Moon-Baker: James Bond-age with Jacqueline Baker

Licence Expired: The Unau­tho­rized James Bond (ChiZine 2015)

In coop­er­a­tion with the enor­mous brains behind ChiZine publishing—Seriously, remem­ber “The Gamesters of Triske­lion,” that Star Trek episode with the giant brains that bet quat­loos on bat­tling aliens? That’s exact­ly what ChiZine is (I suspect).—I here­by present Edi­tion #3 of James Bond-age: The Licence Expired Inter­views, a series of inter­views with the many bril­liant con­trib­u­tors who make up the new­ly pub­lished Licence Expired: The Unau­tho­rized James Bond.

And yeah, I’m one of the contributors—my short fic­tion “Not an Hon­ourable Dis­ease” makes up the clos­ing story—so you needn’t point out the con­flict of inter­est here. I’m a writer/publicist, not a jour­nal­ist. My blog, my rules.

Click here for infor­ma­tion on how to pur­chase your very own, not-avail­able-in-the-Unit­ed-States copy of Licence Expired.

I’ll be post­ing inter­views in order of the Table of Con­tents. Today’s author?

Spe­cial Agent 001, Licence to Write

Jacqueline Baker

Jacque­line Bak­er

Jacque­line Bak­er is author of The Bro­ken Hours and A Hard Witch­ing and Oth­er Sto­ries, which won the Danu­ta Gleed Lit­er­ary Award, the City of Edmon­ton Book Prize, and the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fic­tion, and was a final­ist for the Rogers Writ­ers’ Trust Fic­tion Prize. Her debut, The Horseman’s Graves, was a nation­al best­seller. She has also select­ed and intro­duced a col­lec­tion, Shad­ow­men: The Select­ed Sto­ries of H.P. Love­craft. Bak­er stud­ied cre­ative writ­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vic­to­ria and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Alber­ta. She has men­tored writ­ers through the Banff Cen­tre for the Arts, and cur­rent­ly teach­es at the McE­wan Uni­ver­si­ty in Edmon­ton.

Tell us about your sto­ry, “One is Sor­row.” 

Such a hard ques­tion. I always stum­ble over it ter­ri­bly and hum and haw and look about ner­vous­ly. Tell me about your nov­el is even worse. Some­times I make up some­thing else, just to avoid answer­ing. I tell the plot of some oth­er sto­ry, like Franken­stein, or Har­ry Pot­ter, and then wait for peo­ple to laugh. They nev­er do. Or I talk around the issue, hop­ing they’ll for­get they asked the ques­tion. Some­times it works. Most­ly, at par­ties, peo­ple just wan­der away.

How did the idea for your sto­ry come about?

He men­tioned this inci­dent with the maid, appar­ent­ly the rea­son for Bond being sent down from Eton…I got this image of a teenage girl see­ing or hear­ing some­thing she shouldn’t have. And I had the start­ing point for the sto­ry. I knew it would be from the maid’s point of view but that it would still be about Bond, or reveal him, in a way.
I knew I want­ed to write about Bond as a child or ado­les­cent, but not in a Hardy Boys kind of way. I was chat­ting with a col­league one day at the uni­ver­si­ty, Paul Lums­den. He’d loaded my arms up with every­thing Flem­ing had ever writ­ten, plus some crit­i­cal mate­r­i­al, and even images from a con­fer­ence pre­sen­ta­tion he’d giv­en on Bond. He’s quite a Bond expert but real­ly hum­ble about it. He men­tioned this inci­dent with the maid, which I hadn’t heard about. Appar­ent­ly the rea­son for Bond being sent down from Eton. As soon as he said it, I got this image of a teenage girl see­ing or hear­ing some­thing she shouldn’t have. And I thought: it wasn’t what every­one assumed, it wasn’t an “indis­cre­tion.” It was more com­plex than that. And sad­der. And I had the start­ing point for the sto­ry. I knew it would be from the maid’s point of view but that it would still be about Bond, or reveal him, in a way. And then it just kind of unfold­ed. Things appeared in the writ­ing which I hadn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly intend­ed, the way it always goes. Or, the way you hope it goes, I guess.

What was your intro­duc­tion to the world of James Bond?

Live and Let Die (1954)

Books were in short sup­ply when I was a kid so I most­ly read what I had access to. This was a weird assort­ment of my grandfather’s Louis L’Amour nov­els, my aunts’ True Romance mag­a­zines, my Children’s Illus­trat­ed Bible Sto­ries, and my beloved few Nan­cy Drews (hor­ror came a bit lat­er). Some­how, a card­board box of sec­ond-hand books arrived at our house one day from god knew where. It smelled of cat urine. In it was a copy of Fleming’s Live and Let Die. I think it was the title that attract­ed me—what could it mean? I puz­zled over it, that title. It seemed to hold the secret to the uni­verse. It was the first book I read from that box. Odd­ly, I don’t remem­ber any of the oth­ers. I thought it was going to be dark­er than it was. I thought there’d be more voodoo. I was sev­en. I hoped Soli­taire would take over the sto­ry. She was the most inter­est­ing char­ac­ter. Come to think of it, she’s kind of like Nan­cy Drew as Flem­ing might have imag­ined her. I liked those shark-infest­ed waters too. This was dur­ing the Jaws years, after all. I kept that book on my shelf a long time. I think it made me feel smart and sophis­ti­cat­ed.

Where would you advise a Bond new­bie to start?

At the begin­ning. Always.

In the world of Bond, what would you like to see hap­pen?

Idris Elba. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

Best/worst thing about the fran­chise?

Best: the puns. Worst: well­ll, there’s the misog­y­ny, the racism, the homo­pho­bia. For instance.

If you were a secret agent, what would your spy name be?

Names is for tomb­stones, baby.

Real­is­ti­cal­ly, if you worked for MI6 (or CSIS, CIA, etc), what would your posi­tion be?

I’d like to say Car­rie Math­i­son, except for that one sea­son where she went all My So-Called Life, with the cry­face every five min­utes. So, if we’re actu­al­ly speak­ing real­is­ti­cal­ly? Elite Black-Ops. I’m more of a Peter Quinn. Enig­mat­ic, tac­i­turn, trag­ic, but dead­ly in hand-to-hand com­bat and able to shoot Car­rie Math­i­son in the arm at 1,000 metres with­out actu­al­ly hurt­ing her. Mav­er­ick elite assas­sin with a heart? That’s me. Real­is­ti­cal­ly speak­ing.

What’s your opin­ion of James Bond?

I hard­ly know the man. They say he’s a cun­ning lin­guist.

Favourite non-Bond char­ac­ter?

Soli­taire. Sen­ti­men­tal rea­sons.

Final thoughts?

David and Made­line are genius­es for com­ing up with this project and I’m delight­ed to be part of it. Writ­ing young James was a lot of fun and yet more com­plex than I had antic­i­pat­ed. I’m eager to see what every­one else has come up with. I under­stand Bond appears in many incar­na­tions, dis­prov­ing that old adage you only live twice.

Licence Expired: The Unau­tho­rized James Bond (ChiZine 2015)

Pur­chase your own copy of Licence Expired (you know you want one) at: