For me, it’s the glamour. The swagger. The inherent coolness. As we all know, real-life spycraft is not all exploding pens, exotic locales and thrilling car chases, but Bond gives us a slice of pure, unadulterated escapism. I also love that the past films are also such wonderful time capsules, perfectly encapsulating the period when they were made. But no matter how much Bond has changed over the years, some things are eternal. The music. The extravagance. The winks to the audience that we’re all in on the joke.
2) Tell me - what is it about Roger Moore that's endured with so many Bond fans (including myself!)
It’s his charm, pure and simple. Let’s face it, his Bond is pretty reprehensible at times, especially when dealing with women, but Sir Rog’s natural charm just shines through. I met him once, on his last book tour which I attended with fellow Bond fan (and author of The War In the Dark, an incredible supernatural spy novel) Nick Setchfield. We queued outside the Bath Theatre Royal for what seemed hours and had a heartbreaking moment when a member of staff came out and said that they were going to cap the line at 200 people. They counted down and we were number 198 and 199 in the queue. When we eventually got to the front of the line, Roger was just beaming at everyone, making them feel like they were the first person he’d met that day. As he signed my book I said: ’Thanks, Sir Roger, for being my hero growing up’. He looked up at me, flashed that killer smile and said, ’No, thank you, dear boy.’ I was a happy fan that day.
3) Like many writers out there today, you started as a part of fandom. Do you think fan activities are breeding grounds for genre pros, or do so just bubble up as those in any sub-community?
I absolutely think they’re breeding grounds. My first ever published fiction was fan-fiction in Doctor Who fanzines back in the early nineties (including a dreadful piece when I tried my hand at a Seventh Doctor / Batman crossover). The thing was that I wanted to do more than just consume stories about my favourite universes, I wanted to add to them, to contribute. Writing, and to a lesser degree, drawing was the only way I knew how to do it. You want to make your mark, even in the tiniest way. I love the fact that there are more avenues than ever before, from huge fan-fiction communities to cosplay, fan films and even tiktok. Great art inspires others to create. Long may that continue.
4) You've written in many of the most fantastical universes, and I loved your work on Dr. Who especially the Big Finish stuff. How do you get into the universe, and what pressures do you find in working within a known-world?
Big Finish was launching at the time where I was trying to pitch a Doctor Who novel to BBC Books with Mark Wright, a friend of mine who worked with me at Future Publishing in Bath. We had just pitched a novel set in Pompeii entitled The Fires of Darkness. In fact, we sent the pitch in pretty much on the same day as Big Finish announced their own story in the same setting as The Fires of Pompeii. That put pay to our BBC Books pitch, so the Big Finish producer gave us a chance to pitch something to them instead. That pitch was Blood Money which would go on to be our first audio drama Project: Twilight. It’s hard to believe that Twilight came out twenty years ago this year. Madness. And I’ve been working in universes like Doctor Who ever since, most recently Star Wars.
Writing licensed fiction brings its own pressures. You have to check your ego at the door. Time is always short (my last Doctor Who novel had to be written in under a month for example) and you need to be able to deal with multiple notes from multiple people. For me, I also feel the pressure of knowing that there will be thousands upon thousands of people out there who flat-out adore these properties. Who love them. That means you always have to treat them with the utmost respect and do your very best.
5) Is there a universe out there that you haven't written in yet that has you lickin' your lips hopin' that you'll get to???
At the moment, I’m concentrating more on creating new universes of my own alongside my existing Star Wars and DC Comics work. But I’m definitely licking my lips about getting into those!
6) tell me about Shadow Service's creation origin. What sort of vision did you have going into it?
Shadow Service is the combination of all my childhood obsessions. James Bond, definitely. Mission: Impossible too. And then monsters. Lots and lots and lots of monsters. I was always fascinated with the thought of secret agents going up against ghouls, ghosts and demons and actually had been writing short stories about a shadowy organisation called MI666 long before I talked to Vault about the comic series. I knew I wanted it to feel fundamentally British and I knew I wanted it to be my love letter to series like John Constantine and Hellboy without just aping their adventures.
The short stories were okay but they didn’t really hang together as a whole. I needed a lynchpin to draw it all together and that came when I was walking home from the cinema one night and Black Magic Woman came on my iPhone, the version from the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina album. In that moment I knew what MI666 was missing - or rather who! Our hero Gina Meyer sprang into life pretty much fully formed. A street witch who has been using her powers to work as a private detective on the streets of London and finds herself recruited to MI666. She was our way into the supernatural security service, a foul-mouthed, chaotic mess of a young woman who’s only friend is a talking rat named Edwin who may or may not be her familiar.
The other characters fell into place around her, even drawn from the short stories or other projects I was working on. I had been talking to Adrian Wassell at Vault for a while about working together and so sent him an email that was entitled ’Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Witch’. He emailed back with the green light.
7) And the obligatory question - what's next for Cavan Scott???
More Shadow Service! I’m currently writing the new arc of stories which will come out early next year, and have another creator owned project coming out from Dark Horse later in 2022. Plus, there will be Phase 2 of Star Wars: The High Republic, the multi-year, cross-media publishing initiative I created alongside Justina Ireland, Claudia Gray, Daniel José Older and Charles Soule. It’s going to be an exciting twelve months!