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: