Hemsidan senast uppdaterad: 2024-07-17

Rapport från lanseringen av Anthony Horowitz tredje 007-roman

Av: Ajay Chowdhury
With A Mind To Kill London launch report
Three is the magic number - FSWL Contributor Ajay Chowdhury reports from the launch of Anthony Horowitz’s third James Bond 007 continuation novel, With A Mind To Kill, published on 26th May 2022. For FSWL's review of the book (written by Brian Smith), read it here.

Anthony Horowitz was passionate: “I want to just cut through all the chatter around Bond, just for a moment. Who’s going to play the next Bond? Is Bond racist, is he sexist? Is he this, is he that? Who’s going to sing the next theme tune? All that stuff sometimes obscures the fact that Bond is the greatest hero of our lifetimes. What Ian Fleming created was sheer genius. This character, who moulds himself from decade to decade, somehow represents the very best in all of us.”

Addressing the crowd gathered at the refurbished private upstairs bar at Langan’s Brasserie in Mayfair’s Stratton Street to celebrate the publication of his third Bond novel, Horowitz felt, “there is something about Great Britain, that is exemplified in this character, which never, ever goes away and which is an incredible achievement What a hero! And how lucky I am to have written about him three times.”

The author was in energetic form despite having done a day of press and media promoting With A Mind To Kill, the 28th adult Bond Continuation novel. Horowitz’s first 007 book, 2015’s Trigger Mortis took place after the events of 1959’s Goldfinger. His second, 2018’s Forever and a Day was a prequel to Casino Royale (1953). Both used unpublished Fleming passages which were not available for With A Mind To Kill. Here, the experienced novelist and TV screenwriter mined unused phrases and the non-fiction ‘Thrilling Cities’ to add authenticity. The book is set just after the events of Ian Fleming’s last Bond novel, The Man with the Golden Gun, written in 1964 and published posthumously in 1965. After the Soviets’ attempt to brainwash 007 to kill M and his subsequent suicide mission to kill Francisco Scaramanga in Jamaica, Horowitz’s picks up on a plot thread and weaves a counter-narrative. Behind the Iron Curtain, a group of former SMERSH agents want to use the British spy in an operation that will change the balance of world power. Bond is smuggled into the lion’s den — but whose orders is he following, and will he obey them when the moment of truth arrives? In a mission where treachery is all around and one false move means death, Bond must grapple with the darkest questions about himself. But not even he knows what has happened to the man he used to be.

Setting the book in Communist Russia in 1964 gives the book contemporary frisson. As Diggory Laycock of Ian Fleming Publications Limited (IFPL), the Fleming-family-run successors to Glidrose Publications Ltd who retain the literary rights to Bond, noted of the book, “recently and sadly for the wrong reasons because Russia is so incredibly topical. Anthony gets to show us inside the great bear, where it is usually just a vague, menacing, nebulous plotting creature. He also reminds us that the Russian people, as a population, weren’t evil during the Cold War, much as they aren’t today.”

The theme of the book deals with competing ideologies, early forms of fake news and culture wars, mass mind manipulation and a desire by errant parties on a globally resurgent Russian empire. Laycock amusingly quipped, “On a lighter note, I was wondering whether it was perhaps Anthony’s subconscious that brought a character back in this book who previously in Ian’s books had been a fleeting and insubstantial character only ever on the sidelines suddenly propelled to a position of great power now and with the ability to do terrible things. And he called…Boris? [laughter] Pure coincidence I’m sure.” Later, Horowitz riffed off this point asserting Bond, “represents decency at a time when we have so little decency in the political and the societal sphere. Bond always represents – whatever you may think of him – a certain sort of goodness, what we all really want to be.”

With A Mind To Kill London launch invitation
The official invitation for the launch event of With A Mind To Kill.

Ian’s heirs were represented by a storied range of attendees. The daughters of Ian’s oldest brother (Peter Fleming), Kate Grimmond and Lucy Williams were present as were Lucy’s sons Robert and Diggory. Since the literary copyright company was purchased back by the Fleming family at the turn of the century, other Fleming family members have been involved in guiding the literary life of 007. Ian’s younger brother, father Valentine’s third son, Richard was the father of Fergus Fleming. Fergus, freshly shorn, now manages uncle Ian’s specialist publishing house, Queen Anne Press. Fergus is also an author and the editor of the The Man With The Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s James Bond Letters. Fergus’ nephew, Tom Fleming, son of author James, was also present. Helpfully on hand was Ian Fleming’s biographer Andrew Lycett – who was greeted with a warm hug by Horowitz – and bibliographer, Jon Gilbert, of Adrian Harrington Rare Books.

Lucy Williams and Kate Grimmond at the With A Mind To Kill launch party in London
Lucy Williams and Kate Grimmond at the With A Mind To Kill launch party in London.

Jon Gilbert and Fergus Fleming at the With A Mind To Kill launch party in London
Jon Gilbert and Fergus Fleming at the With A Mind To Kill launch party in London.

Charlie Higson, Anthony Horowitz and Andrew Lycett at the With A Mind To Kill launch party in London
Charlie Higson, Anthony Horowitz and Andrew Lycett at the With A Mind To Kill launch party in London.

