James Bond and Me – Reading and Writing in 007’s Shoes

Anthony Horowitz, author of the newest Bond novel Forever and a Day, takes a look back at 007's influence on him as a reader and a writer. Make sure to comment for a chance to win!

Some books really do change your life. For me, it was Dr. No, not the first James Bond novel but the first to be turned into a movie in 1962. I read it when I was ten years old, stuck in an all-boys boarding school in North London, the sort of grim institution that the British do so well (Ian Fleming himself had a pretty rough time at Eton College).

The book opened up a whole world to me: tropical islands, exotic food, adventure, excitement…and, of course, beautiful women. That famous scene, when Ursula Andress emerges from the ocean in a white bikini, seemed like a fabulous dream and her character, Honeychile Ryder, would stay in my mind for the next thirty years.

By then, Roger Moore had taken over the part from Sean Connery and, watching him get older with every film – he was 58 by the time he starred in A View to a Kill – I began to think about creating my own teenaged spy. It was no coincidence that I called him Alex Rider.

I have never stopped loving James Bond; the books and the films. Goldfinger is still my favorite – both on the page and on the screen. It’s quintessential Bond with a brilliantly outlandish villain, the best ever sidekick in Oddjob, an over-the-top plot, and those set pieces that Fleming arrived at so effortlessly but which are still so unique: the girl painted gold, the game of golf at Stoke Park, Bond tortured with a circular saw (it became a laser in the film), the bad guy sucked out of an aircraft window.

The film has by far the best title song, at least in my opinion. I still get a tingle when I hear Shirley Bassey rhyming “Midas touch” with “a spider’s touch.” It also has some of the best lines.

“Do you expect me to talk?”

“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”

Frankly, those early Bond films are something of a miracle. What alchemy it was that brought them all together: not just the faultless casting, but Ken Adams for design, John Barrie for music, Maurice Binder for those iconic title sequences. A perfect team.

But of course, the film would not exist without the book which I must have read about a dozen times. I’m in awe of Fleming’s writing style. Look at the opening chapter – Reflections in a Double Bourbon (nobody has ever done better chapter headings). Bond is at Miami Airport, in a contemplative mood, remembering a recent mission.

““Below the indigo sky the flare paths twinkled green and yellow and threw tiny reflections off the oily skin of the tarmac.”

Even when he’s not writing action, Fleming captures mood and atmosphere in a way that is much more sophisticated than it seems.

I know because, twice now, I’ve tried to imitate him.

I was thrilled when the Ian Fleming estate contacted me back in 2014 and asked me to be the fourth modern author – after Sebastian Faulks, Jeffrey Deaver and William Boyd – to write a James Bond novel. It really was like being handed the keys to the candy store, and although I was thrilled to grab hold of them, I was also nervous. People go a little bit mad when it’s Bond. The scrutiny you get as a writer, the press interest, the sense of expectation…it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

The hardest things to get right? Certainly, the title. You start out with a smorgasbord of Bondian words: tomorrow, eyes, diamonds, kill, love, live, die, only, never, forever, secret. You then mix them around until you realize that every formula has already been tried and you have to go elsewhere. My favorite non-Fleming title, by the way, is Colonel Sun by Robert Markham and for that matter, I still think it’s the best of all the continuation novels.

Then comes the villain. He – or she – has to be a little heightened and have some sort of bodily deformation such as a third nipple. Two missing hands wouldn’t hurt either. That said, you have to be careful. Go too far over the top and you’ll find yourself in Austin Powers land.

And of course, there’s the so-called “Bond Girl”, a term so patronizing that I try never to use it. But getting the love interest right in this #MeToo age is, without doubt, a challenge. If in the 21st Century, I were to come up with a former lesbian, molested by an uncle at the age of twelve, and called her Pussy Galore, the world would fall in on me. This is not a criticism of Fleming. It’s just an indication of the way times have changed.

Forever and a Day was the slightly more generic title I chose for my second Bond novel; the book is in some respects a romance and I wanted the title to nod towards that. I have to say that I am proud of my villain: the quite monstrous Jean-Paul Scipio. The moment I thought him up, I knew how he would die and in my experience, this is always a good sign. And with Madame Sixtine, Bond has a woman who is older and wiser than him and in every sense his equal. I loved writing her.

As to whether the book works or not, that’s for my American readers to tell me. You can reach me easily on Twitter.

Meanwhile, in the UK, people are asking me if I will write a third Bond novel. Well, first of all, that’s for the Ian Fleming estate and for the publishers to decide. But I will admit that being a James Bond author has been the high point of my career. I look back at the miserable schoolboy, hiding away with his copy of Dr. No and I wonder if I had any idea that I would end up where I am now. And I don’t think so. Not in my wildest dreams.

Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz!

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Forever and a Day Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/james-bond-and-me beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) November 6, 2018. Sweepstakes ends at 12:59 p.m. ET November 20, 2018. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

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Comments

  1. Brent Salish

    Very cool insight into the process. Thank you. (And I’d forgotten how well Fleming at his best could describe scenes.)

    • Ann Flynt

      I grew up watching all the Bond movies, either on TV or at the movies. Loved them all. Read all of Ian Fleming’s Bond series numerous times. I am delighted to “see” a new Bond book is coming out!

  2. Tom Bergin

    Excellent article. I enjoyed it very much.

  3. Brenda Gaskell

    Anthony Horowitz is a great choice for continuing the Bond books.

  4. John Quiring

    Looking forward to it!

  5. John Smith

    I have never seen a single James Bond movie that was not a disappointment, but I’m sure the books are excellent!

  6. Susan Meek

    I love the James Bond books and I look forward to this one. Ian Fleming was a very interesting person, almost James Bond himself. Horowitz will do a good job with this.

  7. Gary R. Codding

    I can’t wait to read it.

  8. Rodney P. Richey

    Your remarks show that you are asking yourself the right questions as an author. It must be an incredibly tough needle to thread, to balance credibility with the Bond formula. FWIW, I thought Forever and a Day was incredible. It hit all the touchstones yet was still unpredictable and satisfying.

  9. Rick Ollerman

    I had almost the same experience with James Bond when I was a boy, but I randomly started with Diamonds Are Forever. I’m glad Horowitz has this kind of passion for not only the character, but the world that goes along with him.

  10. Benjamin Thomas

    I loved trigger Mortis and have no doubt Mr.Horowitz will succeed tremendously with this one as well.

  11. Rocky Chauvin

    Looks interesting and I’ll be looking out for it..!!!

  12. Shirley Evans

    Always have loved Ian Flemings books and am sure that Anthony will continue to do the Bond series justice.

  13. Douglass Abramson

    Always ready a new Bond adventue.

  14. Gretchen Reed Stelter

    James Bond books and movies were one of the first things I shared with my dad, so I can’t wait to read this!

  15. Susanne Troop

    Love a good Bond adventure!

  16. Chrissy

    Looking forward to reading this!

  17. Kristie Addison

    Looks very interesting! Excited to read it!

  18. Marianne Neal

    Never sure about books like this. It is not Ian Fleming.

  19. kristielynnaddison

    Looks very interesting! Excited to read it!

  20. John M Peplowski

    Can’t wait

  21. Ilene Harris

    I saw all the James Bond movies, can’t wait to read your book.

  22. Jackie Wisherd

    Who doesn’t love the James Bond books. I am anxious to see your take on them. I know I would enjoy reading your book.

  23. Cindi Hoppes

    Your post made me smile! Growing up, James Bond was a favorite of the men, in my life! Especially, my brother in law… He owns all of the James Bond movies.
    Thanks, Cindi

  24. Rick Bragga

    Now I will have to go back to read the Fleming books and the modern authors 007 books. Thanks for the potential reading adventure.

  25. Diane Janus

    Love Jame Bond! Can’t wait to read the newest one!

  26. Caren Luckie

    Love the James Bond series!

  27. Virginia Campbell

    Bold move, 007. Carry on.

  28. Carol Macsas

    You brought back some great memories of earlier books. Looking forward to reading ‘Forever and A Day.’

  29. kathy

    I loved Magpie Murders and I cant wait to read Horowitz next book.

  30. Elena

    I enjoy a lot James Bond and I am looking forward to reading “Forever and a Day”!

  31. Vicki

    My first Bond book was You Only Live Twice, read in 1964 when I was 10. And, yes, I continue to remember it. Looking forward to your new one.

  32. Patricia Reed

    Would love to add this to my collection. Can’t wait.

  33. Pamela Gilmore

    I am a die-hard Bond fan, and I eagerly anticipate reading your new book!

  34. Stuart Denrich

    I love Bond novels and movies both shaken and stirred.

  35. Daniel

    My dad’s favorite!

  36. Zita Hildebrandt

    Horowitz for the win! 😍

  37. Tamara Seward

    I just found my first Bond book to read. Yes, I admit this will be my first Bond book. But you hooked me with your insight. Thank You.

  38. Jeanette Batey

    My husband and I are avid James Bond fans. We can’t wait for a chance to read your new book.

  39. Teresa

    I love Bond and I love Anthony. What could possibly go wrong?

  40. Anne

    Fascinating post and interesting feature. The novel would be captivating.

