The Godfather: Peter Corris on writing his final book
With Win, Lose or Draw from Allen & Unwin published on 3 January this year, I have produced my last book. Early reviews and notices suggest that it is in no way inferior to the 41 others in the Hardy series. So why stop?
Certainly not because I tired of writing about Cliff Hardy. I have immensely enjoyed the time I spent with each book – feeling out the characters, allowing the plot to develop (I never pre-planned a story) and having the freedom to comment through the fiction on life and death, sex and sport, the city I love and places I’ve been. I admit that the books have taken me longer to write recently, say two to three months, rather than a month and half as in the past, but this was because I had less to do – my other novel series having come to an end. But it was also because I wanted to extend the pleasure of putting Cliff through his paces – having fun, getting things off my chest.
When I was in my 30s my eyesight was threatened as a result of long-term type one diabetes. The argon laser (introduced to this country by Fred Hollows, whose autobiography I was later to co-write) saved my sight. And I wrote many books over the following years.
A few years ago my eyesight deteriorated as a result of the scars from the lasering thickening and cutting down the area of retina I had to work with. My response to this, with nothing corrective to be done, was to write in a bigger font on the computer. Starting perhaps three or four books back I began to write in 18 point. This piece I am now writing in 36 point!
My eyesight deteriorated still further after I finished the manuscript of Win, Lose or Draw to the extent that it became difficult for me to manage on the computer – to use the spell checker, to access certain functions, even to locate the cursor. The effort it would take to write a novel under these conditions would be exhausting and the pleasure would be nil.
It has been suggested that I could dictate, as many writers have done, or use voice-recognition software, but these strategies wouldn’t work for me. I loved sitting down with a glass of wine beside me, opening up the file and clattering the keys with my two index fingers and one thumb. I loved seeing the words appear on the screen and to be immersed in the world I was creating out of my imagination and memory and physically with my hands. To do anything else wouldn’t feel like writing.
So I had no idea this book would be my last when I wrote it and that’s good. Knowing that could have imparted a tone – perhaps regret, perhaps self-pity – wholly inappropriate to Cliff. As it was, I gave it an ending intrinsic to the story, a very Cliff Hardy ending. And I’m happy with it.