As I get further and further into my own original research on Ian Fleming, it’s started to amaze me at just how much biographical substance is available to the general public.
In writing my own feature article, “Discovered: James Bond’s Rolex,” published in the February 2009 issue of WatchTime magazine, I noted that Mr. Fleming (a) kept contemporaneous notes on a wealth of ideas that occurred to him, (b) was very organized in doing so, and (c) hated to let any of his material go to waste.
We may well then have this to thank for his contribution to the August 1962 Show magazine. Titled “How to Write a Thriller,” Ian Fleming addressed the “angry young littérateur” who’s “engaged in ‘The Shakespeare Stakes.'” He cracked open his own preference for scrambled eggs and the James Bond menus. And his rigid formula for creating original 007 manuscripts each year at Goldeneye in Jamaica.
Most particularly to the interests of Branding, James Bond Branding, here — he spoke to the strategic importance of product placements as strategy in service to the brilliance of his works.
For Show, he wrote, “… my plots are fantastic, while being often based upon truth. They go wildly beyond the probable but not, I think, beyond the possible.”
He went on to provide examples “in the newspapers that lifts a corner of the veil from Secret Service work.” Then to his fiction.
This is all true Secret Service history that is yet in the higher realm of fantasy, and James Bond’s ventures into this realm are perfectly legitimate. Even so, they would stick in the gullet of the reader and make him throw the book angrily aside — for a reader particularly hates feeling he is being hoaxed — but for two further technical devices, if you like to call them that. First of all, the aforesaid speed of the narrative, which hustles the reader quickly beyond each danger point of mockery and, secondly, the constant use of familiar household names and objects which reassure him that he and the writer have still got their feet on the ground.
Ian Fleming continued, with reference to several brand names that readers of the James Bond books will immediately recognize. The parenthetical is original to Mr. Fleming.
A Ranson lighter, a 4½ -litre Bentley with Amherst-Villiers super-charger (please note the solid exactitude), the Ritz Hotel in London, the 21 Club in New York, the exact names of flora and fauna, even James Bond’s Sea Island cotton shirts with short sleeves. All these small details are points de repère to comfort and reassure the reader on his journey into fantastic adventure.