Author of Alex Rider, Foyle's War, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, TV and film writer, occasional journalist.


Anthony Horowitz: ‘The human skull on my desk reminds me how short time is’

Originally published in The Guardian
Anthony Horowitz: ‘The human skull on my desk reminds me how short time is’

The author and screenwriter, 58, on Foyle's War, being starstruck and why he's grateful to JK Rowling.

A writer is over when they think they're perfect. Somtimes you just have to rewrite a book: the new Sherlock Holmes novel wasn't working, so 42,000 words in I'm back to the beginning.

My wife and I have terrible set-tos over work [Jill Green is a producer on Foyle's War, which Horowitz created and writes]. But what we do is the making of our marriage.

The human skull on my desk reminds me how short time is and how much harder I must work. My mother gave it to me when I was 13.

Only a wealthy person can say money doesn't matter. We had a huge house in Stanmore, Middlesex, which I satirised in my earlier books about chauffeurs, rich fat kids and private schools. When I grew up all I wanted was to get away from it – I felt spoilt.

My father spent his whole life pursuing money, which he left in an unidentified bank account that we have been unable to trace as a family.

"Children's author" is not a term I like. All I can picture is an uncle standing in the corner doing magic tricks at his nephew's birthday party.

We are still some way off regaining a sense of honesty and ease in this country, a feeling that you can say what you think and be what you want. I blame 13 years of Labour for that.

I once went to a New Year's Eve party in Paraguay where at midnight everybody burst into tears. Instead of having to pretend to be happy, they mourned the death of the year. I rather liked it.

We are fed far too much fiction about love and marriage in modern society. The reality is much more subtle, more constant. It's why I don't write about it.

I still get starstruck. The last time I went to LA, Dustin Hoffman was in the seat next to me on the plane, and I sat there for 14 hours thinking: "Oh my God." I didn't speak for fear of discovering he might be different to how I thought.

Growing up in a very dull suburb gave me an imagination for murder stories. When you're looking at neat driveways, pretty shops and thatched houses, you start to image bloodstains on the path and villains behind the doors.

All writing comes from tension. If you have a nervous energy, a sort of discontentment and unanswered questions, you want to rub and scratch and examine yourself. I tend to get stressed about everything – that is how I am. But if it all comes out on the page, well, at least it's got a home.

The last thing we need is people banging on to children about how they should read. We just need to make sure that all schools have a library.

My success, and that of at least half-a-dozen other children's fiction writers, rests entirely on JK Rowling. We just happened to be around at the right time.