Photo: Raymond Benson, author of “The James Bond Bedside Companion” and six original Bond novels, will speak at Waubonsee Community College’s Sugar Grove Campus at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22 and Tuesday, March 29. Tickets for the shows are available at www.waubonsee-tickets.com. Courtesy Photo
SUGAR GROVE—The mention of James Bond conjures up many images—fast cars, London clubs, shaken martinis. A small town in west Texas doesn’t seem to factor in at all, but that’s where author Raymond Benson was first introduced to the iconic character about whom he would one day write novels.
The fourth official Bond novelist, Benson will present “My Life with James Bond” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22, in the Academic and Professional Center of Waubonsee Community College’s Sugar Grove Campus, Route 47 at Waubonsee Drive.
Aspiring writers can pick up tips at Benson’s “Writing Suspense Fiction” presentation on Tuesday, March 29, at 7 p.m. in the Academic and Professional Center.
Tickets for each of these shows are $19 and available at www.waubonseetickets.com. All tickets are subject to a transaction fee. Individuals attending both shows qualify for a special ticket package price of $35.
Benson, who now lives in Buffalo Grove, Ill., saw “Goldfinger” in his Texas hometown when he was 9 years old.
“You have to remember, the Bond movies were the ‘Star Wars’ of that decade,” Benson said. “They were the movies kids and adults wanted to see; the movies people lined up around the block for. And it opened up a fantasy world that I hadn’t known existed.”
By the end of 1965, Benson had gone back to see the first two Bond movies in a double bill, caught the fourth one in the theater and had read almost all of the original Bond novels by Ian Fleming.
So it’s no surprise that when deciding to transform himself from a theater director to a writer in the early 1980s, Benson’s first project was a nonfiction book about the world of the famous fictional super spy.
“I wanted to create a kind of encyclopedia of James Bond, because at that time there was nothing like that,” Benson said. “I wanted to create something that covered everything—the films, the books, a biography of Fleming, a history of the character, etc.”
After three years of research, during which he traveled to England to meet some of Fleming’s family members and original literary agent, Benson’s “The James Bond Bedside Companion” was published in 1984.
The book apparently made an impression on the people at Ian Fleming Publications, Ltd., because when the third Bond novelist was ready to retire in 1995, the agency asked Benson to take over the franchise.
“There was this feeling of disbelief, then terrible fright, then a feeling that I could rise to the challenge,” Benson said.
The first American to write the Bond story, Benson faced some small linguistic obstacles.
“The books are written in ‘English,’ not American but English,” Benson joked. “It took me some time to get a hang of that, putting the ‘u’ in ‘colour’ or using ‘lift’ instead of ‘elevator.’”
During his seven years working in the Bond franchise, Benson penned six original Bond novels, three film novelizations and three short stories. He still sits on the board of directors for the Ian Fleming Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of Fleming and Bond memorabilia.
For more information on Benson’s presentations, call Community Education at (630) 466-2360.