John Gardner, one of the authors of the well-known James Bond stories, was born in Northumberland, England on November 20, 1926. He attended Cambridge University and was a member of the Royal Marines. He became a journalist and a critic after leaving the service. In 1964, Gardner began his novelist career with The Liquidator, in which he created the character Boysie Oakes who inadvertently is mistaken to be a tough, pitiless man of action and is thereupon recruited into a British spy agency. In fact, Oakes was a devout coward who was terrified of violence, suffered from airsickness and was afraid of heights In the 1970's, he wrote a series of novels known as the Moriarty Journals, which brought back Professor Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes' nemesis. In the 1980's, the holders of the James Bond copyright commissioned him to begin a new series with 007. The first Bond novel written by Gardner was "License Renewed", which was a success. From that point on, Gardner produced a new Bond novel every year, with the exception of 1985, until he retired from the series in 1996. The Bond titles that followed include "For Special Services", "Icebreaker", "Role of Honour", "Nobody Lives Forever", "No Deals, Mr. Bond", "Scorpius", "Win, Lose, or Die", "Brokenclaw", "Death is Forever", "Seafire", and "Cold" (aka Cold Fall). John Gardner took a break from writing that lasted for five years, following the death of his wife, but after battling his illness he returned to print in 2000 with a new novel, Day of Absolution. Gardner also began a series of books with a new character, Suzie Mountford, a 1930s police detective. The Crime Writers' Association short-listed The Liquidator, The Dancing Dodo, The Nostradamus Traitor, and The Garden of Weapons for their annual Gold Dagger award.
William Gass was born in Fargo, North Dakota on July 30, 1924. During World War II, he served as an Ensign in the Navy. He received an A.B. in philosophy from Kenyon College in 1947 and a PhD in philosophy from Cornell University in 1954. He taught at several universities including The College of Wooster, Purdue University, and Washington University in St. Louis. He has written novels, collections of short stories, a collection of novellas, and collections of criticism. His novels include Omensetter's Luck, Middle C, and The Tunnel, which received the American Book Award. His collections of criticism include A Temple of Texts, which won the 2007 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism and Habitations of the Word, Finding a Form, and Tests of Time, which all won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.