5 Things We Learned About Anthony Horowitz from Authors Live

1.  Books and screenwriting: sentences make worlds.

'When I write a book, I control the entire world. What I say, goes. I don’t have to worry about what I’m doing, either. I can have buildings exploding, I can have car chases in the middle of Glasgow. I can’t do that on television or in film as that costs money. It’s expensive. TV and film are collaboration. On Stormbreaker, I was working with 150 people and they were all making decisions and doing things and it might not necessarily be what I wanted but that’s the filming process. I love writing for TV and film and I love writing books but I always say that my most valuable work is my books because your relationship with a book is very different from your relationship with a film or TV. 

'You’re taking the little black and white dots on page, that are letters, putting those together to make words. Words make sentences and sentences make worlds.'

'A film or television is a screen, it’s a piece of glass, it’s hard and you can’t get inside it. Now, a book, you can open that up like a door and it’s your energy, your thinking and your creativity that makes a book come to life. All I do is write the words. It’s you, the young readers, who actually create a fantastic film, you build the landscape; you imagine what Alex Rider looks like. People see reading as a leisure pursuit but actually I believe that reading is probably the most creative thing that you can do. It is equal to writing because you are creating a whole world.'

2. A chip off the old writer's block.

'Writer’s block is something that I’ve never had, the reason for which is quite simple: I’m always working on three or more things - a book, film, screenplay, journalism and if I find that the ideas aren’t coming on one of them I just switch to another and avoid the writer’s block. If I don’t feel like writing - and that can happen - I never stare at a blank sheet of paper. I get out, I go for a walk, I go to the cinema, museum, art gallery and enjoy myself and when I come back, I want to write.'

3. Off with their heads!

'I do find it difficult to kill off characters. I did kill off quite a lot of characters in the Alex Rider books and quite a lot of readers got upset about it! By and large, I do have the rule that I never kill off children in my books. I have two sons and the idea of losing them is too horrible, so I wouldn’t do that. The people I do love killing are… the villains! One of the things that I really enjoy is thinking up a really good villain and then thinking of a really good way of getting rid of them. I think death in books should have a smile with it.'

4.  Acting as teacher?

'Oh dear, another job if I wasn't a writer? I’m not really good at anything. The only thing I’m good at is writing. If writing wasn’t possible, I’d quite like to be an actor because that would be quite funny, but also I’d actually quite like to be a teacher because what I’ve been doing in my life already as a writer, is sharing my enthusiasm for books and reading. I could do that as a teacher too. I could share other people’s writing. I probably wouldn’t be a very good teacher as I don’t have much patience!'

5.  Anthony loves an adventure story... 

'I wasn’t a clever kid. As a child, the first books I loved were the Tintin books because I wasn’t really up to reading a full book with too many words and these were perfect and eventually, down the line, I got to work on the Tintin films and that was exciting! I then read and loved the Willard Price Adventure series and then I moved on to Ian Fleming and James Bond. By the time I was 11 or 12 years old, I discovered that I really loved reading books.'


Did you miss the live broadcast? Don't worry, you can catch it and all previous Authors Live events here.