I really cannot think of the right words to describe how happy and honoured I am feeling right now to be hosting a Q&A with the legend that is Anthony Horowitz. I have been reading Anthony's books for as long as I have been teaching (and that feels like a lifetime sometimes), and when I started The Book Zone I never dreamed that the likes of Anthony Horowitz and Rick Riordan would be answering questions that I had sent them. Oblivion, the final book in The Power of Five series, was released yesterday and that's about all I think I need to say as an introduction:
Hello Mr Horowitz. Welcome to The Book Zone (For Boys) and thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for us. Congratulations on the publication of Oblivion – I know there are many, many people who have been waiting for this final instalment to The Power of Five series, and having read it, I thought it was a fantastic finale to the series.
Many readers of The Book Zone will not know that The Power of Five series first started back in 1983 as the Pentagram series. How does it feel to be saying goodbye to characters that you created so many years ago?
It's a relief! First of all I wrote the series a long time ago and then I completely re-wrote it. But the fifth and final book took ages to come and I rather fear there are children who have grown up waiting for it. I always knew OBLIVION would be a large, epic and (for me but hopefully not for the reader) an exhausting one. I'm just delighted it’s over and it’s worked out so well.
I read somewhere that you feel Oblivion to be the best book you have written. What is it about Oblivion that makes it so special for you?
Partly, it’s the characters. I think Pedro, the Peruvian street urchin, and Scott, the American twin who sells out and goes bad are two of the most interesting and well-drawn characters I've ever created. Partly it’s the amount of action I've managed to pack into the book which takes place all over the world with volcano eruptions, drug lords, slave markets, battles on the ice etc, etc. But above all, I think the book is my most personal. It has something – vaguely – to say. That may not matter to you but it matters to me.
How much of the future world you depict in Oblivion is based on current real life events and concerns? How much research did you need to do to create such a bleak future for Planet Earth?
I hope it isn't too bleak although I’d agree that nothing too cheerful seems to be happening. A lot of the book came out of the newspapers and the sense we have that things aren't going too well. The banks are collapsing. The weather is doing weird things. There's growing tension in the Middle East. Even so, Oblivion is meant to be an optimistic book. It's about the next generation saving the world – and let’s hope that happens in real life.
I watched the video of you in Antarctica and I believe it is well known that you like to visit the locations that you feature in your books. Do you have a favourite location from this series?
It would be hard to beat Antarctica, the last great wilderness on the planet. The ice was spectacular and the light – even at midnight (the sun never set) unforgettable. I saw hundreds of penguins, whales and wild birds although I'm afraid they didn't make it into the novel. But the glaciers and the ice-bergs with their uncanny, blue luminescence certainly inspired the last section.
Everyone loves a villain – do you have a favourite one from The Power of Five series? What do you think it is about great villains that readers love so much?
Jonas Mortlake is my favourite villain because he’s mean and disgusting without being all-powerful. He’s not like a James Bond villain with plans to conquer the world. He’s much more interested in his own survival. What makes him work, I think, is that he’s inspired by a real person, drawn from the news – but obviously I can’t say who without being sued. Maybe that’s what makes a good villain. You have to believe in them.
You have stated in several interviews that your next project is the story featuring Yassen Gregorovich. Is there anything else you can tell us about Yassen at the moment? Will you be writing it for a new young audience, or for the legions of older readers who grew up reading your Alex Rider books?
I never quite know who I'm writing my books for. I hope adults as well as children will find their way to Oblivion. Yassen (I'm searching for a new title) will be a stand-alone book. You won’t have to have read the whole Alex Rider series – but at the same time I’d guess that people who do know the books will enjoy it more than those who don’t. I plan to start writing it in November.
Right now we’re filming a new series of Foyle’s War which will air in 2013. I’m also working on the sequel to Tintin for Peter Jackson. After Yassen, I’m going to write a sort of sequel to “The House of Silk” but this one won’t feature Holmes or Watson although other characters from Conan Doyle will appear. It is set immediately after the death of Moriarty and the disappearance of Sherlock Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls and actually opens in an Austrian morgue.
On The Book Zone I run an occasional feature titled My Life That Books Built. A number of authors have told readers of The Book Zone about the book(s) they read when they were younger that helped mould them into the reader and/or writer they are today. Are there any such books from your childhood?
I often talk about Tintin being an early influence. He was a writer and has such colourful adventures. Likewise, Willard Price’s Adventure series was a constant joy when I was growing up. And then there was Ian Fleming and James Bond…
Thank you again for joining us here on The Book Zone, and for providing so many readers with so many hours of reading pleasure.
And thank you for your interesting questions.