Jeff Glor talks to Jeffrey Deaver, the prolific novelist who was picked to write the latest James Bond book.
Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?
Jeffrey Deaver: As for the subject matter of "Carte Blanche," the process was typical of my approach to writing. I look for ideas that will scare the socks off my readers, ideally in a field that has not been previously written about. In this case, I was struck by how invisible the recycling and trash removal operations and personnel are. What could I do with that? I apply some of my sick and twisted thinking and came up with Severan Hydt, a recycling maven, who's the villain in the book and who has, let's say, an agenda very different from saving the environment.
On the subject of inspiration as a motive to prod one to write a book in the first place--I don't believe in it, not for commercial fiction, at least. Although my processes are creative and imaginative, I'm no different from a manufacturer of a consumer product. In order to get a book into the hands of the public with regularity, It's my job to wake up every morning and make my own inspiration.
JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?
JD: Honestly? Nothing. I've written nearly 30 novels and several collections of short stories. I've been a full-time novelist for 20 years, so I have a stable of well-used techniques for writing a book. I approached "Carte Blanche" the way I approach any novel: I outline and research for about 7 or 8 months, without writing a word of the prose itself. At the end of that time, in the case of the Bond novel, I had a 140-page outline, which had every aspect of the story plotted out, bios of the characters and the surprise endings (yes, plural--as in all my books) entirely choreographed. Then I inserted and cross-referenced the research I'd done and, bang, it was off to writing the book. There are certainly moments of unexpected insight during that process, but it's my job to construct the story in a way that surprises the readers, but never me.
I will mention something that I didn't anticipate--how much I enjoyed working with the character of James Bond. In my book, which is set in the present day, he's a young agent for British Intelligence. He's smart, resourceful, well-versed in the tradecraft of espionage and he has an emotional component to him, even though he's just as tough as deadly as when Ian Fleming created him. For instance, I have a subplot about the fact he was orphaned at age 11, and his parents' death comes back in an unexpected way. He's a character I found it very easy to work with.
JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?
JD: It would have to be something creative. I'd probably be a filmmaker. I think telling stories is the greatest thing on Earth. Film and theater, as well as books, are where we go for our philosophy, our insight, our real-world education, our inspiration in this post-scholastic, largely secular world we live in.
JG: What else are you reading right now?
JD: I've just finished "Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall." I'm fascinated with mad, or at least eccentric, genius. And I'm halfway through David McCullough's marvelous "The Greater Journey: American's in Paris."
JG: What's next for you?
JD: In keeping with my philosophy of being a manufacturer of a product, I make sure my market gets what they want--that is a book a year. Presently, I'm working on my next Kathryn Dance novel (my protagonist who's a California police officer with a talent for using body language in investigations) for 2012, and for the year after a novel featuring Lincoln Rhyme, my main character from "The Bone Collector" series.
For more on "Carte Blanche," visit the Simon and Schuster website.