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Last Updated: Friday January 06 2006 08:48 GMT

Q&A with young Bond creator Charlie Higson

Charlie Higson
Charlie Higson is the author of the young James Bond novels which tell the story of the world's most famous spy as a teenage schoolboy.

His second Bond book, Blood Fever, is out now, and sees the young James on even more secret missions in dangerous territory.

Charlie talked to Newsround about bringing 007 to life as a teenager.

How did you come to write the story of the young James Bond?

I was approached by Ian Fleming Publications, who own the character of James Bond. (James Bond was originally invented by Ian Fleming in a series of books he wrote in the 1950s).

They were looking for an established writer to work on the series and although I'm best known for my TV comedy work, I have also written four adult thrillers.

I have always been a big James Bond fan, and knew the original Ian Fleming books very well.

I guess I just fitted the picture of what they were looking for - I write thrillers. I have a simple direct writing style. I have three boys of the right age to read the books. I'm a Bond fan.

How did you come up with the title and storyline for Blood Fever?

I got the idea for the story of Blood Fever when I was on holiday in Sardinia and saw a picture of a cave (Tiscali) in a guidebook. It looked just like a Bond villain's lair.

I thought Sardinia would be an exciting and interesting place to set a story.

The hardest thing about the book was coming up with the title. We went through loads of rejected names before we hit on Blood Fever (Vendetta, Blood Sport, and Double M, for instance).

Blood seemed like a good word to have in the title of a James Bond book and in the end we settled on Blood Fever, which we liked because it had several different meanings.

It could relate to malaria, the disease carried by mosquitoes and transmitted when they drink your blood (malaria was widespread in Sardinia in the 1930s, when the book is set, and mosquitoes feature prominently in the story).

The title could also relate to blood lust and the urge to kill, which is another theme of the book. It could also relate to blood, as in family, like when people talk about blood feuds.

There are several family feuds in the books - three sets of siblings (brother and sisters) who are all in their own way avenging the death of a family member.

What gave you the inspiration for the mosquitoes and other bad things that happen to James?

I wanted there to be stuff in the book that kids could relate to, and any kid who has been on holiday to the Mediterranean will have been eaten by mosquitoes.

Sea urchins are another thing that can be pretty nasty out there. Also, when I started reading about Sardinia I found out about its long history of bloodshed and banditry.

The pirate starts off as a baddie but ends up rescuing James Bond. Can you explain the character of the pirate?

In real life you rarely find a character that is either utterly evil or utterly good. There are many heroes in British history who would be considered baddies by the other side.

Zoltan the pirate is a man who starts out evil but through the course of the book and his love for the girl, Amy, tries to change himself for the better, but finds that it's too late, the damage is done.

I liked the idea of James teaming up with someone who was a bit of a villain, and it's useful to have characters who can do all the really dirty work for James - who is not allowed to kill people himself.

There will be five books in the young Bond series. How much research have you had to do to write these books?

A lot. The books are set in the 1930s, so I have had to read a lot about that time. (It's the little things I get stuck on, like, for instance, what would a London taxi have looked like in 1933?)

Also I have had to learn all about Eton, which is an ancient and complex place. Plus I've had to reread all the original Bond books to try and get inside the character of Bond.

Why is the setting of Eton College so significant to the books?

The idea in the books is that Bond is a normal boy. He's not a teenage spy or anything like that, so he goes to a normal school - if you can call Eton normal!

Ian Fleming tells us in his books that Bond went to Eton, so that's where the books are set. I think kids like stories set in boarding schools because it's a world full of kids which is largely run by kids.

Was your childhood anything like the young James Bond's?

What do you think? Does anyone really have a life like James Bond?

I have led a fairly ordinary life, I suppose. I've never defused a nuclear bomb. I've never been thrown out of a plane without a parachute. I've never wrestled a shark.

I grew up in Kent, near to where James lives with his aunt. But that's about it.

Would you liked to have been James Bond, young and/or grown-up?

I don't think I'm brave enough - or ruthless enough. James Bond is, after all, a hired assassin.

There are some nice parts to being a secret agent, of course - the cars, the posh hotels, the foreign travel, the useful gadgets and the pretty girls. And there have been many occasions when I've thought it would be nice to be able to fight as well as Bond and come up with a witty quip when it was needed, but I think it's best that Bond remains what he is - a fantasy.