Best-selling author Anthony Horowitz on his latest murder mystery

Author Anthony Horowitz, who is continually inspired by his Suffolk surroundings Picture: Jack Lawson

Author Anthony Horowitz, who is continually inspired by his Suffolk surroundings Picture: Jack Lawson - Credit: Archant

The Orford-based author’s Susan Ryeland series is also in the process of being turned into a television show.

One of the nation’s most beloved and best-selling crime writers Anthony Horowitz is back with a brand-new book – and his latest release promises to be his most captivating one yet.

He explains how Suffolk constantly inspires him in his writing, how he found lockdown, and how yet another one of his book series is being given the small screen treatment.

Moonflower Murders, which was released back in August this year, is the second installment in his Susan Ryeland series. Following on from where Magpie Murders left off, Moonflower Murders features a novel within a novel, once again paying homage to that by-gone era of crime fiction that Horowitz is so deeply fond of.

“It’s a sort of golden age detective story buried inside of a modern mystery - and it’s all about the interaction between the two,” explained Horowitz.

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A fascinating concept - but just how exactly does Horowitz go about penning two different stories at once, to seamlessly combine into one novel?

“With Moonflower Murders, I started with the outer, modern-day murder because, in strictly chronological terms, it happened first. Alan Conway visited Branlow Hall and that was how he got the inspiration for his novel, Atticus Pünd Takes the Case.

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“The biggest challenge in the book was to come up with two completely different stories that somehow meshed. If Alan Conway had just written the story of a murder at a hotel during a wedding reception, the reader would have been presented with the same story told twice, which would have been dull. His book had to reflect what had happened, but in a completely different way.”

Having spent just over a year working on Moonflower Murders, Horowitz hopes this sequel can provide his fans with yet another enthralling literary journey that his readers have come to know and love over the years.

“While it was quite a complicated book to have written, I hope that is not the case when it comes to reading it - the idea is to make it as simple and fun as possible.”

With the world spending the majority of 2020 in lockdown, did such a prolonged period of time in quarantine help Anthony work on his books?

“Not really, as I find that writers self-isolate anyway - I could say I’ve been self-isolating all my life. But the truth is we still need to be plugged into normality - we need to have traffic, noise, life, people and crowds. We need to be able to embrace and meet people, and to be self-isolating in a lockdown is not helpful. I actually found it harder to focus and concentrate, like many other people.”

Anthony – who splits his time between London and Suffolk – is currently enjoying a restful autumn at his home in Orford. He has been coming to the county for over 30 years now, and still finds inspiration in the peaceful landscapes that surround him.

“At least three or four of my books feature Suffolk settings in them, and I also wrote a TV series called Injustice which was filmed in Felixstowe and around Woodbridge.

“I’ve always had a strong Suffolk link – I just find this county energises me. A two or three hour walk with my dog around Dunwich or Framlingham just recharges my batteries and fills me with inspiration.

“There is nowhere in the world I would rather be than where I am right now. Whenever I leave Suffolk, I always wonder why am I bothering.”

But just what is it about our great county that Horowitz loves so much?

“I think the fact about where Suffolk is, is part of its charm. No major motorway comes through here, and its slightly on the edge. It feels like a world unto its self. Norfolk is next door, but they are chalk and cheese to each other in my view.

“The towns of Suffolk haven’t been spoilt. They’ve been preserved somehow, and you find houses that have been here for hundreds of years, and they’ve got some extraordinary colours to them. The pinks, the greens and the blues you get here are unique themselves.”

“Suffolk certainly makes a great location for a murder mystery book, because I like golden age detective fiction, and there is something about Suffolk that does belong to that earlier world. Moonflower Murders has a lot of that in it, that sense of Agatha Christie or Dorothy L Sayers. I think Midsommer Murders could have easily been shot here in Suffolk.”

Speaking of filming TV shows, Magpie Murders has been commissioned into a television series, and is due to be shot next year. With the scripts already written, it’s just a matter of when filming in the UK can resume due to Covid restrictions.

“It’s in the early stages – so I can’t tell you much about it I’m afraid, other than the fact we have some fantastic casting. But I’m looking forward to a proper announcement for it, hopefully early next year.

“In regards to the script writing, it was the work of two years and it took me a very long time to do. Because these whodunnits are real puzzles – jam-packed with clues, surprises, twists and turns – transferring all of that onto the page took me a very long time.”

With a TV show currently in the pipeline, and Suffolk providing Horowitz with plenty of inspiration for his well-loved murder mysteries, how far does he plan on taking his Susan Ryland series?

“I might have one more,” he said. “It’s a difficult trick to keep playing, the idea of the novel within a novel. While it’s a lot of fun for the reader, it’s quite hard work for the writer. So although I might do one more, I doubt I’d do anything after that. Make it a trilogy and call it a day.”

Moonflowers Murders is available from Penguin Random House, and is out now.

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