Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Remembering Peter O’Donnell & Modesty Blaise

I was going to blog about something completely different today, but I heard that Peter O’Donnell had died and it made me think about Modesty Blaise. I grew up reading Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise books, and I was so enamoured with her character that I actually wanted to BE Modesty. Modesty was a beautiful, sophisticated, intelligent, powerful, ex-criminal, black-clad, secret service agent. What’s not to love? Okay, she was pretty much a female James Bond, so that was quite a high and unattainable aspiration on my part. ;-) However, the desire to read and write heroines who are adventurous, sexy and independent was not such a pipe dream, and it stuck with me.

In the obituary in the UK Times online it states:

“Modesty Blaise was, perhaps, not notably modest. Indeed, one of her favourite ploys, when the villains came to her apartment or hotel room to “get” her, as they always did, was to answer the door completely naked and use the precious moment granted to her by their involuntary open-mouthed admiration of her undraped splendours to knock them all cold.”

That is so true! It was a big part of what I loved about the character. Even though she was independent and intelligent she was prepared to use her looks and her sexuality as a weapon when needs be. Very sexy attitude. The stories were action packed, fun, clever and witty. Great reads.

In one of my own (immodest) creations, the hero is reminded of Modesty Blaise whenever he looks at the heroine, and he thinks about the Modesty Blaise books that used to stand on his bedside table as a teenager. That was a little homage of mine. ;-)

When I heard about Peter O’Donnell’s death it made me want to go back and read the books again, and think about the influence they had over my burgeoning sexuality and my growing desire to write strong heroines of my own. Apparently O’Donnell also used to write Gothic and Victorian romances under the name Madeleine Brent. According to the obituary, those books feature strong heroines as well. I had no idea, and I will definitely be on the lookout for those novels as well

So today I will be mostly thinking about book covers like these, and paying tribute to a great writer who is sadly gone.


Jennifer Lynne said...

I also grew up reading Modesty Blaise and wanting to be exactly like her. In a recent conversation with my kids about parachuting, I told them about the Modesty books and how Willie saved himself once after being thrown out of a plane by landing in the snow at an angle. Remember that one? The kids think I'm nuts!

Saskia Walker said...

Hey Jennifer! lol! Yes, indeed. I can just picture their faces. :)

Perhaps we should also thank Peter O'Donnell for stretching our imaginations. :)