Who Should Write the Next Bond Continuation Novel?

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  • edited August 2014 Posts: 802
    Bounine wrote: »

    I originally thought that hiring well known authors would be a good idea but look at what has happened? I wish Deaver and Faulk's book had have never been written. There were some good bits in Boyd's novel but as others have said, having Bond drive that car and wearing certain items of apparel was disappointing. It's annoying when authors want to stamp their mark on Bond. It seems lime it's more common with big names. Deaver had Bond wear a burgundy tie which was worse than what Boyd had him in. Deaver was wearing a burgundy tie at his book signing.

    One of the many things that I find fascinating about this continuation business is the complete inability of the celebrity trilogy authors to identify Bond's DNA.
    One would have thought that this would be the first job of anybody wishing to do the project justice.
    Kingsley Amis mastered the challenge in fine style and gave us a 007 that was recognisably Fleming's creation. Frankly, if Ian's name had been on the cover it could have passed as the master's work and many aficionados feel that he produced a book that was in the league of FRWL, OHMSS and MOONRAKER.
    To his credit, the late great John Gardner did a good job at transplanting Bond's DNA into a hero fit for the '80s. His choice of clothes, car and accessories were of that time whilst remaining completely consistent with the choices that a man with Bond's background and tastes would have made had he been born two decades latter. The weakness in Gardner's 007 was, in my opinion, the rather weak plots that were very untypical of his other works.
    If IFP want a masterclass in how to write the perfect continuation novel featuring an iconic hero they need look no further than Horowitz's Holmes novel, 'House Of Silk', he gets the whole thing pitch perfect.
    As a Poirot fan, I can't wait to see what Ms.Hanna has done with another of my heroes in her new novel. Given that David Suchet has already agreed to return to the role for the screen adaptation I have a feeling that IFP are going to be given another lesson in how things should be done. I just hope that for the sake of Bond's literary fans that they have the humility to learn it.


  • Posts: 7,644
    I think that any writer that picks up where the original writer stopped will encounter the fans that will always be annoyed that the writer did not do the original character justice. So not any writer since TMWTGG has gotten away without any criticism.

    The last celebrity trilogy was not badly written and of course they had their views on Fleming and his creation and if it contained anything negative hell would rain down on their heads. And of course as a writer they did put in their own stamp, which any decent writer will do with the exception of the fanfic boys. ( my auto-correction does change fanfic for fanatic how freudian is that?)

    Faulks Bond novel failed to really entertain. Deavers' novel was true to Deavers' style of writing which I find generally great but with a 007 book he failed to woo me. Boyd left to much of his own identity out of the book and we ended up with a for me too bland a story.

    That said they were great writers that managed to write an entertaining novel that I wanted to read.

    Horrowitz is one of those writers that got a novel right, which is indeed more an oddity than a rule. That does not make him better suited for the job of writing 007.

    I think the chances of reading another brilliant new book with 007 will be slim but I still will buy any new attempt in good hope. And then probably be bitchy about it too.
  • edited August 2014 Posts: 2,544
    New authors can write in their own style of course. One would expect it and in many cases hope for it, although in Deaver's case it just fell flat in parts. However, continuation authors need to understand that one has to be faithful to the essential character of the protagonist's personality and tastes. Deaver almost completely changed Bond's personality, and the result was horrible. Boyd had Bond in a car and wearing clothing that are not consistent with Bond's tastes (aside for the lacklustre plot and what was previously mentioned, he did do a number of things well though, I thought) and, well, Faulks actually adapted his style by trying to mimick Fleming and barely even took the project seriously. Such things aren't acceptable.
  • Posts: 802
    Bounine wrote: »
    New authors can write in their own style of course. One would expect it and in many cases hope for it, although in Deaver's case it just fell flat in parts. However, continuation authors need to understand that one has to be faithful to the essential character of the protagonist's personality and tastes. Deaver almost completely changed Bond's personality, and the result was horrible. Boyd had Bond in a car and wearing clothing that are not consistent with Bond's tastes (aside for the lacklustre plot and what was previously mentioned, he did do a number of things well though, I thought) and, well, Faulks actually adapted his style by trying to mimick Fleming and barely even took the project seriously. Such things aren't acceptable.

