With the release of With a Mind to Kill, author Anthony Horowitz will wrap up his Bond novel trilogy. Here, he writes about the journey, from reading Dr No as a 10-year-old to bidding a fond farewell to the iconic character.
This is not an easy piece to write because it is my goodbye to James Bond, a character who has played a huge part in my life.
I still remember reading Dr No as an unhappy 10-year-old and being transported away from the grim prep school where I found myself. I think it was always my ambition to write a Bond novel… but I never dreamed that I would end up being commissioned to do three.
To be honest, I was quite tetchy with the Ian Fleming estate when they announced the new adventures that began with Sebastian Faulks authoring Devil May Care in 2008. Then came Jeffrey Deaver and Carte Blanche (great title) in 2011 and William Boyd with Solo in 2013. I very much enjoyed these books, and admire all three writers, but even so I couldn’t help thinking: “Why not me?”
Bond was in my bloodstream. He’d inspired the Alex Rider series, which had launched my career. I’d shown, with Sherlock Holmes, that I could write a so-called continuation novel…although it’s not a description I particularly like. So what were they waiting for? When were they going to call?
To my huge relief, they finally did get in touch in 2014 and I remember being summoned to my first meeting in the boardroom of the family bank (founded by Ian Fleming’s grandfather) near Trafalgar Square. I was as nervous as if I’d been asked to report to Spectre and arrived in a suit and tie, clutching my notes for the book I had in mind. I looked ridiculous the moment I stepped through the door. The family could not have been more relaxed, informal… casually dressed. Nor were they at all sinister. Throughout my long relationship with them, they have been endlessly supportive. We’ve had a few differences of opinion – what Bond should wear in bed, for example – but they’ve never pulled rank.
I was both surprised and very pleased to be asked by the estate to return to Bond for Forever and a Day (a better title, I think… I was astonished it hadn’t been used before). To begin with, I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. I’d got away with it once. Would I be so lucky a second time? In the end, what decided me was something very simple. Out of nowhere, the opening line of the book popped into my head. “So, 007 is dead.” Of course, 007 is a number, not a man, and suddenly I saw that it might be fun to describe how James Bond became 007, to go back to the very beginning of his career. Fleming had provided a few clues: a shooting in New York, a silent killing in Stockholm. Why did it have to be silent? What method did Bond use?
Sometimes I write books because they are the only way to answer a question that won’t go away, and this was the case here. I really wanted to write the chapter, ‘Strawberry Moon’, to see Bond perform his first, bloody kill. I wanted to describe his first assignment – in this case, investigating the murder of another agent in Marseille. The South of France is, of course, a perfect and well-rehearsed locale for our man. Another villain introduced himself in the shape of Jean-Paul Scipio, larger-than-life in more than one sense. Again, I was surprised that Fleming had never used extreme corpulence as the leitmotif for one of his villains (Mr Big in Live and Let Die is muscular rather than fat). Even as I created Scipio, I knew how I was going to kill him. This always encourages me. It gives me the impulse to write quickly, to get to the end of the book.
And then there was Madame Sixtine. Along with the title, getting the leading lady right in a Bond novel is always a challenge. It’s not just a question of avoiding the obvious pitfalls that come with modern sensibility and inadvertently giving offence. Despite their names (Pussy Galore, Plenty O’Toole), Fleming’s women are all remarkable; strong, independently minded, unforgettable – a hard act to follow.
I based Madame Sixtine on some of the women I’d read about in the Special Operations Executive, a highly secretive organisation created by Churchill in the Second World War. Many extraordinary women worked for the SOE as field agents, radio operators (with a life expectancy of about six weeks) and administrators. I loved writing about Madame Sixtine and her relationship with Bond, and although I was nervous about the inevitable bedroom scene – which actually takes place in the living room of her hideaway in Antibes – it seemed natural and unforced.
I’m not sure how two books became a trilogy. These books are not easy to write, mainly because of the enormous amount of research involved. It’s not just a question of knowing what car, what restaurant, what cocktail was around in the Fifties; it has to be the right restaurant, the right car, the right cocktail. Writing each page is a stop-and-start process, constantly referring back to the books, to biographies of Fleming, to the internet. I feel myself living in the shadow of Bond’s – and Fleming’s – snobbery. This extends only to objects, incidentally. Never to people.
But there was a part of me that couldn’t let go. At the same time, I’d written about Bond at the beginning and in the middle of his career. Surely it made sense to take a look at the very end?
And then there’s the last Bond novel: The Man with the Golden Gun. It’s not my favourite. Ian Fleming wasn’t well when he was writing it, and I can feel his fatigue in some of the chapters. It’s said that Kingsley Amis had to work on the final draft. Even so, I’ve always loved the opening of the book: Bond’s return to London after being brainwashed by the Russians and his failed attempt to assassinate M. And who exactly is Colonel Boris, who is mentioned in the text but never actually described (he appears briefly in From Russia with Love too)? Colonel Boris was a gift. And going behind the Iron Curtain just at the time as the Soviet empire was beginning to unravel seemed too good an opportunity to miss.
