This morning's Shelf Awareness reported the death of William Diehl, who wrote Sharky's Machine and Primal Fear among other thrillers.
Diehl died unexpectedly in Atlanta on Friday of an aortal aneurysm. He was 81.
For writers needing a boost, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution provided both tribute and inspiration in its obituary in Monday's paper. Approximately 30 years ago, the 50-year-old Diehl was on jury duty in a Fulton County courtroom. Bored by the trial, he began writing a novel on a notepad. Three years later, his first book, was published. Michael Parver, a friend of 40 years, told the story to the Journal-Constitution:
The book deal had come at a low point in Diehl's life, Parver said. Diehl, a former freelance photographer, writer for The Atlanta Constitution and editor at Atlanta Magazine, was jobless and having trouble paying bills. When his agent called to tell him "Sharky's Machine" would be published, the phone line went dead, Parver said. "He hadn't paid the bill. . ."
That first novel, Sharky's Machine, was published in 1978. It became a best-seller and, then, a movie starring Burt Reynolds.
In the 28 years since, Diehl had written nine other books. The last one, his tenth, is expected to be published next year.
For all you writers who tell yourselves you're too old to start a new career or too poor to risk something new and uncertain, take heart--and inspiration.