Who's Your Favourite Writer?
If I’m reading crime fiction Dick Francis is one of my favourite authors. I share this addiction with the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. I heard that as soon as a new book was hot off the press Dick sent her a first edition of his latest best seller.
Once he retired from racing his year followed the same pattern – percolating ideas during the summer, researching from September to Christmas, and writing from January to have the book ready for the publishers in May, one book each year. They were published in September ready for the Christmas present market – my husband bought me the latest each year, I think it gave him a little peace and quiet over the holiday season.
Dick Francis wrote over forty books during his career. Although there was always a connection to his first career – he was champion jockey
in the 50s and personal jockey to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother – you don’t need to enjoy racing to enjoy his books. Solving the crime is the main thrust of the plot, but there is always the development of the relationships between the various characters running through the book.
What really hooked me was that the settings for the plots are always so well researched. From the injured jockey that suddenly had to run his late brother’s semi-precious gem stone business, to the owner of a haulage business that specialised in race horse transportation, to the independently rich playboy that worked as an undercover investigator for the Jockey Club, ending up as a waiter on a trans-Canadian race train, writing plots for a murder mystery play designed to uncover the real-life murderer.
I think his writing is probably one of the biggest influences on my own efforts.
Also like him, writing is more than a need, it is a compulsion. Sitting back and twiddling my thumbs through retirement is not an option for me.