In the ten years since the first Alex Rider book appeared on our bookshelves, there have been over 12 million sales around the world.

To celebrate 10 years of the Alex Rider phenomenon, Kids’ Book Capers is having a three week celebration where we’ll be looking in depth at the books and the man behind them.

Today, our first post looks at the inspiration for the Alex Rider stories.

Anthony Horowitz admits to being an avid James Bond fan and says he used to queue for hours in the rain to be the first one to see the latest James Bond Movie. When he was bored at school, he used to relive the most exciting moments from the James Bond films.

He says,

“These were the dreams that sustained me through maths, physics, chemistry and all the other subjects at which I was no good at all. I used to build secret drawers in the bottom of matchboxes and fill them with tiny bits & pieces, badly glued together. My imagination would then turn them into super-weapons…”

He discovered the James Bond books when he was 12 and read them over and over again. Horowitz says that when he became a scriptwriter some years later, he had a secret dream to write a James Bond movie. After a disastrous interview with a movie producer, he decided that one day he would create his own James Bond.

After he’d finished writing his book The Switch, he started to toy with the idea of creating a new sort of hero.

A boy who lived in the real world, who went to comprehensive school, who didn’t want to be a hero but would survive – just – a series of ever darker adventures.

He wanted his books to remind people of Ian Fleming’s James Bond stories without actually stealing from them.

Horowitz says,

“So even as I started work on the first book, I made conscious decisions. James Bond was a patriot who enjoyed working for the Secret Service. My hero would be recruited against his will and wouldn’t trust the people he worked for. There would be no gadgets. Alex would never have a gun.”

But Horowitz says he was forced to revise his ‘no gadgets’ policy after several school visits.

Every one I spoke to wanted gadgets. More than that – they expected gadgets.

Giving Alex Rider gadgets has been one of the most challenging parts of the writing process for Horowitz. He is adamant that they must be realistic and says,

They always have to be concealed in items that you would expect to find in the pocket of an average fourteen-year-old and, when you really think about it, that rather narrows the field.

And unlike James Bond, Alex Rider’s gadgets have to be non lethal. They have to be life saving but surprising.

With their superspy themes and action adventure, it’s not surprising that the Alex Rider books are sometimes compared to James Bond’s adventures.

But according to Horowitz,

At the end of the day, the most important thing for me is to be original. When it comes to thinking up the stories, creating the characters, devising the action sequences and chases, my first question is always – did Bond do it? And if the answer is yes, then sadly I have to think of something else.

The Alex Rider adventures have been translated into 28 languages and several are now available as state-of-the-art graphic novels. The latest best selling title in the sequence, Crocodile Tears, was simultaneously published as a traditional book, an e-book and an iPhone application.


Published by

Dee White

Dee White lives with her husband and two sons in a small rural country town which has more kangaroos than people. She has worked as an advertising copywriter and journalist and has had numerous career changes because until recently, writing wasn’t considered to be a proper job. Letters to Leonardo, her first novel with Walker Books Australia, was published in 2009 to great critical acclaim.