How did you envisage
Bond at that time?
Well, this is something that came up when I began to start the new ones. I
have to say straight away that the film image went out the window because
my brief was to go back to the original books. I'm not interested in the
films at all. I realised at the very beginning that I had to wipe Mr.
Connery's face from my mind and Mr. Lazenby's and Mr. Moore's. I had to
try to go back to my own first reading of the books years ago and try to
remember how I first pictured the character, which was more or less the
case as Mr. Fleming described him.
I seem to remember
hearing that you started LICENCE RENEWED by listening to Bond film music.
Yes, that's true. I always use music to blot out the silence that always
surrounds a writer when he is working alone. It is usually a film score,
but I also have an extensive collection of classical records which I
listen to seriously. I thought stupidly that it would be easy. All I had
to do was to play the Bond scores and everything would fall into place,
but the first morning I sat down, and I think I started out with
Goldfinger and went through the whole lot and got snow blind looking
at white sheets of paper. It was no good because I had already wiped the
films from my mind. On the second day I had to think of something else and
it turned out to be Wagner's Ring Cycle, which I knew very well. So I
wrote the first one to Wagner and the second mainly to Shostakovich and
Some readers have
described LICENCE RENEWED as a film script, which is fair comment as it
is very visual.
Well, I always try to write visually. Actually, when I was in New York
doing a show, I was accused blatantly across the microphone of writing a
film scenario, which was the farthest thing from my mind, because I'm not
really interested in the movies. I'm sorry but I'm not. My interest is in
the written word. Anyway, this person said it reads like a film scenario
and your doing this because they were running out of film titles, and they
want to make some more. Well this, of course, is nonsense - and as far as
I understand the situation is that the producers can make their own
stories too if they want. It make no difference to me financially, they
pay me a straight fee, which is less than I get for my other novels, but
then as I said they are taking a gamble.
How do you actually
set about writing a book?
I start out with a broad idea. Actually this was a terrible bone of
contention between Glidrose and I. They wanted the whole thing set out, a
synopsis in effect, and I hate doing synopses of books because if you are,
as I am, a writer of fiction, you have to entertain a reader, and I don't
like to know what happens. I like a character to surprise me. I only start
with a broad plan, so that by the time I get halfway I have a rough idea
where the end is going to be. If I'm not surprised I'm not going to
surprise an audience. I once asked a famous theatre director who he
directed for, and he said I always direct for myself and hope the audience
will enjoy it.
I had a lot of hassle with Glidrose about a full synopsis, but I did one
and pointed out that it was really only half a story because the second
half was likely to change and the ending of LICENCE RENEWED was very
different from the one you eventually got. It was going to be a flower
festival along the Italian Riviera, a part which I knew very well as I had
been there many times before. However, almost at the last minute I decided
that it was too hackneyed, and everyone knew about the flower festival.
Then I saw in the paper about the Perignon thing which was about to happen
so I flew down there and walked through each sequence while the actual
festival was going on. I also picked up the airport scene from these
because the airport buildings, the aircraft, the broken fence and the
railway line were all there.