Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hard to Speak Ill of this Dead and The Last Part of the Randy Wayne White Interview.

Dick Francis died today at the age of 89.
Thriller Guy's email has been flooded by messages from his writer pals, most with variations on the theme, “I thought he died five years ago?” No, it only seems like it because his wife Mary died in 2000 and she was the one who wrote all his books. Oh, you didn't know that? Well, that's what Graham Lord said in his 1999 Francis bio, A Racing Life, and the evidence is pretty strong that it 's the truth. After all, she was actually a writer and a publishing person and he was, well, a jockey, a great jockey mayhaps, but one with a limited education. He knew the business, but it was the racing business; she was the writer in the family. If you'd like to read an interesting article about the subject this 1999 piece in The Independent tells all.

TG has read a ton of the Dick Francis books, and is pretty sure that most thriller writers worth their salt have delved deeply into this particular canon. TG must admit, he grew a bit weary of them after about twenty five or so, and then began to fall behind. TG reviewed one of the later books, written with Francis' son Felix (taking over where Mary left off) and it was OK, but, well, kind of lame, if truth be told. TG would have liked to have given it a fabulous review out of respect for Mr. Francis, but that's not the way it works in TG's ethical world: a book must stand on its merits alone, no extra author points for being a good guy or a legend.

So raise a glass to Dick Francis, or maybe to his wife, Mary. The books were terrific and they had a hell of a run. Cheers!

And now to finish up the fabulous Randy Wayne White Interview.

Here's RWW on where he does his writing, his writing day and that all important writer's topic: drinking. One of these days TG is going to go into drinking in depth (Mrs. Thriller Guy thinks he's already there) as it pertains the the Writing Life. Look for that future entry under the title: Gin, the Writer's Best Friend?


You spent 13 years working as a fishing guide. How and why did you make the leap to writing fiction? I was a full time guide, did almost 3,000 charters, and was on the water 300 days a year. Since childhood, however, I always wanted to write books, perhaps believing that, if I wrote a book, I might become a part of the magic I found in books. I worked very hard at writing in my spare time and, in 1978, got a big break with Rolling Stone founded Outside Magazine, and published a piece by me. While guiding, I began to publish regularly in some of the country’s premier magazines. In 1987, Tarpon Bay Marina was closed to powerboat traffic, and I was out of a job. As much as I miss the marina – Mack, Nick, Jeth, Alex, Graeme, Carlene plus all the fishing guides – it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I had to make my living as a writer, I had two young sons, and failure wasn’t an option.

Where do you do your actual writing? It’s hard for people to believe, but I don’t have what most would consider an office or a set writing space. It’s hard for me to believe, at times but writing, for many years, was a secondary part of family life, so a decent office was always way down the list of personal requirements. At my home on Pine Island, I have a tiny (8’ by 8’) shed where I write; on Sanibel a tiny little loft that’s way too hot in summer. Sometimes, I write at the restaurants early in the morning, or at a stilt house on Captiva (it’s the photo on the jacket of DEEP SHADOW.) I carry my Mac laptop everywhere I go, and I write anywhere I can.

Can you give a description of your writing day? I write daily. As I near the end of a book, I write around the clock, working, then dozing, breaking only to workout, then have a beer at sunset, but only one or two. I can’t write and drink alcohol – thank god.

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