Monday, January 17, 2011

Dubai Another Day: Jeffery Deaver and Carte Blanche

By a series of unlikely (and fortuitous) events, I was very lucky to be invited to attend the official unveiling of the title and cover design for the new Bond novel, commissioned by the Ian Fleming estate from thriller writer Jeffrey Deaver.
"Carte Blanche" was launched this morning here in Dubai, and it's been interesting to watch the spread of the official press release around the Internet on various news sites. The BBC's take on the story is here. Hodder have also launched an official website to coincide with the book.

I don't know how long they agonised over the title and the cover, but it's a blinder. The title is simple, foreshadows well and leaves lots of room for the Bond fans to speculate on before the book launch. The use of the smoke is also interesting: I'm thinking cigarettes (almost a taboo now in the West) so immediately there's a hint of the illicit. Cover design is such a perilous process, Hodder deserve big congrats for doing a fine job (and that's not just me being a bit of a suck-up BTW, I genuinely think it's fab).

(What I would say though to Hodder is test the cover material - it would be a shame if we got into Ottolenghi 'Plenty' territory here, with lots of books going back as damaged having picked up dinks and scrapes - white covers seem unforgiving within the book trade's supply chain...)

Anyway, just in case anyone is in any doubt, Bond is BIG, and there is huge interest in Ian Fleming's creation, which has become something of a global cultural institution. What has been more interesting to me (as a bookseller) is to understand a bit more about Jeffrey Deaver's involvement and motivation in taking on the mantle of 007.

It turns out that Fleming was instrumental in forming the writer that Deaver became, and Jeffrey devoured all of the Ian Fleming novels before he had even seen a single movie. He credits Fleming with teaching him about how to keep readers turning a page, how to write suspense (and to do it without the need of gruesome acts or extreme violence). And unlike Sebastian Faulkes, Jeffrey is very much setting Bond in the here and now, with Dubai as the setting for part of the action.

I guess that's as it should be. Bond - and the world - have evolved and become way more complex than when Fleming originally created him. But having someone like Deaver in control now - who genuinely has Fleming running through his literary veins - has got to be good news for anyone who appreciates top notch thriller writing when the book is released at the end of May.

It's obviously been a fantastic experience for a little bookseller. I've had the opportunity to meet and get to know some great authors (not to mention other booksellers) - and there have been plenty of suitably Bond-esque touches to the trip, from vodka martinis on arrival, to 007 nibbles in the hotel rooms. A huge thank you to Hodder and their sponsors for making the whole thing happen (and I now have to convince other members of staff that I was doing lots of serious work out here, and not just taking advantage of a shameless freebie. This may be a big ask, as the saying goes)
The details of the plot are being kept well under wraps, so I've been speculating as to where the Dubai action might take place. Mmmm, what chance a baddy or two being hurled off the Burj Khalifa?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blink, blink...

...golly, it can't be half way through January already?

In past years, January has been partially a 'slump' in more ways than one, mostly us slumping over the computer and recovering from the craziness that is Christmas. But this year, we feel reasonably rested and relaxed, having navigated safely through the festive season (and it's weird weather) and have been beavering away on our events programme as we hurtle through January.

In July this year, we will be five years old, which is somewhat hard to believe. Nicki and I feel that we should be organising some suitably super events around that time to celebrate. For the moment however, please take a look at our events pages - or the latest issue of our newsletter for a few tasty treats coming up in February.

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to Jasper Fforde coming. This event has been a long time in the coming, with a couple of potential events in the past not quite getting off the planning board. This one is definitely happening and I'm quivering in anticipation...