    Couldn't agree more. It's not about mimicking another writer's style, it's about respecting the DNA.
    That's quite different.

  • Posts: 7,644
    The DNA is a modern invention and Bond clearly is not.
    The choice of cars is by NO means essential but Boyd went for an exotic one, later it was found out that the car did have it flaws. the advantage of looking back. I found the salad dressing recipe hilarious.
    What all recent Bond novels lacked was a good bloody story that made you keep reading. Even if I admit that Deaver kept me reading but his modern 007 was not my cup of tea.
    But to be honest not even all the Fleming novels are that great when it comes to the story.

    I am not a fan of mimicking a style but I think that it is rather difficult to come up with an exciting story-line with every writer to outdo the Bond formula. And still being restricted by a publisher and their view of what 007 should be. I doubt sincerely if Colonel Sun with all its cruelties would be allowed to be published today. And in that view I wonder how much water Boyd had to add to his wine before the novel was published. It felt somewhat tame and lacked a real punch.
  • edited August 2014 Posts: 2,544
    Bond can be updated easily for today too I feel, with the odd subtle change, while keeping the essential character intact. It's only really the chauvenism and racism, which arguably weren't really such, in the golden days of Fleming's Bond anyway, that should be left out for today's audiences. There are many other facets to Bond's character which are just as relevant today as they were in the 50's and 60's. I wouldn't be against a series of books set in today's world providing the writer is faithful to the character, unlike Deaver was.

    I wonder if Higson would be keen to write a series of adult Bond books. You'd think he would be seeing he was keen to scribe some more Young Bond yarns. Unless of course he is only interested in Young Bond but if he is, this would certainly surprise me. If he is, then IFP would be crazy not to ask him.
  • Posts: 7,644
    Considering how much flak the last three writers have gotten @Bounine it seems that writing a good 007 novel is more difficult than it seems. And those last three writers are all good writers outside of the Bondverse.
  • Posts: 802
    Bounine wrote: »
    I wonder if Higson would be keen to write a series of adult Bond books. You'd think he would be seeing he was keen to scribe some more Young Bond yarns. Unless of course he is only interested in Young Bond but if he is, this would certainly surprise me. If he is, then IFP would be crazy not to ask him.
    Legend has it that Higson's idea was to transition his 'Young Bond' into 'Adult 007' by covering his war, recruitment to the service and adventures up to 'Casino Royale'.
    If true, this would have made for a great and credible approach which would have had the great advantage of allowing Higson to take his millions of fans with him into Bond's adult world.
    Given that young readers who bought and read 'Silverfin' at launch would probably have been in their twenties by the time his first adult adventure saw the light of day, this would have been a genius way to develop the adult franchise.
    Evidently, IFP didn't want that. They saw Higson as a children's writer and wanted him to continue the 'Young' series whilst getting a 'serious' fully payed up member of the literati to write the novel celebrating Fleming's centenerary.
    What a mistake to make!

  • Posts: 802
    SaintMark wrote: »
    Considering how much flak the last three writers have gotten @Bounine it seems that writing a good 007 novel is more difficult than it seems. And those last three writers are all good writers outside of the Bondverse.

    One man's flak is another's justified criticism.
    I don't think Anthony Howitz would complain about the reviews he got for his Holmes novel or indeed Higson for his involvement with Bond.
    The fact of the matter is IFP just got wrong with the celebrity trilogy and they owe it to the fans to come up with some quality!

  • Posts: 7,644
    Villiers53 wrote: »
    SaintMark wrote: »
    Considering how much flak the last three writers have gotten @Bounine it seems that writing a good 007 novel is more difficult than it seems. And those last three writers are all good writers outside of the Bondverse.

    One man's flak is another's justified criticism.
    I don't think Anthony Howitz would complain about the reviews he got for his Holmes novel or indeed Higson for his involvement with Bond.
    The fact of the matter is IFP just got wrong with the celebrity trilogy and they owe it to the fans to come up with some quality!

