Friday, 04 September 2015


…is a crime writer. He is the younger son of Dick Francis. After teaching A-level physics for 17 years, he quit to look after his father’s affairs, helping him research and write many of his novels. He went on to write his own.

What are you working on at the moment?
My next novel, which will be my 11th. Its working title is Triple Crown.

When were you at your happiest?

What is your greatest fear?
Apart from losing my marbles, my greatest fear is going to my wine racks and finding not a single bottle of red.

What is your earliest memory?
Aged three, going with my father to collect trays of hot rolls from the bakery in Didcot to take to the local village store.

What do you most dislike about yourself?
I am generally happy in my own skin. My family say I am rather quick to get angry, but I revert to normality just as fast.

Who has been your greatest influence?
My parents. Story ideas poured out of my father like a waterfall, and my mother had a great love of the rhythm of a sentence. I try to combine both of those attributes in my writing.

What is your most treasured possession?
The glass paperweight that sits on my desk. I watched it being made by a glass-blower – then my mother bought it for me, the day before she died.

What trait do you most deplore in others?
I hate the way some people talk so loudly in restaurants. And as for those on trains who wear in-ear headphones playing extra-loud music, I would happily strangle them with their own wires.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My weight. I have never understood how, as the son of a jockey, I could end up carrying so much extra baggage around my midriff.

What is your favourite book?
My father’s book Bonecrack. The story of two fathers and two sons and how the changing relationship between the sons impacts on that between each father and son. Masterful.

What is your favourite film?
The Fugitive. The subtle changes in the relationships between the characters is what makes the story so enthralling. You end up really caring about the outcome.

Q A-Sept04-02-590

And your favourite piece of music?
Anything from Les Misérables, but especially Empty Chairs At Empty Tables.

What is your favourite meal?
Thai green chicken curry.

Who would you most like to come to dinner?
Astronaut Chris Hadfield. He famously sang David Bowie’s Space Oddity while ‘floating in the tin can’ of the International Space Station. When I need inspiration, I play his YouTube clip.

What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?
Someone once accused me of cashing in on my father’s name. That hurt. Ten books later, she now believes that I am enhancing, not exploiting, the Dick Francis legacy.

Do you believe in aliens?
I studied astronomy at university, so I often wonder if we are alone in the universe. The chances are that we aren’t, so I suppose I do believe in life elsewhere.

What is your secret vice?
Pepperoni, hot and spicy. It keeps my mind active when I’m writing.

Do you write thank-you notes?
Always. I don’t feel that an event is properly over until I’ve written a card of thanks. Emails are just not good enough.

Which phrase do you most overuse?
My copy editor tells me that I use the words ‘really’ and ‘even’ too often. But really, what is he even complaining about? When the action gets really exciting, even my words cannot really express even half the emotion that really exists.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A robot to clean my shoes. I hate having dirty shoes, but I also hate cleaning them.

Tell us one thing people might not know about you.
I used to make tea for Agatha Christie.

What would you like your epitaph to read?
He was as good at writing stories as his Dad.

Front Runner, by Felix Francis, is published by Michael Joseph on 10 September, priced £18.99.

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