Horowitz's Fiction: Stranger Than Truth
"Don't believe anything I tell you," author Anthony Horowitz told the roomful of District fifth- and seventh-graders. "If you ask me a question and I don't know the answer, I will make it up."
Just as in his many books, Horowitz entertained his audience. He sprinkled in humor and suspense, extraordinary details and exaggerations.
The kids at the Washington bookstore Politics and Prose last month devoured all they could get about the latest Alex Rider adventure, "Ark Angel," as well as the September release of "Stormbreaker," the movie version of the first book featuring the 14-year-old British spy.
Horowitz, 51, has a lot to talk about. The six Alex Rider books have sold more than 9 million worldwide. The second installment in his Gatekeeper thrillers, "Evil Star," is out now. He also writes the Diamond Brothers mysteries, the Power of Five fantasy series and two television shows.
KidsPost's Scott Moore interrogated Horowitz about his work. We think he told the truth.
What age audience are you trying to reach in the Alex Rider books?
"The youngest tend to be about 8; the oldest about 15."
How do you decide what level of intensity and violence you will have in your books?
"I rather like violence in children's books, provided the violence is of a certain sort, divorced from reality: a James Bond villain dying a very grand death. I'm thinking of Damian Crane in 'Eagle Strike' being pushed onto a hostess trolley, which wheels itself out of the door of the aircraft, and he gets sucked into the engines -- one of my favorite deaths. . . . As to the amount of description used . . . I like the books to have a certain edge to them; I think kids like that, too. But I know if I offend the parents and teachers and librarians, the books are not going to reach the kids. That's a big warning voice that comes in."
Kids also like dark topics.
"Yes, that's right. But I saw the last Harry Potter movie, and I was quite shocked. I would never kill a kid in a book. It's too horrific."
What changes did you make to "Stormbreaker" for the movie?
"We had to do things that have raised eyebrows: bringing in the girlfriend. She's not really a girlfriend; she's a girl and she's a friend. It doesn't turn into a romance. I know that people would be very upset if it did."
Is there any message you try to get across in your books?
"I love adventure. I love taking chances. I love suspense. I love danger. And that's what I'm doing, I'm telling stories. . . . My books are well-known in England for being for young people, often boys, who don't like reading. They seem to get all my books and discover literature. . . . I guess that's the only thing I'm trying to sell, that reading is a very positive and important part of life."