New Delhi: International bestselling children`s author Anthony Horowitz, who wrote his first book at eight and is the creator of teen spy sensation Alex Rider, says the reason for visiting India was to "know Indian literature and find myself".
Horowitz shares a similarity with Indian movie maestro and children`s book author Satyajit Ray. The British writer structures his book on sheaves of A4 papers with doodles, sketches and words - like Ray who structured his books and screenplays with maps, sketches and texts.
Horowitz is curious about Indian children`s literature.
"I have not read Satyajit Ray or other children`s authors in India though I have heard of him and other Indian writers. The whole point of coming to India was to know Indian literature and find myself," Horowitz told reporters in an interview here.
An acclaimed horror and thriller writer, Horowitz obliged legions of Indians fans with insights and autographs at the Bookaroo children`s literature festival over the weekend.
Horowitz has penned over 50 books in his career spanning 31 years.
"I published my first book at the age of 22 in 1979 - though I wrote my first book at the age of eight," the 54-year-old London-based writer said.
This year, Horowitz`s hero Rider is celebrating 10 years as the youngest spy in Britain`s M16. Alex was recruited at 14 - just after his father`s death and has since cracked the most difficult cases a la James Bond.
Along with his Rider and horror books, Horowitz is the also the writer and creator of the award winning detective Foyles` War. The writer`s television ventures include written episodes for "Poirot", "Murder in Mind" and "Murder Most Horrid".
How did Alex Rider happen?
"Alex Rider was inspired by James Bond. I thought actor Roger Moore as Bond was getting too old. It was one of those imaginative moments - would that be great if Bond was a teenager. I love all the Bond movies," he said.
There was no looking back since he scribbled his first sentence on a sheet of paper.
"When I wrote the first sentence for the book, `The Stormbreaker` (Alex Rider series) - `When the doorbell rings in the morning, it`s never good news` - I felt that I had unlocked this door and had found something special on the other side," Horowitz said.
Why 3 in the morning? "It is a memory I had cherished since my father died and the door bell rang at 3 in the morning," Horowitz said.
Each book takes Horowitz a year to write, he said. "I do all the research. I go to every country where the books are set - like Cuba, America, Bangkok, Australia and Holland. I meet the people, I walk through the streets, I eat the food and get the flavours of life. I wrote all the books very seriously," he said.
Besides Rider, Horowitz is also known for his popular Gatekeepers series about "five children from around the world who come together to fight the forces of darkness - usually politicians and monsters" and the Diamond Brothers books featuring young detectives Tim Diamond and his brother Nick.
Horowitz said he would begin his new Gatekeeper book in March 2011. "I have to deliver it before Christmas," he said.
Horowitz is known to draft his books three times. "I write with a fountain pen on paper. I want to be like my heroes. Ink is what a writer has in his veins than blood. I work on the second draft on computers. The story is 80 percent right when I write the first draft," Horowitz said.
The writer usually locks himself in a "dark room with a computer, whiskey and his dog" to write his book.
Structure is key to Horowitz`s writing exercise - he spends "an awful lot of time organising my book".
"If you have a map, you don`t need to go one way. I don`t start writing a book until everything is planned. The book has to move - it must have locomotive balancing chapters that are actual, that have exposition, characters, humour and sadness," Horowitz said, sketching a tentative "plot of a story with sea, a gate and gas".
Horror as a genre is close to the writer`s heart.
"If you imagine it you get scared. The most scary thing in a horror movie is when a man opens the door and sees the darkness on the other side. But a writer has to be responsible not to scare the children - but at the same time surprise the reader," he said.
Having grown up reading Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy, Horowitz says he loves to read books by Stephen King.