We are delighted to invite Peter Vollmer in from the cold to discuss this latest spy thriller based upon a ‘lost’ manuscript for a James Bond continuation novel by Geoffrey Jenkins.
How did you come to write Per Fine Ounce?
Eventually, I found an agent in the US who also happened to be the agent of the estate of the late Geoffrey Jenkins. Jenkins was a well-known author who had written ‘A Twist of Sand’, which became a bestseller and he followed this with a host of other books. I believe he sold over 140 million copies in total. The agent for the estate of the late Geoffrey Jenkins was looking for an author to write continuation novels featuring the character Geoffrey Peace, the chief protagonist in a few of Jenkins’ novels.
I should mention here that Ian Fleming and Geoffrey Jenkins were close friends and after Fleming’s death, Jenkins was approached by those who published the Bond books to write a Bond story. He wrote ‘Per Fine Ounce’, a novel featuring James Bond as the main protagonist.
The novel was rejected and mysteriously, the manuscript disappeared. It is said that there were no other copies except for a few corrected pages. There are some interesting articles on the web regarding this.
My agent in the US had been looking for an author/ghost-writer to write continuation novels featuring the character Geoffrey Peace as the protagonist. They sent me a synopsis of the novel ‘Per Fine Ounce’ that Jenkins had written. I wrote back telling my agent that I couldn’t write a novel similar in content to Jenkins due to copyright issues but submitted my own synopsis for another book, which had no similarity with Jenkins’ ‘Per Fine Ounce’, in the hope to write another South African spy thriller altogether, ie. my version of Per Fine Ounce, but without reference to Bond or any 007 Bond characters.
How much of the original Geoffrey Jenkins manuscript were you privy to and did this serve as a launchpad?
I had access to excerpts to the original version of Per Fine Ounce which was provided to us by David Jenkins, the son of Geoffrey Jenkins, with his consent to write another South Africa thriller using Commander Geoffrey Peace as the main character, and using the same title Per Fine Ounce. David kindly gave us permission to include previously unpublished extracts from the original Bond novel as a front piece for my novel.
How much of an influence was Geoffrey Jenkins and Ian Fleming’s work on your book?
Ian Fleming’s stories probably had a greater influence on me than those of Geoffrey Jenkins, although I’ve always considered Jenkins to be a unique storyteller. When writing “Per Fine Ounce”, I was trying to retain the suspense and emulate the cavalier nature of Fleming’s James Bond.
In addition, Jeffrey Deaver’s version of James Bond had just been released entitled ‘Carte Blanche’ with much fanfare in London. Deaver’s Bond is a modern-day man, who is into the latest gadgetry – mobile phones, laptops etc. and depicts a Bond that I find difficult to associate with. I much prefer the adventures, attitude and antics of the earlier Bond.
Who are some of your other favourite spy writers?
I’ve read a broad spectrum of books with the occasional spy story between. However, I do like John le Carre, Ian Fleming, Len Deighton, Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, James Grady and Nelson DeMille to name a few.
Finally, I have completed four other books to date, which I hope will soon be published. These are South African adventure stories that range from blood diamonds, adventures at sea off the Namibian coast, breaking the embargo imposed on Rhodesia by the UN, and a family saga centred around a family member involved in The Spanish Civil War, WW2, Russian POW camp, and a return to normal life and adventure thereafter.
Peter Vollmer’s books of high adventure and suspense are a natural reflection of their author. Peter is the grandson of German colonists who settled in the German colony of South-West Africa in the late 19th century. His father was born in 1910 but was given an English education and in his twenties, became a naturalized South African. However, at the time of the outbreak of WW2, the brothers and sisters of his mother and father lived in Germany and were studying at university. Soon after the war began, they were conscripted and caught up in the conflict, serving in the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe. Fortunately, they survived the war and returned to South West Africa a few years after the war ended.
After living and studying in Namibia, France and England, Peter returned to his native South Africa. His education started in English schools with my father and mother only speaking English at home.
He was involved in assisting then Rhodesia when it declared UDI and assisted in breaking the embargo set by the United Nations. He is fluent in German, English and Afrikaans. Peter has family who own a farm on the fringe of the Namib Desert and the Kakaoveld.
All of Peter’s novels take place in South Africa. He currently resides in Johannesburg with his wife and has three children and three grandchildren.
The Lost Bond Novel – ‘Per Fine Ounce’ by Geoffrey Jenkins