Horowitz, Anthony 1955-

views updated

Horowitz, Anthony 1955-

Personal

Born April 5, 1955, in Stanmore, Middlesex, England; son of Mark (a businessman) and Joyce Horowitz; married Jill Green (a television producer), April 15, 1988; children: Nicholas, Cassian (sons). Education: University of York, B.A., 1979.

Addresses

Home—London, England. Agent—Peters, Fraser & Dunlop, 34-43 Russell St., London WC2B 5HP, England. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Novelist and screenwriter. Also worked in advertising as a copywriter.

Awards, Honors

Red House Children's Book Award, 2003, for Skeleton Key; Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award, 2004, for Stormbreaker.

Writings

NOVELS

Enter Frederick K. Bower, Arlington (London, England), 1979.

The Sinister Secret of Frederick K. Bower, illustrated by John Woodgate, Arlington (London, England), 1979.

Misha the Magician and the Mysterious Amulet, illustrated by John Woodgate, Arlington (London, England), 1981.

The Kingfisher Book of Myths and Legend, illustrated by Frances Mosley, Kingfisher (London, England), 1985, published as Myths and Mythology, Little Simon (New York, NY), 1985.

(Adaptor) Adventurer (based on a television script by Richard Carpenter), Corgi (London, England), 1986.

(Adaptor with Robin May) Richard Carpenter, Robin of Sherwood: The Hooded Man (based on a television play), Puffin (Harmondsworth, England), 1986, published as The Complete Adventures of Robin of Sherwood, Puffin (Harmondsworth, England), 1990.

Groosham Grange (also see below), illustrated by Cathy Simpson, Methuen (London, England), 1988, Philomel (New York, NY), 2008.

Starting Out (play), Oberon (London, England), 1990.

Groosham Grange II: The Unholy Grail, Methuen (London, England), 1991, published as The Unholy Grail: A Tale of Groosham Grange (also see below), Walker (London, England), 1999.

The Puffin Book of Horror Stories, illustrated by Daniel Payne, Viking (London, England), 1994.

Granny, Walker (London, England), 1994.

(Editor and contributor) Death Walks Tonight: Horrifying Stories, Puffin (New York, NY), 1996.

The Switch, Walker (London, England), 1996.

The Devil and His Boy, Walker (London, England), 1998, Puffin (New York, NY), 2001.

Horowitz Horror: Nine Nasty Stories to Chill You to the Bone, Orchard (London, England), 1999.

Groosham Grange; and, The Unholy Grail: Two Stories in One, Walker (London, England), 2000.

Mindgame (play), Oberon (London, England), 2000.

More Horowitz Horror: Eight Sinister Stories You'll Wish You Never Read, Orchard (London, England), 2000, published as More Horowitz Horror: Stories You'll Wish You'd Never Read, Philomel (New York, NY), 2006.

Myths and Legends, Kingfisher (Boston, MA), 2007.

"PENTAGRAM" SERIES

The Devil's Door-Bell, Holt (New York, NY), 1983.

The Night of the Scorpion, Pacer (New York, NY), 1984.

The Silver Citadel, Berkley (New York, NY), 1986.

Day of the Dragon, Methuen (London, England), 1989.

"DIAMOND BROTHERS" SERIES

The Falcon's Malteser (also see below), Grafton (London, England), 1986, Philomel (New York, NY), 2004, published as Just Ask for Diamond, Lions (London, England), 1998.

Public Enemy Number Two (also see below), Dragon (London, England), 1987, Philomel (New York, NY), 2004.

South by South East, Walker (London, England), 1991, Puffin Books, 2005.

I Know What You Did Last Wednesday, Walker (London, England), 2002.

The French Confection [and] Public Enemy Number Two (omnibus), 2002.

The Blurred Man (bound with The Falcon's Malteser), Walker (London, England), 2002.

The French Confection (also see below), Walker (London, England), 2003.

Three of Diamonds, Puffin Books (New York, NY), 2005.

