London and Dubai. All the hallmarks of a Bond novel are there: cars, gadgets … and girls (plural), including one called Felicity Willing. Deaver explained how he wanted to write his Bond novel as a typical Deaver one – a rollercoaster, with lots of surprise endings. The women are all strong characters – he doesn’t hold with the popular view of Bond as a misogynist; and did I mention the surprise endings?
He went on to talk a little about how he writes his books. ”Rule No 1 – This is a business.” As a thriller writer, he is writing to an audience, to give them what they want, including twisty and scary plots. He likened it to creating minty toothpaste – who would want a different flavour? Then he outlines for around eight months – research, character biographies, devising the plot – treating it like an engineering plan. He choreographs the ending, for in thrillers, the ending is the most important part of the book, (plus the surprise endings all the way through of course). Then the first draft takes his around two months, and after that he re-writes it.
Then we moved to questions, and as they finished, he dropped a little bombshell – in Carte Blanche Bond has given up smoking!
At this point, my camera ran out of charge, so I couldn’t get a photo of Jeffrey signing, but when I got home, I was able to scan this … Yes – you probably all know I’m a big Bond fan, and I
engineered by luck got ticket number 007 and Deaver graciously signed it and my book for me. Now I have a bookmark and a half!