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By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - After bad health habits nearly killed him, "The Prince of Tides" author Pat Conroy said he is opening a fitness studio near his South Carolina home to help him stay healthy enough to write several more books. Conroy announced the new business venture on Facebook last weekend and acknowledged it was an odd move for a 69-year-old writer who in 2009 published a cookbook featuring recipes for breakfast shrimp and grits and beefsteak Florentine. "There is nothing on my resume that indicates I'll be successful in this unusual endeavor," he wrote in his Facebook post. "But I'm doing it because there are four or five books I’d like to write before I meet with Jesus of Nazareth, as my mother promised me ... and I can't write them unless I'm healthy." In a related post on his blog, Conroy said he stopped drinking and began dieting on the advice of his doctor after nearly dying three years ago from "my own bad habits." The novelist said he also joined the YMCA in Beaufort, South Carolina, where he met a trainer who has whipped him into shape. Conroy, whose works of fiction and memoir include "The Great Santini" and "The Death of Santini," said he is now partnering with his trainer, Mina Truong, to open the Mina & Conroy Fitness Studio next month in Port Royal. "For two years, I’ve tried to satisfy my great interior hunger with a diet that would satisfy a full-grown squirrel but did little to conquer the hippopotamus that lives within me," he wrote. (Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Trott)