The Greek Who Stole Christmas, 2007.

"ALEX RIDER" SERIES; FOR YOUNG ADULTS

Stormbreaker (also see below), Walker (London, England), 2000, Puffin (New York, NY), 2001.

Point Blanc, Walker (London, England), 2001, published as Point Blank, Philomel (New York, NY), 2002.

Skeleton Key, Walker (London, England), 2002, Philomel (New York, NY), 2003.

Eagle Strike, Walker (London, England), 2003, Philomel (New York, NY), 2004.

Alex Rider Pack (omnibus), Walker (London, England), 2003.

Scorpia, Walker (London, England), 2004.

Ark Angel, Walker (London, England), 2005.

Alex Rider: The Gadgets, Philomel (New York, NY), 2006.

Stormbreaker (screenplay; adaptation of his novel of the same name), 2006.

Snakehead, Philomel (New York, NY), 2007.

The Mission Files, Walker (London, England), 2008.

The Alex Rider Collection, Puffin Books (Harmondsworth, England), 2008.

"POCKET HOROWITZ" SERIES

The Night Bus, Orchard (London, England), 2002.

Twist Cottage, Orchard (London, England), 2002.

Burnt, Orchard (London, England), 2002.

Scared, Orchard (London, England), 2002.

Killer Camera, Orchard (London, England), 2002.

The Phone Goes Dead, Orchard (London, England), 2002.

"POWER OF FIVE" SERIES

Raven's Gate, Scholastic Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Evil Star, Scholastic Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Nightrise, Scholastic Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Necropolis City of the Dead, Walker (London, England), 2008.

OTHER

Also author of Stormbreaker (screenplay), adapted from his novel, Entertainment Film Distributors/Weinstein Company, 2006. Creator and contributor to television series Midsomer Murders, Murder in Mind, and Foyle's War, Contributor of scripts to television series Heroes and Villains, British Broadcasting System (BBC) 1; and to Agatha Christie's Poirot, Crime Traveller, and The Saint. Also author of stage play Mind Game, produced in London's West End.

Books by Horowitz have been translated into Spanish, French, German, Danish, Swedish, Hebrew, Japanese, Flemish, Italian, and other languages, and published in Braille editions.

Adaptations

The Little Soldier, The Moor, and The Legend, original television scripts by Horowitz, were adapted into books by Royston Drake, Carnival, 1989. Stormbreaker was adapted for audiocassette, Listening Library, 2001. The Gathering was adapted for film by Dimension Films, 2003, and adapted as a graphic novel by Antony Johnston, illustrated by Kanako Damerum and Yuzuru Takasaki, Walker (London, England), 2006. Point Blanc was adapted by Johnston as the graphic novel Point Blank, illustrated by Damerum and Takasaki, Walker, 2007.

Sidelights

Anthony Horowitz first established his reputation in England as a writer and editor of horror stories for a young-adult audience. The editor of The Puffin Book of Horror Stories, Horowitz has also entertained—and frightened—his readers with such chilling books as Death Walks Tonight: Horrifying Stories and the novels Scared and Twist Cottage. U.S. readers were introduced to Horowitz through his popular series of books featuring protagonist Alex Rider, the teenage nephew of a former British secret agent, who finds himself thrust into a series of daring adventures. "There are times when a grade-B adventure is just the ticket for a bored teenager," maintained Booklist reviewer Jean Franklin, "especially if it offers plenty of slam-bang action, spying, and high-tech gadgets." According to Franklin, the "Alex Rider" novels provide just that. Horowitz has also created other series that are popular with readers in England and the United States, including the "Diamond Brothers" novels, about a pair of brothers who are also detectives, and the "Power of Five" stories, which focus on five teens whose mission is to save the world from evil.

The action-packed "Alex Rider" series has much the same sensibility as Ian Fleming's "James Bond" novel series for adults, about a British superspy. Like the Bond series, Alex's adventures are frequently life threatening. Alex, like Bond, remains cool and resourceful, making good use of the high-tech gadgetry provided for him by his superiors.

