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Why Anthony Horowitz Writes

Scholastic News gets the scoop from the creator of the Alex Rider series

By Michael Geheren | February 15 , 2008
Kid Reporter Michael Geheren with author Anthony Horowitz at a book signing in Downers Grove, Illinois, in January 2008. (Photo courtesy Michael Geheren)
Kid Reporter Michael Geheren with author Anthony Horowitz at a book signing in Downers Grove, Illinois, in January 2008. (Photo courtesy Michael Geheren)

"Nothing is more potent than the enthusiasm of young people," said Anthony Horowitz at a book signing recently at the Tivoli Theater in Downers Grove, Illinois. The British author recently visited Downers Grove as part of an international tour to promote his New York Times bestseller Snakehead.

At the theater, kids lined up early to buy the latest addition to Horowitz's Alex Rider series and have it signed by the author.

"It is a great pleasure and also a privilege to meet the kids," Horowitz told Scholastic News in an interview before his appearance.

Perhaps he enjoys being around kids and writing for kids because of his own miserable childhood. His wealthy and mysterious father died after hiding the family fortune. No one ever knew what kind of work his father did, and the money was never found. Horowitz was sent to a boarding school in England when he was 8 years old. The school used humiliation and hitting kids with a lash for discipline.

Horowitz says his past is what led him to his present career of writing adventure stories for kids. He spent much of his childhood reading and inventing stories as a means of escaping reality. His first book was published when he was 22.

Super Spy

His career took off after his invention of Alex Rider, a 14-year-old spy who was unknowingly trained by his father to be a member of MI6, the British equivalent of the CIA. Horowitz says he imagined a character similar to James Bond, but as a teenager.

Five years after he first got the idea for the young spy, Stormbreaker, the first book in the Alex Rider series, was published. It now takes him seven months to write a new book. He has had seven books published so far.

Stormbreaker is Horowitz's personal favorite, he says, because it led him to his current life and his ability to travel the world. It also led to a major motion picture, which was released in 2006.

When asked about the difference between the book and the movie, Horowitz said he loved the movie, "but of course the book was better!" As an avid reader, he explained that you never really have to go to the movies, you just need to visualize as you read.

Young Inspiration

The 51-year-old author also explained that he rarely gets writer's block. "I'm always working on four different projects like Stormbreaker," he said. And if he does hit a bump, he turns to his kids to help him out. He credits his two sons for inspiration in creating the many spy gadgets in his novels.

"I look into my kids' rooms and see what they are playing with," he told Scholastic News. Some of his imagined gadgets include a CD player that cuts things and a zit cream that can melt metal.

Horowitz's work is not limited to his novels for young people. He also writes screenplays and TV scripts. Although he doesn't plan on any more Alex Rider movies, he is always looking for the next big project.

"If anyone reading your article has $35 million they are willing to invest, please get in touch," he said.
When he's not writing, he likes to go out to the movies, walk his dog, swim, or visit friends.

The Scoop on Alex Rider

During the interview, Scholastic News asked questions submitted by readers on the Scholastic News Online Web site. The most often asked question was whether Horowitz planned on writing any more Alex Rider books. The author gave Scholastic News the exclusive on that one!

"There will be two more, maybe three, then I will stop," he said. "The whole point of the books is to not go on, and when I run out of ideas there is no reason to continue."

That will be unwelcome news to the hundreds of fans who came to meet him and watch the movie Stormbreaker with him in Downers Grove.

Keeping that bit of information to himself, Horowitz instead talked to his fans about writing.

"If you want to become a writer, believe in yourself, never give up, and don't let anyone tell you can't do it," he said. "Every writer gets rejection letters, and the only difference between a successful and an unsuccessful writer is that the unsuccessful writer gives up. Stick with it and believe in yourself, and you will succeed."

Just like Anthony Horowitz and just like Alex Rider!


Do you need help picking out what book to read next? Let Scholastic News Online be your guide! Find out what Kid Reporters are saying about all the latest books by reading their book reviews in this special report.


About the Author

Michael Geheren is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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