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In Memoriam: Dick Francis

Oct. 31, 1920–Feb. 14, 2010
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By the time he was 8, Dick Francis was in the show ring. He dropped out of school at 15 because he thought there was more value in horses, and in his case, he was likely right: Those horses took him to England’s Grand National Steeplechase, to an autobiography, to a gig as a racing columnist and, eventually, to popular mysteries set in the equestrian world. All told, his 42 novels have sold more than 60 million copies. Not bad for a guy with no degree.

WD spoke to Francis in 1986. Here are a few of his wisdoms from that chat:

“I work in longhand in a children’s exercise book and then put it on a word processor. My first draft is it. I start at Chapter 1, Page 1, and plod on to THE END.”

“In High Stakes the hero was a toy manufacturer who started owning race horses. He didn’t know anything about them, and explaining to him all the way through the book … helped explain it to other readers. If you can teach people something, you’ve won half the battle. They want to keep on reading.”

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