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Lifelong bond with 007; The James Bond mantle has passed to Jeffery Deaver, who tells HANNAH STEPHENSON how he's brought his hero up to date.

Byline: HANNAH STEPHENSON

AT THE age of 61, an established crime writer might be expected to have a "seen it all, done it all" approach to life.

But Jeffery Deaver confesses that being asked to write the new James Bond book, stepping into the shoes of the late Ian Fleming, was a "wow" moment.

A lifelong fan, he admits: "I'd learned to ski because of Bond. A young boy's adolescence is influenced by his heroes, whether it's Hornblower or Sam Spade."

The author, best known for his murder mysteries featuring quadriplegic investigator Lincoln Rhyme and sidekick Amelia Sachs, was approached by Ian Fleming Publications after his 2004 historical thriller, Garden Of Beasts, won a Crime Writers' Association award.

On accepting it, Deaver said he had been a lifelong Bond fan and Fleming had been a big influence.

"My words were taken to heart by the estate, who asked if I'd be interested in writing the next continuation novel.

"I was absolutely delighted, but I really wanted to update Bond. I didn't want to write a period piece which is what Sebastian Faulks did in the previous continuation novel, Devil May Care.

"I was very aware of the responsibility. Daunting is an appropriate word."

The resulting novel, Carte Blanche, out this week, features exotic locations including Dubai, beautiful women, gadgets and fast cars.

"There are lots of surprises and planted clues to create misdirections and two or three big surprise endings. It was agreed I would write that kind of a thriller but populate it with the James Bond personality from the original books."

He worked closely with Ian Fleming Publications, the clearing house for all the Fleming books and continuation novels.

He explains: "The films didn't influence me at all and nor did the continuation novels.

"I wanted to get back to the original Bond who's dark and edgy, has quite a sense of irony and humour and is extremely patriotic and willing to sacrifice himself for Queen and country.

"He is extremely loyal but he has this dark pall over him because he's a hired killer - and he wrestles with that. I've always found him to be representative of the modern era."

So 007 in 2011 is aged about 31 and drives a Bentley Continental GT.

Carte Blanche features familiar characters and gadget wizardry while some of the female characters have wonderfully Bond-style names such as Mary Goodnight and Ophelia Maidenstone (Philly).

As for an appropriate baddie, Deaver didn't have to look far.

"We don't have the great Soviet bear any more but you must remember that in London you had 7/7 and there have been other plots that your security services have foiled," he says.

"In the US we had 9/11 and other Al Qaeda-oriented threats - the Madrid bombings, the Bali bombings - so in a way there's been more bloodshed post-Cold War."

Born near Chicago, Deaver, the son of an advertising copywriter, worked as a journalist and later studied law.

It was during his commutes that he started writing plots for the books which have since sold in their millions in more than 150 countries.

Like Bond, Deaver likes skiing and scuba diving and has a penchant for fast cars.

Unlike Bond, who plays the field with glamorous women, Deaver has had a steady girlfriend, Madelyn Warcholik, a former science teacher, for some years.

She does some research and editing for him and helps run what Deaver calls the 'business' of his books.

They met in the least exotic of circumstances - at dog training classes with their respective puppies.

The couple live in North Carolina, but not together. Says Deaver: "I'm very comfortable living alone right now but of course one needs a social life and companionship, so it works out well."

He is on the road three months of the year promoting his books but when the Bond bonanza is over he'll return to what he knows best, writing his fast-paced thrillers and alternating between his Lincoln Rhyme novels and his series featuring Kathryn Dance, a body language expert with the California Bureau of Investigation.

He will have two computers on at the same time and notebooks handy to accommodate his immediate thoughts.

"I'm a very even-keeled type of person and get along well with others," he says. "But when I write, which is about eight hours a day, I need my solitude. I need to close the door and concentrate."

Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver is published by Hodder & Stoughton at pounds 18.99

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 28, 2011
Words:768
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