    IFP does not own the fans anything to begin with, that is making yourself more important than you really are. The amount of money they made with the celebrity trilogy shows that their choice was not wrong financially or even in quality, which seems to be acceptable for most NON-007 fans. Having read some of their reviews they actually enjoy it enough. Expecting IFP to cater for only the fan would be stupid/wrong for any reason. It would make me lose respect for IFP. What they tried was to return the Bond novel to the main stage of book releases and with the choice of the writers was nothing wrong. Unless I am a hardcore-fan then I am annoyed that they do not release what I want. But financially me and the ones like me are not interesting.

    the Charlie Higson releases got quite a nasty reception upon release by the 007 fans, they disliked the idea quite a lot. It took some time to accept the fact that Higsons books were actually quite good even if they are in some aspect quite preposterous in content. The Weinberg novels were not that well received either and they imho are better than Higsons work.

    Anthoney Horrowitz wrote one good Sherlock Holmes novel and suddenly he is the only one to save the 007 adult novel series. He could do a decent book but I still reserve judgement until I have read them.

    The celebrity trilogy has delivered new Bond novels and they were not quite to my personal liking, Deavers was most disappointing for me as a Deaver fan. But some people I know read the Deaver book and actually quite liked the CB book and that is good. I rather have people reading James Bond novels than not.
    And I do expect a celebrity quartet in due time, and I would hope they would hurry up.
  • Posts: 802
    SaintMark wrote: »

    "IFP does not own the fans anything to begin with, that is making yourself more important than you really are."
    " imho "
    Not surprisingly I find your argument lacks merit and given the tone doesn't warrent a serious reply.
    Perhaps IMNSHO (in my not so humble opinion) would be a more appropriate acronym for your use?

  • Posts: 7,644
    Villiers53 wrote: »
    SaintMark wrote: »

    "IFP does not own the fans anything to begin with, that is making yourself more important than you really are."
    " imho "
    Not surprisingly I find your argument lacks merit and given the tone doesn't warrent a serious reply.
    Perhaps IMNSHO (in my not so humble opinion) would be a more appropriate acronym for your use?

    I read a lot and never have I ever felt that any writer or publisher owes me anything, if anything I am glad that publishers, producers, directors generally ignore their fans and their needs.

    With the Doctor Who series for instance they have rarely followed their crazy fans needs and yet they have created a very stable and profitable franchise again!! And not because of the fans but in creating interesting storylines.

    IFP does not owe anything to the fans IMVHO, but they could look for a thriller writer that has more in common with Ian Flemings style than what they have chosen, even if they are all accomplished writers, Gérard de Villiers was always a favorite of mine as the mans output and style would have fitted the franchise far more than the celebrity trilogy. Alas the man died and due to his Frenchness would not have been thought of.

    Fans are nice but like the cinema version it is not the fans that foot the bill but the general moviegoer or reader that has heard that the movie/book is good. And the reviews of the books all have been decent enough to warrant good sales.

    Boyd for my money could have delivered a far better effort than what we got, his books are better than what he did with 007. I wish he had put in more of an effort.

    But I am a fan and have certain feelings when it comes to one of my liked literary characters.

    That said I am sad/glad that other characters like the Saint have not been continued in a literary way as I am not sure if without the writer reviewing the new material it would have become a watered down version of Charteris.
  • Agent007391Agent007391 Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start
    Posts: 7,854
    I don't feel any publisher owes me anything. I got more Bond after Fleming's death. May not have all been good (*cough*DevilMayCare*cough*), but IFP didn't need to give us more Bond novels. They don't owe us sh*t.
  • Posts: 7,644
    I don't feel any publisher owes me anything. I got more Bond after Fleming's death. May not have all been good (*cough*DevilMayCare*cough*), but IFP didn't need to give us more Bond novels. They don't owe us sh*t.

    My point exactly.

    I enjoyed the Gardners mostly, the Woods were brilliant fun, Benson did write some good novels, the celebrity trilogy was allright, Westbrooks Moneypenny trilogy was brilliant and with Higsons Young Bond I was very opposed but convinced it was actually quite good fun.

    I'll never expect a novel like Fleming at his best, but am looking forward to the effort of this Cole chap, who did do some decent Dr Who as well.

  • I don't feel any publisher owes me anything. I got more Bond after Fleming's death. May not have all been good (*cough*DevilMayCare*cough*), but IFP didn't need to give us more Bond novels. They don't owe us sh*t.

