Anthony Horowitz on Moriarty
Anthony Horowitz is one of the most succesful young adult authors of this past generation. He is the author of the bestselling Alex Rider series which have sold over 19 million. He has also produced several succesful television shows that have been highly popular in the United States and UK, including Foyle’s War, Midsomer Murders, and the critically acclaimed series Colision. Anthony took some time from his hectic schedule to speak to us about his new novel Moriarity.
TSM: TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW NOVEL, MORIARTY
AH: The story opens at the Reichenbach Falls, immediately after the encounter between Sherlock Holmes and his archenemy, Moriarty. Two men turn up at the falls. One is Detective Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, a character out of The Sign of Four. The other is a Pinkerton’s agent from New York, Frederick Chase. The two of them join forces to discover what really happened at Reichenbach, and this leads them on a journey into the London underworld in pursuit of a vicious American criminal with worldwide ambitions. It’s a dark, twisty tale with a very unexpected ending.
TSM: HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN FASCINATED BY THE HOLMES CANON?
AH: I was given the complete novels and short stories by my father as a Christmas present when I was seventeen. I was instantly smitten. It wasn’t just the two wonderful characters of Holmes and Watson. It wasn’t even the crimes. I grew up in a rather boring part of London, and I loved the way that mysteries that might begin in a temple in India or a Masonic lodge in America could spread their tentacles all the way to the UK. I loved the atmosphere of the books. I think the whole reason I began writing crime fiction is down to Doyle.
TSM: WHY DO WE ALL HAVE AN INTEREST IN VILLAINS? WHAT MAKES MORIARTY SPECIAL?
AH: James Bond has Blofeld. Robin Hood has the Sheriff of Nottingham. Luke Skywalker has Darth Vader. Every great hero has to have an equally great villain. It’s a basic truth of literature. I love writing the villains! It seems to me that although there are only a certain number of ways you can do good in the world, villainy has a hundred different manifestations—and the loopier the better. Moriarty is special because he appears so infrequently. He turns up in just one story and is mentioned in three others. It’s what we don’t know about him that fuels the imagination. And he has a killer name.
TSM: WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE SCREEN MORIARTY?
AH: Jared Harris was excellent in the last Robert Downey Jr. outing. I seem to remember Eric Porter being very compelling on television, back in the eighties. But for me the outstanding Moriarty is Andrew Scott in the BBC’S “Sherlock.”
TSM: HOW DID WRITING MORIARTY COMPARE TO THE HOUSE OF SILK?
AH: To be honest, it was more difficult. Holmes and Watson do not appear in the story and, in particular, I missed having Watson’s wonderfully reliable voice to guide me through. The story is also in some ways more complicated—there’s a surprise at the end that had to be carefully woven in. But I was determined not to do a second straightforward investigation. After the success of The House of Silk, I really wanted to challenge myself and do something new.
TSM: DID YOU DO A LOT OF RESEARCH TO PUT A HISTORICAL FIGURE LIKE PINKERTON IN THE BOOK?
Yes. I had a researcher working for me, answering specific questions about nineteenth-century New York, train times, coaches and carriages, etc., but I also read a great many books; The Pinkertons by James D. Horan was particularly useful. It’s important to me that the period should be depicted as accurately as possible…although I did wonder to what extent Frederick Chase should speak with an American idiom. Had the modern American accent developed fully at that time? I used the movie The Gangs of New York as a rough guide.
TSM: ANY PLANS FOR MORE BOOKS ABOUT MORIARTY?
AH: I have no plans at the moment but it’s possible, I suppose. I particularly enjoyed writing about Colonel Moran and the rather psychotic boy, Perry. I think it’s very likely that I will return to the world of Sherlock Holmes at some time.
TSM: WHICH SHERLOCK HOLMES STORY WAS YOUR FAVORITE?
AH: As a boy, I remember being knocked out by “The Dying Detective,” and it remains my favorite to this day. I love the villain, Culverton Smith. He’s superbly drawn and he’s got a great name, too. I was completely thrown by the ending. It’s odd because this is a late story (1913) and generally I prefer the earlier ones. But this one is a delight.