BONDING IN GREECE.
Living inside the new James Bond novel, "The Facts Of Death".
By Panos Sambrakos. firstname.lastname@example.org
I kept looking at this message for 15 minutes or so, trying to grasp the magnitude, the significance and the potential of what was ahead of me. Could this be true? Was the new James Bond author asking me to help him research his next Bond book? Was he going to meet me here in Greece where I would travel with him, scouting locations for the next 007 adventure? Was life great or what?
Keep in mind this was back in late 1996. A lot's changed since then - in '96, the world still hadn't read a Raymond Benson Bond novel yet, not even the short story "Blast From The Past" that was set to appear in the January '97 issue of Playboy. "Tomorrow Never Dies" was still known as "Bond 18" and was only in pre-production. Most importantly for me, I hadn't started producing the web site you all know as "Mr. Kiss-Kiss Bang-Bang!" (MKKBB). This was back in the days I and my friends, David Morefield and Bryan Krofchok had only presented the Internet Bond community with the "alt.fan.james-bond FAQ." Anyway, here I was, frequenting the Bond newsgroup, talking with many Bond fans on a daily basis, all the while knowing the biggest secret in the world but unable to tell a soul! I couldn't share my enthusiasm with anyone that could appreciate it.
But it was really happening, and that was all that mattered! I replied to the above message immediately, trying not to show how crazy I was about the idea, for fear I'd scare Raymond off! I offered my unlimited help to him and said I would be delighted to guide him around Greece and assist him in any way possible. We started writing back and forth every day, exchanging ideas, and trying to see what could be done. Raymond would tell me a few things about the story he had in mind, and the locations he had envisioned for it. I would reply with many suggestions that would sometimes trigger a different idea that took the whole plot on a different direction. The feeling was unreal. I was actually taking part in forming the plot of the next Bond adventure!
The messages kept traveling from Greece to Chicago for the next few weeks. Raymond was forming the book, and as the story was evolving, he would ask for more information. I was coming back to him with more suggestions than he could handle, and if something "clicked" he would rush to the library and research in depth the place or situation I was talking about. Up to that point of course, I only had a very basic idea of what the book was all about. The elements were being gathered, but I knew little of what exactly was being constructed. Then by December I suddenly got the first complete outline of the novel! I was shocked! Nothing had prepared me for it. The abstract ideas and location suggestions had come together, with many more elements unknown to me before, to form a thrilling-to-read outline of a Bond adventure, taking place around the world, but primarily in places I've lived some of my own little adventures - in Greece.
We spent January planning the practical details of Raymond's trip. The locations had been finalized and I prepared our daily program for the ten days we had at our disposal, from Friday, February 14th - 23rd. In between Raymond would fly alone on a two-day trip to Cyprus. I of course invited him to stay at my home, which he agreed to, but in true Bondian fashion, Raymond was to stay the first weekend at the Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens, like James Bond did in Kingsley Amis' "Colonel Sun". Raymond faxed them ahead of time for information and the management invited him to stay in one of their suites as a guest. The things we do for England!