JAMES BOND INTERVIEW
How long have you spent researching and writing your first edition, and why did you decide to write a reference book exploring Fleming's literary creation?
This book took about a year from start to finish. My reasons for writing it involved a fair amount of serendipity. I had previously written a book about Colditz and I had worked on other projects about intelligence and spies, particularly during the Second World War and after. The editor of my Colditz book had heard that the Fleming Estate was thinking of opening up the archive, and asked me to think about how I might turn it into a book. So I wrote them a proposal and luckily for me they liked the approach and let me in.
Did you develop your coverage in the order of the books?
I did start with the books, which I read in order. I had seen most of the movies at one time or other but could not remember reading much original Fleming, and it was an unexpected pleasure as they are so different. The level of detail was really dictated by what was there in the archive, and how much I realized I did not know. There are over 150 box files of Ian's stuff, everything from cinema tickets to passports, menus, flight plans- you name it. As I am not a paid up Bondologist I decided only to use what I found interesting- which was my premise from the start.
What new material and value does your book bring to a Bondologist?
Well it seems to me that most Bondologists concentrate on the films. If you want to know about Fleming’s original literary creation, how it came about, how he wrote it, why he wrote it, why some books are better than others, what people thought of them at the time... and you want to know more about Fleming himself, then this will interest you. I have also tried to contextualise the whole thing as well, so Bond can be seen as a man in his time. Also there are lots of pretty pictures from the archive that no one has seen before, bits of stories no one has heard of, letters about Bond that have never seen the light of day.
The book explores a lot of Fleming’s non-fictional works including photos, how long did it take you to gather this research and fully explore it?
That took a while. There is a lot of Thrilling Cities material which is great, and I was effectively going around the world again via all the ephemera Ian Fleming collected on his trip. Not that I minded as he was a great travelling companion.
Which was the most interesting book to research and why?
From Russia with Love is very interesting, because there is some unusual original research in it. But they are all good, because Fleming could not help writing about himself.