Anthony Horowitz has taken on cancel culture and insisted that novelists need to be able to voice their opinions “without the world falling on you”.
The author and screenwriter, known for his series of children’s novels by Alex Ryder and the TV show Foyle’s War, claimed that “there’s a sense of beleaguered writers right now” and highlighted the attacks on JK Rowling, the author of Harry Potter.
Rowling has received a lot of public criticism for her views on transgender rights.
“JK Rowling is a gold-plated hero in the world who has done so much for children’s literacy and charity, and she’s under attack,” Horowitz said.
“Writers need to lead the agenda, not be intimidated into following it. You need to be free to write whatever you want and express whatever opinions you want to express without the world falling on you.
Speaking to The Sunday Times Culture magazine, he also said he was worried about create characters from backgrounds different from one’s own for fear of a backlash.
“There are times when I write a character, who may be of a different ethnicity than mine, or of a different sex, gender or origin. what the reaction might be because it’s so unfathomable. And it’s scary because writers shouldn’t follow the agenda, they should set it,” he said.
The author also admitted that the upcoming TV adaptation of his novel Magpie Murders included a black vicar in a rural English village although it is “extremely unlikely that in the 1950s a village like Saxby-on-Avon would have a black vicar”.
The move was made, he said, as a concession to the modern public. “You have to have sociological or social history accuracy on one side, and on the other you have modern television and what an audience expects. You have to move towards one at the expense of the other.
In 2017, Horowitz claimed he was “advised” against writing a black character in one of his novels because he himself was white.
He said at the time: “It may be dangerous territory, but there’s a chain of thought in America that it’s inappropriate for white writers to try to create black characters.
“The fact that it’s actually not our experience and therefore to do it is, by its very nature, contrived and perhaps condescending.
“Therefore, I was warned not to. Which I thought was disturbing and upsetting.