After seven years as the official James Bond author, setting out to create an identity of my own was essentially akin to starting over. The only difference between me and other authors who wanted to sell their work to publishers was that I had an agent and I could get my foot in editors’ doors. I’m happy to say that I continued to make a living as a freelance writer for another decade.
Besides my own, original, and personal suspense thrillers like Evil Hours, Face Blind, Sweetie’s Diamonds, and my couple of “rock ‘n’ roll mysteries,” A Hard Day’s Death and Dark Side of the Morgue, I’ve been fortunate to be tapped as a reliable author of media tie-in novelizations. Ironically, many of them deal with popular videogame franchises. As a founding member of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (www.iamtw.org), as well as an active member of both International Thriller Writers (www.thrillerwriters.org) and Mystery Writers of America (www.mysterywriters.org), landing novelization assignments is great bread-and-butter work. I’ve produced novels based on the Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Metal Gear Solid, Homefront, and Hitman franchises.
Currently, I’m focusing on my tie-in work and my new thriller series, The Black Stiletto. The plan is that the Stiletto will be a five-book epic, and the second installment, The Black Stiletto: Black & White, will be published May 30, 2012. The Black Stiletto is a feminist before her time, a costumed vigilante operating in the late 1950s and early 1960s; but it’s also a family drama taking place in the present between the legendary crime-fighter, who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s in a nursing home, and her grown son. The series has been optioned by Hollywood production company Lonetree Entertainment, and at the time of this writing the property is being shopped to studios.
Additionally, over the years I’ve become something of a film historian, and I currently teach a credit course in Film History at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. I also present a popular monthly live stage show with Chicago’s Daily Herald film critic, Dann Gire, in which we talk about a particular cinema genre or personality, show clips, relate anecdotes, and tell jokes. Every now and then I dip my toe back into the theatre world. A play I co-wrote was produced in Chicago during the first decade of the New Millennium.
But it’s all story-telling. Everything I do. As long as I can continue to find outlets for my creativity, I will tell stories, no matter what the medium. Did I open the right doors along my path of life? Who knows… but one thing is certain—as I approach my sixties, I can look back on that long and winding road that is my career and feel blessed.
RAYMOND BENSON is the author of 26 published books. From 1996 to 2002 he was the fourth—and first American—author to pen official James Bond novels. These have recently been collected in two anthologies, THE UNION TRILOGY and CHOICE OF WEAPONS. His latest series of thrillers began last year with THE BLACK STILETTO; the second part of the saga, THE BLACK STILETTO: BLACK & WHITE, will be published by Oceanview Publishing on May 30, 2012. Benson’s other suspense chillers include SWEETIE’S DIAMONDS, FACE BLIND, TORMENT, and EVIL HOURS. He is also a prolific writer of media tie-ins and has authored a number of novelizations of popular videogames, including METAL GEAR SOLID, TOM CLANCY’S SPLINTER CELL, HOMEFRONT, and HITMAN. Also a film historian, Benson teaches Film History at the College of DuPage and presents a monthly movie discussion show in Chicagoland with film critic Dann Gire.