The boys and I attended a book signing organized by Kids Books last night in Vancouver. Writer Anthony Horowitz was there to talk to a packed school auditorium.
Ostensibly the occasion was the release of the latest in the Alex Rider series, Snakehead. But this guy’s is brilliant. Instead of a boring presentation and reading, he told the crowd a bit about himself, and then took questions from the crowd for the next 40 minutes.
Anthony talks very fast, and he is very funny. His humour is often self-deprecating, but he clearly loves his job writing and he clearly loves kids.
Here’s what we learned, in no particular order:
- He had a horrible time in school, an English boy’s only boarding school.
- The school headmaster had 3 canes in his office for beating kids.
- The headmaster’s furniture was also made out of cane, so in the event he couldn’t get to his 3 canes he could beat you with a chair.
- Anthony not only hated school, did terribly at school. He says he was always ranked last in his class, even managing to come in 25th in a class of 24.
- The only place he felt at home in school was in the library.
- He become a ‘after lights out’ story teller in his dorm room – telling joke and elaborate stories.
- He’s a prolific writer for TV shows in Britain; his wife produces one of the shows he writes on.
- He thinks household objects are far more frightening than anything invented in horror novels; Anthony finds bath tubs to be very very scary.
- He created Alex Rider after watching James Bond films and seeing a 58-year-old Sean Connery portray 007 and thinking that there should be a young super spy.
- Anthony remembers vividly Ursula Andress wearing a white bikini and coming out of the water in that James Bond movie. Alex Rider’s last name is derived from Ursula’s character name in the movie, Honey Ryder.
- Not to dwell too much on Ursula Andress, but Anthony says if Alex had a mother she would be Ursula Andress. Anthony is a bit obsessed with her.
- Anthony knew from the age of 8 that we wanted to be a writer. He says it’s a good thing that worked out because he’s not good at anything else.
- Claims to have a secret door to his home office where he does his writing.
- The only person allowed in his writing room is his dog Unlucky. The dog’s name was originally Lucky until Anthony accidentally backed over him in with the car and almost killed him.
- Doesn’t think there will be another Alex Rider movie since the last one got no support from the North American distributor. He’s name a character in one of his books after the distributor in question – he suffers an untimely death by fire.
- Believes that kids can make a better movie in their head reading a book than any movie made for any amount of money.
- Thinks kids would do a much better job running the world than adults.
- A lot of his characters are based on people’s he’s met in real life.
- Has been to all the locations he’s used in his books with 2 exceptions: outer space and Air Force One, though he did talk to someone at the White House who refused his request to get aboard the plane.
- Is going skiing in Whistler next month.
It was a great time – thanks to the Kids Books folks for doing it.