Day Three of Serial Heroes and after Steven Dunne and Caroline Mitchell both discussed authors that have had success in print and on the silver screen I find that my latest guest is keeping that trend running.
When I first asked Alan Jones if he would like to contribute to my Serial Heroes feature his first response was that he didn’t really follow any series of books or characters . However, I don’t think 60 seconds had passed before he suggested a name – possibly one of the most famous names from literature – and from that point I don’t think I gave him the option to back out. Thanks Alan, it’s over to you to explain:
The series of books I love most may be a surprise to many. If I tell you that they are action stories based loosely around crime and the cold war, and involve a lot of shooting, car chases and beautiful women with a cool and sophisticated protagonist, you’ve probably narrowed the list down a bit.
But if I told you that at one point in the series, the main character suffers the death of a loved one in violent circumstances and has mental health issues because of it, culminating in a breakdown and a period in his life when he goes completely off the rails and works for the other side of the ‘law’, would that make you think again. Maybe something Scandinavian or old school American Noir?
The books have all been made into films; tremendously successful but each one in the series getting further and further away from the books, which would make those unlikely.
To confuse you further, the author of this series also wrote a very successful children’s book, published after his death, that also led to a major blockbuster when it hit the big screen.
The lead character is an English gentleman and manners play a big part in all the books of the series.
When Ian Fleming penned ‘Casino Royale.’, the first of the series of sixteen books that introduced James Bond to the world, he could have no idea that he would spawn on of the longest running and most successful screen franchises ever, with each film outdoing the one before in terms of gadgets, stunts and humour.
And yet, the books themselves are a great read, giving an insight into how the establishment in the post war period saw themselves. Bond, an Englishman in the books, is ever so well mannered, even when he is killing his villains. The books are partly a throwback to the days of the British Empire but underneath it all, they are short detective stories set in exotic locations, usually with world peace and prosperity at stake.
They’re deeper than you would think, and Bond even gets married in one of them. And he has that nervous breakdown, starts working for the Russians and even goes back to nature, living as a fisherman for a year on a Japanese Island.
There is an element of gadgetry, fast cars and gorgeous ladies, but the storylines are grounded enough to make you believe they could almost have happened, and read incredibly well. Bond on paper, in contrast to his screen persona, is darker. He still has that cruel, ruthless streak, he’s decadent, with a lack of ethics, he’s sadistic and he’s a snob. But Ian Fleming injects a little bit of glamour and a hint of humanity into him, and the reader ends up rooting for this flawed but fascinating and exciting character.
My personal favourites are On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where Bond is at his most human, and the next one after that, ‘You Only Live Twice, which tells of Bond’s descent to probably his lowest point in the whole series.
But they’re all good. Short, succinct, exciting and clever. And if you can find copies with covers from the fifties and sixties, they look bloody great in your bookcase!
And that children’s book?
It surprised me to find out, years after I’d read both it and The James Bond series, that Ian Fleming had also written ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’!
Alan Jones’s Amazon page is here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alan-Jones/e/B00ONBKHLE/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1462315938&sr=1-2-ent where you can order copies of all his books.
Alan’s latest book BLOQ scored a 5/5 when I reviewed it recently, you can order a copy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bloq-Alan-Jones-ebook/dp/B01CLH5AUE?ie=UTF8&keywords=bloq&qid=1462316048&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1
You can find Alan on Twitter @alanjonesbooks or at his own website: http://www.alanjonesbooks.co.uk/