Guildford Book Festival – Anthony Horowitz

Every year Guildford hosts a book festival at a variety of locations with a whole range of authors and events. This year I managed to get tickets to two events at the Electric Theatre, the first of which being Anthony Horowitz.

The Anthony Horowitz event was in the evening of the 10th October and was hosted by Professor Bran Nicol. The room was filled with all kinds of people who were eager to see Horowitz and hear what his novel Magpie Murders has in store. Anthony Horowtiz was fascinating to listen to – he was so passionate and enthusiastic about writing and his stories, I felt such a sense of joy listening to him.

He both did and didn’t say too much in regards to Magpie Murders, to avoid spoilers of course, however I was really interested in listening to him and Nicol discuss the relationship between creators and their creations – especially in relation to Doyle and Sherlock, and Fleming and Bond – and how this was explored in Horowitz’s new novel. It was also amusing to witness a debate of what constitutes as ‘nice’ or ‘cheerful’ murders, which again is explored in the novel. He did reveal that a clue to one of the murders is on the very first page and so far no one has worked out what this is, although if you have an idea he encourages you to tweet him! As well as Magpie Murders he also spoke about how much he enjoyed writing Moriarty, even if a little daunting at first, and how much it meant to him to write.

Personally, my introduction to Horowitz was through his Alex Rider series – so I was thrilled to hear him talk about the series and that Rider will be back for (at least) another two books. It was wonderful to hear Horowitz on the subject of children’s literature and how he loves being involved in a child’s love of reading or simply being an introduction to reading in general.

During his discussion of the Alex Rider series, Horowitz told of his interest in names of characters and making them amusing (using Herod Sayle as one of his examples and one of his previous editors as another). He also revealed how he would be inspired to write a whole book because he’s either thought of an image he finds particularly amusing and wants to incorporate it somewhere, or because he’s thought of a great first line that he wants to use.

Towards the end of the event there was a Q&A session where we found out how he began writing and storytelling (at a young age to other children at boarding school); that he never says “never” to an idea and he seemed particularly delighted when someone referenced his play The Handbag. We also discovered that Horowtiz writes his first drafts in fountain pen to feel closer to two of his literary heroes, Dickens and Trollope.

I think the most important thing I took away from the event was that writing shouldn’t be seen as “difficult” but as a “challenge” and an “adventure”. Horowitz offered the advice of you should live life and have your own unique adventures to draw on for your stories instead of always telling someone else’s story (like Horowitz himself causing him slight jealousy of Alex Rider). And when asked why he writes what he writes – either genre, form or characters – he responded because it makes him smile, which I think is the most honest and satisfying answer he could have given which was a great note to end the evening on.

Next week I will be writing about my experience at the Keith Stuart event so stay tuned!

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