Anthony Horowitz kicked off his South African tour with an appearance at Exclusive Books V&A Waterfront. It was a great privilege to introduce the best-selling author to the crowd, and an even greater privilege to soak in the knowledge of one of my all-time favourite authors.
After a whirlwind tour of the Waterfront to take snapshots of the ocean and various scenic spots he visited with his family many years ago (he adores Cape Town) Horowitz arrived to an enthusiastic crowd waiting to meet him.
The author spoke about his successful Alex Rider series, citing his love of James Bond as inspiration. He wanted to create a spy that didn’t serve any government, and most importantly, didn’t age (he was very disappointed in how old Roger Moore looked as the films progressed).
A teenage spy made sense. Horowitz is a firm believer that adults are the source of all the world’s troubles, and that young people are the solution. But in order to write about young people, authors have to believe in young people. It was the same thinking that inspired his Power of Five series about the Gatekeepers who take on the Old Ones to save the world. He admits that even though a lot of characters die in his novels, he tries to avoid hurting the teen ones. (He’s killed off every single one of his old teachers’ namesakes across his novels).
Having kids of his own is an integral part of his writing process as his then teenage sons were his greatest critics when it came to writing his latest novel, Oblivion. His son would tear up entire chapters as they were too “embarrassing”.
Horowitz has great charisma and really knows how to hold a crowd in thrall. His fans, both young and old, delighted in his anecdotes about how he resorted to writing in graveyards as there were no quiet places to be found in London, and about his research expeditions that took him to extraordinary places around the world (like Antarctica).
I was deeply inspired by his belief that authors need to be excited about their writing as that excitement translates on to the page. If Horowitz doesn’t feel like writing, he’ll go to the cinema or the theatre instead. Forcing out the words in order to meet a desired word count isn’t going to benefit the book or the reader. I said a silent Amen to this. When reviewing my own drafts I can always tell which parts were written on good writing days and which were written for the sake of writing them. The latter bits usually get scrapped. He’s also adamant that novelists need to read before they can write. Books are his greatest inspiration.
It’s clear that Horowitz has great enthusiasm for his craft. He wanted to be a writer from the age of eight after discovering that the library was a fantastic place to forget his troubles at an all-boys boarding school. He was published for the first time at age twenty-two.
Anthony Horowitz really is a master of the craft and has heaps of knowledge to share. I highly recommend catching one of the author’s events while he’s in South Africa. He’s so inspiring and funny and has excellent advice to share with readers and writers alike. Plus as one lucky fan discovered, meeting him might see you gracing the pages of one of his books as the author names characters after the people he meets on his tours.