Last night I was at the talk/Q&A in Detroit and it went really well. It was billed, as they
all are, I guess, as a reading and Q&A but Elmore didn’t read from Up in Honey’s Room. He
was introduced and just started talking, no interviewer or ‘host’ at all, which was great.
It was really a home-town crowd and it had that feel, Elmore talking as if everybody there
knew him and he knew all of them. He started by saying, “Okay, what’s new?” And then he
talked about what was going on with the movies, 3:10 to Yuma is finished and Killshot is
also finished, he said the director, John Madden, was coming to Detroit to show it to him
this week. Elmore also said that his granddaughter is producing a short film based on his
story Sparks, which is in When the Women Come Out to Dance. He got a big laugh when he
explained it’s about a woman who burns down her house because she doesn’t like the
furniture, left by her husband’s first wife.
At one point Elmore was telling a story and forgot a character’s name. He said, “I’ll tell
you when I remember,” and just kept going. A few minutes later his grandson (looked about
10-12 years old) walked up to the podium and handed Elmore a note. He read it, laughed a
little and said, ‘Right, Juicymouth,’ then went on to finish the story of meeting the real
Juicymouth in New Orleans.
A lot of the stuff Elmore talked about would be familiar to people here, but it was great
to hear it in his own voice. He did talk a little about Honey’s Room, saying how he wanted
to call it Hitler’s Birthday, and how he thought Walter was going to be a bigger character
but he got bored with him. He did say the book was ‘soft’ in tone.
And, just for Djones, he talked about a guy in Florida who uses his books in some English
Lit class and how if he took the class himself he’d probably get a C. He talked about how
the screenwriter Scott Frank has to tell him what the themes are in his books and he said,
“When I find out what they are, I like the themes in my books.”
Then there were the usual Q&A’s. Some stuff about writing. Sometimes I wish he`d just say,
“Follow the 10 rules and keep sending it out,” (worked for me) but people want to know what
kind of pen he uses and real detail stuff. He did say that the 10 Rules are going to be
published as an illustrated book, less than 100 pages, probably in time for Christmas.
It was a great night.
Oh yeah, I’d never been to Detroit before (I live in Toronto) and I have to say, the Elmore
Leonard novels really capture the feel of the city. The 70`s ‘decay’ in SWAG and Unknown
Man and all that, but also the feel in Mr.Paradise, the $400,000 condos in renovated
warehouses and factories by the river and the big houses in the suburbs. And the people. I
was walking around downtown on Sunday and I must have gone back and forth over the same
block a couple of times and a guy came up to me and offered to help me out. He was
friendly, told me his life story and how he ended up in the shelter, but never mind that,
he said, he could hook me up, what was I looking for? It was good, we scored some weed and
a hooker - no I’m kidding, but the attitude had that Elmore Leonard feel. A kind of low-
rent Donnel Lewis.
While in Detroit I also got to have a beer with Gregg and I can safely say this site is in
good hands and he’s going to be researching a lot more Elmore Leonard novels.