  41. Pearl

    James Bond rules. Intriguing.

  42. Susan T.

    I’ve loved Anthony Horowitz’s mysteries and I would be interested to see what he does with such an iconic character!

  43. Patricia McDonnell

    Can’t wait to read it!

  44. Lori P

    Delightfully interesting. Would thrill to read this!

  45. Larry Johnson

    The last Bond novel I read was by Jeffrey Deaver. I didn’t even realize the other two authors had written Bond novels. This will be my first novel to read by Anthony Horowitz so I look forward to the new Bond and maybe even a new author as a must read.

  46. vickie dailey

    Guess my post was too long – I had to recaptcha and lost the whole thing – Apparently I am too passionate about James Bond – so I will keep it short

  47. Melissa Lawrence

    I love all things Bond…so I hope to win this!

  48. peter gladue

    My Mom had all the Fleming books, I printed out the article for her

  49. Karen Mikusak

    Can’t wait to read this! Would love to win.

  50. joel timmons

    Shaken. Not. Stirred. Awesomeness. Mr. Bond

  51. Shannon Wise

    It’s funny to be alive today in the #metoo era and look back on Bond. The first Bond movie I saw was Octopussy (I was a kid and my mother was furious at my grandfather for taking me). Roger Moore will always be the quintessential Bond to me. But my favorite Bond is Pierce Brosnan. I look forward to reading Forever and a Day.

  52. OSWALDO REYES

    I love the James Bond Series. I am definitely looking forward to this one.

  53. Ellen Simmons

    Society has surely changed since Fleming wrote of Bond. But he is still relevant and his world exciting. The Bond movies are hits and are wonderfully entertaining. Good luck, Mr. Horowitz!

  54. Kathleen Frost

    I can barely remember NOT being a Bond fan. I’ve got the collection of movies & am working on Bond library now. I’ll look forward to reading yours! Thanks for the insight!
    ~Bucyrus Bookworm

  55. Sheryl Millar

    I am overjoyed that there is another Bond novel! I have them all—from all the writers.

  56. Rae Anino

    LOVE James Bond movies!!

  57. susan beamon

    It’s been many years since I read Bond books. I tend these days to collect them for my daughter. She is a real Bond fan. But, If I win this one, I may keep it for a while.

  58. charles j hauser jr

    I’m such a traditionalist when it comes to Fleming especially in light of his WWII exploits so I’m hard to please. But I never say never to any new endeavor and wish Anthony the best

  59. Russ Cross

    Fascinating article!

  60. Daniel Weber

    Can’t wait.

  61. alice morris

    Just started reading again after being ill and this sounds exciting, Bond me please

  62. Anita Sue Hamilton

    007 continues

  63. Mark Haviland

    Your Bond work is a far cry, and distant trip, from your Midsomer Murders work.

  64. Omie Echerd

    I read all the James Bond !! Loved them !! I am excited that there are going to be new James Bond books !!

  65. Elizabeth

    I’m intrigued by a true 21st-century Bond story!

  66. Ross

    Reading James Bond is an annual tradition for me. It takes me back to reading my first Bond book, as a 10 year old, and wanting to grow up to a superspy. (For the record – my first Bond book wasnt one of Ian Flemings – it was “The Book of Bond”, talking about what one does to become just like Bond. And 37 years later- well, I have master the Bond face, if that helps)

  67. Conrad Kovash

    Been reading the stories since I saw the first movie and have not missed a book or movie since

  68. Gail Weitzel

    So very interesting. I hope you do write a third Bond novel.

  69. JoAnne Reuter

    I used to read every James Bond book by Mr. Fleming riding on NYC Subway back/forth to work in the ’60s. Helped to keep my sanity.

  70. Robert A. Brown

    This book is definitely a hot must read to escape reality and boredom.

  71. peter w.

    James Bond is the Man! Yes!

  72. Linda Henderson

    I am excited to read Forever and A Day.

  73. pablo101

    Sounds like a very exciting and fun read. I can’t wait to dig into it.

  74. Linda Cosby

    I look forward to reading it.

  75. Janet Gould

    Great article.

  76. lasvegasnv

    cool

  77. L

    Such a talented author to take up the Bond mantle. Love his writing, loved Moriarty, love Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War!

  78. Joyce Gibson

    I love anything James Bond

  79. Bruce Williams

    Thank you for giving me something to look forward to! Another visit with Bond, James Bond! Eager to see what mischief he survives this time. Keep them coming please! Amd don’t get hogtied by “political correctness”, just chronicle his adventures and our escape!

  80. Suzan Lake

    I have just finished The Word is Murder and look forward to reading Bond. I love your stories within a story.

