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Boyd in the skin of Bond

December 20 category:Books
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Boyd in the skin of Bond

William Boyd poses with a copy of 'Solo', the next James Bond.


Unable to tackle James Bond without having been requested by the heirs of his creator, Ian Fleming. How have you been contacted?

A 2011 day my literary agent called me and said, "Sit Fleming family chose you!". The wife of Ian Fleming and his son (suicide at the age of 23) are dead, they are his nieces, met in the Ian Fleming Publishing Ltd, who are maneuvering. I had a kind of examination about my culture Bond, and of course, I also had questions to ask, my margin of freedom in particular.

In fact, they knew that I knew the work of Fleming - I even made ​​a character in one of my Romans-and I loved the genre having already written two spy novels, The Life The alert and Waiting for dawn. And, irony of life, it happens that I know of three actors who have played Bond, Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, who played in my film The Trench. This is a good friend, but I see less and less - it hides in New York, he can not go out in the street. This is the price, unbearable, celebrity.

What were the terms of your mission statement?

I had great freedom in the choice of locations and times, while having to respect the tradition. This is normal, otherwise why accept. So James Bond lives in Chelsea, has a Bentley, his superior is called M, etc. But after we agreed, I had to provide a long synopsis, of about 30 pages, the upcoming novel. This does not bother me because I usually acts as well, I still developing the architecture of the story before writing.

It took two to three months, during which I read the whole work of Fleming (12 novels plus two collections of short stories), in order, Casino Royale in The Man with the Golden Gun, and bondien Sebastian Faulks novel, The devil take; then I imagined the story, and I have endeavored to paint the portrait of James Bond - that's what interested me most, his inner life, his thoughts, his desires, his complex mistakes.

Everything is finally in the literary Bond, Bond a much more tormented and rich in its film version. Fleming gave the character his own tastes and fads, great detail in support: It is sad, he cries easily, it is half Scottish half Swiss, he does not like lace-up shoes nor women nail polish ...

In France, very well known movies, minus the books ...

It's the same everywhere. Today we see Bond through the filter film and its performers, Sean Connery, Daniel Craig ... Nonetheless, in sixty years, some 100 million copies of Fleming's novels have sold worldwide.

Since 1968, five authors have written some 23 novels "authorized" James Bond, with more or less success. Which party did you choose caught?

I did not want to write a pastiche as Faulks nor a novel of the fantastic vein of Goldfnger type Moonraker, a kind of comic with esbroufes and gadgets. I looked for realistic vein Fleming, his real spy novels, like Kisses From Russia, my favorite, Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Dr No, Diamonds Are Forever, or The Man with pistol gold ...

Back to your synopsis. Fleming have fully endorsed?

The war in Africa, 1969, a James Bond 45, all went smoothly. Then I wrote the novel in six months, with great pleasure. They loved, a nuance .: I thought Bond and M were bound by an almost paternal relationship, the family did not agree, so I dampened the ardor of their relationship. Similarly, it seemed obvious that Bond was not very comfortable in flight; Fleming pushed the loudly: "Impossible Bond is afraid in flight" Now, in From Russia with Love, two pages are devoted to her fears, they agreed.

It is true that the family receives copyright ...

Yes, 50%, that's the deal. I'm not a loser, selling a Bond is not like selling a Boyd, one can multiply the numbers by three. Bond sells everywhere, so the fee is proportionally very important. In England, more than 100 000 copies have already passed. It was also sold well in the US, Canada, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden. I win readers who perhaps will now follow me. And for Fleming, if readers like Solo, they will buy other Bond.

Your novel opens with a nightmare Bond, who sees himself June 7, 1944 in Normandy. A he really belonged to an elite Navy commando?

Fleming mentions five or six times the Bond soldier during the Second World War. He opened the door halfway, I pushed and I invented this episode of Bond, a young soldier of 19 years, a member of the commando created by Fleming himself. I mixed their lives, it was fun. In general, I was very respectful. Fleming was a lot of attention to lifestyle, shoes, clothes, food, coffee, etc. In this he was far ahead of its time. It is the first to have mentioned brands, Rolex, Guerlain, Taittinger, Johnnie Walker ...

Among the obsessions of Bond include cars, weapons, women, whiskey ... Have you something in common with your hero?

I foodie (gourmet) like him, and thinks like him to look for the best products, good olive oil, good dressing - about this, I lent him the paternity of my own recipe ( laughs). And then, too, I'm Scottish. But other than that? Not women (William Boyd is married to Susan for ages, to whom he dedicated his twelve novels, Ed), no cars. I do not even have my license, and I'm not a violent man, either.

In Solo, Bond sleeps with two women. A bare minimum?

In general, there are two or three. Women here are not bimbos: Bryce is no longer a kid, she is 38 years old, Grace, Métis CIA is younger, but they are not a simple hobby. It is really attracted to both. Bond, I am sure, is looking for a real relationship. Remember orphan since the age of 11, he is alone, without family.

Your Bond is not it less misogynistic than the original Bond?

That is true. It is less misogynistic, it is also less racist, less anti-Semitic, xenophobic least ... Fleming was a typical man of his class, the upper middle class. His racism was unconscious, almost natural: "Foreigners are weird, right?" I told myself: Bond 45, he is very intelligent, he is great player - here he reads The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene, one of the great novels of West Africa - he lives in the popular Chelsea artistic and 1960 ... He can not perpetuate morals World Fleming.

Hence her terror when you propel the heart of the bloody war of Zanzarim, a transposition of the terrible conflict that broke out in Nigeria in 1967 after the secession of Biafra?

I immediately thought of sending Leap Africa, where it has almost never set foot. I wanted to write a realistic novel, then put Bond in the middle of an African civil war, it changed the Monte Carlo Casino. I wanted to test it, unarmed, alone in the forest.

And then you were on familiar ground, you who are born in Ghana and have lived in Nigeria ...

Yes I Am. Besides, I've already written about the Biafran war in Open book. I was 18 at the time, I came home from my Scottish boarding school every holiday to see my parents. It was very impressive, there were soldiers, often drunk, and dams everywhere, my friends were fighting, on television and in the press we saw pictures of this fierce and surreal war. As in my novel, it ended when it was put in prison the fetish priest in the Biafran army. And then there were the millions of children dying of hunger. It changed my life.

"Why this continent he reminded you so easily your human frailty?", Do you tell Bond. What is your feeling?

Absolutely. Young, I often found myself, like Bond, in the forest. You turn around, we see nothing, it's nature, primitive. We realize that we are just an animal like the others. It's really unsettling.

Are you returned to Nigeria for the purposes of the novel?

It's complicated for me because I am much intervened to my friend the writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed in late 1995 by the military government. I'm not sure to be well received in Nigeria.

You use many expressions in French in Solo. Is it because you are speaking?

This is also because Bond, who was born in Zurich, speaks French and German. It uses many French expressions, such as "it's not my style." I wanted to remind him to show his sophistication.

Solo Will suitable?

No, certainly not. The two families, Fleming and Broccoli, Eon Production, film rights holders, are very distinct. And today all the Bond films are contemporary. A retro Bond can not interest them - none of the novels bondiens after Fleming has also been adapted - but they are the only ones able to buy the rights.

You will write another novel about Bond?

No, I loved the adventure, I am very proud. This is my third spy novel - I appreciate that kind as many Englishmen like Graham Greene, Joseph Conrad, Anthony Burgess ...- but it's time to move on.

Solo. A new James Bond adventure, trans. from English by Chistiane Besse. Threshold, 352 p., € 21.50

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