November 14, 2014
William Boyd writes a “homage” to the Land Rover
by Zeljka Marosevic
Earlier this month, we reported that the artificial sweetener Sweet’N Low had paid $1.3 million for product placement in an ebook called Find Me I’m Yours. Today in corporate sponsorship news, book news and vehicle news, we announce that the novelist William Boyd’s new story The Vanishing Game was commissioned by Land Rover and features the 4×4 prominently.
According to The Guardian, Boyd considers the story “almost an act of homage” to the vehicle.
The author was reportedly paid a low six-figure sum for the commission but Boyd has been adamant that he did the project for love, not money. The Guardian writes:
The novelist added that being approached by the car manufacturer was “immensely appealing”, because the vehicles have featured “prominently” in his life, ever since he was a child, “to an almost mythic degree”. He added that the reported fee was also somewhat mythic – “I don’t know where they got that figure from”.
It’s clear that Land Rover have really lucked out. In Boyd they have found maybe their biggest fan. It’s likely they probably didn’t even need to pay him. Although the company specified that they just wanted a nice adventure story in which the car might be mentioned, Boyd chose to make the car “an inherent presence in the story, something always there – implicit, strong, solid, reliable, ready to function – very like the part it plays in my memory”.
Boyd then added—without prompt or brute force—“Welcome to an icon of motor vehicle history.”
Even though Boyd has enjoyed an illustrious career that includes being named a Granta Best Young British Novelist in 1983, winning numerous prizes including the Costa Book Award and recently writing a new James Bond novel, it seems nothing compares to this new commission. To him, it’s simple: “A Land Rover is part of the mental geography of almost every British person, I believe,” he said, even though this is so very not true.
Asked whether he was concerned that the commission might damage his reputation, Boyd was resolute that he didn’t care:
I have no idea how I’ll be viewed – and I don’t really care, to be honest. It was a most intriguing job to be asked to do – I would recommend it to any novelist, if they got the chance.
In the case of the Land Rover, no author could do it better than Boyd.
Zeljka Marosevic is the former managing director of Melville House UK.