Sebastian Faulks, one of Britain’s most admired novelists, is the author of Devil May Care, which he wrote at the invitation of Ian Fleming Publications Ltd to mark Ian Fleming’s centenary. The book was published on 28 May 2008 by Penguin Books in the UK, Doubleday in the US and around the world by our international publishing partners.
‘I was surprised but flattered to be asked by Ian Fleming Publications last summer if I would write a one-off Bond book for the Ian Fleming centenary.
I told them that I hadn’t read the books since the age of 13, but if when I re-read them I still enjoyed them and could see how I might be able to do something in the same vein then I would be happy to consider it.
After almost five years researching Victorian psychiatry for Human Traces, there was something attractive about a jeu d’esprit which, if I followed Fleming’s own prescription, I could write in about six weeks.
On re-reading, I was surprised by how well the books stood up. I put this down to three things: the sense of jeopardy Fleming creates about his solitary hero; a certain playfulness in the narrative details; and a crisp, journalistic style that hasn’t dated.
I tried to isolate the essential and the most enjoyable aspects of the books. Then I took that pattern and added characters and a story of my own with as much speed and as many twists as I thought the reader could bear.
I developed a prose that is about 80 per cent Fleming. I didn’t go the final distance for fear of straying into pastiche, but I strictly observed his rules of chapter and sentence construction.
My novel is meant to stand in the line of Fleming’s own books, where the story is everything.
In his house in Jamaica, Ian Fleming used to write a thousand words in the morning, then go snorkelling, have a cocktail, lunch on the terrace, more diving, another thousand words in late afternoon, then more Martinis and glamorous women. In my house in London, I followed this routine exactly, apart from the cocktails, the lunch and the snorkelling.
I found writing this light-hearted book more thrilling than I had expected. I hope people will enjoy reading it and that Ian Fleming would consider it to be in the cavalier spirit of his own novels and therefore an acceptable addition to the line.’
Sebastian Faulks was born in April 1953. He was brought up in Newbury, Berkshire, and educated at Wellington College and Cambridge (the background for much of his novel Engleby). Before resolving to become a full-time writer in 1991, he worked as a journalist for the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph (1978-86) and as Literary Editor and Deputy Editor of the Independent (1986-91). His “French trilogy” of novels –The Girl at the Lion d’Or, Birdsong and Charlotte Gray (1989-1997) – established him in the front rank of British novelists: UK sales of Birdsong exceed 2,500,000 copies and for this book he was named “Author of the Year” by the British Book Awards in 1995. Other novels include A Fool’s Alphabet (1992), On Green Dolphin Street (2001), Human Traces (2005), Engleby (2007) and A Week In December (2009). His biographical study of three doomed young men of the 20th century, The Fatal Englishman was published in 1996.
Sebastian Faulks lives in London with his wife and their three children. Find out more about his work at his official website.