Good Reading : April 2011
APRIL 2011 ı goodreading 27 in Sydney. His Sydney-based series earned Cor ris -- a prolific author who has also written biographies, spy novels, historical novels, and stories about golf and boxing -- the Ned Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award from the Crime Writers Association of Australia in 1999. In 2003 Stuart Coupe in The Age noted that ' ... without Cor ris's groundbreaking early novels the majority of local crime writers would not have been published'. Not that he's slowed down since; in recent years Cor ris has won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Novel (for Deep Water in 2009), and has been shortlisted a further five times. Despite his success, Corris, who tur ns 69 next month, comes across as a very grounded and humble man, who loves life and enjoys what he does. He speaks passionately and without pretension. Although he acknowledges that the acceptance of his books by local readers opened the door for the Australian crime writers who followed, he deflects any extra credit. 'I think something caught fire, and people have been able to car ry on. People like Peter Temple are really ter rific writers in any context.' The problem is, he adds with a laugh, 'I had the whole pie to myself in the first few years, and than all these other buggers came along and started taking slices of it. But it's been fun.' that a focus on exciting plots, interesting characters, and entertainment means that there can't also be more to a story. After all, much of what is now considered classic literature -- from Dumas to Austen to Dickens to Stevenson -- was plot-based fiction intended to entertain, while at the same time casting light on other aspects of life. 'I think if you are a reasonably talented writer and your method is action and story, inevitably other aspects of life and society and your own psychology and the psychology of other characters will creep through. But with writers whose ambition is just to show how very clever they are, I find that tedious. I need things to happen. I need movement,' Cor ris says. Movement is very important for Corris both on and off the page. He's suffered from Type 1 diabetes since he was 16, although it was many years before he started looking after himself properly. 'To maintain your health you have to watch your weight and you have to get a lot of exercise to be a good functioning Type 1 diabetic at my age,' he says. 'So I play golf, I go to the gym, I put in about a half-hour walk in the morning and afternoon, so I spend a fair bit of time just staying fit.' It was also through his diabetes that he met the 'most amazing person' he's telling him to pull himself together or he'd be blind in five years and dead in 10. Just with more colourful language. 'I was a man in my 30s, and no-one had ever spoken to me like that. That's when I started to look after myself -- started jogging, losing weight, stopped smoking and moderated my drinking. And so Fred loomed large in my consciousness.' When Hollows was diagnosed with terminal cancer several years later, Cor ris was contracted to co-write Fred Hollows: An autobiography (1991) -- a task he thoroughly enjoyed, and a book that sold more than 100 000 copies in Australia, raising a lot of money for the Fred Hollows Foundation. 'It was impossible to write a dull book about him,' says Cor ris, the admiration clear in his voice. 'There's never been anyone like him before or since. He could do microscopic eye surgery, and he could take the diff outofaLandRoverandputinanew diff. He was a lover of poetry and music, he climbed Mount Cook and he culled wild horses with a .303 rifle in the backblocks of Queensland as a younger man. Just the range of activities, abilities and interests was amazing. And then he was politically active -- a scourge of conser vatism. Just wonderful.' It's unsurprising that Corris was drawn to Hollows -- after all, the eye surgeon was a unique man who loved life and broke new ground in his field. Sound familiar? Follow the Money by Peter Corris is published by Allen & Unwin, r rp $29.99. author profile I think if you are a reasonably talented writer and your method is action and story, inevitably other aspects of life and society and your own psychology and the psychology of other characters will creep through.