Personnel File of Spy Fan And Author Andy Onyx – Recently DeClassified.
- My favourite spy author is….
Ian Fleming, for the overall cultural impact of his creation of the James Bond novels. All are massively progressive in their themes and characters. Sheer entertainment and escapism on the page, taking in luxurious living, travel, sexuality, violence, politics, style, and ethnicity. All the basis for EON to kick on into the 60s and beyond. As important as any other aspect of the 60s arts and counter-culture boom.
- My favourite spy novel is…
‘For Your Eye’s Only’ by Ian Fleming and within that ‘Quantum of Solace.’ Bond and his traits are fully established and in these short stories we see different aspects of his character. In Quantum he’s had a long night at a diplomatic dinner, in the company of boring people who have no idea what he does or has recently done for a living.
The last thing he needs is a nightcap with a spent old man. Bond then becomes the diplomat’s gripped confessor in a tale of wants, needs, appearances and disappointments. An impending nightmare of the heart that could occupy anyone’s life when the 00 days are over.
- My favourite non-fiction spy book is?
‘The New Dark Age-Technology and the End of the Future’ by James Bridle. The book has ideal accompaniment in the form of the Radio 4 ‘New Ways of Seeing’. Bridle sheds new light on how technology, frameworks and algorithms have become pro/antagonist in the espionage story that occupies all areas of our lives.
- What spy book are you currently reading?
‘How Spies Think’ by David Ormond.
- And what was the one before that?
‘The Mask of Dimitrios’ by Eric Ambler.
- Which spy book could you not finish and why?
Do I get a last request? ‘The Parsifal Mosiac’ by Robert Ludlum. It’s one part of a double doorstop St Michael publication with ‘The Aquitane Progression’. In short, the story and characters hadn’t grabbed me a third in and it all seemed very cliched. I’ve been informed since that may have been the point. In spite of this, one of Ludlum’s Bourne continuation authors, Eric van Lustbader, was the first novelist I read and was a great influence.
I like the “idea” of Robert Ludlum; his stature,interviews, titles etc., a lot more than the actual work. A bit like the band the Clash, save for ‘Rock the Casbah’ with Ranking Roger that is.
- Which spy book are you ashamed to admit you have not read?
‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’– Unlike a lot of Spybrarians I enjoy both the TV adaptation and the recent film on their individual merits, save for one or two details, but the story is a bit too familiar. I will do, one day. I fancy tackling ‘The Honorable Schoolboy’ first. Wish me luck.
- What is your favourite spy movie and why?
Most watched would have to be ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ and I know I’ll watch it again and again and again, like those other great classics. Maurice Binder’s titles combining the female silhouettes with Sir Rog cutting and running are an outstanding accompaniment to a very literal theme song. Then there are locations, Jaws, Ms. Bach, the sets, and THAT car. The first Bond I saw in the cinema, it has a lot to answer for.
- What is your favourite spy tv series and why?
I enjoyed re-watching the late 60s ITC series The Prisoner in HD recently. The ambiguity, set design, variance of themes and open interpretation were ideal for the early 90s when I saw it for the first time. Only a couple were hard to watch, generally, it was an incredible artistic achievement. This is spy-fi.
- Do you have a favourite song, track or piece of music from a spy movie or TV series.
A View to a Kill’- Duran Duran. A great partnership with Mr. Barry. Bassist John Taylor knows his spy-fi, then to now. It's a great piece: Roger’s tub-thumping, JT’s walking bassline, Nick Rhodes’ Fairlight synth bursts, and Andy Taylor’s guitar chops. Maybe Shirley Bassey should have sung it though…sorry Simon.
- You are hosting a spy dinner, you can invite anyone living or dead, a real-life spy, an author, a spy character, an actor from a spy movie/tv show – which 6 guests are you inviting?
Dame Stella Rimington, Jason King, Bird (from Len Deighton’s ‘An Expensive Place to Die’), Sarah Gainham, Christopher Steele, and Grace Jones.- I think/hope they’ve all got a good sense of humor, will mingle across the board and hopefully have hollow legs.
- And what music would you play during the dinner?
Lady Blackbird- ‘Black Acid Soul’, The Cinematic Orchestra- ‘Every Day,’ ‘Low, Heroes, Lodger’-David Bowie, Leonard Cohen-’I’m Your Man.’
- Which spy book or author do you feel is the most underrated?
‘The Man Who Was Thursday’ by G.K. Chesterton.
- Which non espionage author would you like to see writing a spy novel?
Jeffrey Archer- I jest.
It’s interesting to imagine what the two writers I referenced in Shamstone, James Joyce (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) and Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray), would have done with the genre, due to their deep sociological understanding of human nature, but of course, it’ll never happen.
My new one,‘Like Dolphins’, is being dubbed a Cold War ‘Trainspotting’, so I’ll plump for the great Irvine Welsh to take us somewhere new, troubling, and debauched in spy-lit with a soundtrack to match.
- Which spy character do you resemble in real life and why? (talking traits rather than looks.)
Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner (John Drake??). We have the same mug tolerance, employment record, level of conformity and taste in vehicles. Our other tastes vary.