William Boyd, the celebrated author and James Bond enthusiast, is to step into Ian Fleming’s shoes and send Britain’s most famous fictional spy out on a new mission.
Boyd, whose has written 11 novels and short story collections including A Good Man in Africa and Brazzaville Beach, is to follow Sebastian Faulks and Jeffery Deaver in writing an official James Bond novel.
The details remain top secret. There is no title as yet, with the author only revealing it will be “classic Bond” set in the late 1960s. It will be released in autumn 2013.
Boyd is no stranger to the spy thriller genre with works including Restless and Any Human Heart, in which Ian Fleming actually appears. The author said he accepted the offer “at once” when Fleming’s estate approached him. “For me the prospect appeared incredibly exciting and stimulating; a once in a lifetime challenge.”
Jonny Geller, managing director of literary agency Curtis Brown, called it a “fantasy literary combination”. He said: “William Boyd is very interested in Fleming and has written excellent spy stories. Everything pointed to him as being ideal for this; he will make it his own.”
Corinne Turner, managing director of Ian Fleming Publications, said: “His thrillers occupy the niche that Ian Fleming would fill were he writing today and with similar style and flair.”
Boyd said his father had introduced him to the Bond novels in the 1960s and he had read all of them “From Russia with Love being my favourite”.
Turner said: “This alongside his fascination with Fleming himself makes him the perfect choice to take Bond back to his 1960s world.” As well as the publication of the new work, 2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of Casino Royale, the first Bond novel.
It is the latest part of an ambitious programme for 007 from Fleming’s estate, which hopes to encourage more heavy-hitting authors to try their hand at writing Bond.
It is currently searching for an author to write more Young Bond books after the initial five-strong series, written by The Fast Show’s Charlie Higson, proved hugely successful.
Sebastian Faulks published Devil May Care in 2008 to mark the centenary of Ian Fleming’s birth. While that work was set in the 1960s, American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver updated the secret agent to present day in Carte Blanche, published last year.
Fleming wrote a total of 12 Bond novels and two collections of short stories. After he died in 1964, Kingsley Amis became the first author to take up the mantle of keeping the character alive, publishing Colonel Sun four years later under the name of Robert Markham.
John Gardner wrote 14 novels in the series, and then Raymond Benson wrote six more. Over 100 million Bond books have been sold, and half the world’s population have seen a Bond film.
The Boyd novel will be published by Random House, the publisher that earlier this month sealed a 10-year licence for Ian Fleming’s entire Bond backlist in print and ebook format.