Skull & Bones (1952)
Posted 31 October 2014 - 05:55 PM
Double Naught spy wrote: Secretan (or John),
I've been meaning to write this for some time now, but your novel Skull and Bones is enjoyably fun read. A fellow 007-fan friend of my bought Skull and Bones on Amazon kept going on and on about your book as being a true continuation of Fleming's works, etc. until my curiosity finally got the better of me and I asked to borrow it. Needless to say, I was impressed by your efforts more than anything (IFP, are you reading this!?!) that has been published in a LONG while. So much so, that I ended up buying your follow-up novel, Chinese Puzzle - which I was equally impressed with.
I don't know how you've managed it (perhaps because (I assume) you are not an established 'well-known' author, complete with his or her own over-inflated ego that tells them to scoff at Fleming's work and to put their own take upon the 007 novel they've been commissioned to write - self-indulgent jerks! Yeah, Deaver! I'm talking about you.), but you totally nailed the Fleming-sweep and had me staying up at night vainly saying to myself, 'OK, just one more chapter, then I have to turn off the light and go to bed.' Considering that it took me about a month to muddle through the likes of Carte Blanche and Solo, it was so very refreshing to finally have a page turner of a 007 in my hands. Sure, the hero is named 'Sterling' but we all know who he really is.
Another aspect of your novels that I enjoy (and that is woefully missing from the recent 'officially-authorized' novels from IFP is that I actually learn some history, geography and cultural facts from them. One of the things that authors who write 007 novels tend to forget on their 'official 007' check-list (superhuman henchman - check . . . deformed, megalomaniac villain - check . . . cool gadgets - check . . . etc.) is the pure joy of stepping into the post-WWII/Cold War era (a bit before my time) that Fleming lived in through and his detailed descriptions places, historical events, and so on that make the reader feel as if he/she is traveling back in time. In my opinion, you have mastered this aspect as well.
I also enjoyed the fact that you are clearly an acolyte of Fleming's work and tried to tie-in your novel(s) to the timeline established within his novels. For those reading, if I sound a bit vague here, it is on purposefully intended so as not to inadvertently spoil anything. Suffice it to say though, Mr.Francis makes a clear effort to keep his ducks in a row chronology-wise.
Are you planning on writing more novels? Aside from the obvious desire to read more of your works, I ask this because Chinese Puzzle seemed to end on somewhat of a cliffhanger in the fact that it seemed that Bond (*ahem* I mean, John Sterling) left some unfinished business behind in China.
I'm so honestly excited about your novels that I'm going to attempt to start a post about them (if the CBn webmasters allow it - I'm not sure about the rules) on the General Forum. Whether they will or won't - thank you so very much for, after all these years (although I did enjoy Gardener's and Benson's, as well as Higson's works - but for different reasons than yours) providing me some 007 novels I can get jazzed-up about.
Secretan here again: Thank you very much for your praise. My goal was simply to write as much like Fleming as I could and it's gratifying to know readers think I succeeded. Skull & Bones is very much a Fleming story, whereas Chinese Puzzle is a little more serious take on a secret agent's work, although stylistically, it's Fleming again.
To be fair to Bond continuation authors, I don't think anyone but Faulks tried to write in Fleming's style. It was this element that drew me most to the project as felming's style is so different from my own. No ego here -- I didn't write Skull & Bones as a response to the non-Flemingesque books, only my desire to challenge myself as a writer (for those who don't know my name, I usually write pulp style).
Reponse has been good enough that I'm continuing the series, though it won't be next year until I write the next novel in the series, High Hopes. In Skull & Bones, mysterious gold coins are turning up in Hong Kong and Bond/Sterling has to find out what they mean -- 0011 disappeared investiagting the case six months earlier. In Chinese Puzzle, Western Intelligence agents are massacred and Bond/Sterling is sent into Communist China to find out why. The West is worried it may mean the use of a Chinese atomic bomb in Korea. In High Hopes, an LSD-like drug is flooding the streets of London, and the Prime Minister is worried that it's part of an attempt at mind control -- in 1953, the CIA began experimenting with LSD for just this purpose, after seeing Korean brainwashing.
I view Chinese Puzzle like Fleming's later Bond novels -- it's got an experimental structure, which was necessitated by the fact that Bond/Sterling is alone in a country where he doesn't speak the language, on an impossible, suicidal mission that necessary due to the possible consequences of failure. I'm hesitant to say much about the ending of Chinese Puzzle other than to admit that there is unfinished business and it wasn't an oversight by me, but part of a plan.
Thank you for noticing the chronological aspects of the books. I've written my own chronology of the book -- by the way, it's no secret that I am Jeff Deischer, using the "John Sterling" pen name for this series -- and my novels fall in between Fleming's. Specifically, these books occur between Diamonds are Forever (1952) and From Russia With Love (1955). This is why there is no overt sex in the books -- Bond is living with Tiffany case at the time. There's also a lack of movie gadgets, which are over the top compared the ones Fleming used.
Both Skull & Bones and Chinese Puzzle are available in print at Amazon, and Skull & Bones has just come out on Kindle.
I'm happy to discuss my work here.
Posted 01 November 2014 - 03:07 AM
I'm just checking.
You wrote a novel called Skull and Bones with a lead character called John Sterling [?] and have just converted it for us to read as 'James Bond' ?
There are no reviews for this book on Amazon.
I read the first chapter you posted. Interesting. But like all the rest of us who write FF here, it is only Fleming-esque and lacks the master's definitive touch. We all need vast improvement.
Posted 01 November 2014 - 02:54 PM
sorry - i looked it up on kindle publication - the reviews aren't published there
you weren't clear that you wrote in as FF first.
Posted 01 November 2014 - 03:28 PM
Posted 01 November 2014 - 06:28 PM
Well, I couldn't find them when I looked it up the other day, which was why I was a bit smarted.
To be fair, I don't dig Amazon as a site. Like most things it started off really well and very customer friendly but as it's grown it's become unwieldy and distinctly un-customer friendly.
To ask, Secretan, PM me if you don't want it in public knowledge, how have you found Amazon as an on-line publisher?
I have two novels which have both been rejected numerous times by traditional publishers and am considering as a sort of 'last resort lets just get the bloody things out there' going down the Amazon route. Did you have your copy proof read before publication? Were there any copyright issues? How have you found self promotion etc?