The book’s publishers, Jonathan Cape Ltd, now an imprint of Penguin Random House UK were co-hosts. Cape’s publishing director, Michal Shavit was proud of her latest publication, feeling it, “arguably the darkest and the finest of the trilogy. A magnificent ending to a magnificent series. I think for me the most interesting thing Anthony has done with Bond is to round out the psychological portrait while remaining true to the constraints Fleming established: a man of action for whom regret is a foreign land. Anthony’s Bond is sometimes questioning of his own motives and also what he is for while retaining complete loyalty to an idea of service even when the entity being served becomes problematic.” Representatives of the publishers including their paperback arm, Vintage Books, were attentive hosts keeping everybody well fuelled with champagne and wine from the blood-lit, neon bar. Chavit noted, “It has been such a huge honour to publish these books at the original publishing home of Ian Fleming, Jonathan Cape.” Rory Kinnear, who played Tanner opposite Daniel Craig’s Bond films, reads the audiobook.

Also present were incepting Young Bond author and TV comedy legend, Charlie Higson, super literary agent Jonny Geller of Curtis Brown who represents IFPL, Simon Gardner, son of the most prolific Bond Continuation author to date, John Gardner, broadcaster James Baker, son of famous TV news presenter, Richard, thriller reviewer and author, Mike Ripley and several judges of the Ian Fleming Silver Dagger Award. At the launch was Simon Ward, now publishing manager of IFPL but previously of Titan Books and co-author, with James Nolan, of The Wit And Wisdom Of James Bond as well as the redoubtable Meg Simmonds, author of Bond By Design: The Art Of The James Bond Films and archivist at EON Productions. A number of James Bond Journalists were present. Ian Fleming Foundation Board member, Matthew Field was there as was his co-author of Some Kind Of Hero: The Remarkable Story Of The James Bond Films, Ajay Chowdhury, who also represented The James Bond International Fan Club. Mark O’Connell, author of Catching Bullets: Memoirs Of A Bond Fan, Spain’s Lluis Abbou Planisi, author of James Bond: Behind The Tuxedo, designer Mark Witherspoon on behalf of From Sweden With Love, Vipul Patel for MI6-HQ and MI6 Confidential magazine and Tom Cull of Cull & Co Literary Agency and the webmaster of Artistic Licence Renewed also graced the event.

Corinne Turner and Meg Simmonds at the With A Mind To Kill launch party in London
Corinne Turner and Meg Simmonds at the With A Mind To Kill launch party in London.

Mark O'Connell, Tom Cull and Simon Gardner at the With A Mind To Kill launch party in London
Mark O'Connell, Tom Cull and Simon Gardner at the With A Mind To Kill launch party in London.

Horowitz paid special tribute to the Barbara Broccoli of the literary Bond, IFPL’s managing director, Corinne Turner. “Corinne has been my spy on the inside. When the books go out, who do I get the first email from? ‘I shouldn’t tell you this but actually the Estate likes it.’ Corinne once said to me something which really does echo in my head, ‘Once you write a James Bond novel you are part of the family.’”

Diggory Laycock had earlier earlier observed, “Three famously is the magic number. Pull any old mathematician off their bicycle in the street and they will inform you that Pythagoras considered three to be the perfect number. We at Ian Fleming Publications have had the good fortune to receive Anthony’s literary magic thrice.” IFPL had presented their latest Bond author a vintage copy of Birds Of The West Indies by the original James Bond, the ornithologist.

For Anthony Horowitz, who was with his sons, Nick and Cassian and literary team, the evening was bittersweet, “I feel so happy to be here and yet at the same time, I have to say there is a certain sadness for me. Tonight represents almost the end for me of a journey that began almost incredibly 50 years ago. You have to understand something, when you talk about me at school and young and coming across Dr No for the first time, the book and then the film of course, in 1962. When the Bond books arrived and the Bond films began, it introduced me to adventure, to excitement, to romance, to other worlds, to great food, to women – what were they? – I mean, everything that was missing from life I found in Bond and they were a lifeline for me. And I knew aged 10 that I was going to be a writer. There was a voice also that whispered to me that I was going to be a James Bond writer in some way. Cutting forward to all these years later now where unbelievably I’ve not just achieved my ambition once but three times. I have written 55 books in my lifetime but the three books I think in many ways I am most proud of, are these three books. To be an asterisk, just three asterisks, in the history of James Bond is a fantastic thing in my life and it really does make me feel that was sort of what I was born for.” He did add with regards to the Fleming Estate that, “I hope we will still have a future together.”

Quipping earlier, “Was it right that he should have got killed in the last film? No, it wasn’t by the way [laughter]”, for James Bond, Anthony Horowitz may not return. However, the author and screenwriter ended the evening to good cheer and applause on this note, “I just want to finish this by just saying that I wish with all my heart, the very best of luck, to whoever comes in next to write a James Bond continuation novel. It’s not really my place but I am going to give them just one piece of advice which is this: if anyone ever asks you who should play James Bond next… don’t answer!”

Text and all pictures. Copyright © 2022 Ajay Chowdhury. All rights reserved.



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