An Interview with Anthony Horowitz

  • Grades: 6–8, 9–12

Anthony Horowitz
Anthony Horowitz (Photo: Liam Daniels)

Scope spoke with best-selling author Anthony Horowitz about his book Stormbreaker and the soon-to-be-released film version, in theaters October 6. Here’s what he had to say!

SCOPE: What kind of things do you write?

ANTHONY HOROWITZ: I’ve been writing books, broadly for young people: adventure stories, murder mystery stories, and of course spy stories, comical stories, and history stories. I’ve also been balancing a fairly busy television career, writing murder-mysteries. And I’ve written films. Stormbreaker is my third feature film, and I’ve even dipped my toe into the water of live theater.

SCOPE: When did you start writing and at what point did you know you would become a professional writer?

AH: I started writing and knew I would be a professional writer at about the same time, when I was 8 or 9 years old. I have vivid memories of asking my father for a typewriter for my 8th birthday, this of course being long before computers came into our lives. I think it was because I was an underachiever at school. I was not a very physically fit boy, nor was I a very intelligent or a hardworking one and I found escape in books and telling stories. And I was quite certain, from my earliest memory, that I would be a professional writer and nothing but.

SCOPE: When did you have your first success as a writer?

AH: I suppose my first success was getting published at a very early age. I was 22 when my first book was accepted for publication, a children’s book called Enter Frederick K. Bower. Curiously, it was bought by Disney. And so I was 22 and suddenly I had the world at my feet. And as these things go, Disney didn’t make my first movie, but I was in Hollywood at age 22 or 23, writing my first screenplay.

SCOPE: What inspired you to begin writing the Alex Rider Series?

AH: When I was growing up, the James Bond films were a very big part of my life. I loved them passionately. And they had a very big impact on me. Alex Rider came about because, later in life, I began to feel that the Bond films had lost their magic. They didn’t appeal to me anymore. And I think one of the reasons was that Bond was just too old. And that led me to wonder if it would be possible to reinvent those early films as seen through a 14-year-old. In other words, to go back to myself as a 14-year-old, seeing those films, and start again. And that was the inspiration.

SCOPE: But aren’t there some big differences between James Bond and Alex Rider?

AH: Absolutely. Although I say he was inspired by Bond, as soon as I had the idea, my aim was make him as different from Bond as I possibly could. The only real similarity between Alex Rider and the films are the gadgets. The thing about Alex is, of course, he is not a patriot. He has no interest in serving his country. He doesn’t come from me as a kid. He certainly doesn’t come from James Bond. He’s very much a modern teenager of this generation.

SCOPE: What drives the plot of the Rider Series?

AH: Alex has a destiny. Alex is somebody who has been created by forces greater than himself, and these forces are swirling around him, always leading him forward. I think that it was very much a part of the early Bond films.

SCOPE: What creates suspense in your work?

AH: I am very aware of the locomotive of the book. And the locomotive is the story, which is thundering down the railway line at 100 miles an hour and heading for the tunnel or the cliff or whatever it is at the other end, and nothing can slow down that locomotive. So economy and speed and pace are a large part of it. You’re never given a chance to say we’re going to get off here, because you’re always waiting to see what will happen next.

SCOPE: You seem to have a knack for putting Alex in hairy situations.

AH: Danger is part of suspense. Alex is in permanent and varied and unusual danger.

 



YOUR TURN

Scope asked Horowitz to come up with a writing exercise for our readers. Here is one of his favorites! Follow these steps and turn an ordinary situation into suspenseful adventure!

STEP 1: Write a paragraph describing the room where you are now sitting.

STEP 2: Now rewrite your paragraph, but make the room dangerous. Be imaginative! Try to avoid easy choices, like a ticking bomb or a scorpion on the shelf.

STEP 3: Now write another paragraph describing how you get out of the room without being harmed.

STEP 4: Take your two paragraphs and flesh them out in a two-page action-adventure story!

  • Subjects:
    Creative Writing, Narrative Writing, Writing Process
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