Friday, May 30, 2008

James Bond's New Novel

Call me excited. Wednesday, the 28th of May and the 100th birthday of James Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, a new Bond novel was released, further continuing the adventures of one of the world's sexiest and most deadly spies.

Written by noted English novelist Sebastian Faulks, Devil May Care hit shelves this week. Do I have it in my hot little hands? Not yet, but the weekend is here and the paycheck is in the bank. Hmm...I sense a trip to the bookstore!

While I am quite pumped to read the new novel, I am also intrigued by how it was written. Sebastian Faulks is a literary writer, (and in my opinion, quite handsome) and his novels include Birdsong and Charlotte Gray (which was turned into a movie that I absolutely loved). So choosing him as someone to emulate Ian Fleming's style might seem like a strange choice. But Fleming's family specifically wanted him to write the book. Faulks at first refused, but after he read the Bond novels again, he became intrigued with the idea.

But here is the really cool part. To write the novel, he decided to follow Fleming's process. He wrote 2,000 words a day. In an exclusive interview with the The Times, Faulks said, “You’ve got to do it all quickly. You give yourself six weeks. You write 2,000 words a day and that will give you the required length. Don’t stop. Don’t agonise. Don’t try to correct your prose as you go along. Don’t worry too much about the details. You can always revise them later and get it checked by experts.”

He even put together a "dossier" of all the required Bond elements and thoroughly studied Fleming's writing style. In the article, he says, “I think it’s standard journalistic: no semicolons, few adverbs, few adjectives, short sentences, a lot of verbs, a lot of concrete nouns. These are the tools, and that’s literally the style.”

And he felt Fleming's tone was.. “a sort of slight hauteur that was a little bit harder to catch – a little bit cold and a little bit superior in places”. To capture its cadences of “I’m more worldly than you”, Faulks “sometimes imagined myself sucking on my teeth, with perhaps a cigarette-holder”. (source: The Times)

This whole process just fascinates me. I once did an exercise in a creative writing class in college where we had to emulate the style of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. I found it challenging, but I can't imagine writing an entire novel that way.

I've only read one Fleming novel - Casino Royale - and was a bit disappointed with it. But, I'm perfectly willing to give the rest of the Fleming novels another shot. I'm anxious to read the new Bond story and to see how well Faulks did. I don't think I'll be disappointed this time!


  1. I heard Faulks interviewed on NPR. Sounds like the Bond of literature is a bit more introspective than the swaggering bond of Hollywood.

  2. The review in the L.A. Times said the hero of this bond book was more like the movie Bond rather than the Bond of Fleming's book. I tried reading "Casino Royale" and couldn't stand it. I didn't like the style and I didn't like Bond. Hubby, on the other hand, loved the Fleming books. The Times said this Bond if far kinder and his relationships with women are more in line with the movies.

    I might pick it up when it comes out in paperback.

  3. Travis - I'd like to hear that interview. Will have to go to NPR and see if I can find it.

    Rene - Hmm. I wonder if the movie Bond had any influence on Faulks when he wrote it?

  4. My dh too LOVES the Bond novels, while I haven't been able to get into them. Even my dad, who rarely read novels, read them all - Sean now has his collection. Maybe it's a guy thing?

    I keep meaning to read Charlotte Gray. Like you, I LOVED the movie :)

  5. Tess - Charlotte Gray the novel was A LOT different than the movie, especially the ending. :-)

  6. It always fascinates me when someone can emulate someone else's writing style. I've occasionally heard rumors about people who are afraid to read too much of any one author's works for fear that it will influence their style. I wish that would happen to me!


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