'Carte Blanche' Lawyer turned best-selling novelist pens latest 007 book

By Kurt Anthony Krug

Legal News

When New York Times best-selling novelist Jeffery Deaver won the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award in 2004 for his novel "Garden of Beasts," he mentioned how Fleming - who created James Bond, Agent 007 - was one of his inspirations in becoming an author.

Those kind remarks led Deaver nearly two years ago to the plum assignment of penning "Carte Blanche" (Simon & Schuster, $26.99), the fifth 007 novel officially blessed by the late author's estate.

"I must say I was really honored, since I've been a fan for so many years," said Deaver, 60, who lives in North Carolina and Virginia.

An alumnus of Fordham University, where he earned his juris doctorate in law, Deaver is best known for his best-selling series of novels starring quadriplegic detective Lincoln Rhyme. The first novel in the series, "The Bone Collector," was adapted into a 1999 movie of the same name with two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington as Rhyme.

"In fact, this is the only writing project I've ever done to which I don't hold the copyright. But that was perfectly fine with me. (Fleming's estate) let me write the plots in 'Carte Blanche' as I saw fit, and I was happy to let them have approval rights over their character," explained Deaver.

In "Carte Blanche," which occurs in a post-9/11 world where a thirty-something 007, a veteran of the Afghan War, works for a clandestine espionage organization that operates independently of Britain's MI5, MI6, and the Ministry of Defense. 007's evening of wining and dining a beautiful woman is interrupted when his compatriots decrypt a message that says: "Casualties estimated in the thousands, British interests adversely affected." His superiors give 007 the authority to use any means necessary - carte blanche - to prevent this from happening.

Deaver stated that writing 007 was easier in some ways than writing Rhyme or his other recurring character Kathryn Dance, a body language expert. That's not to say it didn't have its challenges.

"It was actually easier to write Bond because he came preconceived, so to speak. Of course, I had to update him, which meant I could tweak the personality a bit, but basically Ian Fleming did most of the work for me," he said. "I was very respectful of the challenge and I worked hard, but when I was a lawyer, for instance, I didn't prepare any harder if my client was a famous celebrity, wealthy CEO or someone from the working class with a simple real estate problem."

When researching the novel, Deaver didn't watch any of the 22 movies - the longest-running and highest-grossing film franchise in history - that began with 1962's "Dr. No" with Sean Connery as the super-spy with the latest being 2008's "Quantum of Solace" with Daniel Craig in the role (other actors who have played 007 include George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan).

Instead, Deaver looked at the original source material: the 14 novels Fleming wrote that were published between 1953 and 1966. He didn't even read the subsequent 007 novels by authors Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, Raymond Benson, and Sebastain Faulks, all of whom were authorized by Fleming's estate to carry on.

Even though 1963's "From Russia With Love" is his favorite 007 movie and Connery and Craig are his favorite actors in the starring role, Deaver did not envision either of them when he wrote "Carte Blanche."

"The picture in my mind of my Bond was of the man Ian Fleming pictured - the American musician Hoagy Carmichael," said Deaver. "(One challenge was) making sure that every aspect of his persona - from appearance to language to emotions - resonated for the hundreds of millions of fans out there who love James Bond."

Asked what gives 007 such staying power after nearly 60 years (nearly 50 if counting only the movies), Deaver responded: "Despite whatever personal flaws any of the Bonds have displayed - either actors or literary creations - Bond is utterly true to his mission. Like a knight, his job is to challenge evil and nothing deters him from that goal. Other spies, like some in the great books of John le Carre, for instance, are steeped in moral ambiguity when it comes to their job. Not so with 007."

Published: Mon, Jul 25, 2011

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