A spoof with suspense
First of all, here's the blurb if you want the essential information about the characters and the storyline. Below is a more personal note on how and why I wrote The Spy Who Inspired Me.
It is April 1944, and chic armchair naval officer Ian Lemming is accidentally beached in Nazi-occupied Normandy. With no access to a razor or clean underwear, and deprived of his cigarettes, Lemming just wants to go home.
But he is stranded with a young, though hugely experienced, female agent called Margaux Lynd, who is on a perilous mission to unmask traitors in a French Resistance network.
So, as she bullies him across France and into Paris, Lemming receives a painful crash course in spy craft, and starts to fantasize about a fictional agent – male of course – who would operate only in the most luxurious conditions, and lord it over totally subservient women. A world-famous spy is born …
The novel is published on November 12, and will be available on Amazon, or direct from the publisher – just write to email@example.com.
The more personal hote :
I've always been fascinated by James Bond, the character in the books more than the films. He's a battle-fatigued product of World War Two, and as set in his ways as Big Ben. His opinions, habits and tastes are unflinching, which makes him exotic, but also as politically correct as a Benny Hill bikini fight.
Fleming writes about his hero in crisp, punchy prose, and (to me, anyway) seems to be projecting an idealized version of himself – a suave old-Etonian serial seducer with extra combat skills and pain resistance.
The women in the novels fit into this scenario. Miss Moneypenny is a surrogate mother, or perhaps an old-school upper-class wife, an ever-faithful confidante and organizer who doesn't require sex. The first Bond girl, Vesper Lynd, is a British secret agent, a colleague of Bond's, but she betrays him and almost gets him killed. Other Bond girls include Pussy Galore (seriously), the lesbian gangster who switches sexual orientation and side of the law for Bond. Then there's Tatiana Romanova, the Russian who betrays her country because 007 is so hunky. Honey Ryder, the semi-imbecilic blonde who lives naked on a Caribbean beach. Solitaire, the mind-reader who renounces her powers when she sleeps with Bond. The list of sexy but weak-willed, unreliable females goes on.
There are stronger women, too. Gala Brand, in Moonraker, is a cool-headed, experienced Special Branch officer. But she's been working for months with the baddie Hugo Drax without realizing what he's up to, and messes up her attempt to read his secret notebook. Strongest of all is probably Rosa Klebb – she's a hard-as-nails Smersh operative, so of course she is a hideously ugly lesbian.
Anyway, without trying to psychoanalyse too much, all these feminine characters gave me the idea of teasing their creator posthumously. We're not really allowed to speculate on the real Fleming's psyche, or so I was told, so I invented a character who resembles him, but is definitely not, in any legal sense, him. And then I sent him off on a spy mission with a very different type of woman.
This one is young, sexy, posh-sounding – everything the ideal Bond girl should be – but she's also an experienced secret agent with a ruthless streak who won't stand for any patronizing male nonsense from her snobbish older colleague. When Margaux Lynd (perhaps a cousin of Vesper??) has to drag Lemming along on her mission, she's the boss and he's very much the Bond girl. And during the course of the novel he, rather sportingly, comes to admit that he's got it wrong all along: women really can do more for the war effort than make tea, take notes and sleep with him. Quelle surprise.
Anyway, it's all good clean literary fun, with plenty of sly nods towards Fleming's work, plus references to another politically incorrect but unmissable writer, PG Wodehouse – or rather a chum of his, PG Brickhouse.
So if I don't get sued (I'd win, because I'm libelling no one and explicitly using no one else's characters, but it'd take time), I hope you'll enjoy The Spy Who Inspired Me. Who the "me" is, I'll leave that up to you to decide.