The fourteen-year-old spy makes his debut in Stormbreaker. Alex, an orphan, has been raised by his Uncle Ian. When his uncle dies in a car crash, the incident is ruled an accident, but Alex discovers bullet holes in the body of the wrecked car, and he begins to ask questions about what really led to Ian's death. His curiosity regarding his uncle's death ultimately almost gets him killed, and he soon discovers that Ian had been an agent for British Intelligence. With this information, the teen decides that joining the agency himself might be the best way to stay alive. Leaving prep school for two weeks of intensive training as an MI6 agent, Alex is given a collection of spy gadgets and sent on his first assignment: to infiltrate a training group run by demented inventor Herod Sayles, who is trying to wipe out Great Britain's children by using biological weapons introduced through an in-school computer system known as "Stormbreaker."

Noting that "satirical names abound … and the hard-boiled language is equally outrageous," a Publishers Weekly reviewer nonetheless wrote that "these exaggerations only add to the fun" for readers. Stormbreaker was deemed "an excellent choice for reluctant readers" by School Library Journal contributor Lynn Bryant, due to its "short cliff-hanger chapters and its breathless pace."

In Point Blanc, the second installment in the "Alex Rider" series, the teen operative enrolls at an exclusive prep school called Point Blanc, located in the French Alps and designed to house the young black sheep in Britain's wealthiest families. Run by a South African named Dr. Grief, the school has surprisingly good luck in making these rich teen troublemakers toe the line. After Alex, now trapped at the school, discovers that brainwashing by Grief is only one of the ways these young men are controlled, he begins to worry about his own safety. Fortunately, as a Kirkus Reviews critic assured readers, "Horowitz devises a string of miraculous circumstances that keeps Alex alive and spying throughout." Propelled by hidden passages, frightening medical experiments, and a protagonist who barely stays one step away from death, Point Blanc was described by Franklin as a "non-stop thriller" in her Booklist review.

In Scorpia, Alex must try to bring down a powerful international crime organization created by an international network of ruthless, greedy assassins and spies. The crime ring known as Scorpia—its name is an acronym for "sabotage, corruption, intelligence, and assassination"—has become involved in international power plays and is now responsible for a tenth of all terrorist activity in the world. Scorpia's newest venture, "Invisible Sword," involves severing the powerful alliance between the United States and Great Britain by using biological weapons to wipe out all the twelve-and thirteen year olds in Great Britain. Alex's activities eventually bring him face to face with the head of Scorpia, the evil Mrs. Rothman, and with some chilling facts about his father. According to a reviewer for KidsReads online, Scorpia is "the most heartstopping adventure yet in this action-filled series, with an ending that will surprise you and a cliffhanger that will astound you!"

In Ark Angel, Alex is involved in espionage surrounding a luxury hotel being constructed in outer space, while Snakehead finds him once again working against the Scorpia network. Having regained power, Scorpia is now planning to assassinate eight high-profile individuals, including a former U.S. president and a pop star. The plot of Snakehead also involves Major Winston Yu, the head of a criminal network called shetou, or "snakehead." Alex, having been rescued from outer space, is asked to go undercover as a refugee as part of a plan to learn more about Snakehead. The depiction of poverty and exploited children is starkly portrayed in Snakehead, and Horowitz's novel was highly recommended by Amanda Craig in the London Times. According to Craig, this installment in the "Alex Rider" series "goes deeper than any previous book, either by Horowitz or his rivals in the spy kids trade, in its vivid portrayal of pure evil."

