James Bond will be thrust into a world of Woodstock, Vietnam protests and man’s first steps on the Moon, the author entrusted with writing a new chapter in the 007 saga has revealed.
William Boyd, the third writer invited to pen a new story by the estate of Ian Fleming, will publish his Bond novel next Autumn, to mark the 60th anniversary of the spy’s first literary outing in Casino Royale.
The acclaimed author of Any Human Heart, Boyd is giving little away about the plot, or even a title but has disclosed that his story is set amid the political and social ferment of the late 60s. “All I will say is it’s set in 1969,” Boyd told Radio Times. “Fleming died in 1964. He was in his mid-50s, so conceivably if he’d looked after himself a bit better, hadn’t smoked and drunk so much, he might have written a James Bond novel in that year.”
The author has avoided Skyfall, the latest Bond film, which became the highest-grossing movie in UK box office history after just 40 days. “I deliberately haven’t seen it,” Boyd said.
An expert in Bond’s life and times, Boyd corrects an error in the climax of Sam Mendes’ film, which sought to return OO7 to his childhood home, the Skyfall Lodge in Glencoe, Scotland. “Bond was brought up by an aunt in somewhere like Wiltshire,” Boyd said.
“He was sent to boarding school in Edinburgh, Fettes – which is Tony Blair’s old public school – but only after he was thrown out of Eton for a dalliance with a maid.”
“In the films Bond is a cartoon character, but in the novels he is far more troubled, nuanced and interesting.”
Daniel Craig’s rugged portrayal is, however, true to Fleming’s source material. “Bond’s father was Scottish and his mother was Swiss so he didn’t have a drop of English blood in him. He’s not the suave Roger Moore-type English toff at all.”
“New” Bond novels have been penned by American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, who wrote Carte Blanche in 2011 and and Sebastian Faulks, whose Devil May Care was published to mark Ian Fleming’s centenary in 2008. Deaver’s story, set in the present day, portrayed Bond as a Royal Naval Reserve veteran whose service included a tour of Afghanistan.
Boyd’s espionage novel Restless, based on a covert operation mounted by the British Secret Service in 1940 to manipulate and influence American public opinion in favour of joining the war, has been adapted for a two-part drama serial, starring Charlotte Rampling and Michelle Dockery, which is set to be a highlight of BBC1’s Christmas schedule.
Boyd previously wrote Ian Fleming into the narrative of Any Human Heart, making him responsible for recruiting the protagonist, Logan Mountstuart, to the Naval Intelligence Division in World War II.