    You are correct, they certainly don't owe you any excrement but for the more discerning fan one would hope that they could apply themselves more creatively and exercise more quality control.
    When all is said and done paying the cover price entitles you to a good read n'est ce pas?

  • SaintMark wrote: »
    Villiers53 wrote: »
    SaintMark wrote: »

    "IFP does not own the fans anything to begin with, that is making yourself more important than you really are."
    " imho "
    Not surprisingly I find your argument lacks merit and given the tone doesn't warrent a serious reply.
    Perhaps IMNSHO (in my not so humble opinion) would be a more appropriate acronym for your use?

    I read a lot and never have I ever felt that any writer or publisher owes me anything, if anything I am glad that publishers, producers, directors generally ignore their fans and their need
    That said I am sad/glad that other characters like the Saint have not been continued in a literary way as I am not sure if without the writer reviewing the new material it would have become a watered down version of Charteris.

    Great news for you @SaintMark, the Saint books were actually continued by other authors.
    Leslie Charteris actually stepped away from the character after 1963 (The Saint In The Sun). All of the Saint novels baring his name that followed were actually ghosted by a multiplicity of other writers. For instance 'Vendetta For The Saint' was written by Harry Harrison.
    Perhaps you didn't notice but a lot of the discerning fans did and many reviews at the time were less than favourable. Albeit,I do think he did a good job of controlling the quality of those published during his life time.
    Perhaps IFP could take a lesson from his rigour although many would say that the literary challenge is less intimidating as Charteris - fun as his books were- wasn't remotely in Fleming's league as a writer.

  • Agent007391Agent007391 Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start
    Posts: 7,854
    Villiers53 wrote: »
    I don't feel any publisher owes me anything. I got more Bond after Fleming's death. May not have all been good (*cough*DevilMayCare*cough*), but IFP didn't need to give us more Bond novels. They don't owe us sh*t.

    You are correct, they certainly don't owe you any excrement but for the more discerning fan one would hope that they could apply themselves more creatively and exercise more quality control.
    When all is said and done paying the cover price entitles you to a good read n'est ce pas?

    I generally buy books used. I rarely pay the cover price, unless it's a new book among a series I've been invested in for some time, in which I'm in for the long haul anyway, and most things get worse over time. Quality control, on the other hand, lies not with the publisher, but the writer. Know your audience.
  • Villiers53 wrote: »
    Quality control, on the other hand, lies not with the publisher, but the writer. Know your audience.
    As a published author I can tell you that you are labouring under something of a misnomer.
    Even the most famous writers ignore their editors and publishers at their peril. Often authors that are writing under contract have a right of refusal clause to contend with.
    Of course, any self respecting scribe will try their best to write a good book. Why would they do otherwise?
    Bond however remains a special case. There is an extra component, namely IFP. It is they that hold the copyright, decide the author and can, as their whim takes them, go very much further.
    Certainly, when they were called Gildrose and the late great John Gardner was in the saddle, they did - for better or worse - do exactly that and it used to drive John mad.
    Perhaps since they have gone the "celebrity" route they have eased up and adopted a more laissez faire approach. If so, IMMHO, it's not working because in every instance the selected author's 007 compares badly with their previous works.
    Know your audience indeed!
  • Agent007391Agent007391 Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start
    Posts: 7,854
    Your quote is screwed up, just so you know.

    I understand what you're saying, but I'd say that IFP has relaxed their "We control what you put out" role somewhat since the days of Gardner, otherwise we probably wouldn't have gotten three (only one of which I've read, though people say Carte Blanche and Solo suck, so I'm using their opinion) lackluster Bonds in a row.

    By the way, self-publishing, or actual through a publisher publishing? I'm through Kindle, myself.
  • Posts: 7,644
    Villiers53 wrote: »
    Great news for you @SaintMark, the Saint books were actually continued by other authors.
    Leslie Charteris actually stepped away from the character after 1963 (The Saint In The Sun). All of the Saint novels baring his name that followed were actually ghosted by a multiplicity of other writers. For instance 'Vendetta For The Saint' was written by Harry Harrison.
    Perhaps you didn't notice but a lot of the discerning fans did and many reviews at the time were less than favourable. Albeit, I do think he did a good job of controlling the quality of those published during his life time.
    Perhaps IFP could take a lesson from his rigour although many would say that the literary challenge is less intimidating as Charteris - fun as his books were- wasn't remotely in Fleming's league as a writer.

