Well, I'm back again in my comfy interview chair this week with Bond author Deborah Lipp. Her brand spanking new book, The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book, has been completed and published by Sterling & Ross. The book contains 526 pages of vital Bond information: an essential for all Bond fans! In this interview, we discuss not only the book, but Deborah's thoughts on the up-coming film Casino Royale.
1. When you first set out to write this book what were your main aims?
My goal was to write about the things that fans were interested in.
I mean, I'm a writer by profession, but I'm also a fan, and when I
approached the book, I thought first as a fan, before thinking as a
writer at all.
The US version of Deborah's book
I love the Bond fan community. We are so diverse! Our opinions are so
wide-ranging, and we talk about so many different things. I wanted to
reflect that. Now of course, fans love lists, and The Ultimate James
Bond Fan Book has lots and lots of lists. It also has movie reviews,
serious essays, trivia, humor...the entire range of fan interests.
I also wanted to be inclusive. Do you know that, if you survey a
goodly sample of Bond fans, every single Bond film will end up on
someone's "Best" list and someone's "Worst" list? I didn't want to
leave people with unusual opinions out in the cold. For example, like
most fans, I dislike A View to a Kill. But unlike most fans, I adore
Diamonds Are Forever. In each of those two chapters, I air the other
viewpoint; I talk about why some fans enjoy AVTAK, and why most don't
care for DAF. I try to represent all sides. Really, don't you hate it
when you open some Bond book and they're dissing someone or something
you love? If you love DAF, you have that experience a lot! So I wanted
to change that; it's kind of a "big tent" Bond book.
2. In terms of research, how long did you prepare your new book? With 526 pages you must have had quite a large number working with you?
I write alone, but I got help. I surveyed a lot of people, and I'm very
grateful to them. I corresponded extensively with Matt Newton and the Minister of Martinis and they were both quite helpful.
Authors who preceded me blazed a wonderful trail, but I tried to be
very careful to cross-reference. If Steven Jay Rubin and John Cork
disagree, you have to figure out for yourself which bit of trivia is
Matt Newton's Web Page, The Bond Film Informant
3. What is the most important thing for you when embarking on writing a new book?
As a writer, my number one rule is, have an outline! I find writing to
be fairly easy, but organizing to be pretty hard. An outline is
4. Did your publishers present you with any particular guidelines?
Actually, by the time Sterling & Ross picked up the book, it was
5. For those of us still slightly unclear on the nature of your book, in such a large compilation did many of your own opinions seep into your documentation and commentary?
Oh, absolutely, I am nothing if not opinionated! But, as I've stated,
I present my opinions as a dialogue; I always offer both sides. There
is also a great deal of factual information: Trivia, quotes, that sort
of thing, including quite a lot that I've never seen in any book
For example, a comprehensive list of every gadget. I include
all the gadgets seen in Q's various labs but never used by Bond, and
other gadget-labs, such as Wai Lin's. As another example, one of my
favorite lists is the one of all the code words exchanged by Bond and
another agent in any film. You know, like "Have you got a match?" "I
use a lighter myself."
Until they go wrong...
As I said, my goal was to replicate the kind of conversations that
fans have, and we always discuss both facts and opinions, don't we?
I wanted to create a coffee table book that you could open at random
and enjoy. So flip through the pages and you might find an essay on
Bond girls, or a list of Bond songs that charted, or humor about the
villain's plot, or a chart of the infamous "Oh James" moment.
6. If so, can readers expect that The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book employs your opinion regularly?
You'll see my opinion a lot, but I hope you'll see that I'm also
respectful of your opinion.
7. Did you encounter many problems during either research or penning the new book?
A few. There was a missing Bond girl for quite a while—it took a long
time to dig up the actress who played Chu Mi in The Man With the
Golden Gun (she wasn't listed on IMDb, but now she is...for all I
know, I may be the one who sent it to IMDb! I can't recall). Figuring
out the actress who played the harem girl Bond spent the night with in
The Spy Who Loved Me was tricky. And I still don't know what Station
VH stands for in Moonraker, despite numerous conversations with
Brazilian Bond fans.
Bond's "harem girl" in The Spy Who Loved Me
8. Is there any chance you'll endeavor to write another Bond book any time soon?
Maybe not soon, but perhaps in time. If the book is successful, I
would love to update it; redo the surveys to include Casino Royale
and so on.
9. Here's one out of left field: As an avid Bond fan, how detrimental do you believe the role of Terence Young was to the direction and success of the Bond series? Being the first director, he was able to craft not only the character of Bond, but the style of film in such a way that many Bond directors later have attempted to emulate. Would you agree with this statement?
Terrance Young directs Sean Connery and Eunich Gayson in From Russia With Love
Oh, I think Terence Young's contribution was essential and very
positive. I am more dismayed by Guy Hamilton's contribution. Although
he directed one of the very greatest films, he is single-handedly
responsible for introducing silliness as an essential Bond component,
and I find that regretable.
10. Now turning our attention towards November 17, how do you see Casino Royale turning out?
I have every reason to be optimistic. My fingers are crossed and my
breath is held.
11. Have the producers made the correct decision on new Bond Daniel Craig?
If you read my Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, you know I was
pretty angry. I believe the best choice would have been to keep
Brosnan. I believe there were actors available who could have been
terrific; gritty, and exciting, but not as controversial, and also
Daniel Craig as James Bond
But, Craig is an excellent actor. I am fully prepared for him to pull
a Dalton and win this girl's heart. He has screen presence, he knows
his craft, and he seems to have good material to work with.
I'm not the one with a few hundred million dollars on the line. I
wanted Brosnan, or Jackman, or Owen, but now that those options are
in the past, I'm willing to move on and get behind Craig.
12. And finally, what are your thoughts on a “Bond Begins” direction and starting afresh?
Who is your favorite James Bond?
Ohhh, not so easy. Some days it's Connery, some days it's Dalton,
some days it's Brosnan. I assure you, it's never Moore or Lazenby!
Who is favourite villain?
The best villains in the movies are in From Russia With Love. My
favorites are Rosa Klebb and the invisible Blofeld.
Who is your favourite director?
Martin Campbell; another reason I'm so optimistic. He did a great job
reviving the series!
What is your favorite Bond Girl?
At first, I thought it was stupid, because what is there to restart,
anyway? Instances of Bond continuity (another factual chapter in the
book, by the way) are pretty few. Then, just a couple of weeks ago, I
realized the one thing that is continuous, and probably what Eon was
most eager to start fresh—the gadgets. In the previous movies, once an
ejector seat, always an ejector seat; Bond's technology has, in fact,
had significant continuity. And after the invisible car and all that,
I can understand why starting over, clean slate, could feel right.
After thinking about it from that angle, and after seeing the very
thrilling preview, I fully support the decision.
A word from the interviewer:
I'd like to say a big thank you to Deborah for completing this interview in such quick time and for willingness to undertake our questions. I recommend in the mean time you visit the official site of the book.
Questions written by Adam Farrington-Williams