Thursday, 24 January 2013

Bomber goes techno ....

Len Deighton's 1971 war thriller Bomber is emerging as one of the reguarly discussed 'unfilmed books'. This blog covered the news that there is a legitimate effort to put into production a film of the book, although this trail has gone rather cold. In addition, various web wanderings have turned up treatments of the book by individuals who are inspired by the film and want to interpret it creatively.

One such is Simon Heartfield. He has written an album of ambient/techno music inspired by the film, "Schrage Musik"is the result - it is the name given to the weapon used by German night fighters to attack RAF bombers, and is featured in the book. Simon takes up the story on his own blog:
"The album has a bit of a back story. The first piece of music I wrote called Schrage Musik; it was the opening track on his Venom and Eternity album in 2010. It was inspired by the 1994 BBC Radio production of the legendary Len Deighton's novel Bomber published in 1970, which told the story in real-time of an RAF Lancaster bomber crew and the inhabitants of the fictional German village of Altgarten, which is accidentally mistaken for the real target.
Shortly after it was released I was contacted by the author of the Len Deighton Companion, Edward Milward-Oliver who was writing a piece about the novel as it was being considered for the Lost Man Booker prize.
More intriguing than this was the news that finance was being sought for a film version of Bomber and Edward kindly passed on my details and my track to the producers with the hope that I might possibly be involved in some way. Interestingly, according to Edward, Len Deighton had said that he envisaged that a big screen version might have an electronic based soundtrack as the novel deals with the technology that is used by both the RAF and the Luftwaffe air defence system. Although the plans for a film version have not come to fruition I felt that I would still like to do something so I produced a soundtrack comprised of nine pieces inspired by the novel and radio version (which has not music of its own) which was released in 2011."
Also produced was an imagined film title sequence complete with cast and credits which can be seen online. Indeed, I had already stumbled upon Simon's soundtrack and opening titles sequence before.

The full album is available as a free download via Bandcamp from Monday 21st January.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Another side of Len Deighton ...

"Another Campari, darling?"
His backside, that is.

Not backside, but his back ... side!

What am I talking about? I’ve recently got hold of an extremely rate copy of Town magazine from Christmas 1965 – forty-eight years old but in fantastic condition. The front cover is a photo by James Mortimer that straightaway makes a serious statement about the style and verve of the swinging sixties.

The stunningly beautiful, winking woman is model Patti Boyd, later to become the wife of ex-Beatle George Harrison and blue guitarist Eric Clapton.

She is the woman who was subsequently purported to be the the inspiration for George Harrison's 'Something', 'I need you' and 'Isn't it a pity', plus Clapton's 'Layla' and 'Wonderful Tonight'. She was clearly in the sixties the ultimate hip 'It Girl' and lucky was the man who go to spend a morning in her arms.

The lucky man? Well, that’s Len Deighton of course, hence why it's on this blog. The image it conjures up gives a clue to the way in which men's expectations were changing: a pretty ‘bird’, sexually liberated, up front, enjoying drink-fuelled partying fun, with a handsome man on her arm, who clearly thinks he's struck lucky.

It's perhaps the ultimate fantasy for Town’s male readers of the to subscribe to, as the staid, buttoned-up 'fifties gave way to the 'sixties and men had to learn how to deal with greater personal independence and wealth.

Why is this picture interesting? Well, for a start, it’s the reverse image of the cover of Drinks-man-ship, edited by Len and produced by the same team working on Town magazine, which came out at the same time (in time for Christmas).
"Absolutely - make mind a double!"
An early example of integrated product marketing and advertising. Indeed, at the back of the magazine is an advert (right) in the form of an invitation to join the fun and purchase a copy of the book.

The book, now reasonably collectable, is a bawdy, alcohol-soaked paean to every manifestation of booze in all its forms, with contributions from some of London’s finest writers and reconteurs of the time.

However, it’s also interesting because it demonstrates Len’s status – three years after publication of The Ipcress File – as a writer and … well, nowadays one would refer to him as a “celebrity”.

One would think that a clinch with one of the most beautiful women in London would stay long in the memory.

But Len Deighton today has little recollection of this shoot: he was at the time, he recalls, very busy (with what he doesn't recall) and he remembers a car coming to collect him, going to a studio somewhere where some pictures were taken with the "delightful" Patti Boyd before he was whisked away.

Not a bad way to spend a morning!

[Thanks to blog reader Nick Flindall for his detective work on identifying Patti Boyd]

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Thrilling history in Westminster ...

Andrew Williams, Mike Ripley, Robert Ryan
Friend of this blog, crime writer and editor of the Shotsmag journal 'Getting Away with Murder', author Mike Ripley, has informed me about an interesting session in London later this month of interesst anyone interested in historical crime and thriller fiction.

Right now I'm two chapters into the new novel Dominion, by C J Sanson. It's a thriller which takes place in a UK which made an armistice with Nazi Germany in 1940 and part of which - the Isle of Wight - is occupied by the Wehrmacht. It follows in the footsteps of such other 'alternative history' books at, of course, Len Deighton's SS-GB and Fatherland by Anthony Harris.

There is a big market for historical fiction covering all periods - Hilary Mantel recently won the Booker Prize for Bring up the bodies - and on the back of this renewed interest Mike and two other fellow authors are organising a talk in London to get their take on historical crime and thriller fiction.

Historically Criminal! sees Andrew Williams, Mike Ripley and Robert Ryan meet to talk about their take on historical crime and thriller fiction. All three are prolific established authors - below are the covers of their recent works:

Robert Ryan has been a lecturer and a journalist and has written more than fifteen books to date. In Dead Man’s Land, Dr Watson must identify a treacherous killer striking in the trenches of the First World War.

Andrew Williams directed and wrote television documentaries for twenty years before becoming an author. His first two books were short-listed for a number of awards. His latest novel, The Poison Tide centres around the life of a British spy in the First World War.

Mike Ripley is the award winning author of the Angel series of comedy thrillers and has been described as “England's funniest crime writer”. He was a scriptwriter on the BBC series Lovejoy and as a critic has reviewed over 1,000 crime novels in the last 22 years.

Mike Ripley will be chairing a hugely entertaining panel as they discuss why are so many really good thrillers are opting for historical settings these days with Andrew Williams and Robert Ryan explaining their decision to go "Historically Criminal".

Details of the event:
When: Monday 18th February 2013, 1800h*
Where: Victoria Library, Buckingham Palace Road

This event took place in front of a small but enthusiastic audience. Interesting discussion about the benefits that historical fiction provides to the author, but also the challenges they face, particularly with readers who are sticklers for historical accuracy.