Anthony Horowitz started writing because he wanted to be like Tintin. He has now travelled to all the places that Tintin has been – apart from the moon!
His Alex Rider series is one of the most popular children’s book series ever, and the first Alex Rider book, Stormbreaker, became a major Hollywood film. In 2003, Anthony won the Red House Children’s Book Award (voted for by children) for Skeleton Key.
He is also the author of the highly acclaimed Diamond Brothers detective stories, as well as the bestselling The Power of Five books, which were inspired by a simple thought. “Isn’t it more exciting to imagine these great battles with all their magic and mystery happening in the very high street where you live, just out of the corner of your eye?”
Anthony lives in central London with his wife Jill Green, a TV producer, and their sons Nicholas and Cassian. His whole family gets involved in his writing. Jill has produced several of Anthony’s scripts, including the drama serial Foyle’s War, which won the Lew Grade Audience Award in 2003. His son Cassian is already a seasoned actor, having appeared in three of his shows, and Nicholas, his oldest son, has helped Anthony to research the Alex Rider books by trying his hand at everything from scuba-diving to snowboarding and surfing!
In 2013, Anthony was awarded an OBE for services to literature..
Anthony’s awards include the Booksellers Association/Nielsen Author of the Year Award 2007, the Children’s Book of the Year for Ark Angel and the Red House Children’s Book Awards for Skeleton Key. In 2013 he was awarded an OBE for services to literature.
Anthony Horowitz answers your questions!
Ten Scholastic Book Club members posed their winning questions to Alex Rider author Anthony Horowitz. Here’s what he had to say!
Which football team do you support? Paul, Age 16
How do you think of such cool titles for your books? They make me want to read them even before I pick them up! Bryce, Age 12
Thanks Bryce. The titles take me ages to think up. But the secret is to bring powerful words together in an unusual way. For example SKELETON + KEY or STORM + BREAKER
Why did Alex Rider die in the 5th book and come alive in the 6th book? Fatimah, Age 11
He never died, Fatimah. He was just very badly hurt.
I love the Alex Rider series and love writing my own stories. I want to ask, when you were my age; were you a superstar at writing? Were you the best in your year? Holly, Age 9
I wasn’t a superstar, Holly – although English was my favourite subject. I just loved writing… so that’s what I did.
What is the strangest book you have ever read? Sollomon, Age 10
Great question, Sollomon! I think all the books by Philip Ardagh are pretty strange.
‘I think Alex is everything I wasn’t and would have wanted to be’. You said this in a recent Times interview. Our parents keep us on such a tight rein and school makes us reach for so many targets, how can we measure up to Alex Rider? How can I persuade my parents to release the Alex Rider in me? Tom, Age 13
This is a wonderful question, Tom. The answer of course is not to ask your parents in the first place, but don’t say I said so – and take care. Alex has adventures, but tries to avoid danger.
To all the young authors out there how has your life changed since becoming a well known, famous, unique author? Amy, Age 12
Not very much, actually. I still spend a lot of time on my own in a room, writing. But it is fun selling so many books and questions likes this certainly keep me cheerful.
What is your favourite Alex Rider book, and who is your most favourite character? Nathan, Age 10
Stormbreaker (because it was the FIRST). Alex (who else?)
Wat happened to the human skull you were given? Hannah, Age 8
I still have it. It sits by my desk and reminds me that life is short… I need to get a move on with that next chapter!
f you were to write a biography of yourself what would the title be called? Bethan, Age 11
I never will write one. But if I did it would be called FIVE MILLION WORDS (which is how many I’ve written!)
Interview with Anthony Horowitz!
