Happy Sunday! Hope you’re all having a great weekend! Today, for your literary enjoyment, I’ve got an interview with Felix Francis as part of the ICED blog tour.
Massive thanks to Hayley Cox of Midas PR for inviting me on the blog tour and to Felix for the fab answers!
Miles Pussett is a former steeplechase jockey. Now he gets his adrenalin rush from riding down the Cresta Run, a three-quarter-mile Swiss ice chute, head first, reaching speeds of up to eighty miles per hour.
Finding himself in St Moritz during the same weekend as White Turf, when high-class horseracing takes place on the frozen lake, he gets talked into helping out with the horses. It is against his better judgement. Seven years before, Miles left horseracing behind and swore he would never return.
When he discovers something suspicious is going on in the races, something that may have a profound impact on his future life, Miles begins a search for answers. But someone is adamant to stop – and they’ll go to any lengths to do it . . .
What was your inspiration for ICED?
My wife and I were invited to visit St Moritz for the annual “White Turf” race meeting when the horses race on the ice of the St Moritz frozen lake. Fantastic! We also visited the world-famous Cresta Run where brave (or foolish) young and not so young men (and a few women) hurl themselves head-first down a three-quarter mile-long ice chute at speeds in excess of eighty miles per hour, with no brakes and precious little steering. The whole visit was both fascinating and exciting, so I resolved, there and then, to include both contrasting sporting venues in the book.
Oh wow! Sounds like one hell of a spectacle!Can you describe your writing process?
In the words of Lennon & McCartney (sort of!): “Wake up, fall out of bed, drag a comb across my head, find my way downstairs and drink a cup, and looking up, I noticed I am late… Find a coat and grab my lap, make my office in seconds flat, sit down at my desk and have a smoke, someone speaks and I go into a dream… ”
Well, to be honest, a day in my life is not quite as psychedelic as those of the Beatles in 1968 (due to a distinct lack of LSD in north Oxfordshire), but bits of it do feel the same and I certainly want to turn my readers on, although the smoke bit is now also just a distant memory — sigh!
In more mundane terms, I try and write 1000 words a day between the middle of September and the end of March, but I usually fail dismally, especially when the book is only just starting. But I catch up towards the end. And finishing it is the VERY BEST OF FUN.
I’ve heard the discipline of writing 1000 words a day from other authors – something to take heed of! Did you always want to be a writer?
Difficult to answer. Most sons grow up wanting to be what their fathers are – doctors breed doctors, lawyers breed lawyers, etc. etc. – and my dad was a writer, first of newspaper articles and then of books since I was aged four. However, I didn’t really believe it would happen until I had a go when I was 53 and wrote my first “Dick Francis” novel. Fortunately people loved it. ICED is now my 15th in the series and it feels like the most natural thing in the world to carry on the “family” business.
And what a family business it is!! What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Don’t give up, don’t give up, and don’t give up!
Write to entertain. If your work doesn’t entertain you, then it won’t entertain anyone else.
Make your readers care about what happens to the people in the story as the book progresses. In doing so you will need to take your characters on a journey of discovery, to make them change and evolve as a result of events. If your readers don’t care, they will put the book down and never bother to pick it up again.
Don’t be afraid to write emotion – I make myself cry at times – why not, if you want your words to have the same effect on others?
Don’t try and put too much unnecessary detail into your prose – allow your readers to create their own mental image of the setting. Dialogue should be short and snappy, rather than expansive and flowery. Speak it out and listen to yourself as if you are overhearing a conversation between your characters.
And, most importantly of all, ask someone else to read what you’ve written out loud to you as you go along. My wife does it for me and yes, if it sounds like rubbish, it is.
Very wise words there! Now just for fun: what would your specialist Mastermind subject be?
I always claimed that my Mastermind specialist subject would be the Life and Works of Dick Francis (if allowed!) but, one day back in the 1990s, I received a call from the Mastermind office telling me that someone else had chosen that as their specialist subject for the semi-final and could I please write the questions!! I did, and the male contender sadly failed to get into the final by 2 points. But he only got one of my questions wrong so, thankfully, it wasn’t my fault. He was and is the only person I have ever met who knows more about my dad that I do.
So I now need choose another subject? How about “Solid State and Nuclear Physics”?? or “Planetary Astronomy”??
I’m serious. Both are pet subjects of mine.
Fabulous! Thank you so much Felix for taking part! And I love the Mastermind anecdote!
Who Is Felix Francis?
Felix Francis studied Physics and Electronics at London University and then spent seventeen years teaching Advanced-Level Physics. The younger son of crime writer and National Hunt jockey Dick Francis, Felix assisted his father with both the research and writing of his novels in a father-and-son writing partnership. Continuing his father’s legacy, Felix has written fifteen successful novels.
The Felix Francis & Dick Francis novels combined have sold over 80 million copies worldwide in 40 languages.