Bestseller Anthony Horowitz was “warned off” including a black character in his new book after being told by an editor it would be “inappropriate”.
Horowitz, best known for his Alex Rider series of novels, said he found it “disturbing” that he was being advised against a white writer creating a black character.
He told the Mail on Sunday: “This is maybe dangerous territory but there is a chain of thought in America that it is inappropriate for white writers to try and create black characters.
“That it is actually not our experience and therefore to do so is, by its very nature, artificial and possibly patronising.
“Therefore I was warned off doing it. Which was, I thought, disturbing and upsetting.”
The creator of Foyle’s War, who is Jewish, added that taking this train of thought to the extreme, he would be forced to solely include characters which are 62-year-old white Jewish men living in London in his works.
Horowitz came in for criticism last year when he said British actor Idris Elba was “too street” to play James Bond.
Horowitz said he was thinking of Elba’s gritty role in the BBC crime drama Luther, and did not mean to cause offence. He said he believed another black actor, Adrian Lester, would be a better choice.
“I was asked in my interview if Idris Elba would make a good James Bond. In the article I expressed the opinion that to my mind Adrian Lester would be a better choice but I’m a writer not a casting director so what do I know?
“Clumsily, I chose the word ‘street’ as Elba’s gritty portrayal of DCI John Luther was in my mind but I admit it was a poor choice of word. I am mortified to have caused offence.”
The writer said that he “nervously” approached Elba at a film premiere to apologise in person, and said the actor could not have been “more charming, more delightful, more humane”.