- Photography by Mr John Lindquist | Styling by Mr Mark Anthony
- Words by Mr Rob Ryan
At 58, Mr Anthony Horowitz, who was awarded an OBE for services to literature this year, is one of the UK's most prolific and successful authors and screenwriters. He is the creator of the Alex Rider teen spy series and of the long-running TV series Foyle's War. He also wrote The House of Silk, the first new Sherlock Holmes novel approved by the Conan Doyle Estate. His eldest son, Mr Nicholas Horowitz, is 25, graduated with a first in history from Edinburgh University and is about to start a course on the financial side of film-making. Here, father and son talk to MR PORTER about how the younger Mr Horowitz's sporting prowess has influenced his dad's work, and the joy of a new white shirt.
Nick, what affect has Anthony's career had on you?
Nick: Because he was writing books aimed at my age group, there was a constant request for autographs from classmates. In fact, that's pretty much continued throughout my life, as he gradually became known for teen and adult books and TV series, as well as his children's series.
Anthony, have your sons affected your work?
Anthony: I always tried to involve both the boys [Nicholas has a brother, Mr Cassian Horowitz, who's two years younger] in my world, simply because my father didn't. I wasn't sure what he did exactly, he was rather a distant figure. They have both ended up in the world of media, and that can't be a coincidence, but I never pushed them in that direction.
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Anthony, is it true that Nick has had a significant input into your work?
Anthony: It is. I've always thought of this as a family business. Both of my sons read every book and make suggestions. Cass is very forthright. I remember having to rewrite 30,000 words after he'd finished with one draft of a novel. Nick is more generous in his appraisals. But what Nick brought to Alex Rider was the sheer physicality of the character. Whenever Alex goes skiing or snowboarding or windsurfing, that's all from watching Nicholas. There's a lot of Nick in Alex.
Nick: Ever since I can remember, I've had an excess of energy. I love sports, from rugby and football to swimming and skiing. I've just come back from kitesurfing in Brazil. I have to stay active.
Anthony: Whereas I don't do anything like that. My idea of relaxing after a day's writing is to write some more. I'm much more cerebral than Nick. I sometimes wonder where that extraordinary sporting gene came from. But the other thing Nick brought to the work is that he enabled me to understand how teenagers think, which was very important. Not speak - nothing dates like current slang - but knowing how someone his age sees the world was vital to making Alex believable.
If you don't share a love of sport, what do you share a passion for? Music?
Anthony: Alas, I'm the only one in the family who likes classical music.
Nick: Because my generation has access to so many different genres, we don't limit ourselves to just one - so I'll listen to classical, pop, hip-hop, rock and rap. We don't see musical boundaries the way older generations do.
Anthony: That's a good point, I'd never thought of that. Film is something we both love.
Nick: I enjoy the way I can come to dad and mention a style of film or a particular plot and he'll pull out an old Buster Keaton movie or an obscure Hitchcock, something I know nothing about.
Anthony: What we do share is an absolute compulsion to do whatever we do to the best of our ability. Unfortunately, in my case that only applies to writing - with Nick it's a whole range of activities.
What Nick brought to Alex Rider was the sheer physicality of the character. Whenever Alex goes snowboarding or windsurfing, that's from watching Nick
What about clothes? Do you each have a particular style?
Anthony: I'm very much a jeans and T-shirt man. I have been known to wear a suit, but it's not my attire of choice.
Nick: Whereas I like putting on a suit. In the last place I worked, a sports and entertainment agency, I was seen as a bit odd in that way - people would say: "When is the interview?" because the ethos was much more casual. But I find nice clothes give me confidence. I like an open collar under a suit, or a bow tie. And I like wearing a dinner jacket - it's that feeling of dressing up in something really quite formal that makes you feel good.
Do either of you have a clothing indulgence?
Nick: With me, it's a white shirt. My mother always laughs because I have so many. I love a fresh, crisp white shirt, although you can guarantee I'll spill something down a new one within seconds of putting it on. Just once, oddly, like I have to christen it.
Anthony: I have rather a lot of T-shirts. But I do like expensive clothes. I love the finish and the fabrics. As I get older I find I'm narrowing down my choices. I'd rather have two or three really nice items than a whole wardrobe full of designer clothes. And I don't like anything with a prominent logo. What I always say is that well-made clothes are a good investment because they last so much longer.
Nick: That's true and I find that if you've paid a lot for something you look after it, maybe put it straight on to a hanger when you take it off. If it's cheap, you tend to drop it on the floor at the end of the day.
Have you always had a warm and easy relationship, or were there rocky adolescent years?
Anthony: We are two very different individuals who have always been incredibly close. I can honestly say we have never really fallen out. Disagreements, perhaps; differences of opinion, certainly, but nothing more serious than that.
Nick: Going away to boarding school when I was 13 helped. Not being in each other's hair all the time gave us all some space to appreciate each other when we got back together.
Anthony: It was strange because we talked a lot about whether Nick should board, and I was all for it while my wife Jill [Green, film producer] was much less convinced. And then when he went, it was me who ended up missing Nick the most. But it meant when we were together, we only had fun. And we still do.