Many of Horowitz's books feature young teens who find their mundane lives suddenly turned upside down by an evil force. Such is the case in The Devil's Door-Bell, one of Horowitz's first novels for young readers. Published in 1983 as the first segment in the "Pentagram" series, it tells the story of thirteen-year-old Martin Hopkins, whose parents' tragic death forces him into the care of a foster mother named Elvira. In her company, Martin goes to live on her country farm in Yorkshire, England. Upset at being newly orphaned and nervous over Elvira's strange demeanor and intimations that Martin's time will also soon be up, the teen realizes that his suspicions are not just due to stress: Elvira is actually a witch, and her coven is planning something that will cause him harm. A clue left by a murdered friend leads Martin and journalist friend Richard Cole to an ancient circle of stones known as the "Devil's Door-Bell" where Elvira's plans to unleash a malevolent supernatural horror energized by a nearby nuclear power station are revealed. Calling The Devil's Door-Bell "a satisfyingly scary book," School Library Journal contributor Anne Connor added that Horowitz creates a "chilling atmosphere of horror" despite the novel's "sketchy characterization … and … unbelievable plot."

The "Pentagram" series continues with The Night of the Scorpion, as Martin and Richard must close a portal into hell after a mysterious explosion almost kills a group of Martin's classmates. This time the pair travel to Peru, where their efforts to battle the demons known as the Old Ones are thwarted by human accomplices who arrest Richard as soon as he gets off the plane. Left alone in a strange country, Martin meets another boy named Pedro, a descendant of the Incas who, like Martin, is destined to do battle with the Old Ones. "Horowitz packs enough suspense and violence into the story to satisfy the most avid thriller fans," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor, while English Journal reviewer Regina Cowin noted that "the reader is drawn into this story of ancient mysticism just as inexorably as Martin and Pedro are drawn into" their battle against ancient evil. Other "Pentagram" novels include The Silver Citadel and Day of the Dragon.

Another Horowitz novel involving time travel is The Devil and His Boy. Set in Elizabethan England, this work finds a servant boy named Tom Falconer thrust into an alien world after he is ordered to accompany a friend of his master's to London, only to have his companion murdered along the way. Befriended by a pickpocket named Moll, Tom joins a troupe of thespians and suddenly finds himself enmeshed in political intrigue and drawn into the illegal activities of some of his new friends. Cast in a play titled "The Devil and His Boy" which is being produced by the secretive Dr. Mobius, Tom winds up in the lap of the queen of England herself. "Horowitz paints his characters … with broad strokes and keeps the melodramatic story moving at a rapid clip," wrote School Library Journal contributor Barbara Scotto, the critic dubbing The Devil and His Boy a "rollicking good tale that is mostly based on historical fact." Ilene Cooper also cited the historical basis of the novel, adding that, "to his credit, [Horowitz] does not try to pretty up Elizabethan life for his audience. … Dirty and disfigured characters are described in detail."

Horowitz returns to contemporary times in his "Diamond Brothers" books. Here the author recounts the adventures of Tim and Nick Simple, teenaged brothers who become involved in mysteries. In the first novel of the series, South by South East, the brothers become entangled in a twisted adventure involving an assassin, the international art world, and M16. Public Enemy Number Two and The Falcon's Malteser continue the brothers' adventures, while Three of Diamonds presents three shorter tales "full of clever puns and deadpan comments," according to Kay Weisman in Booklist.

Mystical powers are at the heart of Horowitz's "Power of Five" saga, which includes the books Raven's Gate, Evil Star, Nightrise, and Necropolis City of the Dead. In Evil Star the action takes place in Peru, where a gate to another world exists; this gate may be exploited by a greedy businessman to turn some ancient, malevolent spirits loose on the world. Special individuals with psychic powers must battle these spirits: the Old Ones which are reprised from The Night of the Scorpion. Reviewing Evil Star for Kliatt, Paula Rohrlick described it as filled with "lots of action, horror and suspense," and she dubbed Nightrise "as exciting and over-the-top" as the "Alex Rider" series. Lynn Evarts, reviewing the "Power of Five" books for School Library Review, credited Horowitz with "masterfully" mixing suspense and fantasy.

