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What Did Gardner Think of Benson?


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#1 DavidJones

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 02:02 AM

Did Gardner ever comment on his successor?



#2 saint mark

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 12:16 PM

http://commanderbond...hn-gardner.html

 

they had met.



#3 DavidJones

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 12:58 PM

I know Benson interviewed him in '93, but what did Gardner think of Benson being chosen as his successor?



#4 saint mark

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 01:35 PM

I know Benson interviewed him in '93, but what did Gardner think of Benson being chosen as his successor?

 

I think he was glad that somebody else got the gig and he was ridden of it so he could once again do his own stuff, he'd rather be remembered by as THE James Bond continuation novelist.



#5 glidrose

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 06:05 PM

Did Gardner ever comment on his successor?

 

Yep and it wasn't pretty. Gardner said that he never did read Raymond's books and that's 'cos he wasn't predisposed to like them. He was not pleased that IFP picked a non-writer to take over from him. For JG, RB would for him always be a journalist, not a novelist. John was not pleased that RB jettisoned Gardner's own ideas - i.e. Microglobe One. Also seem to recall John always claimed to have taped a radio interview where Raymond allegedly says that as an American he'll have no problem writing about a British hero or British customs because he's a big Monty Python fan!

 

You may want to ask his son Simon for more on all this.

 

Of course he's not the only disgruntled Bond author. Kingsley Amis hated Gardner's Bond novels. John Pearson hated Amis's Bond novel. Christopher Wood has sent out very mixed signals about what he thinks of Fleming's work. JG also apparently said he never cared for Fleming's books or Fleming's Bond and had to struggle to make Bond into something he could live with.



#6 DavidJones

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 09:17 PM

Did Gardner ever comment on his successor?

 

Yep and it wasn't pretty. Gardner said that he never did read Raymond's books and that's because he wasn't predisposed to like them. He was not pleased that IFP picked a non-writer to take over from him. For JG, RB would for him always be a journalist, not a novelist. John was not pleased that RB jettisoned Gardner's own ideas - i.e. Microglobe One. Also seem to recall John always claimed to have taped a radio interview where Raymond allegedly says that as an American he'll have no problem writing about a British hero or British customs because he's a big Monty Python fan!

 

You may want to ask his son Simon for more on all this.

 

Of course he's not the only disgruntled Bond author. Kingsley Amis hated Gardner's Bond novels. John Pearson hated Amis's Bond novel. Christopher Wood has sent out very mixed signals about what he thinks of Fleming's work. JG also apparently said he never cared for Fleming's books or Fleming's Bond and had to struggle to make Bond into something he could live with.

 

Wowza, sounds like none of them liked each other! It's almost a shame that Benson didn't disparage Faulks' book (which would have been very easy).

 

I think JG perhaps should have declined Glidrose's offer. I know he said he had ten years' worth of contracts and ideas so he should have stuck with those. In the interviews I've read with him, his attitude could diplomatically summed up as 'unimpressed' with Bond, Fleming and writing the novels. He kept on signing on the dotted line when contract renewals came up, so he only had himself to blame.  

 

Benson, at the very least, was a big fan of Bond and he certainly did it without complaint. Perhaps that was the thinking in hiring him. He was already known to be an appreciative, well-informed fan.


Edited by DavidJones, 02 June 2014 - 09:18 PM.


#7 Major Tallon

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 11:25 PM

I've met Benson a couple of times, and he's a gentleman.  Doesn't disparage anybody.



#8 billy007

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 04:42 AM

I strongly agree w/Major Tallon having met Benson also.
He is a gentleman and was mandated by IFP to make his oo7 novels similar to the current movies(The PB era). In this respect he succeeded.

#9 glidrose

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 05:16 PM

Wowza, sounds like none of them liked each other! It's almost a shame that Benson didn't disparage Faulks' book (which would have been very easy).


Nah... Amis had some grudging admiration for Wood's TSWLM novelisation.

 

I think JG perhaps should have declined Glidrose's offer. I know he said he had ten years' worth of contracts and ideas so he should have stuck with those. In the interviews I've read with him, his attitude could diplomatically summed up as 'unimpressed' with Bond, Fleming and writing the novels. He kept on signing on the dotted line when contract renewals came up, so he only had himself to blame.


A lot of fans think JG should have declined IFP's offer. (Yeah I know they were Glidrose back then, but with my moniker I gotta avoid ambiguity.) The problem for Gardner - and he admitted this many times - if he said "no", somebody else would say "yes". IFP had that six-name shortlist. Damn IFP has never divulged who those writers were 'tho Peter Janson-Smith implied that James Leasor was one of the considered authors.

I brainstormed this with a couple of Bond fans who are also intrigued by this "list of six" and here's the names we came up with:

1. John Gardner - no guesswork there
2. Elleston Trevor a.k.a. Adam Hall - prolific, prestigious and could churn out books by the truckload, tho' according to his son, ET didn't like Bond and would have declined. Wrote the Quiller books, in case you don't know.
3. James Leasor - again, prolific. Roger Moore had just starred in a film adaptation in one of his books. Probably would have declined. Wrote the Jason Love novels.
4. Andrew York a.k.a. Christopher Nicole - prolific, but perhaps too prolific and nowhere near as prestigious as the other names on this list. And his "Jonas Wilde" books are awfully thin, even shorter than Fleming's own novels. May have accepted - if the terms were right.
5. William Haggard - a contemporary of IF's. Legendary for his right-wing views. Don't know how he would have responded.
6. ????? - we drew a blank on #6. Any name anybody came up with - Peter O'Donnell, Philip McCutchan, Desmond Bagley, Christopher Wood - all contained solidly good reasons why they would not have been considered. O'Donnell wasn't prolific. McCutchan was too downmarket. Bagley was too popular. Wood was still the official film series screenwriter. Don't even get me started on Len Deighton or Alistair Maclean. Never in a million years did IFP consider those two.

Here's our methodology. Peter Janson-Smith said they were looking for:

a: A journeyman thriller writer who would be honored to write the books. In other words, no bestselling authors.
b: A writer who could churn one Bond novel each year without fuss, not try to get out of the contract, or start complaining that the assignment was preventing him from writing his own books. So we're looking for a writer who, if need be, can churn out more than one book a year.
c: Somebody experienced writing series spy fiction.
d: A writer who would bring some prestige to the project. Authors well-respected in their field.
e: Plus, crime novelist and critic H.R.F. Keating sat on the panel that cobbled together this shortlist so it had to include writers he'd reviewed well before.
f: The author had to be British (or thereabouts). No Americans. Don't think the world was ready for that.

#10 DavidJones

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 07:48 PM

That's very interesting, Glidrose. If you're correct with their responses, perhaps they would have gone back to Gardner anyway, had he declined, and he would end up accepting.

 

Perhaps, however, the list - and that's a very good list - perhaps wasn't narrowed to just espionage writers but included crime writers too. In which case, more possibilities could well have been the reviewer and novelist Julian Symons, who had penned a well-received Holmes-inspired novel, Francis Durbridge, best known for radio work and novels featuring amateur sleuth Paul Temple, or Michael Gilbert. With spy writers, I would throw Victor Canning's name out there, though as you've pointed out, it is unlikely best-selling writers were considered.



#11 Dustin

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 09:43 PM

What they were looking for was actually a pulp writer, a Raymond Chandler without the paycheque.




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