Die Another David: James Bond-age with David Nickle

Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond (ChiZine 2015)

In cooperation with the strikingly beautiful and talented people behind ChiZine publishing, I hereby present 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 since I’m well aware that I am also one of the contributors—my short fiction “Not an Honourable Disease” makes up the closing story—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-anywhere-else-in-the-known-universe copy of Licence Expired.

I’ll be posting interviews in order of the Table of Contents. So, without further ado, we begin with a head honcho behind this enterprise:

Co-Head of Secret Service, Code Letter “N”

David Nickle

David Nickle

David Nickle is the author of several novels and numerous short stories—most recently collected in Knife Fight and Other Struggles. He is a past winner of the Bram Stoker Award, Aurora Award, and Black Quill Award, and recently co-edited The Exile Book of Canadian Noir with Claude Lalumière. He lives in Toronto, where he works as a journalist. He can be found on Twitter at @bydavidnickle, or online at his blog/website The Devil’s Exercise Yard.

So why the anthology, David?

[Madeline Ashby and I] actually had both read an article on io9 in January, noting that Fleming’s work was in public domain here. The idea came simultaneously and apart: I was on my way home from work, Madeline was at home, and we both had the same notion: we’re Canadian, I have a great publisher, and between the two of us we know a lot of really strong writers who might also enjoy a go at the character.

What was your introduction to the world of Bond?

It was probably in the schoolyard, and on a little black and white TV set. James Bond was a forbidden fruit for small children: this suave, athletic and ultimately violent figure who had a toybox full of gadgets. I think it might have been a Matchbox Aston Martin owned by one psychotic little friend or another, with ejector seat and machineguns in the headlamps that did it for me.

What do you hope to accomplish by publishing the first unofficial collection of all-new Bond stories?

It is not, first, to simply publish all-new James Bond stories. Various authors approved by Ian Fleming’s estate are doing a fine job of that; there’s a new one out right now, in fact, Trigger Mortis.

What we wanted to do was give really good authors free reign to write about James Bond in a way that doesn’t have brand consideration: in a way that critiques the character of James Bond and the assumptions and values that inform his world. When we put out the call for stories we made that clear: that we wanted to hear stories that dealt with the misogyny, the racism, the snobbery and the substance-abuse issues.

Where would you advise a Bond newbie to start?

As a person, Bond is a mess. Not a hateful mess; as Fleming writes him, Bond attempts to do good, and in fact does insofar as he does a good job, but he is consumed with his prejudices and snobberies and his sadistic misogyny, and it frequently gets the better of him.
I would say where Fleming started: with Casino Royale. It is in many ways the strongest novel in the series, and gives lie to the notion that James Bond is all about giant, absurd conspiracies of world domination. In fact, in the novels world domination is never really on the table and globally-relevant conspiracies only occasionally.

Why do you think Bond has such lasting appeal?

The story-telling power that Fleming brought to the books was a high-octane beginning to the series, but you can’t pin the longevity of the character and idea just to that. Bond as he’s been written and filmed and drawn, presents a seductive and weirdly subversive model of masculinity, and is also showcases luxury in all its forms—all of it in the context of powerful power fantasy.

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

I would like to see a movie series reboot that takes James Bond back to his roots in the 1950s, and does fairly faithful adaptations of some of the early books. It would be tough—the racism and sexism and so on is problematic. But redoing Casino Royale in the 50s, or From Russia With Love as a period cold war drama…that would be interesting.

What’s your opinion of James Bond as a person? As a secret agent?

As a person, Bond is a mess. Not a hateful mess; as Fleming writes him, Bond attempts to do good, and in fact does insofar as he does a good job, but he is consumed with his prejudices and snobberies and his sadistic misogyny, and it frequently gets the better of him.

Fred MacMurray as Bond? You know, I can see this.

Favourite/least favourite movie Bond?

I like Sean Connery best, I’m afraid. He had a brutal directness to him and was able to carry off the hedonistic Bond in a way that no one else could. I didn’t care for Pierce Brosnan at all; in part because the films themselves were so dull, but Brosnan also had a flatness to his delivery that sucked the oxygen out of the room.

Who should play James Bond after Daniel Craig?

Corey, Corey, Corey…You’re not going to get me into that fight. There was a time that I wanted to see the Fred MacMurray James Bond, but that ship has long ago sailed.

Favourite Bond novel?

I really like the novel Casino Royale; it’s a tight and surprising thriller, ingeniously turning a simple card game into a terrible duel, with often beautifully pulpy prose.

Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond (ChiZine 2015)

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