One of my author heroes has gone to the great writers conference of eternity. Part of me is devastated that I won't have a new Dick Francis book every December, the other part is grateful he left the racetrack to become a writer in the first place. I have a copy of every single one of his books, and I'm going to start re-reading them. Living a long and honorable life is eulogy enough, and Dick Francis deserves every accolade he ever achieved.
Sharon Sala gave a talk years ago about writing the perfect hero, and used romance (her genre) heros as examples. Immediately, Dick Francis' men of good heart, decent manners, and honorable actions came to my mind. So when I got home, I picked up a few Francis books randomly, and listed the characteristic that made me want to marry one of his heroes. (My husband is very like many of the Francis men, so I'm one lucky woman.) Each and every Francis hero strives to do the right thing no matter what the personal cost, including losing a hand. (Sid, you're one tough dude.) Though Francis wrote mysteries, anyone can learn from his body of work. Pacing, dialogue, tension, plotting - he did it all very well indeed. Rumor has it that his wife, Mary, was a silent co-author, and if so, good for them. Whatever it takes to write a great book, is my motto.
Dick Francis wrote great books that hold up well. Years from now, I bet writing conferences and degree programs will be holding seminars on his body of work.
I'll still miss him.