With a Mind to Kill is a markedly different Bond novel to my first two. It’s more intimate and driven more by character rather than some madcap scene to change the world. The three-act structure is very much borrowed from Fleming (who used it, for example, in Goldfinger) and as an end-of-career story, it delves into Bond’s life story, reprising one famous scene in particular and picking up on Bond’s short, disastrous marriage. It helped that I had visited Moscow and Berlin while the Iron Curtain was still in place but, for what it’s worth, the biggest challenge of the book was describing the dreariness that I remembered in a way that wouldn’t make it all too dreary a read. I see A Mind to Kill as not just the end for my Bond but also the end of a whole era of spies and spycraft.
I write this not knowing how well the book will be received and usually I get quite nervy in the weeks before publication. But not this time. It’s exactly the book I wanted to write and I say goodbye to Bond in exactly the way I wanted. I know I’ll miss him but I feel my work is done.
.James Bond continuation author Anthony Horowitz says 007 should never have been killed in Daniel Craig's final film No Time to Die.
Having been licensed to write new stories about Ian Fleming's fictional spy by the late writer's estate, the novelist weighed in on the decision for Craig's version of the character to die, and admitted he almost considered it for new book With a Mind to Kill.
"I didn't do it because, first of all, I think it would be impertinent of me to kill a character that I hadn't created, and secondly Bond shouldn't die, Bond is for ever," the 67-year-old told The Times newspaper.
Horowitz explained how he debated asking "the estate for permission to kill Bond," but decided against it, and insisted producers shouldn't have made that call either. He said, "I was sad they did. But it was their decision. I wouldn't have done it. But that's only because... I just think that Bond belongs to everybody."
When it comes to crossovers between his Bond books and the big screen blockbusters, the writer chooses to keep his work entirely separate. He added, "I never refer to the films. I don't include information or even lines from the films."
Horowitz pointed to the uncertain future for the franchise, after Amazon bought MGM Holdings, the studio behind the Bond films, in March for almost $9 billion, while the Fleming estate only controls the book rights.
Asked who should follow Craig in the role, Horowitz pondered, "I don't know how they will have a new Bond since they killed him... And the ownership has changed. Will they go back to the beginning and start remaking 'From Russia with Love', 'Goldfinger', 'Dr No', as a television series?"
With a Mind To Kill is out now
The title of the new James Bond spin-off novel by Kim Sherwood has been revealed today.
Sherwood has been commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications to write a trilogy of novels which expand on the James Bond universe by introducing a group of new 00 agents.
Double or Nothing will be the first of the trilogy, with a holding cover and plot synopsis now unveiled by the author:
James Bond is missing…
007 has been captured, perhaps even killed, by a sinister private military company. His whereabouts are unknown.
Meet the new generation of spies…
Johanna Harwood, 003. Joseph Dryden, 004. Sid Bashir, 009. Together, they represent the very best and brightest of MI6. Skilled, determined and with a licence to kill, they will do anything to protect their country.
The fate of the world rests in their hands…
Tech billionaire Sir Bertram Paradise claims he can reverse the climate crisis and save the planet. But can he really? The new spies must uncover the truth, because the future of humanity hangs in the balance.
The book is scheduled for publication on September 1, 2022.
The third official James Bond novel by award-winning novelist Anthony Horowitz will be called With a Mind to Kill. It will be published on May 26th, 2022, by Jonathan Cape.
The novel opens with M's funeral. One man is missing from the graveside: the traitor who pulled the trigger and who is now in custody, accused of M's murder - James Bond.
Behind the Iron Curtain, a group of former Smersh agents want to use the British spy in an operation that will change the balance of world power. Bond is smuggled into the lion's den - but whose orders is he following, and will he obey them when the moment of truth arrives?
In a mission where treachery is all around and one false move means death, Bond must grapple with the darkest questions about himself. But not even he knows what has happened to the man he used to be.
Anthony Horowitz is the only author in recent years to have been invited by Ian Fleming Publications to write successive, official James Bond novels. The collaboration began in 2015 with Trigger Mortis, followed by Forever and a Day in 2018.
Signed copies are available to pre-order today from Waterstones and other bookshops.
HarperCollins has scooped an "audacious, pacy, sexy and irresistibly entertaining" authorised new James Bond trilogy by Kim Sherwood, making her the first woman to write a 007 novel.
The publisher said: "James Bond is missing, presumed captured or even killed. All of Bond’s contemporaries are gone and a new generation of Double O agents has been recruited to replace them and battle a global threat. At the same time, M and Moneypenny are searching for a mole in MI6. Will the truth be uncovered in time—or is this the end of the Double O section?"
HarperCollins added: "Kim is steeped in the world of James Bond, and this trilogy is fresh, contemporary and thrill-a-minute, with a new generation of spies everyone will love. It’s going to be so much fun to publish, and I cannot wait for readers to be introduced to the new Double O world.”
