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NECROPOLIS, NEW YORK AND A QUESTION: SHOULD I SUE DARREN SHAN?

NECROPOLIS, NEW YORK AND A QUESTION: SHOULD I SUE DARREN SHAN?

So here’s the latest news from the world of Anthony Horowitz…or Antoine Horwitzer as it seems I should now call myself. We’ll get to that in a moment.

But with Halloween just a week away, I’m about to hit the road as we launch NECROPOLIS, the fourth book in my Power of Five series. As you may know from my earlier blogs, this wasn’t an easy book to write…in fact I had to tear it up completely and start again. Yes, this is the book with my first heroine instead of a hero – Scarlett Adams – but that wasn’t the problem. The story takes place in Peru, London and Hong Kong as well as the mysterious dream world. All five of the main characters are present (that is – Matt, Pedro, Scott and Jamie as well as Scarlett). It was really difficult weaving all the action together what with explosions, chases, betrayals, fireworks, monsters, major criminal organisations, the sword ladder and all the rest of it.

That said though, I really do think it works and the first reviews have been great. If you haven’t read the first three books in the series – RAVEN’S GATE, EVIL STAR and NIGHTRISE – this one does stand more or less on its own as everything is explained in the first chapter. But for those of you who have read all the ALEX books and are waiting for the next one…do give this series a try. Strange to think that there’s only one more title and it will all be over.

Since I mention ALEX RIDER, you may have noticed that my publishers have produced a sort of Christmas special, THE MISSION FILES which will fit neatly into your stocking…if, that is, your stocking is large and rectangular. It’s quite a hefty book, full of envelopes, posters, code books and further information about some of the characters in Alex’s world. I also threw in a story that I originally wrote for a newspaper, CHRISTMAS AT GUNPOINT. It’s an early incident in Alex’s life before he became a spy and I’m glad that it’s now in book form.

And again, on the subject of Alex, I’ve finally started work on the eighth novel although I don’t think it’ll be out for quite a while. After much thought, I’ve decided to leave YASSEN (the book I was planning) to the very end of the series. This follows a whole series of school visits where people have been a bit half-hearted about the idea…and I do try to listen to what my readers say! So instead, I’m going to write a full-blooded Alex adventure which begins straight after SNAKEHEAD with Alex on a skiing holiday with Sabina, then moves to England and finally to Africa with a plot that includes GM crops, international aid and…well, I’m probably giving away too much already. Annoyingly, a school in East Croydon (I won’t mention its name) threw out the title which was going to be ENDURANCE POINT. But if anyone reading this likes the title, please let me know. I was quite fond of it…and titles are the hardest thing to think up.

Next week I’m touring York, Leeds and Manchester and looking forward to heading north. I was at university at York but don’t ask what I got up to there as it’s all lost, fortunately, in the haze of time. All I can remember now is that it had the world’s biggest duck pond and you could be expelled – or sent down or whatever – if you killed and/or cooked a duck. Not that they were particularly tasty. I was once told off by the Archbishop of York for climbing half-way up the Minster (it was in scaffolding at the time) but I hope they’ve forgotten and forgiven this by now.

Immediately after that, I’m off to New York where a play of mine, MINDGAME, is opening. I hope no parents will bring their children, thinking it will be the theatrical equivalent of an Alex Rider book as it’s full of bad language and insanely violent. One of the characters actually gets killed twice. The play stars Keith Carradine who was great as the detective in DEXTER 2 (one of my favourite TV programmes). It’s being directed by a man called Ken Russell who was the UK’s most famous film director when I was in my teens…I absolutely loved his films. He’s now about seventy, very eccentric (you may have spotted him on Celebrity Big Brother for a short time) and I have absolutely no idea how the play will do. It opens the day after the American elections…so fingers crossed.

And finally to Darren Shan. I don’t know how many of you have been reading his DEMONATA series. I must say I’ve been enjoying it. But Volume 8, WOLF ISLAND, has just come out and I notice that there is a character in it called Antoine Horwitzer. Any ideas who that could be? In the story, he’s a sort of mad scientist type and at first (page 64) he seems pleasant enough. Shan describes him as: “a tall, handsome, tanned man…his hair looks like a film star’s, thick and carefully waxed into shape.” But it soon becomes clear that he’s untrustworthy and arrogant and by the time you get to page 194…well, I won’t spoil the ending but it looks unlikely that Antoine will be appearing in Volume 9.

Anyway, my lawyers have studied the book and the bad news for Darren Shan is that they agree it’s definitely defamatory…which is to say that I could win millions from him in court. The good news is that I’ve decided not to sue. If there’s one piece of advice that everyone should stick to in their life it’s AVOID LAWYERS. This is good advice even for lawyers. However, I will be having my revenge. Next year, I have a third collection of horror stories coming out. The title (at the moment) is: AAAGH: TEN UNUSUAL WAYS TO DIE and one of the stories is called THE MAN WHO KILLED DARREN SHAN. I have started re-writing it. Out go all the compliments about CIRQUE DU FREAK and THE DEMONATA. And instead…

Next Halloween, Darren. Wait and see.

Anthony Horowitz

28 October 2008

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