Ipswich author pens classic James Bond 'prequel' novel
WHEN he was a lad Roy Henderson delivered milk to Mr and Mrs Connery in Edinburgh, the parents of Sean Connery, the original, and some would say, best James Bond in film.
So it perhaps comes as no surprise that the Ipswich author has penned a James Bond novel called Balaklava... so publishers take note.
Mr Henderson, 64, explained his first connection of sorts to Bond as a young milkman.
"I came to Ipswich when I was about 14 but when I was a boy I used to stay at my grandparents' house in Edinburgh and I'd help the milkman deliver the milk," he said.
"He had a horse and cart with a company named Cuthbert's and we delivered milk to Mr and Mrs Connery.
"I saw them once... but I never saw Sean.
"That would have been around when Goldfinger came out.
"I fell in love with Bond ever since I saw my first movie."
To add an extra dimension to the real-life connection between Mr Henderson and 007, Connery once worked for St Cuthbert's Co-op Association himself.
"Connery went to see them under his own steam and asked for a job and in the end he drove one of these (horse and carts) and delivered a lot of milk to a lot of people in Edinburgh," he said.
"He was the same age, at nine, as what I was at nine and 10 when I did it."
Mr Henderson was inspired to write his novel due to his interest in Bond and history.
He put pen to paper after watching a Bond film he felt didn't cut it.
"When Skyfall came out I was a bit p***** off because it wasn't a real Bond movie," he said.
"So I went home and started writing a Bond novel.
"I have finished the whole novel and it has about 46,500 words."
In the novel, the readers catch up with Bond before his 007 status when he was lieutenant in the navy in charge of the Royal Marine commandos.
His girlfriend is murdered and he chases the person who he believes is the culprit through Europe, before joining MI6.
A rogue Russian villain figures in the book, a crook who is on a quest to start a third world war using atomic submarines for nefarious purposes.
The novel is fiction and covers the time frame between 1944 and 1955, but much of it is based on fact
"The attack by the Russians on Odessa, to take it back from the Germans and Polish, is dinky di," Mr Henderson said.
"The submarine base at Balaklava is real.
"It is now opened up by the Russians, but it was a secret submarine base.
"In my novel, the rogue Russian agent was put in charge of building a tunnel, but at the same time he built a second duplicate tunnel which no-one knew anything about except him, and that is where his submarines went.
"The idea behind the bad guy is that his submarines go out and attack British, Russian and American ships to create a third world war after it had been building up for the 10 years after the war.
"Another factual thing is that Bond sets up orphanages and brings back British children who were sent overseas to Africa, Australia and Canada.
"He rescues the children and brings them back, so there is a fictitious aspect amid a factual story."
Mr Henderson, who lives in Newtown, has an interest in all things Bond, including the Ipswich connection to the secret agent of fiction.
Sidney Cotton, a former spy, grew up at Hidden Vale Homestead in Ipswich before forging a remarkable career which included work as an intelligence agent during the Second World War.
Cotton met author of the Bond books, Ian Fleming, and became a friend.
Scholars suggest that Bond is an amalgam of characters Fleming encountered in his life, including Cotton.
Cotton features in the novel Balaklava.
"He flew a plane from a battleship in the Black Sea and back to London, and there was a conversation struck up between him and one of the heroes in the book," Mr Henderson said.
"In reality, Cotton built his own camera and mounted it in a specially built Spitfire and flew over Germany taking pictures during the war.
"There was a film made about how Cotton flew the last plane out of Berlin in the war.
"The reference to Cotton takes up about three pages of the novel."
Mr Henderson does have an actor in mind to play Bond if his novel is ever made into a screenplay, or an actor of sorts anyway.
"I'd like Prince Harry to play Bond," he grinned.
As for Bond girls in the novel and whether there are any... you know the answer.
"This is James Bond we are talking about," he quipped.
"There are a few attractive women but nothing sordid. It is all clean.
"Once the door closes, you don't read about it anymore. It is left up to your imagination."