Carte Blanche is published this week. We haven’t read it yet – we weren’t allowed! – but we spoke to Bond’s latest caretaker, blockbuster crime writer Jeffery Deaver:
How did you come to write a Bond novel?
I was given the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award, and in my acceptance speech I mentioned that I’d been reading the Bond books from a very young age. Fleming was quite an influence on me as a reader, but at a very early age I started to write as well, and he was an influence on my style even then, and remains so. So I was very appreciative of the award, and I don’t know what discussions went on behind closed doors, but about eighteen months ago the estate asked if I’d be interested in writing a Bond novel, and I debated all of ten seconds and then said ‘Yes! I’m on board!’
Will Carte Blanche please Fleming fans and Deaver fans?
This is a Jeffery Deaver novel; it’s not a Fleming pastiche. Fleming’s voice is quite unique, and I’m not comfortable trying to write as someone else, although I thought Sebastian Faulks nailed it. My talents don’t extend to that, but I tried to fill the book with Ian Fleming’s spirit. I updated it. My Bond was born in the 1970s; he’s a veteran of the Afghan campaign; and he’s a man who’s clearly recognisable as Bond, but the poor fella gets thrown into a Jeffery Deaver book, which means he gets no rest whatsoever. I was very aware of the fact while I was writing that I have two overlapping and discreet groups of people to please, and I’ll say up front that I write to please my readers; I’m an entertainer. So I made sure that my fans got a Deaver book they will recognise: short time frame; very plot driven; esoteric information, in this case on the technical elements of spy craft; surprise endings; and I love to keep people guessing, so we don’t even know what the nefarious Project 20 actually is until we’re well into the book. So it’s a Deaver book in a Deaver style, but it’s driven by the Ian Fleming-style James Bond.
Do you address the films or the post-Fleming novels?
I didn’t refer to the movies or the continuation novels at all, although I’ve read some of them and Raymond Benson is a friend of mine. I wanted to let the original books inform my Bond and my storytelling. In the movies there’s an emphasis on a lot of gadgetry, but in the novels that wasn’t the case. Fleming gave his Bond very practical devices that a spy of the time would have, and I do the same, although of course the technology involved in the devices we use now is a thousand times more advanced than anything Fleming could have imagined! So I didn’t have to come up with anything fanciful: Bond can just walk into his local high street store and get what he needs! Q Branch does make an appearance though…
Will you write any more?
Well to be honest the estate and I have really not talked about that. This was done with the intent of being a one-off and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It even had a painless editing process. But realistically, should this become the next Harry Potter, I think we would certainly consider future projects together.