1. What gave you the inspiration for Alex Rider and what makes you want to keep writing about him?
When I was younger I loved the early James Bond films. I thought Sean Connery was great but Roger Moore… well, to me he looked too old to be cool and I thought – what if James Bond was young? Every school I went into I asked children to give me names for the coolest hero and the name that came out top was Alex. Then I thought back to James Bond and wondered … if JB had a son who would be the mother? To my mind, it would have to be Honey Rider, so my hero became Alex Rider! Creating Alex was like meeting my very best friend for the first time and each book I write I have such fun meeting up with him again. I still have lots of ideas and the more I get to know him the more I want to write about him.
2. You’ve admitted you like thinking of ways of killing people off – is that what children like reading about?
Everyone enjoys a fanciful death. The enjoyment of the James Bond films is in proportion with the ingeniousness of the death – I haven’t stop smiling ever since Gold Finger got sucked through that aeroplane window!
3. Who do you like best – the goodies or the baddies?
The baddies are much more fun to create, but Alex is my favourite character, and he’s good! I really enjoyed creating the baddie in Snakehead – Winston Yu. He is a frail old man and I based the look of him on Andy Warhol, and gave him the best death ever! I’m thinking about writing a book entirely about Yassen, the baddie in the first four Alex Rider books. It will be about how he became an assassin when he was 14 and how it turned him into the man he was, with no redeeming qualities.
4. We know you take your research seriously, from going underground at Wimbledon for Skeleton Key to driving a crane for Point Blanc. What did you have to do for Snakehead?
It was great fun driving that crane – but it had all the workmen diving for cover! For Snakehead I explored an oil rig outside Aberdeen, ventured into Outback Australia, spent hours wandering around Bangkok – including some very dodgy areas along the river – and went kick boxing in Thailand.
5. Part of the appeal of the Alex Rider series is the gadgets – what’s your favourite? What’s your favourite boys’ toy in real life?
My favourite gadget is the exploding bubble gum in Skeleton Key, I loved its name: Bubble 07! I also rather like the insect lotion in Archangel which attracts insects rather than repelling them. I have to say I’m not very fond of all these modern technological gadgets, my favourite things are usually antiquated and made of wood. For inspiration for Alex Rider’s gadgets I have to sneak into my sons’ bedrooms and see what they’ve got lying around.
6. You’ve said that you hated your boarding school and you’ve had your revenge on some of your teachers by turning them into fictional characters. How did your school days shape you? If you had to go back to school today what would you want it to be like?
My school days were traumatic and unpleasant. At school, books were my lifeline and writing stories was my escape. I’ve been writing ever since, so perhaps I should be grateful to my boarding school, Orley Farm – but I’m not. If I was to go back to school today I’d like it to be like my son’s school: with girls and no beatings or abuse by teachers and where I wouldn’t have to live in fear.
7. Now that Alex is star of the screen do you think we need to read the books?
Well, so far there’s only one film and there are seven books! Films can never excite you or move you in the way that books can. When you’re reading the book it’s like you’re the one making the film, and that’s much more fun.
8. The Power of Five series contains horror. Why do you think we like reading things that scare us? Does anything scare you?
Fear can be a fun emotion if you know that you’re safe, so reading horror in a book is just a tingling, it’s not real fear. The thought of dying when I’m in the middle of writing a book is what scares me!
9. The Diamond Brothers series features the useless dim Tim and bright spark younger brother Nick. There is lots of humour in these books – is this where you have the most fun?
I do love creating lots of crazy new jokes for these books, and often embarrass myself by laughing out loud in public when I’m thinking them up. They are great fun to revisit.
5 things you didn’t know about Anthony Horowitz
He has travelled to all the places in the Tintin books (except the moon).
He takes research for his books very seriously. He has walked across the Andes and visited the Forbidden City in Hong Kong. For Point Blanc, he climbed and operated a 150m crane opposite the Houses of Parliament.
He got married in Hong Kong. He didn’t understand the ceremony because it was in Chinese.
He spent a year working as a cowboy in Australia. This was for fun – not for a book.
His passion is scuba-diving. He has dived all over the world, including Sipadan in the South China Sea, where
he saw hammerhead sharks.