Jeffery Deaver reveals his fiendish plans for 007
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Express
, novelist Jeffery Deaver, who has written the new James Bond book, reveals his fiendish plans for 007.
It is the site of the worldâs tallest skyscraper and has gained a reputation for being full of rich people who spend their time in shopping malls. But now Dubai is the setting for the 37th James Bond book, Carte Blanche, by top American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver which will be published by Hodder and Stoughton on May 26.
With his licence to kill, Bond has always had âcarte blancheâ. Playfully twirling a blank white card in his hand, Deaver explains: âThatâs what makes a spy. Most of us wouldnât want âcarte blancheâ. We wouldnât know what to do with it. Most people like being told what to doâ.
The last James Bond book (only 14 were written by Ian Fleming and the rest have been authorised by the Fleming estate) was written by Birdsong writer Sebastian Faulks. It came out in 2008 to mark the centenary of Bondâs creator and took the hero back into the 1960s. This new story brings him headlong into the 21st century with a full arsenal of technogadgetry and what Jeffery Deaver describes with relish as a âfabulous villainâ. And there will be women too, âresourceful, clever, professional and often rather dangerousâ.
Flanked by a couple of smiling Bond girls in the cunning guise of Emirates Airline stewardesses, Deaver yesterday explained how he was approached by the Ian Fleming estate to write the new novel and found his inspiration in Dubai when he visited it last year for the annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. The festival is a relatively new event which is proving hugely popular with writers because spend most of the year tapping away in their garden sheds converted to home offices wearing tracksuits and not getting out much. The chance of a few days of bling and sunshine is always welcome.
âIan Fleming loved his exotic locationsâ, says Deaver, as we pile into a people carrier en route for the Al Maha resort, a top peopleâs resort outside Dubai where the desert sands sweep before you and the odd oryx skips towards the oasis at the foot of the dune. âBut it seemed to me there arenât as many exotic locations as theyâre used to be. I knew instantly that Dubai was right. It is an exhilarating place to be with an exotic coreâ
Deaver, born in Chicago in 1950 has been a James Bond fan since he was nine or 10. A former lawyer and journalist he began writing as a way of passing the time on his commute into work and has now written 27 novels and sold more than a million books worldwide. The Bone Collector was turned into a film starring Angelina Jolie. His latest book Edge is a stand alone thriller not featuring his fascinating quadriplegic investigator Lincoln Rhyme nor his female detective Kathryn Dance. They will return though in future novels.
We sweep out of Dubai. Its extraordinary skyline is like a sci fi illustration while the jagged needle of the Burj Khalifa tower (that tallest-in-the-world skyscraper) dwarfs the other giants which loom above us in the surprisingly muted light of this mild, misty day. We pass under a series of huge pylons. ââUh ohââ says Deaver, âdonât touch any metalâ. He gives his mischievous lop-sided smile. Heâs like a spare, stern schoolmaster who turns out to have a tremendous sense of fun. Weâd just been talking about Burning Wire, one of his novels (possibly my favourite) where the baddie gains control of the New York electric grid and kills a lot of people. Believe me, once youâre read it you think twice about plugging in a kettle.
The âscience bitâ is intriguing and Deaverâs research is detailed and extraordinary. While many authors hire researchers he does all his own work. âIâm paranoid about making mistakesâ, he says. âIf there are any I want to the only one responsibleâ.
Should anyone have any doubts about James Bond being moulded by an American, Deaver explains that his literary grounding has always been very anglophile. âMy parents didnât allow me to watch some movies but I could read anything I could put my hands on. It installed in me a love of British authors - Tolkien, CS Lewis, Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle. All these books I found lying around the house. Ian Fleming changed my life forever. He set a standard for crime and espionage books. They taught me how to write thriller fiction. With all respect to Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot: they ask âwhat happened?â. Whereas Fleming said that âwhat is going to happen?â is the essence of suspense fictionâ.
Details of the plot of the new novel are under wraps. The stylish white cover signals that it is no lazy potboiler. Its sole illustration is a delicate plume of smoke perhaps indicating that Bond has not been recruited into giving up cigarettes just yet. There will be plenty of glamour (not difficult in Dubai) and a key role for the palatial Intercontinental hotel. Bond will save the world against this background, with the souks, the dhows and the lively world that is old Dubai. He also gets his accustomed booze ration though Deaver notes that he drinks whisky more often than martinis.
âI donât know about you but Iâm very hungryâ says Jeff Deaver whoâs also rather jetlagged but still very dapper in his shades and his dark clothes (his shirtâs from M&S in Milton Keynes he tells me unexpectedly). Perhaps heâs more like an FBI agent than a schoolmaster: I canât make up my mind.
Weâre also lost. In the desert. Our driver has stopped and is phoning someone and talking urgently in Arabic. Jeff gets out the navigational thingy on his phone. But he canât make it work. But personally Iâm not worried. Heâs created James Bond. Itâs almost as good as being with James Bond, surely.
âI think we should go this wayâ he says to the driver firmly. We have a choice of three roads. For all we know the wrong one could take us into - I dunno - the wilds of Oman and we could motor on until next week without seeing anything but an occasional camel.
But Deaverâs right. The luxury resort comes into view, like a beautiful mirage. Just like it would for James, except heâd have to kill someone and we just have to have lunch.
The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Raishid Al Maktoum (correct) has already given his blessing to a film version of Carte Blanche being made in the Emirate. Dubai is no stranger to movie-making. Last week Tom Cruise was here filming the latest Mission Impossible outing.
In writing the new Bond book Deaver kept in mind Ian Flemingâs dictum that he looked a little like the American musician Hoagy Carmichael.
Like Flemingâs Bond Deaverâs is intelligent. He is questioning but patriotic. He is slightly unknowable. âHe is a real guyâ says Deaver, âWhat youâd call a proper blokeâ.
Deaverâs favourite James Bond movie is From Russia with Love starring Sean Connery. But he also admired Daniel Craigâs Casino Royale. With the green light now given to the latest Bond film after protracted money problems, perhaps Craig should consider a recce to Dubai, ready for the next one.
One thing is for sure. In Deaverâs hands there is no danger Bond will be killed off. He doesnât believe in killing off loved characters, neither does he kill children or animals. He doesnât have much time for writers who do that. âItâs like those exercises in graphic violence for their own sake. Itâs laziness. Itâs a sign that the writer doesnât want to bother with the arduous effort of creating suspense.â
Itâs also, he points out cruel to the fans. And above everything he wants to please his readers (60 per cent are women he reckons). Heâs often asked whether he ever thinks of writing a âseriousâ novel. He doesnât mind the question thought many writers would, especially as his novels are not only brilliantly crafted but also beautifully written and have a moral integrity to them. If anyone can write a serious thriller, itâs Deaver.
But quality does not come at the expense of quantity. He brings out a couple of books a year and his output for 2012 is already underway. He cooks too, has a family, lives in Washington and North Carolina and breeds dogs.
A man of many skills indeed. But as far as his many fans are concerned he has carte blanche to go on creating the most nail-biting, page-turning thrillers you will ever have the pleasure of reading. James Bond should count himself lucky.
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