Take a num­ber

Horowitz takes us back to James Bond be­fore he got his li­cence to kill

Simcoe Reformer - Times-Reformer - - BOOKS - JAMIE PORT­MAN POST­MEDIA NEWS

LON­DON — He was just a school­boy, en­dur­ing the mis­ery of a North Lon­don board­ing school that he re­mem­bers as “a bru­tal, cold, un­pleas­ant place.”

But then An­thony Horowitz en­coun­tered James Bond.

More than half a cen­tury later, Horowitz is still haunted by his own des­per­ately un­happy child­hood. So even to­day, as he en­joys in­ter­na­tional success with his writ­ings, there re­mains a painful im­me­di­acy to th­ese mem­o­ries. But with them comes the mo­ment when he met Agent 007 on screen.

“I’m lonely, mis­er­able and fail­ing,” he says, look­ing back. “And then, into this hor­ri­ble world in 1963, comes a film, Dr. No, which takes me to ex­otic islands where there’s won­der­ful food and sun­shine and beau­ti­ful women. There were no beau­ti­ful women in my life in boys’ school — but here was ad­ven­ture and es­capism.”

Horowitz has ar­rived to talk about his new thriller, For­ever and a Day, which goes back to the early days of Bri­tish se­cret agent James Bond and how he earned his 007 in­signia — and with it his li­cence to kill. It will star­tle read­ers with its por­trait of a more vul­ner­a­ble, less hard­ened Bond, and Horowitz is proud of it. How­ever, it’s also the prod­uct of a life­long love af­fair with the 007 books and their cre­ator, Ian Flem­ing.

Dr. No, star­ring Sean Con­nery, was the sec­ond of Flem­ing’s Bond nov­els, but the first to have been made into a movie. And it en­tranced this lonely but pre­co­cious young­ster.

“It led me to the book­store where I bought the book of Dr. No. I still have it to­day with my 10-year-old’s sig­na­ture on the in­side of it. From then on, I’m read­ing the books, and each one is a rev­e­la­tion. More films come out. Goldfin­ger re­mains my favourite Bond movie ever — it just doesn’t get bet­ter than that.”

Horowitz is to­day one of Bri­tain’s most pro­lific and pop­u­lar writers. He’s the cre­ator of two ac­claimed tele­vi­sion se­ries — Foyle’s War and Mid­somer Mur­ders. His more than 40 books in­clude a hugely pop­u­lar young peo­ple’s se­ries fea­tur­ing teenage spy Alex Rider, rack­ing up in­ter­na­tional sales ap­proach­ing the 20 mil­lion mark.

“I sud­denly had this idea — wouldn’t be great if Bond was a teenager? And that led to the birth of Alex Rider — and Alex Rider made my for­tune. So I owe a great deal to Flem­ing and his world and his books.”

Horowitz has moved from strength to strength as a writer, and re­cently launched a new se­ries of crime nov­els fea­tur­ing un­ortho­dox de­tec­tive Daniel Hawthorne. But he had al­ways yearned to write an ac­tual Bond novel, a wish granted in 2015 when the Ian Flem­ing es­tate in­vited Horowitz to do ex­actly that.

Since Flem­ing’s death in 1964, his es­tate has pe­ri­od­i­cally com­mis­sioned new 007 nov­els from other writers, among them such high-pro­file names as Se­bastien Faulks, Wil­liam Boyd and the late Kings­ley Amis (Colonel Sun, writ­ten un­der the pen name Robert Markham). When the Flem­ing es­tate ap­proached Horowitz, he had al­ready demon­strated his gift for en­ter­ing an­other au­thor’s world with a pair of suc­cess­ful Sher­lock Holmes mys­ter­ies (The House of Silk and Mo­ri­arty). James Bond was, as they say, an of­fer he couldn’t refuse, and his ini­tial 007 thriller, Trig­ger Mor­tis, was a best­seller.

“I wanted to be true to Flem­ing,” Horowitz says now. “I wanted to re­an­i­mate his vi­sion and hope­fully head peo­ple to rediscover the orig­i­nal books.”

That same ur­gency drives this new Bond novel, For­ever and a Day. Its pub­lisher, HarperCollins is billing it as a “pre­quel” to Casino Royale, the 1954 Flem­ing novel that in­tro­duced Bond to read­ers.

“I don’t re­ally think of it as a pre­quel, but I cer­tainly think of it as an ‘ori­gin’ novel,” Horowitz says. “It ex­am­ines how Bond be­came Bond.” A scene in Casino Royale pro­vided a spring­board. “That’s when Bond tells about the two mis­sions he had to carry out to qual­ify for a dou­ble zero. He shot some­one with a sniper ri­fle in New York and kills some­one more bru­tally in Stockholm. Those are the ba­sic facts which I was able to ex­pand on in my open­ing chap­ters.”

Hav­ing passed th­ese grue­some tests, the youth­ful Bond is dis­patched to the south of France, where the bul­let-rid­dled body of the pre­vi­ous 007 has turned up in the wa­ters of the Mediter­ranean. This leads to a hair-rais­ing con­fronta­tion with a mon­strously over­weight Cor­si­can drug dealer named Sci­pio, who proves to be one of the most mem­o­rable vil­lains in the Bond canon.

“I loved do­ing Sci­pio,” Horowitz says. He notes that Flem­ing rel­ished grotesque vil­lains with bizarre char­ac­ter­is­tics — “a third nip­ple, miss­ing hands, ago­ra­pho­bia

“But cu­ri­ously he hadn’t done fat, and I had this idea of a mas­sively fat villain, and I knew at ex­actly the same mo­ment how he needed to die.”

Horowitz also de­liv­ers a unique con­tri­bu­tion to the 007 gallery of for­mi­da­ble fe­males. Her name is Six­tine and in cre­at­ing her, Horowitz was mind­ful that Bond’s wom­an­iz­ing im­age does not eas­ily win favour th­ese days of the #MeToo move­ment.

“I try not to use the term ‘Bond girl’ in con­nec­tion with her,” Horowitz says. “To ob­jec­tify a woman in that way and to sug­gest she’s a piece of prop­erty is de­mean­ing. Six­tine is far from be­ing that. She’s an in­de­pen­dent, strong woman, 10 years older than Bond. I de­cided — let’s have an older woman in the story and take things to their log­i­cal ex­tremes. She’s more ex­pe­ri­enced in bed than he is. She’s a mother — I don’t think Bond has ever slept with a woman who has a child.

“Still, I do try to treat the story as very much of the ’50s and true to the out­look of that pe­riod while at the same time try­ing not to do things that would ob­vi­ously an­noy and up­set a mod­ern au­di­ence.”

ELEVENTH HOUR FILMS In his new book, An­thony Horowitz tells the story of a more youth­ful Bond, while re­main­ing true to cre­ator Ian Flem­ing’s vi­sion.

Dr. No (1962) was di­rected by Ter­ence Young. Shown from left: Eu­nice Gayson, Sean Con­nery (as James Bond). WENN.COM

An­thony Horowitz HarperCollins

For­ever and a Day

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