Authors cannot create a modern villain because of political correctness, according to a best-selling British spy author.

Anthony Horowitz has complained that writers who attempt to create a truly evil character such as Captain Hook or Long John Silver are having to self-censor.

Horowitz, 52, is the successful author of the Alex Rider spy books, the seventh volume of which, Snakehead is due to be published in November.

In today’s Daily Mail Horowitz confessed that he “sweated” over writing a suitable adversary for Alex to fight in the book.

He writes: “I’ve found it increasingly difficult to create someone for him to fight: a bad guy who won’t give offence, who won’t break some new piece of politically correct legislation, who won’t, in short,damage my career.”

Horowitz slams Hollywood bosses for replacing Rider’s foe in the film of his book Stormbreaker, a Lebanese businessman, with Mickey Rourke.

He writes that it is almost impossible for an author to create a villain who happens to gay, black, disabled – or even fat.

Horowitz explains that in the UK edition of Stormbreaker, the villain was the son of a failed hairdresser, but this had to be changed in the American version.

“I was accused of homophobia – because to some people hairdressing would seem a gay profession. Over there, he’s the son

of a failed oral hygienist.”

Eventually the author created Major Winston Yu as a villain for his new book, a Hong Kong Chinese gang leader who loves all things British and suffers from osteoporosis.