In addition to his series fiction and stand-alone novels, Horowitz has published a number of short-story collections, both as editor and sole author. Reading only the titles of Horowitz Horror: Nine Nasty Stories to Chill You to the Bone and its sequel, More Horowitz Horror: Eight Sinister Stories You'll Wish You Never Read, readers can consider themselves forewarned. "None will disappoint readers with an appetite for ghoulish happenings," predicted School Librarian reviewer Peter Hollindale in praise of several stories in the second of the two books. The critic also commended Horowitz's creative use of irony, subtlety, and "creepy and surprising variants on familiar themes."

Writing children's books is only one of several areas where Horowitz has used his writing talents; the other is in authoring series and segments for British television, an activity that has helped Horowitz imbue his fiction with a strong cinematic sense and draw even reluctant readers into his tales of horror and suspense. He frequently includes film references in his books, particularly in his "Diamond Brothers" books. Series titles The Falcon's Malteser, Public Enemy Number Two, and South by South East are references to classic films. Calling these books "rattling good yarns," Jo Goodman observed in her Magpies review that "South by South East contains, amongst others, the windmill scene from [Alfred Hitchcock's film] Foreign Correspondent and the crop duster from North by Northwest." The Falcon's Malteser references the classic film The Maltese Falcon starring Humphrey Bogart, while Public Enemy Number Two is a take-off on the gangster film Public Enemy Number One.

Discussing the immense popularity of his works with London Evening Standard contributor Joyce Lynn, Horowitz stated that "the main key to my success is longevity, or survival. For 25 years I've been sustaining 10-hour days writing books, TV, theatre, films, but it's only in the past four years that I've achieved overnight success with Alex Rider—Stormbreaker being the ‘breakout’ book." Though Horowitz insists there are no particular messages in his novels, he told Glasgow Sunday Herald interviewer Stephen Phelan: "I do get that sense that children, and all people, can resolve their problems though books. They have a wonderful vicarious quality about them. And in that way, yes, I would like to think I'm holding up a torch for the idea that reading is a good thing."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Abrams, Dennis, Anthony Horowitz, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 2006.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of The Devil and His Boy, p. 922; September 1, 2001, Kelly Milner Halls, review of Stormbreaker, p. 97; April 1, 2002, Jean Franklin, review of Point Blanc, p. 1319; February 1, 2005, Frances Bradburn, review of Scorpia, p. 955; May 15, 2005, Kay Weisman, review of Three of Diamonds, p. 1658; July 1, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of Raven's Gate, p. 1923; December 1, 2005, John Peters, review of South by South East, p. 47; April 1, 2006, Kay Weisman, review of Alex Rider: The Gadgets, p. 40; April 15, 2006, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Ark Angel, p. 42; June 1, 2006, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Evil Star, p. 71; September 15, 2007, Kay Weisman, review of Snakehead, p. 61; July 1, 2008, Ian Chipman, review of Groosham Grange, p. 66.

Bookseller, February 18, 2005, review of Ark Angel, p. 36; May 20, 2005, Caroline Horn, "The Horror of Horowitz," p. 22; February 17, 2006, review of Evil Star, p. 32.

Daily Mail (London, England), July 23, 2005, Mary Riddell, "Hope and Gory," interview with Horowitz, p. 16.

Daily Telegraph (London, England), March 30, 2005, Sarah Crompton, "‘I Knew That Alex Was Special from the First,’" interview with Horowitz, p. 16; April 7, 2007, Christopher Middleton, interview with Horowitz; October 27, 2007, Christopher Middleton, "True Grit And Gruesome Goings-on … Alex Rider Is Back with a Vengeance."

English Journal, October, 1985, review of The Night of the Scorpion, p. 82.

Evening Standard (London, England), March 29, 2004, Katie Campbell, "Teenage Action Hero," interview with Horowitz, p. 39; April 14, 2005, Joyce Lynn, "My Prep School Headmaster Was a Sadistic Brute," interview with Horowitz, p. 55; July 6, 2006, Fiona Maddocks, "The Teenage Spy Who Is Whipping up a Storm," p. 30.

Guardian (London, England), April 9, 2005, Philip Ardagh, review of Ark Angel.

