Sunday, 18 November 2018

Alex was author’s big break

Alex was author’s big break

Anthony Horowitz
Kenton Theatre

THERE were lots of excited people in the audience at the Kenton Theatre on Wednesday night, awaiting the arrival of Antony Horowitz. And they were not disappointed — it was a very interesting and entertaining evening.

The author was in conversation with James Scudamore, a novelist himself and who happens to be married to Ian Fleming’s great niece.

Anthony, who hates to be called “Tony” — which he told us quite early on — had a very unhappy childhood. He accepted it was a wealthy and privileged childhood, but none the less a very unhappy one.

He admitted to having “strange parents” who packed him off to boarding school at the age of eight. He was very unhappy there and hated every minute of it.

The only time he felt safe was in the library where he spent quite a lot of time and this is where his love of books comes from.

The only thing he enjoyed at boarding school was making up and telling stories and he would be the main storyteller in his dormitory. He found that he was very good at it.

His first love in life was Tintin — he loved the stories and especially the ones about “secret passageways”. Anthony could often be found “tapping the walls” of various stately homes he was taken to looking for more of the same. He said that all the books he loved as a child he has been lucky enough to work on as an adult.

Anthony was a very good raconteur. He was very amusing and often had the audience laughing. He was witty and charming. There were many younger people in the audience who were obviously Alex Rider fans and they asked lots of good questions at the end.

We were lucky enough to be in the front row and it was very noticeable how animated he was — he gestured a lot with his hands, he was very expressive.

He did say at one point that writing books shouldn’t be seen as a “job” — it should always be a passion. “It is my life,” he said.

He then continued to tell us that he was “a perfectionist” and “always meticulous” in his planning. He seemed very passionate about his subject.

Anthony Horowitz is an extremely prolific writer — he describes himself as a “continuation novelist” and he was asked by the Fleming estate to write a James Bond novel, which he did in 2015, following up with a second in May this year called Forever and a Day.

He went on to say that the Bond films were a huge part of his life and escapism from an unhappy childhood.

He was also asked by the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle to write a couple of Sherlock Holmes novels, which he did. Anthony spoke fondly of his time writing for the TV series Foyle’s War — he gave a good impression of Michael Kitchen’s acting. He also mentioned how many “murders” he had written in Midsomer Murders! The audience loved his anecdotes.

The author admitted it was really the Alex Rider novels and the film Stormbreaker that made him a household name.

At the end, he was happy to sign books, chat and have photographs taken — he seems a genuinely nice chap! A good evening was had by all.

Nicola Liddon-Horncastle

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