Benson in Milan, December 14, 2005
|Born||September 6, 1955|
Midland, Texas, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Texas at Austin|
|Genre||Spy fiction, suspense thriller|
Raymond Benson (born September 6, 1955) is an American author best known for being the author of the James Bond novels from 1997 to 2003. Benson was born in Midland, Texas and graduated from Permian High School in Odessa in 1973. In primary school Benson took an interest in the piano which would later in his life develop into an interest in composing music, mostly for theatrical productions. Benson also took part in drama at school and became the vice president of his high school's drama department, an interest that he would later pursue by directing stage productions in New York City after attending and receiving a degree in Drama Production--Directing from the University of Texas at Austin. Other hobbies include film history and criticism, writing, and designing computer games.
In 1984, Benson wrote The James Bond Bedside Companion, a book dedicated to Ian Fleming, the official novels, and the films. The book was updated in 1988 and has since been re-released digitally without further updating. It was nominated for an Edgar Award by Mystery Writers of America in the Best Biographical/Critical Work category.
In 1985, he worked as a designer and writer on the computer game James Bond 007: A View to a Kill. He followed this in 1986 with work on a computer game version of Goldfinger and co-authoring the You Only Live Twice II module of the popular role-playing game James Bond 007.
In 1996, John Gardner resigned from writing Bond books. Glidrose Publications promptly chose Benson to replace him. As a James Bond novelist, Raymond Benson was initially controversial for being American, and for ignoring much of the continuity established by Gardner. The author did much to placate these concerns, however, and promptly embarked on regular tours to promote his novels in the UK, as well as occasional trips to mainland Europe. Several signing sessions were held at the offices of his UK publisher Hodder & Stoughton, and at London booksellers Murder One and James Bond specialists Adrian Harrington Ltd. In total, Benson wrote six James Bond novels, three novelizations, and three short stories. He was the first Bond author since Ian Fleming to write short stories (published in Playboy and TV Guide magazines and collected in anthologies published in 2008 and 2010).
Benson's novel The Man with the Red Tattoo inspired the government of Japan's Kagawa Prefecture in 2005 to erect a museum (the "007 Man with the Red Tattoo Museum", dedicated to the book) and honor Benson with the title of Goodwill Ambassador.
In 2008 High Time to Kill, Doubleshot, Never Dream of Dying and his 1997 short story "Blast from the Past" were grouped and released as an omnibus called The Union Trilogy: Three 007 Novels. A second anthology entitled Choice of Weapons was published in 2010 and contained Zero Minus Ten, The Facts of Death, The Man with the Red Tattoo, and the short stories "Midsummer Night's Doom" and "Live at Five".
In April 2014, Benson and former Bond author Jeffery Deaver collaborated--the first such collaboration between former Bond continuation authors--as co-editors of Ice Cold--Tales of Intrigue from the Cold War, an anthology sponsored by Mystery Writers of America containing short stories about the Cold War.
Since authoring Bond novels, Benson has had a number of books published, including original suspense novels Face Blind (2003), Evil Hours (2004), and Sweetie's Diamonds (2006) as well as the non-fiction work The Pocket Essential Guide to Jethro Tull (Jethro Tull biography) (2002).
In 2004, Benson began writing the first of two books based on the acclaimed video game series, Splinter Cell, although both are credited to the pseudonym, David Michaels. Further titles in the Splinter Cell series have also been credited to David Michaels, but were not authored by Benson. The first book, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell was published in 2004 followed by Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Operation Barracuda in 2005.
In 2008, Benson wrote A Hard Day's Death about a private investigator who looks into the death of a rock star. The book spawned a second novel in 2009 called Dark Side of the Morgue, which was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best Paperback Original PI Novel by the Private Eye Writers of America. The two novels plus a short story, "On the Threshold of a Death", were collected in 2011 as an e-book anthology, The Rock 'n' Roll Detective's Greatest Hits.
Benson also wrote the novelization of the video game Metal Gear Solid in 2008 and followed it in 2009 with a novelization of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. His entry in the Gabriel Hunt pulp adventure series, Hunt Through Napoleon's Web, appeared as an e-book in 2010 and was published in print in 2011.
Further video game novelizations continued in 2011, when Benson co-authored Homefront--the Voice of Freedom with John Milius, as a prequel to the THQ videogame Homefront. 2012 saw the announcement that Benson would also write Hitman: Damnation, a prequel to the Square Enix videogame Hitman: Absolution.
Benson's first novel in a series of "women's action/adventure thrillers," The Black Stiletto, was published in September 2011.[needs update] The July 2011 issue of Library Journal described the book as a "mashup of the work of Gloria Steinem, Ian Fleming, and Mario Puzo, all under the editorship of Stan Lee." In anticipation of the book's publication, Benson released a free downloadable e-book short story, "The Black Stiletto's Autograph". The second book in the series, The Black Stiletto: Black & White, was published on May 30, 2012. The Black Stiletto: Stars & Stripes, was published in 2013, and The Black Stiletto: Secrets & Lies was published in early 2014. The fifth and final book of the saga, The Black Stiletto: Endings & Beginnings, was published in November 2014.
Raymond Benson also teaches college classes in film history and writes a series of classic film reviews for the publication Cinema Retro. In 2007, he teamed up with Chicago Daily Herald film critic Dann Gire to present Dann & Raymond's Movie Club, a popular live program held at Chicago suburban libraries. Gire and Benson present evenings of various cinema history topics, show clips, relate anecdotes and trivia, and tell jokes.