    If you told me something new, I do know that none of the novels were released without Charteris himself having it proofread and doing some alterations if he wanted it and that was accepted by the publishers. And some were TV episodes on paper while other were indeed new adventures of whom some were criticized but generally well received without the vitriol some of the recent Bond novels have received by "fans".
    Sure my favorites were the true pre-war Saint stories but I do enjoy the stories a lot.

    There were quite a few French book releases written by others were deemed not good enough and were never published in the English language. Lucky for me I am Dutch so I got more Saintly adventures due to them being translated in Dutch. Some of the French Saint stories were not that great and some I really have a soft sport for and I consider them great fun.

    Ever since "Salvage for the Saint" which is actually the novelization of opening episodes of the TV show "Return of the Saint" in which the writer has got a walk on cameo there have been only two Saint books released.
    Burl Barer has written one book for only the Saint club, not on general release and he wrote the novelization of the 1996 movie. Burl Barer himself rates the novelization a 5 star on Goodreads as he always does with his own publications. The novel is kind of fun and full of recognizable parts for the fans but as a story is kind of poor.

    The Saint novels never suffered the fate of 007 as its longevity is far greater than the Fleming hero. it started in 1928 and there is the promise of a Saint novel on the horizon.

    Fleming was actually influenced by the character of the Saint, as described in The Durable Desperadoes by William Vivian Butler. The movies of 007 have borrowed even more from the Simon Templar character than they have ever admitted, the flippancy, dress sense and the gentleman look as a cover is not in any of the books by Fleming but very clearly in the Charteris novels.
    And the call Fleming a writer in a different league is amusing as the Charteris novels have been around for 85 years not being given the same amount of attention as the Fleming ones due to the movies and new books. If I would be asked for advise I always steer people to the pre-WWII novels of Charteris because they are excellent examples of fun and exciting writing.
  • Villiers53 wrote: »
    Villiers53 wrote: »
    Quality control, on the other hand, lies not with the publisher, but the writer. Know your audience.
    As a published author I can tell you that you are labouring under something of a misnomer.
    Even the most famous writers ignore their editors and publishers at their peril. Often authors that are writing under contract have a right of refusal clause to contend with.
    Of course, any self respecting scribe will try their best to write a good book. Why would they do otherwise?
    Bond however remains a special case. There is an extra component, namely IFP. It is they that hold the copyright, decide the author and can, as their whim takes them, go very much further.
    Certainly, when they were called Gildrose and the late great John Gardner was in the saddle, they did - for better or worse - do exactly that and it used to drive John mad.
    Perhaps since they have gone the "celebrity" route they have eased up and adopted a more laissez faire approach. If so, IMMHO, it's not working because in every instance the selected author's 007 compares badly with their previous works.
    Know your audience indeed!
  • Thomas Pynchon.
  • Thomas Pynchon.
    That's a creative suggestion - God knows what we'd get but it could be fun!
  • It'd be full of insane metaphor and no one would have any idea as to what was going on at any given moment. :P
  • edited September 2014 Posts: 2,544
    Personally, I think such outfits like IFP should pay a certain amount of attention to what the fans desire. Look at the makers of Superman Returns (I know it wasn't generally regarded as a good film but not because it wasn't a reboot). The fans and the fans alone, complained about the fact that they were going to reboot the series so they changed this. Fans weren't happy about all the CGI in the latter 3 Star Wars films so the director has gone back to basics. I know this is the movie business but it's the same thing.

    Of course IFP must take into account the general spectrum of novel readers but they should also accommodate the fans wishes and listen to them in some respects. A bit of respect goes a long way. If I were them, I would take the fans suggestions seriously. I'm not just saying this because I am a literary Bond fan but because I firmly believe that all organisations should do this.

    They should not be hiring different authors to write each book because the character changes too much with each installment as each writer wants to stamp their individual mark on the character. Deaver is a text book example. He changed Bond into someone who was a mere shadow of his former self. This should be regarded as a crime in the world of continuation books. One would hope that sense will eventually prevail and that they will get someone to sign a 4 or 5 book contract. Hell, even a 3 book deal.

