In part one of an MI6 exclusive interview,
author Charlie Higson discusses the his new Young
Bond novel Hurricane Gold...
Hurricane Gold: In Conversation With Charlie
5th September 2007
Exclusive: MI6 caught up with
Young James Bond author
Charlie Higson to talk about his new "Hurricane Gold".
Speaking for the fourth time to MI6 about the series, Charlie
Higson talks about
elements and influences in Hurricane Gold in
part one of this serialized MI6 interview.
Originally you hinted that book 4 was to be
set in the Alps - why the change of locale? What made you chose
Mexico for the story?
Well, I felt that because Double
Or Die was very much set in England and in the middle of winter,
I thought it would be better in the next book to go somewhere
completely different. Somewhere hot and exotic again. Also,
because I knew what the main action was going to be in
book 5, I knew that had to be reasonably close to hand.
So the only opportunity to do a big exotic trip was going
to be in this book, so I've actually shifted the Alps in
to book 5.
I felt that the Caribbean needed to feature
somewhere because it was so central to Ian
books. Mexico, being right 'next door', seemed like a
good location for a book that hadn't been done by Fleming,
ending the book in the Caribbean would lend enough Fleming
feel to it. I've always loved Mexico - films, books,
music, food, clothes... everything about it really, so
it would be good fun to write about it.
Were there any other locations you toyed with for book
No, I don't think so... The book slightly came out of
the blue because I'd had a rough scheme for the five books
and then I shunted two books-worth of ideas in to one book
- all of which is now in book 5 - it was going to be two
different books. That
all meant I was completely freed up for this one, so I thought
I'd have fun with it and get completely away from Eton.
Above: First edition
This is the first book not to feature Bond at Eton. Was that
a conscious decision to shake up the formula a bit?
Yeah, I didn't want it to get too formulaic and samey. If a
book is part of a series, people like to have recurring themes
in them, and the best Fleming books are the ones that follow
the standard "Bond" storylines. But I did feel it was
going to get a little bit much to the first third of the book
at Eton again, and then he'd go off to his adventures. I thought
kids might get a bit bored of that.
I've made sure Eton has a presence there with the three letters
from people at Eton in the book, which keep us in touch with
what is going on there. I felt it would be fun for readers when
they hit book 5 to go back there and meet everyone again.
On the subject of Fleming's formula, we've talked before about
how you've echoed certain elements of how Fleming structured
his early books. What features or themes - if any - of Diamonds
Are Forever do you think are present in Hurricane Gold?
Well, there is the American setting, but it's
not the United States. But there is that echo of Fleming's fourth
Also, the fact that the villains are gangsters of one sort or
another. So those are the similarities I worked with, but I'm
hoping they end there! Diamonds
Are Forever certainly comes out
near the bottom of lists of popular Fleming novels.
He was very
much going for the American market, trying to get the American's
interested, and he was using the research he'd done about the
diamond trade. I think the problem he had was that he didn't
quite come up with villains who had much of a presence. You
never really get to know the Spang Brothers.
And perhaps Fleming's attempts at the local dialect didn't quite
hit the mark...
Yes, it's always a tough thing to get that right.
I made sure I was reading a lot of American crime books when
I was writing
Hurricane Gold, just to get the rhythms in to my head. Whether
I've pulled it off with the American dialog I don't know.
Speaking of the villains, who do you consider the central villain
in Hurricane Gold?
El Huricane is more of the classic Bond super-villain, but he's
a slightly more enigmatic figure, not completely black and white.
Well, it's Mrs Glass really. She's the villain that Bond has
to face up to.
A lot of the critics who look back at the
books or the films tend to say they're only as strong as their
villains. Do you think
you can have a successful Bond adventure with a mixture or a
group of villains as opposed to one iconic figure?
Well, for this book I think El Huricane has
that iconic presence, and I hope he is a memorable figure. So
I think he probably fulfils
that role. I hope the gang are interesting enough and fun enough
to hold the readers attention, and I certainly think that Mrs
Glass is quite a powerful presence in the book, especially the
that she's a woman.
The book is rich with location detail, have you visited Mexico
It's mainly stuff from reading. I was hoping to go out there
and do a specific trip for it but didn't have time, so I just
immersed myself in as much of it as I could. For the purposes
of the story, in a way I've had to create locations anyway. I
had to create an imaginary geography, an imaginary town. I had
a slight fear that I might go out there and think 'I can't make
this story fit in the real place', and it might have diverted
me from what I wanted to write. It's a shame I didn't have a
chance to go there and get a bit of extra local stuff, but I
figured that Mexico has probably changed so much since the 1930s
anyway, that I was better off using stuff that was written from
How did you come up with the rat
run, was it based anything from your research?
It's more of a homage to Dr
No really, where in the book
Bond has to go through this series of pain tests
that Dr No has devised. It was a nod to that, and the concept
is quite central to the whole Bond mythology. Also,
was set on an island in the Caribbean as well. My starting
point was to do something like that, and I like the idea
of Bond preparing himself for it and trying to beat the
Gold is released on Thursday 6th September
2007 in the UK. Stay tuned to MI6 for more of this exclusive
Many thanks to Charlie Higson.