The ‘Rider’ house rules

Anthony Horowitz talks about adapting his popular novel for the big screen

First published in his 20s, Anthony Horowitz is now one of England’s most prolific writers. He has written many BBC teleplays and more than two dozen books for young people, including the popular “Alex Rider” series. His screen adaptation of “Stormbreaker,” the first in the series, is playing in theaters, starring Alex Pettyfer, Mickey Rourke and Alicia Silverstone.

The Examiner: Why do you write?

Anthony Horowitz: Because I love stories.

Q: What are you reading right now and why?

A: I just finished “Saturday,” but the next thing I’m going to read is “When We Were Oprhans,” by Kazuo Ishiguro. And why? Because I love his books. He’s a brilliant writer.

Q: Who is the audience for Alex Rider?

A: “Stormbreaker” is aimed at kids from about the age of 7 to 14-15. It’s very difficult to balance the levels of violence to please one end without traumatizing theother.

Q: How did you go about adapting the screenplay? What kinds of things were you limited to?

A: I was nervous about writing the screenplay because I didn’t want to take a knife to a book I very much liked. The budget, for example, stretched to take in all the action I could throw at the screen. The producers did make some demands — the girl and the horse are two examples — but there were surprisingly few limitations.

Q: How fast can you write an Alex Rider novel?

A: That makes it sound as if I toss them off at speed! In fact, each book is the work of around seven months, often working 10 hours day.

Q: In writing your first adult novel, “The Killing Joke,” what kinds of freedoms or restrictions did you discover?

A: I found it very difficult writing my first adult book because it lacked the focus, the concentration of a fast-paced teen book. There were too many details, too much clutter. I like the directness and simplicity of a teen read — not that all writers produce direct or simple books. I slightly floundered in the adult world, although I do think my one adult book does have some fun ideas.

Q: There are several James Bond references here. How overt did you wish to make these?

A: I couldn’t deny the inspiration of Bond — both the film and the novels — so the film contains many winks and nods in their direction. In fact, there are dozens of hidden references in the Alex Rider novels, which nobody has ever noticed as far as I know. I put them in for fun.

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