Award-winning British novelist and screenwriter William Boyd has worked with James Bond actors Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, but says his mental image of the super spy looks nothing like them.
Solo, his novel starring Ian Fleming's famous creation, was released last Thursday and is out in bookstores now.
"Fleming gave a detailed description and said Bond looked like the American singer-songwriter Hoagy Carmichael. He was a tall, lean, dark-haired man so you need to find an actor who looks like that," Boyd, 61, says on the telephone from London. "Daniel Day Lewis, he'd be a very good Bond."
The author is the latest big name invited by Ian Fleming Publications to continue the espionage adventures written by Fleming and made world-famous by multiple Hollywood movies starring actors such as Connery and Brosnan.
British writer Sebastian Faulks wrote Devil May Care to mark Fleming's centennial in 2008 and American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver took the story further with Carte Blanche in 2011. Boyd may be the best choice yet. A literary writer of about 20 best-selling books, he has won awards for previous works featuring espionage.
These include the Whitbread First Novel Award (now Costa) for his debut, A Good Man In Africa (1981), about a civil servant uneasily roped into spying, as well as the noted Costa Novel Award for Restless (2006), about a woman in the British secret service.
His last two novels since Restless have also been thrillers: Ordinary Thunderstorms (2009), about a weather scientist unwillingly embroiled in murder, and Waiting For Sunrise (2012), about a young man accused of sex crimes. In addition, Boyd included Fleming as a character in Any Human Heart (2002), a novel about a fictitious writer whose life encapsulates the biggest events of the 20th century.
"The conjunction of spy novels and Ian Fleming was there and suddenly I got the invitation to write the James Bond novel. It seemed like fate," he says.
The first thing he did was sit down with all Fleming's Bond works and a pen.
"It was fun to re-read them in an analytical way," says Boyd. "I read the books when I was really quite young, about 12 years old. The Bond books were seen as thrilling and illicit."
He was surprised to discover that "the film Bond is in some ways quite wrong" and very different from the books.