Yes okay, he was the ultimate chauvinist.
About as politically correct as Hugh Hefner, he lived in a time when men were men and smoking jackets were not ridiculous.
His private life was every bit as glamorous as those of his most enduring creation.
His Bond novels sold more than one hundred million copies, which seems like a fair amount for a project aimed originally at distracting him from the pain of losing his bachelorhood at 43. (He got his mistress pregnant and her husband wanted to divorce her – for some reason.)
What was his secret?
1. HAVE NO FEAR.
“Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes,’ otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.”
- Colonel Pott, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (Yes, he wrote a children’s book for his son while he was recovering from a heart attack.)
2. PAST FAILURE IS NO OBSTACLE TO FUTURE SUCCESS.
Until the war, Fleming’s list of failures was spectacular.
Eton, Britain most prestigious boys’ school, expelled him for an incident involving a girl (of course.)
His despairing father sent him to Sandhurst Military Academy, but he failed the officer’s training test.
He then tried for the Foreign Office but failed that entrance exam as well.
3. IF A WAR STARTS, USE IT FOR RESEARCH:
The war probably saved him from a life of ignominy and cocktails.
He became personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral John Godfrey. He found his niche. The things that later made him a great novelist – his imagination and astute intelligence – made him a brilliant spook.
He wrote a memorandum that outlined the future parameters of the CIA; he was integral to “Operation Mincemeat”, a massive deception that misled the Germans into thinking that the Allied forces would invade Southern Europe through Greece; and after D-Day, he was part of T-Force, which targeted and apprehended nuclear and rocket scientists before the Russians got them.
4. MAKE SURE YOU GET THAT FIRST LINE RIGHT:
Second draft: “Scent and smoke and sweat can suddenly combine together and hit the taste buds with an acid shock at three o’clock in the morning”
Final draft: “The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning”.
5. DON’T QUIT DURING THAT FIRST DRAFT:
In his words:
“You will be constantly depressed by the progress of the opus and feel it is all nonsense and that nobody will be interested. Those are the moments when you must all the more obstinately stick to your schedule and do your daily stint . . . Never mind about the brilliant phrase or the golden word, once the typescript is there you can fiddle, correct and embellish as much as you please.
“I never correct anything and I never go back to what I have written, except to the foot of the last page to see where I have got to. If you once look back, you are lost. How could you have written this drivel? How could you have used “terrible” six times on one page?”
6. YOU CAN’T GO WRONG WRITING ABOUT GAMBLING, VIOLENCE, BETRAYAL, TORTURE AND SEX
Or to put it another way: yes you can.
Everybody writes about those things. Fleming’s gift was storytelling.
7. GET LUCKY:
His books had very good sales figures up until 1961.
But then Life magazine listed From Russia, with Love as one of President John F Kennedy’s ten favourite books. Sales went through the roof. It made Fleming the biggest selling crime writer in the US.
Moral of the story: RING OBAMA NOW.
Fleming’s genius is often dismissed.
Fleming had a sumptuous eye for detail and he knew how to keep a reader turning pages; he always kept them stirred, if not shaken. 100,000,000 of them. He kept to a rigid routine when he was working, and knew how to suspend disbelief in even the most outrageous plotting.
And it all started with getting his mistress pregnant (we don’t recommend you try this at home.)
“… I was about to get married – a prospect which filled me with terror and mentalfidgets. To give my idle hands something to do, and as an antibody to my qualms after 43 years as a bachelor, I decided one day to damned well sit down and write a book.”
He makes it all sound so easy.
His name was Fleming. Ian Fleming.
There’s a brand new cover for ANASTASIA – and you can see the storyboard for the book right here on SLIDESHARE.
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