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From the Archive
Issue #43 (July 1994)



Your style of writing is very different from lan Fleming's. I think Kingsley Amis tried to copy Fleming, whereas you appear to have used your own style.
Well, sorry to disappoint you, but that isn't my style. One of the first things I said to Glidrose was “do you want me to copy Mr. Fleming?” - and they told me no! I was to write it and see what happened.

John Gardner promoting LICENCE RENEWED

"Well, the change of car was me."

It's strange because your style changes, because you are writing Bond you have to change your style to recapture him. I hope I have. Some people say I haven't. My agent and myself both talk about Bond's and Gardner's, which are my own books. Once you have Mr. Fleming's character there are certain restrictions, you can't go shooting off in different directions. You have the character completely formed. The most difficult thing was to lift Bond out of the Sixties image and set him down in the Eighties image and still have him know all the things that have gone on in between.


Photographs of John Gardner with SAAB and guns/GRAHAM RYE

John Gardner promoting LICENCE RENEWED

Whose idea was the change of car and lifestyle?
Well, the change of car was me. It's funny, actually. I was summoned before this board at Glidrose and decided that the best form of defence is attack. So I told them what I thought I could do. I thought there was no point in doing retrospective Bonds and going on from there, so I put forward the idea of freezing him and bringing him into the 1980s image. Well, they all looked aghast and said that's what we were going to suggest. The car idea I thought was going to be turned down. I knew we had to have a different kind of car because nowadays he wouldn't be driving around in a Bentley; it would look a bit peculiar and would also cost a great deal of money. I asked a guy who knew a great deal about motor cars to pick six cars for me that he thought might be useful. I looked at the list and then borrowed the six cars from friends and test drove them all. The SAAB seemed to present the image I wanted, but then I thought no, because when I take this in front of the board there are going to reject it for not being a British car, and I thought I would end up with a Mini-Metro or something.

I was very worried, and went into this meeting and one guy stood up and said “well one thing Gardner has got absolutely right is the car. That is the car Bond would have!” - which was very relieving.

The SAAB features certain extras, which presumably are real and would be used by an agent in the field today?
Well, I don't think an agent would use them because I don't believe that kind of thing goes on any more. They are all available. There is one firm, as you well know, that does the job here in the UK and the States, and you can take your own motor car along, and for a great deal of money they will do exactly what I have done to the SAAB. There are instruments and technology on the market, and I think Bond would have made use of them; they are not put in for fun. I know of at least two cars which have had similar extras added but there are many more.

“well one thing Gardner has got absolutely right is the car. That is the car Bond would have!”

When we had a full typescript it was suggested that we should send a copy to SAAB in case they took offence, which we did, and before we knew what was happening SAAB has contacted the company concerned and had the car built specially, and I understand they are building a second one now.

The Laird's castle in LICENCE RENEWED, is that a real location?
No that's all made up.

What about the Laird himself - is he based upon anyone?
No - he is based on two people.
SAAB Interior

How do you go about finding names for all your characters? Fleming, for example, used to lift them from shop hoardings etc.
Well, yes you do that. Lavender Peacock was named after my headmaster at school whose name was Peacock. I forget how the Lavender came about. I think I saw it somewhere and it seemed to fit. Anton Murik comes from, well the Murik part comes from a motor mechanic at a garage near Bath.

Caber is the heavy. Did you feel it necessary to have a character like Caber?
Oh yes, of course. You are into formula writing with Bond and we were trying to go back to the original books which always had a heavy.




John Gardner FACT FILE