Independent (London, England), July 31, 2002, Robert Hanks, "The New Kid on the Block," interview with Horowitz, p. 6; August 13, 2004, Barry Forshaw, "Growing up in Public," interview with Horowitz, p. 18.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2001, review of Stormbreaker, p. 410; February 15, 2002, review of Point Blanc, p. 258; June 1, 2005, review of Raven's Gate, p. 637; June 1, 2006, review of Evil Star, p. 574; July 1, 2007, review of Nightrise; July 1, 2008, review of Groosham Grange.

Kliatt, March 1, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Scorpia, p. 12; July 1, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Raven's Gate, p. 12; March 1, 2006, Paula Rohrlick, review of Ark Angel, p. 12; May 1, 2006, Paula Rohrlick, review of Evil Star, p. 10; July 1, 2006, Miles Klein, review of Eagle Strike, p. 46; September 1, 2006, Janet Julian, review of Ark Angel, p. 52; May 1, 2007, Paula Rohrlick, review of Nightrise, p. 13; November 1, 2007, Paula Rohrlick, review of Snakehead, p. 10.

Magpies, March, 2001, Jo Goodman, "So You Want to Be a Private Investigator?," pp. 14-15.

New Statesman, April 30, 2001, Andrew Billen, "A Few Twists Too Far," p. 49.

Observer (London, England), April 10, 2005, Kate Kellaway, "The Observer Profile: Anthony Horowitz," p. 27.

Publishers Weekly, March 1, 1985, review of The Night of the Scorpion, p. 81; May 21, 2001, review of Stormbreaker, p. 109; May 13, 2002, review of Point Blanc, p. 72; June 20, 2005, review of Raven's Gate, p. 78.

School Librarian, summer, 2001, Peter Hollindale, review of More Horowitz Horror: Eight Sinister Stories You'll Wish You Never Read, p. 102.

School Library Journal, April, 1984, Anne Connor, review of The Devil's Door-Bell, p. 124; July, 1994, Mary Jo Drungil, review of Myths and Legends, p. 124; April, 2000, Barbara Scotto, review of The Devil and His Boy, p. 136; June, 2001, Lynn Bryant, review of Stormbreaker, p. 150; March, 2002, review of Point Blank, p. 232; March, 2005, Delia Fritz, review of Scorpia, p. 212; May, 2005, Angela M. Boccuzzi-Reichert, review of Three of Diamonds, p. 130; July, 2005, Lynn Evarts, review of Raven's Gate, p. 104; December, 2005, Alice DiNizo, review of South by South East, p. 148; April, 2006, Lynn Evarts, review of The Gadgets, p. 140; April, 2006, Heather E. Miller, review of Ark Angel, p. 140; July, 2006, Morgan Johnson-Doyle, review of Evil Star, p. 106; January, 2008, Lynn Evarts, review of Nightrise, p. 120; January, 2008, Tim Wadham, review of Snakehead, p. 120; September, 2008, Lynn Evarts, review of Groosham Grange, p. 186.

Spectator, February 11, 1995, Ian Hislop, "Last of a Kind," p. 47.

Sunday Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Stephan Phelan, "Boys' Own Stories: He Created Plucky Teen Agent Alex Rider," p. 16.

Times (London, England), November 9, 2007, Amanda Craig, "Deeper and Darker for Alex Rider," review of Snakehead.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2000, review of The Devil and His Boy, p. 35.

ONLINE

Anthony Horowitz Home Page,http://www.anthonyhorowitz.com (October 15, 2008).

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Web site,http://www.abc.net.au/ (August 1, 2008), interview with Horowitz.

CBBC Newsround,http://news.bbc.co.uk/ (June 9, 2004), review of Scorpia.

KidsReads Web site,http://www.kidsreads.com/ (August 1, 2008), review of Scorpia; Tom Donadio, review of Ark Angel and Snakehead.

About this article

Horowitz, Anthony 1955-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article