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The Sirens of Suspense

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An Anthony Award-nominated website on all things mystery.

Got Suspense?

ABOUT RAYMOND:

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The author of over thirty titles, Raymond's most recent series involves a female costumed vigilante operating in the 1950s. THE THE BLACK STILETTO: ENDINGS & BEGINNINGS (2014) is the latest in the series.

Between 1996 and 2002, Raymond was the third--and first American--author to be commissioned by the James Bond literary copyright holders to take over writing the 007 novels. In total he penned and published worldwide six original 007 novels, three film novelizations, and three short stories. His book THE JAMES BOND BEDSIDE COMPANION, an encyclopedic work on the 007 phenomenon, was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award.

.Using the pseudonym “David Michaels,” Raymond is also the author of the NY Times best-selling books TOM CLANCY’S SPLINTER CELL and its sequel TOM CLANCY’S SPLINTER CELL—OPERATION BARRACUDA.

He is also the author of many other award-winning suspense and thriller novels.

 

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RAYMOND BENSON: item1b
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It must be difficult to step into the shoes—and the world—of such iconic authors as Fleming and Clancy. Did you have a specific method of preparation? How did you walk the line of staying true to the authors while putting your personal stamp on the series?

I always do an outline for any book I write. Some authors do outlines, others don't. For me, it works. Since I write thrillers, I like to have a roadmap for the story. Where are highs and lows? Where do the obstacles come in? Where's the climax? How does it end? I want to know all this before I begin writing. I suppose that's the specific method of preparation, along with whatever research I need to accomplish. With James Bond, there wasn't much need to study. I grew up with Bond and Fleming, I knew the universe inside-and-out (my first published book was a non-fiction encyclopedic treatise on the history of Bond--"The James Bond Bedside Companion") and I believe that's the reason the people at the Fleming Estate hired me. As for the Clancy spin-offs, the editor who had worked with me on my Bond novels tapped me for the "Splinter Cell" books because he knew my work. Putting a personal stamp on a work-for-hire project using other people's characters and universes is not exactly a requirement, although I do it--probably more subconsciously than anything. An author's voice is his voice, and I'm sure readers can tell the difference between the various works by the six (to date) James Bond continuation authors, even though the protagonist is the same.

 

Everyone wants to know who is your favorite cinematic Bond? There has been a recent outcry both for and against Idris Elba potentially starring as James Bond. What are your thoughts? Has someone perfect for the role been overlooked?

Sean Connery will always be my favorite; he's the iconic Bond, the first one, the guy against everyone else will be measured. That said, I feel that the most accurate portrayal of Fleming's literary Bond was that of Timothy Dalton. Each actor has brought something of his own to the role. As for the Elba discussion, it's a moot point. Mr. Elba is a fine actor and could certainly do the role, but he's already too old. Daniel Craig still has another film in his contract (*after* the upcoming "Spectre" in 2015), so that's another 2-3 years before we see that.  Then it will be another 2-3 years, maybe more, before the producers make a new Bond film with a new actor. Elba is 42 now.  They're not going to cast a 50-year-old as Bond when they want the actor to do a string of pictures over a decade or so.

 

Many readers asked if you would ever consider returning to Bond, and would like to know your opinion regarding the new stand-alone novels as compared to series format?

It's not my place to comment on the recent authors' works. Every Bond author has different challenges, depending on the time, the current publishing philosophy of the copyright holders, and a number of other factors. I'm not sure if I would return to Bond--but I think that's a moot point, too. The Estate has never re-hired an author, just as the film producers are never going to re-hire Brosnan or Dalton. Bond tells Professor Dent in "Dr. No"--  "You've had your six."  Well, I had mine, and I'm grateful for the time I spent as the Bond author. I suppose if they wanted to do another film novelization and asked me to do it, I'd step in.

 

You are a prolific author outside of Clancy and Fleming, most recently of the Black Stiletto saga. How has studying these other authors informed your personal writing?

Reading--period!--informs my personal writing. Whenever young writers ask me what they can do to be a good author, I tell them to read a lot. Read the kinds of books you want to write. If you want to write thrillers, then read a lot of thrillers. It's the best way to learn, believe me. That said, it's interesting to note that none of my personal, original novels are spy stories--in fact, they're very different from the Bond books I wrote. Oddly, most of my own books feature female protagonists, often written in first-person voice. I can't explain it. I'm comfortable writing for women characters.

 

What’s coming next for you?

A new novel that's a prequel to an upcoming big videogame, "Dying Light," will be published soon. This is my first foray into the zombie genre. It's called "Dying Light--Nightmare Row." I'm also working on a new original stand-alone--once again featuring a female protagonist!--that's a bit of a dark mystery and coming-of-age story.

 

 

 

 

 

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COMMENT ON THE INTERVIEW by using the Comments box further down on this page, or on our Facebook page and be entered to win a copy of CHOICE OF WEAPONS & an e-book of THE BLACK STILETTO! (U.S. entrants only.)

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QUICKIES WITH RAYMOND:

Book he wishes he could read again for the first time: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE by Ian Fleming.

What he's reading now: I just finished Stephen King's REVIVAL and am about to pick up something new—don't know what yet!

Period in history he'd like to visit: 1920s Hollywood...fun times and the beginning of silver scren glamour!

Favorite independent bookstore: Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Forest Park, Illinois. But I admire any indy mystery bookstore that manages to remain in business!

His greatest fear: Other than possessing an innate fear of stinging, flying insects (wasps, bees, hornets), I wouldn't like being forgotten by the reading public after I'm gone.

If he could have one superpower: Being able to play Jedi Mind Tricks.

If he could invite four people to a dinner party: Stanley Kubrick, Groucho Marx, John Lennon, Sean Connery...and that's just the men's side of the table.