Oh, For Faulks’ Sake

So, this book comes out next week – Sebastian Faulks (whose work I must admit I haven’t read, though people whose opinions I trust speak highly of his writing) has written a new James Bond novel (with the blessing of Fleming’s estate). All very well and good, but what’s that in the bottom right-hand corner?

‘Sebastian Faulks Writing As Ian Fleming’, it seems.

Now, maybe I’m just exacting to the point of pedantry, but you can’t really claim that, can you? Oh, sure, when Virginia ‘Flowers In The Attic’ Andrews died the family got another author to be cover-credited as ‘The New Virginia Andrews’, rather bewilderingly, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the phrase ‘writing as’ used (by which I mean misused) in such a way.

‘Writing as’ is, you see, used when you’re writing under a pseudonym, not trying to write something in the style of another author. There are high-profile authors who’ve ‘written as’ – Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman or Norah Roberts as JD Robb , but that’s because those were made-up names and not real people they were seeking to emulate (given that Bachman allegedly claimed his religion was ‘rooster worship’, that’s probably for the best in Steve K’s case).

For crying out loud, when Kingsley Amis wrote a Bond book, he did so under a pseudonym, but the editions of that book which state his true identity say it was ‘Kingsley Amis writing as Robert Markham’ (as you can just about see if you peer at the bottom of the cover here).

I’m guessing it’s not Mr Faulks’s fault; he seems to be a genuine fan of Fleming’s work, and is trying to emulate the style of Fleming – but then again, so was Raymond Benson, the previous author who wrote authorised Bond novels, and his cover credit wasn’t that he was writing as Ian Fleming, it was just his name. Unlike Faulks, who’s well-known in his own right, Benson could probably have used that kind of promotional push. And marketing is where I think the idea for this bizarre bit of branding probably originated, to be honest – I just wish that they’d put something like ‘After’ or ‘In The Style Of’ or… I dunno, maybe come up with their own set of words to describe it, rather than using a phrase which already has a meaning.

Unless, of course, this is the way the popular kids are using the phrase ‘writing as’ now. That being the case, this post is by John Soanes, Writing As Charles Dickens.

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3 Comments

  1. How odd. What a strange thing to do, and you wonder what possible reason there is for doing so ? It’s just asking for trouble really. And what does it mean ? Did he write it in Jamaica ? No. Did he go shark fishing in between sessions ? No. Did he sleep with glamorous women during the process ? He says not.

    So what it must mean is that he’s doing an impression of Fleming. What’s wrong with just writing as himself ? Fleming’s dead, there’s no bringing him back.

  2. ‘Igor! The switch!’
    ‘Yes Master.’
    ‘They said there’s no bringing him back … but they were wrong! Live, Fleming! Live!!’

    (I’m writing this comment as Mary Shelley.)

  3. (Response by John Soanes, Writing As Marcel Marceau.)

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