Treebeard: You had a very successful career as an author before turning to writing crime. What prompted this change?
Tony: I always loved thrillers and I always love crime fiction but I never contemplated writing it myself until 2010. I was at a screening of a film in Soho that had been organized by Sam Mendes – it was not one of his films, but just a film that he thought people should be aware of called “The Kids Are All Right” – and I was having a glass of wine with Sam before we went inside. I don’t know Sam but he had written me a lovely email about my novel Man and Boy and I am a fan of the guy. We were having a drink and chatting about what we were both up to and – very casually – Sam said, “Oh, I am going to direct the next James Bond film.”
And that was Skyfall – the greatest Bond movie of them all. In hindsight, it seems a great career move for Sam but at the time – when he was most famous for being the director of “American Beauty” it was a surprising move. Sam told me that what he was doing was reading all the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming because he had loved them so much as a child and he was going to try to capture whatever it was he loved about those books. When Sam was talking about the impact the Ian Fleming books had on him when he was 11,12,13, 14, I had a strange feeling because it was EXACTLY the impact those books had on me, too. When I went home that night I decided that I would also reread all the James Bond books. And by the time I got to the end of the first page of the first book, Casino Royale, I knew that I wanted to try to create my own series hero. Max Wolfe starts right there.
I thought about it a lot – not just Fleming and Bond, but Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle and Lee Child and all of them. I think it is a remarkable achievement to create a fictional character that reappears over years in a number of books. I knew I wanted to try. And I thought a lot about my guy – his home life, his personality, where he would work – all of that, and I gradually built up the world of Max Wolfe.