    Didn't they get Cole to write an outline as a prerequisite to hiring him? If they didn't do this with the celebrity authors then they certainly should have.

    I would love for Higson to write a series of books set in Bond's war years, which lead to Bond working for the service on a full time basis. A few books set before Casino Royale, with a somewhat inexperienced Bond who makes the odd mistake would make for wonderful reading. Then, maybe some novels set between Fleming's books. Maybe this might not be a good idea. However, small scale assignments in the form of short stories like what Pearson scribed in his excellent Bond biography would be great. Plus, definitely some novels that take place after TMWTGG.


  • Bounine wrote: »
    Personally, I think such outfits like IFP should pay a certain amount of attention to what the fans desire. Look at the makers of Superman Returns (I know it wasn't generally regarded as a good film but not because it wasn't a reboot). The fans and the fans alone, complained about the fact that they were going to reboot the series so they changed this. Fans weren't happy about all the CGI in the latter 3 Star Wars films so the director has gone back to basics. I know this is the movie business but it's the same thing.

    Of course IFP must take into account the general spectrum of novel readers but they should also accommodate the fans wishes and listen to them in some respects. A bit of respect goes a long way. If I were them, I would take the fans suggestions seriously. I'm not just saying this because I am a literary Bond fan but because I firmly believe that all organisations should do this.

    They should not be hiring different authors to write each book because the character changes too much with each installment as each writer wants to stamp their individual mark on the character. Deaver is a text book example. He changed Bond into someone who was a mere shadow of his former self. This should be regarded as a crime in the world of continuation books. One would hope that sense will eventually prevail and that they will get someone to sign a 4 or 5 book contract. Hell, even a 3 book deal.

    Didn't they get Cole to write an outline as a prerequisite to hiring him? If they didn't do this with the celebrity authors then they certainly should have.

    I would love for Higson to write a series of books set in Bond's war years, which lead to Bond working for the service on a full time basis. A few books set before Casino Royale, with a somewhat inexperienced Bond who makes the odd mistake would make for wonderful reading. Then, maybe some novels set between Fleming's books. Maybe this might not be a good idea. However, small scale assignments in the form of short stories like what Pearson scribed in his excellent Bond biography would be great. Plus, definitely some novels that take place after TMWTGG.


  • Posts: 7,644
    there was an interview with Sophie Hannah the writer of the new Hercule Poirot novel and she basically said that she did not write a new Agatha Christi.e. As she was not that person but that she did write a Sophie Hannah Hercule Poirot as it was impossible for any writer who took on a character that was not their own to not get their own style or way of storytelling into a book.

    I think that her point was fair enough, as Deavers CB read like one of his own thrillers far more than a Flemingesque version. The same applies to Boyd albeit that he was a bit weak on the messenger bit by Bond post colonization. Faulks Bond felt strained as he was a bit out of his comfortzone.
  • Shall I be honest? No one!

    I've read the last three novels. And to be honest, all authors seem to try to hard to actually "write like Ian Fleming".
  • Posts: 7,644
    Shall I be honest? No one!

    I've read the last three novels. And to be honest, all authors seem to try to hard to actually "write like Ian Fleming".

    With Deaver I never had that feeling, I would not have been surprised if Bond would have gotten assistance from Lincoln Rhyme.

  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 15,073
    SaintMark wrote: »
    there was an interview with Sophie Hannah the writer of the new Hercule Poirot novel and she basically said that she did not write a new Agatha Christi.e. As she was not that person but that she did write a Sophie Hannah Hercule Poirot as it was impossible for any writer who took on a character that was not their own to not get their own style or way of storytelling into a book.

    I think that her point was fair enough, as Deavers CB read like one of his own thrillers far more than a Flemingesque version. The same applies to Boyd albeit that he was a bit weak on the messenger bit by Bond post colonization. Faulks Bond felt strained as he was a bit out of his comfortzone.

    Yes, John Gardner felt that way about James Bond too; he was very conscious of the fact that it was not his character unlike Boysie Oakes, Herbie Kruger, Derek Torry et al. I think you raise a very important but perhaps rather overlooked element about the nature of continuation novels in general and post-Fleming James Bond novels in particular.
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