In a career spanning four decades, Frank O'Rourke published more than sixty works of fiction. The versatility which became a hallmark of O'Rourke's writing was demonstrated in more than one hundred short stories which appeared during the 1940s and '50s in The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, Ladies Home Journal, and Esquire.
From 1948 to 1956, O'Rourke published seven sports novels, two mysteries, one under the pseudonym Frank O'Malley, and industrial novel, and twenty westerns. Since the early westerns were continually reprinted, O'Rourke was generally categorized as a western writer. He wrote several contemporary satires on modern society's worship of money including Instant Gold in 1964.
In 1988, in his early seventies, O'Rourke began to write children's books. There stories are an expression of rare strength, an imagination as fresh in the last years as it had been in the beginning years. It's all the more remarkable when one considers that during the twenty years from 1969 to 1989, he was struggling with bronchial asthma, and was treated by doctors who prescribed the steroid drug prednisone; they neither monitored nor limited the amount. As a result, the long-term use and large amounts slowly destroyed his body. And on April 27, 1989, after finishing a final story, he ended his own life by gunshot.
"As I remember him, he was one of the most engaging, energetic, and alove people I ever met. To try to think along with him, or to follow him through a conversation, about anything, was like trying to flap your arms and fly behind a rocket borne for the edge of the universe." —Carroll Ballard, director of The Black Stallion and Fly Away Home.