They added: "Kim Sherwood has pulled off the seemingly impossible task of writing a new Bond novel that is both respectful of Fleming’s original genius and yet refreshingly modern. The book is audacious, pacy, sexy and just irresistibly entertaining. People are going to be talking about this one.”
Author Sherwood said Bond has been "one of the enduring loves" of her life since she first watched Pierce Brosnan dive from the dam in GoldenEye. "I was soon hooked on Ian Fleming’s novels. As a teenager, I chose Fleming when my English teacher asked us to write about an author we admired—I still have the school report. Since then, I’ve dreamt of writing James Bond. It’s rare that dreams come true, and I am grateful to the Fleming family for this incredible opportunity. I feel honoured to be the first novelist to expand the Bond universe through the Double O sector, bringing new life to old favourites, and fresh characters to the canon. I couldn’t be more excited to introduce the world to my Double O agents.”
Corinne Turner of Ian Fleming Publications, added: “In her first novel Testament (riverrun), Kim showed a rare gift for characterisation, time and place. She drew readers into a journey that unfolded in unexpected ways. These talents and her near-lifelong passion for Fleming and Bond make her the perfect choice for this exciting new extension of the 007 universe. I can’t wait for readers to see what she’s created.”
The book does not yet have a title, but is currently scheduled to be published in the UK in September 2022.
Bond Behind the Iron Curtain is a fascinating new book that looks at the world's most famous secret agent from a completely different angle, through the eyes of the communist bloc.
Even before the film of Dr No was released, the Bond phenomenon was being attacked as pornography, capitalist filth and anti-socialist poison. Its popularity in the West only stoked Russian derision. This new book perfectly captures the political face of Bond through rarely seen images and a variety of texts translated into English for the first time. What makes it of exceptional interest is that much of the Russian ridicule of the figure of Bond in the 1960s has turned out to be extremely accurate.
Nor is it without humour: how the KGB tried to sell a novel in London in which Bond is killed, how the 007 trademark came to be downgraded to 07, how much he was paid for Dr No – in short, Bond Behind the Iron Curtain is introducing readers to a completely unknown side of Bond.
The book is written and edited by James Fleming, one of Ian Fleming's nephews, an author in his own right and editor of The Book Collector, the literary quarterly Ian set up around the same time as he created Bond.
James says: "I think I have been aware for some time that a review of one of Uncle Ian's books had appeared in Izvestiya. At the end of May 1962, before the Dr No film came out, this extraordinary review appeared in the Soviet newspaper denouncing 007 and Fleming, but it was only when I started researching for this book that I finally managed to lay my eyes on a copy of it. Interestingly, Ian's publisher Jonathan Cape considered printing the review on the dust wrapper of On Her Majesty's Secret Service and a proof copy was printed, but in the end, I believe, they were all binned."
The book starts with this full-page attack on James Bond, Ian Fleming and the film of Dr No that appeared in Izvestiya even before the film had been released. The book also includes the first ever translation of the long Russian critique of the Bond films by Maja Turovskaya published in 1966, and the extremely interesting account that appeared in Prague the following year of Sean Connery’s rise to fame. A bonus is the Bulgarian attempt to publish a novel in which Bond was killed.
Featuring 16 rarely seen illustrations and an essay by Błażej Mikuła, the book is 128pp, cased, (jacket design by Sarah Bennett) and is available from The Book Collector from 20th October for £25 plus p&p, pre-orders can be taken now.
The official making of book for No Time To Die will be published by Titan Books (UK) on October 12th.
This lavish 192-page coffee table hardback takes readers behind the scenes of the 25th official James Bond film and reveals the locations, characters, gadgets, weapons, and cars of No Time To Die, with exclusive on-set photography, concept art, costume designs, stunt breakdowns, and more, accompanied by cast and crew interviews.
Author Mark Salisbury is a former editor of Britain's Empire film magazine. He has written numerous movie books, including Burton On Burton, Crimson Peak: The Art Of Darkness, and Prometheus: The Art Of The Film.
The book is currently available for pre-order from Amazon with the price reduced from £39.99 to £28.79.
To mark Ian Fleming’s birthday today, Jonathan Cape, Vintage and Ian Fleming Publications have announced that Anthony Horowitz has been asked to write a third official James Bond novel.
Anthony Horowitz said: “I am very excited to have started my third Bond novel with the continuing support of the Ian Fleming estate. Forever and a Day looked at Bond’s first assignment. Trigger Mortis was mid-career. The new book begins with the death of Scaramanga and Bond’s return to Jamaica to confront an old enemy.”
Corinne Turner, Managing Director of IFP, said: “We’re delighted and excited that Anthony is writing his third Bond novel. From the nuggets we’ve seen so far, we are confident it will be another best-selling episode in the adventures of 007.”
The untitled book will be published in May 2022 by Jonathan Cape in the UK, Commonwealth and EU, and by Harper Collins US in the United States.