Author Anthony Horowitz in conversation with Peter Fonagy

Photo: James Royall

Listen to the conversation

Listen to the Q&A session

Venue: The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB

Date: Wednesday 30 June 2010

2010 was the 10th anniversary of Anthony Horowitz's bestselling Alex Rider series. Anthony talked to psychoanalyst Peter Fonagy about how he creates action heroes like Alex and their role in the lives of young people.

Anthony Horowitz – children’s author, screenwriter and journalist – is probably one of the UK’s most prolific and successful writers. He has written over 50 books including the best selling teen spy series Alex Rider, and the supernatural Power of Five series. His television works include Collison, the award winning Foyle’s War and episodes of Midsomer Murders and Poirot. Anthony was singled out in 2007 by then Education Secretary Alan Johnson as the not-so-secret weapon to get boys reading. In May 2007, he was named ‘Author of the Year’ at the British Book Industry Awards, and in 2008 was made the National Year of Reading’s first Champion Author due to his regular outreach work to Youth Offenders and Looked After Children throughout the UK. In March 2009 Anthony became Patron of English charity EACH (East Anglia Children's Hospices) – a charity for terminally ill children.

Peter Fonagy is a psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist. His many roles include Head of the Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology at University College London and Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre. He has published over 450 chapters and articles and has authored or edited 17 books.




'Adult writing is clutter!'

Thursday 8th July, 2010 | Posted by Helena Rampley


Anthony Horowitz is well-recognised as a page-turning children's author. In conversation with Peter Fonagy, however, he also proved himself to be a page-turning speaker. His ceaseless enthusiasm and surprising admissions gripped the diverse audience throughout this illuminating talk.

Fonagy instigated discussion about the creation of Alex Rider, and identified parallels between Horowitz's resentment towards the political climate in which he was writing and Alex's alienation from the adult world. Despite the extraordinary life he leads, Alex Rider is a character very much grounded in reality, and Horowitz emphasised his endeavour to make him a knowable character to every child reader.

Always generous in his answers to questions, Horowitz candidly revealed the importance of newspaper stories as sources for his books. He takes inspiration from those he meets and what he observes, and admitted that one of his villains is based on Phillip Schofield! He was also open about his writing techniques and the tactile enjoyment he derives from working with pen and paper rather than a computer.

Upmost in Horowitz's agenda is to make reading an enjoyable and enticing experience for each and every child that picks up one his books. Fonagy prompted thought into the escapist pleasure Horowitz himself gained as a chid from reading James Bond novels and his desire to re-create such an experience for his own readers. He also voiced scepticism about the modern tendency to over-protect children, and the impoverishing effect of their only being able to experience adventure vicariously.

With his boundless energy and gift for interacting with both children and adults alike, it is easy to understand why Horowitz is so popular. Responding well to provocative questions from younger audience members, his 'telepathy of excitement' was remarkably alive.

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