The Man Who Would Write Bond

ROULETTE coverI wanted to answer some of the questions I have been getting about Roulette, the James Bond novel I will be releasing in November.

In 2014 I placed a short story with David Nickle, who was then editing Licence Expired, an anthology project from ChiZine publishing. As it turned out, 2014 was the fiftieth anniversary of Ian Fleming‘s death. Under the current structure of Canadian copyright law, that places Fleming’s work in the public domain. ChiZine, seeing the need, catered to it ably. David and Madeline Ashby edited a very fine anthology of short fiction and Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi published a handsome paperback, which is available in most major Canadian book retailers. The rest of the world may do things differently, but here in Canada one can use Fleming’s creation insofar as the book incarnation of 007 is concerned. But only the book version. Film, merchandising and comic book adaptations are handled under a different set of laws. But the clipped, cruel, sardonic, black-and-white Bond of pulp-fic fame is fair game. Which turned out to be very good news for me.

You see, I grew up reading the Bond novels. My father had a complete set of the Pan paperback originals and I started young. The movies were the international blockbusters of their day so of course I saw them. But I was surprised whenever I returned to the paperbacks to find that I actually preferred the literary Bond to his flashier onscreen persona. He has more in common with the hard-boiled protagonists of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. His world is drearier yet strangely more horrifying and dangerous. And Bond himself is more calculating and brutal. We get something of the sense of the man behind the Double-oh. And something about that always made the stakes higher for me.

Roulette is a novel-length Bond adventure in the Fleming mold. As I explained to David when I presented him with the manuscript of “Daedalus,” my offering in Licence Expired, I was deliberately trying to mimic Fleming’s style – the clunky “typewriter prose” of pre-internet journalism. The same is true of Roulette. In tone, style and theme it is intentionally similar to the early Bond novels, which I re-read closely before sitting down to write. My intention is to offer a work in homage to a past master for the enjoyment of all those who miss him. It is a caper, an entertainment, a light-hearted enjoyment. Above all, it is a labor of pure love.

A word regarding publication. I maintain a small micro-publishing enterprise called Storm Rhino Press which produces men’s adventure fiction in Kindle format. Those titles are subjected to a thorough publishing process in miniature, which employs professional editors, artists and IT personnel. Sadly, due to lack of funds, Storm Rhino must remain on the back burner for now (although it will return). All this to say that Roulette is not a Storm Rhino book. It is published by a shadowy entity that does business in cash only, prefers to hold meetings in back alleyways and punishes under-performing employees with death. I’m still not quite sure who’s behind SMERSH Books, but they assure me Roulette will be available only in Canada via Amazon this November.

This is an opportune time to mention that I am far from the only Canadian author to have availed himself of this unusual copyright windfall. In addition to the many fine writers who appear in Licence Expired, two others that I know of have produced Bond tales. Bond on the Rocks by Curtis Cook is a satirical take on a washed-up Bond forced to work in the private sector. Angel’s End by Ed Kurtz is a novelette set in Kennedy-era Texas. Both are now available through Amazon Canada.

The action in Roulette occurs in the original Bond timeline some time between Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever. It is a Cold War spy thriller set in 1950s Canada. Further details will be forthcoming as we approach publication.

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