Anthony Horowitz on Oblivion
Anthony Horowitz announced a sequel to House of Silk and told a packed-out audience about his new novel Oblivion at Cheltenham Festival last night
Anthony Horowitz's Sherlock Holmes novel House of Silk will have a sequel, beginning at the Reichenbach Falls with the disappearance of Holmes and the death of Moriarty. A Pinkerton detective will, upon examining Moriarty's body, find a note tucked away in his coat, detailing the plans for Moriarty's last crime. "Twenty per cent of it is in my head," Horowitz told the audience, "but right now you know more than my publisher."
“It’s the book I had to write,” he said of Oblivion, the fifth book in the Power of Five series. “Which sounds slightly nauseating, but it’s how I feel. "I’ve spent my life writing of adventure, violence, chase; this is more about what I felt about things – there’s no political musing but profound questions are being asked.
“I don’t write didactic stuff for children. Alex Rider [the reluctant 14-year-old hero, about whom Horowitz has written eight books] came out of the war on Iraq. It was at a time when we lost faith in the government, so I wrote about a boy in a world where adults aren’t to be trusted. Every time we open the newspaper something is on the brink of collapse. In Oblivion, again something goes wrong with the balance of good and evil.”
Horowitz admitted that as a child he wasn’t close to his parents; neither did he read. “I couldn’t read sci-fi or fantasy as a boy. I couldn’t understand all the names – all the Ks and Zs. I wasn’t clever or a reader. I didn’t read Lord of the Rings until I was 27.”
Nowadays, he says, his children (now aged 21 and 23) are his biggest fans, and biggest critics. “When I finished Oblivion I gave it to my son, who read it and said that 40,000 words of the 205,000 it was were no good. He was right – I was exhausted towards the end and just writing any old rubbish – so I tore the entire section up.”
Of his Power of Five characters, Horowitz said he most identifies with Scott, who is the ‘Judas’ of the group. “I’m not sure I identify with the gate keepers,” he said. “I feel closest to Scott – he’s an unsuccessful child, and so was I.”
“One or two writers go too far and have broken the contract with the parents,” he said, after telling the audience about receiving a letter from a fretting mother whose daughter was so terrified by one particular story in his collection More Bloody Horowitz she hadn’t slept for nights.
It’s a “foolish writer”, he said, “who doesn’t think how his books will affect children. I try to be optimistic in my writing; there’s no use having a middle-aged man disillusioned with the world bogging children down with his own theories. If you go too far, something creeps in and makes it unpleasant. My books are like a ghost train – you buy your ticket and you know ghosts are going to pop out at you and then the door will open at the end.”
“Reading,” he said, “is about finding the secret doors in life, and seeing where they take you.”