  81. Joe

    My husband love James loves James Bond too! It would be interesting to know somebody else’s insights so I can share it with him! Hope I can read this

  82. Joyce Lokitus

    Glad that you wrote another Bond book as I love them all. Huge Bond fan. When my dad was alive we watched every one and then when I had my first serious boyfriend at 17 we went to the movies each time a new one came out. We’ve been married now for 35 years and still watch reruns of all the Bond movies on tv. I love the books because they give more of an insight into what he is thinking. Thanks for carrying the torch!

  83. Betty Lipton

    Sounds amazing! Would love to read a new Bond book so hoping for a copy.

  84. Connie Bryant

    This sounds exciting to read. I’ve been a big fan of the Ian Fleming novels since my mom introduced me to the books.:)

  85. Sue Dittmar

    James Bond was one of my first films and Mr. Horowitz has shown his appreciation of the lore. I treasure his addtions to the legend.

  86. katevocke

    This sounds great! I love stories in exotic locations!

  87. Joyce Benzing

    Hmm, new Bond author.

  88. John Davis

    I read all the James Bond stories in high school. I, too, was fascinated They lifted me away from the endless brick row houses of St. Louis, Missouri. In fact, they did so in such a way that I spent a career in intelligence.

  89. Jane Schwarz

    I remember waiting in a long line to see the Dr. No movie when it first came out. It was only after that, that I started to read the books. Such adventures, romance and exotic locales. Thanks for your insights.

  90. vicki wurgler

    I loved going to James Bond movies-thanks for your giveaway

  91. Helen Martin

    I love the books and movies. Your books sounds great, can’t wait to read it.!

  92. Tiffany

    Looks really good!

  93. TCasteel

    All those Bond-isms. They are a part of our family and memories of all the Bond films through the years.

  94. Pat Sonti

    My transformative Fleming book was “From Russia With Love.” I read it when I was 15. Fleming’s writing still echoes with me. Soon, I read everything I could by Fleming. Not surprisingly, I enlisted in the Army and made a career out of it. I attribute Fleming’s Bond as somehow responsible for my decision to serve in the US Army.

    Can’t wait to read your Bond book. Thank you, sir, for keeping Bond relevant and alive.

  95. Catherine Myers

    I am of a fan of Anthony from way back in his television career.

  96. Sheila Golding

    I love James Bond. I look forward to this book.
    Thank you for sharing.

  97. Marisa Young

    I cannot wait to read this book.

  98. Russ Russell

    Bond…James Bond.

  99. Sally Schmidt

    James Bond actors come and go, but the books are always great.

  100. Jack Erickson

    I was in the Bahamas back in mid-60’s and asked around where Ian Fleming had lived. I knew it was on the beach, and eventually located the site. But gates, fences, jungle foliage prevented me from seeing the house where he wrote the Bond books.

  101. Alan Rogers

    I love the Ian Fleming books. I grew up reading them new. I’ve read some of the successor books, but they mainly add gadgets or update the times. The stories suffer for this. I wish Mr. Horowitz luck.

  102. Frank oglesby

    I’ve enjoyed both of Horowitz Bond continuation books.

  103. Raul Garza

    My life was also changed by Dr. No, but I was 11 years old. By then I’d read every book in the youth section of our local public library so one day after school, I browsed the regular fiction shelves starting at A until I came across Ian Fleming. After reading the opening chapter, I was hooked and took it to the check-out desk. Looking only at the cover, the librarian declined, saying I would need a signed permission slip of a parent. When my mother arrived to pick me up I told her there was a book I needed her signed permission to check out. I told her simply that it was a book about a spy. She went inside and promptly signed a waiver. The following week I was asked by my Catholic School’s fifth grade teacher to give a verbal book report. I don’t remember what I said or how long I spoke, but I’ll never forget that neither Sister Gertrude nor a single boy or girl said a word or looked away as I recounted the thrilling adventure of my new hero, James Bond.
    Congratulations on your new book, Mr. Horowitz.

  104. Greg Daniel

    Big fan of Anthony Horowitz and a big James Bond fan — like many, I read the Fleming novels at a (too?) young age after discovering the movies — but I have not read any of the Bond continuation novels. Maybe it’s time to change that!

  105. Andrea Caudill

    Enjoyed the Fleming novels, but have resisted reading the next-gen continuation ones. Perhaps I was a little too quick to judge on that.

  106. M Thompson

    I have always enjoyed the Bond books and movies. Would love to win this novel to see how Bond’s adventures continue.

  107. Daniel M

    sounds like a fun one

  108. Maureen Altman

    Love Horowitz’s books and look forward to reading a Bond book

  109. Christal M

    Can never go wrong with 007

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