Best-selling Australian author Courtenay dies
He started writing in midlife and called his first novels “practice books,” but his debut was a success. “The Power of One” was published in 1989, translated into 12 languages and became a hit movie.
His 21st novel, “Jack of Diamonds,” was published on Nov. 12 and included a moving epilogue to his readers.
“It’s been a privilege to write for you and to have you accept me as a storyteller in your lives,” he wrote.
“Now, as my story draws to an end, may I say only, `Thank you. You have been simply wonderful,’” he added.
By the age of 17, he was working in the dangerous mines of what is now Zimbabwe, which paid his way to Britain where he studied at the London School of Journalism. He met an Australian, Benita Solomon, whom he followed to her hometown of Sydney in 1958 and married.
He fell into a career in advertising with U.S. agency McCann Erikson at the age of 26 and rose to creative director. He had an epiphany at the age of 50 when he decided to fulfill a lifelong ambition to be a novelist.
“The Power of One” was to be the first of three “practice books” Courtenay planned to write over three years before taking two years to write a fourth book which he hoped would find a publisher.
“Now its worldwide success and the fact that it’s available in 12 languages still amazes me,” he added. It became a movie starring Morgan Freeman.
Courtenay dedicated its sequel, “Tandia,” to his third son, Damon, who died of medically-acquired AIDS at the age of 24 on April 1, 1991 _ two months before the book was published.
That tragedy inspired his third book, “April Fool’s Day,” that deals with the public fear of AIDS and was published in 1993.
In June, doctors told Courtenay that there was no hope of curing his stomach cancer.