In 2001, when Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider nailed his first mission in Stormbreaker, young readers took an immediate liking to this intrepid, high-tech gadget-wielding, teenage spy. And they clearly wanted to see more of him. Horowitz penned eight subsequent Alex Rider adventures in quick succession before announcing—unequivocally—that 2011’s Scorpia Rising would be his last Alex Rider novel. But Alex’s many fans—the series has sold 19 million copies worldwide—were pleased to learn that Horowitz had a change of heart. In keeping with its title, he decided to revisit Alex Rider in Never Say Die, which Philomel will publish next week with an announced first printing of 200,000 copies. After revealing his new book’s cover this past spring, PW called on Horowitz to ask about Alex’s return appearance.
Why did you decide six years ago that Scorpia Rising would be Alex’s final chapter—and what inspired you to resurrect him?
I was always afraid that if I wrote too many Alex Rider adventures, they would become formulaic, repetitive—and so I quit after Scorpia Rising. The trouble was, I’d left Alex in a bad place. He was lonely and sad after what had happened in Scorpia Rising, and I felt I owed it to him, and to my readers, to revisit him and bring him to a happier place. That’s why I wrote Never Say Die. It’s an uplifting book that takes Alex back to the character he was in Stormbreaker.
Had you missed writing about Alex in the years since completing Scorpia Rising—or did you largely leave him behind while tackling other writing projects?
I always missed Alex. He’d been a huge part of my life for 15 years, and he’d also made my name! It’s true that I focused on writing adult novels for a while, but every time I gave a talk, there would be kids in the audience asking about Alex. Then my publishers asked me to look at some short stories I’d written, some about Alex, with the idea of publishing them in a collection. I read them. I rewrote them. Then I added some new stories to them. Suddenly, I realized how much I had missed Alex, and knew I had to bring him back.
In what ways was it challenging to re-enter his world after a lengthy hiatus?
I was a little worried that after a five-year gap I wouldn’t have the same energy or inspiration to write about Alex, but actually it was like meeting an old friend after a long separation. I’d always had the plot idea in the back of my mind—and the villains had actually made a brief appearance in Scorpia Rising. The new book is much more about Alex himself, about his emotions, so the actual crime that’s being planned is slightly more contained than usual—less manic.
Did you find it rewarding to delve into Alex’s world again— and might you make another return visit there?
I loved writing Never Say Die, and I’ve been delighted by the response to it. Rumor has it that in 2019 my publishers will be releasing a collection of Alex short stories, including several brand-new ones. And yes, there’s certainly another novel planned.
Never Say Die by Anthony Horowitz. Philomel, $17.99 Oct. 978-1-5247-3930-0