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Posted on 13 Jan, 2017 in The Godfather: Peter Corris | 15 comments

The Godfather: Peter Corris on writing his final book

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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.

15 Comments

  1. Thank you for all 42 Cliff Hardy novels – I have enjoyed each and everyone. Will miss your take on life as expressed in them but will just have to start re-reading from the beginning … Wishing you all the best for the future.

  2. Hi Peter, I’ve just started reading Win, Lose or Draw and I did so with the feeling that this might be the last one. I’ve been reading your books for 20+ years and I eagerly await each new one knowing that it can’t go on forever. I am hopeful that you might continue with your godfather posts for a while longer, as I’m not ready to stop reading your words.

    For a long time I have wanted to write and publish my own pieces, but time and again I find myself feeling like it is a pale imitation of your work. While this may be a reflection of the pedestal on which I have placed your work, i’d bet there is an army of frustrated writers who have run up against the same wall. Your role as one of the great writers of crime fiction will undoubtedly shape the careers of many authors to come.

    I am truly grateful that the ride has been this long and wish you and Jean all the best for the future.

  3. Hi Peter

    Sad to see Cliff Hardy coming to an end since I’ve enjoyed them all except the last, which I’m sure I’ll find in my local library.

    After Cliff, there is only Gary Disher and Peter Temple.
    Truth is to die for. Read it four times.
    KT

  4. Peter

    Thanks for a fantastic series, and for taking the time to sit down and answer my questions for your interview with Crime Factory in 2015. That was a bloody great afternoon. Cliff Hardy IS Sydney.

    Cheers
    Andrew Prentice

  5. Hi Peter,
    I read your post with a heavy heart and can’t imagine what it is like to give up something you love so dearly. I do hope you keep up your post here on Newtown Review of books. I love your humour and your honesty. I’m definitely not a teary person preferring to accept what life throws at you and move on the best you can however my eldest son is also a T1 and your post stuck a very deep chord with me and did bring me to tears.

  6. I’m certainly looking forward to reading “Win, Lose or Draw” – I’m sure it will be just as enjoyable as the previous novels. Life without Cliff wont be the same!

    Best wishes to you too, Peter. Even if not writing, continue to enjoy that glass of wine while remembering the enjoyment you’ve bought to thousands of readers.

    Brian

  7. I’ve loved your Cliff Hardy series, not least because of your caustic comments on politics and society. Sad that there won’t be anymore, but we still have lots of Cliff Hardy’s to re-read and it’s far worse for you. So thank you for dealing with the increasing difficulties for so long!

  8. I have had enormous pleasure reading your Cliff Hardy series over the years. I have just finished ‘Win, Lose or Draw’ and the novel is a nice finale – plenty of action, changing settings, no fuss, gets the job done but above all captures the changing mores and culture of Sydney & Oz generally. I grew up in Maroubra and Coogee, attended USyd and know Glebe as well. Like Cliff, you can go out of the ring with your ears pinned back! It’s been a great journey – loved it!

  9. I’m not accustomed to writing fan emails, but like the writers above I too have read every one of the 42 Cliff Hardy novels in my 53 years, and I just had to email you Peter with thanks. Cliff has been a regular companion through my life, and feels like a dearly loved old friend whose faults and foibles I can see clearly, but whom I like despite them! I’ve always admired his moral code. I’d have enjoyed seeing more of Cliff’s cases brought to film – in my mind’s eye he will always look like Bryan Brown! No doubt there are many Peter Corris traits in him! I will miss him. Thanks for creating this everyman hero Peter – I think he has really helped capture the Australian identity.

  10. Peter thank you for the many years of enjoyment that I’ve spent with Cliff. You created a truly ‘Aussie’ character – not just Cliff but Sydney too. Laid back, laconic, and a heart of gold – both of them! I and wish you & Jean all the best. It’s been a pleasure

  11. Thanks Peter for creating Cliff Hardy – an Aussie literary icon not to be messed with. I look forward to his final chapter…

  12. Thank you all very much for your comments. I am humbled and very grateful that I’ve been able to provide some enjoyment to readers.
    Peter

  13. Dear Peter
    Thank you so much for your wonderful books.
    I feel like Cliff Hardy is my personal friend.
    Wishing you all the best in the future.
    Kindest regards
    Mary

  14. Peter, thank you so much for your creation, Cliff Hardy. Your writing has inspired me to write my own novel set in the south coast. I’ll pour a wine tonight and toast Cliff, from the heart.

  15. Thanks for the series Peter. I’ve been on the bus most of the way and really enjoyed the ride. Is that Waverley Cemetery on the cover of your last book?

    All the best

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