British author Anthony Horowitz's childhood is the stuff of Dickens novels: his wealthy father, on the verge of bankruptcy, extracted the family fortune from Swiss banks, set up a new account under an alias, then died, leaving the family with no idea of the money's whereabouts. Clearly the seeds for riveting fiction were planted, as the Alex Rider series proves. The books have topped bestseller lists and have been translated into 28 languages. In Crocodile Tears, published last November by Philomel/Penguin, the eighth book starring the intrepid teenage hero, Alex takes on a criminal posing as a philanthropist who uses charitable donations as a means to an apocalyptic end (including black-tie card game fundraisers and exploding gel pens). If in ingenuity and spirit Alex Rider bears a resemblance to a certain 007, you'll soon see why....
On your nightstand now:
Under the Dome by Stephen King. Lustrum by Robert Harris. Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens. Big fat reads for the Christmas vacation.
Favorite book when you were a child:
My reading life started with Hergé's adventures of Tintin. Then I moved on to Willard Price's Adventure series, which I simply devoured.
Your top five authors:
Charles Dickens, George Orwell, George Gissing, Ian Fleming, Stephen King
Book you've faked reading:
I claim to have read all of Dickens but actually have never got through Our Mutual Friend.
Book you're an evangelist for:
The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk. A fantastic book for teenagers after they finish with YA literature, and one of the greatest books ever written about war.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Sorry. I've never bought a book for its cover.
Book that changed your life:
Goldfinger by Ian Fleming. Forty years later, it would inspire Alex Rider. Great cover, too, now I come to think of it.
Favorite line from a book:
"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." --opening of The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley
Favorite book on writing:
Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Lord of the Rings. I tried it a second time and didn't enjoy it.