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



Tue, June 02, 2009



Anthony in Scotland

Anthony in Scotland



I haven’t put a blog on the site for a while and as usual I’m sorry – but as usual I’ve got an excuse. Alex Rider 8 – or CROCODILE TEARS as it now officially and definitely called.

I was actually really happy with the title when I thought it up because it fits the book exactly, it hasn’t been used by anyone else (as far as I know) and it somehow fitted in really well with the other seven books. The problem started when a guy at Walker Books (no names…but he’s tall and smooth-looking and he’s a published author himself, his initials are MS and I’m going to do for him in my next book) complained that he thought the title was “soft”. He wanted something like “death” or “bullet” or “hell” in the title and he was worried that boys would be put off a book that had “tears” on the front cover.

He also said that nobody knew what “crocodile tears” meant. Is this true? Curiously, my American publisher had never heard of the phrase either but then he thinks Tooting Common is the name of an Egyptian pharaoh. Anyway, here is the first page of CROCODILE TEARS as it will appear in its entirety:


crocodile tears: fake or hypocritical tears. From the belief that crocodiles will pretend to cry in order to attract their victims…and will then cry for real as they devour them.

So that’s sorted that out.

The book does have crocodiles in it, by the way. Part of it takes place in Kenya which is where I happened to be last Christmas. I spent five very happy days in Larsen’s Camp in the Samburu National Reserve and you’ll find a version of it in the new book. I also saw loads of crocodiles out there – in fact I’m going to paste another photo that I took myself into this blog to show you just how close I got. I should warn you (I’m trying not to give too much away) that Alex gets a lot closer.


Crocodile Tears?

Crocodile Tears?



Not bad – eh? Whenever I look at this picture, I find myself thinking about my sons.

Anyway, now to explain the heading of this blog. I’ve just got back from an amazing five-day visit to Scotland. The first part of it was organised by the Scottish Book Trust and I found myself talking to around 10,000 Scottish kids live on the net. I was interviewed a couple of times – by The Scotsman (the main paper in Scotland for all those south of the border) and by a radio show called The Book Cafe. All good publicity for Necropolis which came out in paperback last week.

Then I went up Arthur’s Seat with my wife, which was fun. I had dinner with my son, Nick (he’s studying Chinese at Edinburgh University).

But the best part of the trip was the train journey from Edinburgh to Aberdeen – which was so beautiful (passing through the Cairngorm National Park) that I didn’t do any work as I’d planned but just gazed out of the window. I then killed a day in Inverness before meeting a brilliant man called Kenny Dempster who’s a civil engineer with Scottish and Southern energy and who drove me up to the Monar Dam which is what you can really see behind me in the photograph.

CROCODILE TEARS ends with a huge climax at a dam in Kenya and I needed to examine one at close quarters – and I couldn’t get any closer than this. Kenny showed he how the whole thing worked and I have to say that as I clambered around it the whole last chapter of the book came tumbling into my head. That’s why I so love visiting the places I write about. Somehow the truth is always more exciting than anything I could make up…or perhaps I should say that the truth underpins the fantasy and makes it more believable. Anyway, I wish I could describe Glen Strathfarrar in the book because it was also awesome and beautiful with red deer everywhere and snow still visible on the mountain peaks, even in May.

I wish I could also describe the slice of lemon cake that I had at the cafe just outside Beauly on the way back as that was pretty nice too. But we don’t do lemon cake in Alex Rider books. And the dam, as I have explained, is in Kenya.

Progress on the book? My computer is telling me 69,455 words – and I reckon it’s going to be finished at around 90,000…so I’m nearly there. I’ve been really worried about this adventure. After all, it’s the eighth in the series and I was beginning to wonder if I could invent any more chases, gadgets, fights, whatever. But I say for sure that this book has more action than any of the others. It’s probably the most violent (until my publishers get their hands on it). And it has the single most frightening chapter I’ve ever written. As a matter of fact, I finished that today.

Other news…

I’m off to Hay-on-Wye tomorrow for the book festival, which is always fun. When it rains, the entire festival turns into a huge bog. Writers have been known to get sucked in, never to be seen again. We also start shooting the third, and possibly the last episode of Foyle’s War tomorrow. TV drama is getting more and more difficult as nobody has enough money to make it any more…but if this is the end of the series, at least we’re finishing on a high.

And then I have a load of trips. China, Greece, America…all for different reasons. I’ll explain more when I come back.

In the meantime, have you noticed my page on TWITTER? I really enjoy twittering as it’s so short and easy and I can do it wherever I happen to be, using my iPhone. I try to make it amusing. Anyway, do take a look at my page or whatever it is you call it, if you want to stay up to date.

Enjoy the good weather. Good luck to all of you doing GCSEs or A-levels. I hope you’re doing more revision than my son, Cass.

May 2009