Why have you become a patron of Home- Start in Suffolk ?
Home-Start in Suffolk is exactly the sort of charity I like. Small, hard-working and doing effective work in the local community, helping families and children with a whole range of difficulties. I’ve been coming to Suffolk for 30 years and I’d like to think that everyone should be able to enjoy this wonderful place.
With a second home at Orford you must love Suffolk . . . is it the tranquillity and slow pace of life?
It’s so many things. But in no particular order: the skies, the walks, the food, the people, the churches, the history, the forests, the River Alde. And, yes, the tranquillity and slower pace of life.
Might you retire here?
I will never retire. But since I have a plot reserved in Orford cemetery, it looks as if I’m going to be here for some time to come.
I think you always believed you were going to be a writer and your mother introduced you to books on Frankenstein and Dracula as an early teen. Did the imagery of these books excite or disturb you? Maybe both?
My mother actually used to tell me the stories of the famous Hammer films, rather than the books, when I was about eight years old. I loved the stories (my favourite was actually The Fly about a scientist who ends up with the head of a fly).
How do you write? Are you an early riser, typing for a set number of hours then taking a break? Or perhaps you have a different regime?
I avoid any set routine. When I’m in Suffolk I usually start at around 8am and work through the day. But there’s always time for a long walk with the dog, or even just a stroll around the village. I never count the minutes, or the words.
Different disciplines, I’m sure, but what do you prefer – writing a novel or being a screenwriter? Perhaps sometimes the latter is better paid?
I can assure you that I never factor how much I’m being paid into my work. That really isn’t the point. I probably prefer writing novels (although I love screenplays too). With a novel, I have complete control. A screenplay means notes…and more notes!
Where did the inspiration for the Alex Rider books come from?
I imagined what James Bond would be like if he was a teenager. That was my original inspiration. But then I made Alex as different to Bond as I could.
The interests/fads of teenage boys must have changed from your first Rider novels – how do you keep pace with new tech so that Rider is fighting crime ‘of the moment’ ?
I think the Alex Rider books are fairly classical adventure stories which perhaps gives them a timeless quality. It’s true that every five years I have to look at the stories and see if anything has gone out of date. There was a CD player that turned into an electric saw, for example. Who even knows what a CD is these days? But you’d be surprised how little I have to change.
How much involvement did you have in the casting of Foyle’s War? Michael Kitchen seems such a good fit as Foyle.
My wife, Jill Green, was the producer of Foyle and the two of us worked on it together for sixteen years – so between us we did have a lot of control. Michael Kitchen was the first actor we approached to play Foyle and we were both delighted that he agreed. He was a brilliant fit and very much helped shape the character.
Kitchen appears to be quite private and an elusive interviewee. Do you know him quite well?
I haven’t seen Michael for a while but of course I knew him well while we were filming. He is a very private person – but 100% professional.
Generally speaking are you pleased when you see your work on the big or small screen?
Both. The new series of Alex Rider has just appeared on what you call the “small” screen but actually a lot of the most interesting work is now being done on TV and I would say that “small” is the wrong word.
About Home-Start in Suffolk
Home-Start in Suffolk is a volunteer-based family support charity dedicated to supporting families struggling with mental health problems, disability, long term or terminal illness, bereavement, domestic abuse, behavioural issues, isolation, poverty, family breakdowns and so much more.
They work with parents and children aged 0-12 across Suffolk, engaging them where they live, providing fully trained, experienced, volunteers that pre COVID- 19, would visit families at home offering the support necessary to give them the best possible pathway to stability, happiness and cohesion which has been proven to have a hugely positive impact on supported families.
Since the pandemic hit, a telephone support service has been put in place which has been hugely successful and will continue to be available to families as they begin to return to home- visiting support in the coming months. In the last year Home-Start volunteers supported 1,500 people and this number has continued to grow year on year.
The organisation is the country’s largest Early Intervention family support provider with over 250 active volunteers. These volunteers are a lifeline, working with families to prevent them reaching crisis point.