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Ian Fleming: Chitty-Chitty-07

Ian Fleming, author of James Bond & Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Ian Fleming, author of James Bond & Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Ian Fleming is best known for being the author of the James Bond stories. Pretty much everyone knows that. Did you know he also wrote “Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang“? I’m not joking here. Having recently watched a documentary on the making of the Bond movies, I became more than a little curious about some of things I saw and the truth was even more astounding than the documentary described, which is unusual since TV loves sensationalism. James Bond may have tackled SMERSH and SPECTRE,  but Ian wrote 2,000 words per day. Two Thousand! Now do you really want to be impressed? He did that by writing only 4 hours per day.

The Politics of Editing

Editors are never wrong. Publishers know better than the authors. These are some common myths. For example:  Publishers and movie makers thought Ian’s James Bond was too British for American audiences, so the first US paperback edition of Casino Royale was re-titled You Asked For It, and Bond’s name was changed to “Jimmy Bond”. Jimmy? Seriously? “Bond. Jimmy Bond.” Nah. Doesn’t play.  The first US paperback edition of Moonraker was re-titled Too Hot to Handle.

Inspiration, Perspiration

Ian Fleming's Goldeneye

Fleming wrote all Bonds at his home, Goldeneye in Jamaica.

  • Ian wrote at his house named Goldeneye in Jamaica in the 50’s and 60’s. Long before the movie came out.
  • Fleming wrote Casino Royale in two months, to distract himself from his forthcoming wedding to the pregnant Charteris, and called the work his “dreadful oafish opus”.
  • That manuscript was typed in London by Joan Howe,  Fleming’s red-haired secretary at The Times on whom the character Miss Moneypenny was partially based.
  • He wanted a brief, bland, Anglo-Saxon name for the super-spy protagonist, so he chose the name of an American ornithologist and author of bird books, James Bond.
  • In 13 years, Fleming was published with 12 Bond novels and 2 short-story collections between 1953 and 1966, the last two (The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy and The Living Daylights) posthumously.
  • In 1954, Ian Fleming sold the television rights to Casino Royale to CBS for $1,000. Ergo “Jimmy Bond”.
  • The villain and book, Goldfinger, was named after British architect Erno Goldfinger, whose work Fleming abhorred.
  • In 1958, critics and reviewers turned on Ian’s Bond works (“sado-masochistic”, “the nastiest book I have ever read”).
    • Eon Productions grossed $5 BILLION with their Bond movies, one of the highest grossing series EVER.
    • The American Film Institute’s ‘100 Years’ series also recognized the character of James Bond as the third greatest film hero of all time.
  • Fleming helped develop the TV show The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and is credited with coming up with that name.1

 The Bottom Line

  • Write. Write. Write. Ian wrote the James Bond books at 2,000 words per day and in only 4 hours per day.
    • Fleming wrote about a book a year for 11 years.
    • Writing fast is not a sin: he wrote his first Bond in 2 months.
  • Don’t get discouraged. 5 years after Casino Royale, critics blasted his Bond book series which became one of the biggest money makers of all time.
  • Find your inspiration everywhere. From real people to compilations of personalities.
  • Don’t let the bastards bastardize your work… too much. Jimmy Bond? You Asked For It?
  • Shake it up: He also wrote Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang!
  1. http://io9.com/5958754/11-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-james-bond []
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