Pulp fictions: Tarantino and me
ELMORE LEONARD. The Guardian. Manchester (UK): Apr 18, 1997. pg. T.002
Full Text (365 words)
Tarantino is due to start shooting Rum Punch in July. He called me in October 1995 and said: `I’ve been reading it more slowly than I’ve ever read a book and making notes about casting and about music and so on, and I’m going to do it. I’m going to China next month, and as soon as I come back, I’m going to drive by and see you and discuss it with you.’ And that was the last I heard from him until the week before last. He called up and he said: `I’ve been afraid to call you for the last year.’ And I said: `Why? Because you’re chasing a black woman in the lead?’ And he said: `Yeah.’ He’s a film-maker, and he’s going to make his movie, he’s not going to make my book.
He says that to pull off the scam that the character does in the book, only a black woman would be ballsy enough to do it. But he has interesting casting ideas, so I’d go along with anything he wants to do. It’s going to be a seventies exploitation movie revisited and the title has gone from Rum Punch to Jackie Brown. He’s going to shoot it in Los Angeles, in the South Bay area which is just off the airport. He has four of my books, so what he doesn’t direct, he would produce.
Tarantino admits that he was influenced by me, the idea of the crooks talking about something else, something very commonplace, before they get to it. It’s funny then, because when Get Shorty, the movie, was reviewed here, they thought that it owed something to Pulp Fiction.
It’s funny, because he went to see my agent at the time that Reservoir Dogs was just being released, and he wanted to buy Rum Punch because three of the same characters were in another book of mine, The Switch, 19 years earlier, which he had been caught stealing from a bookstore.
When he saw the same characters in Rum Punch, he wanted to do it. He wanted to buy it. But he didn’t have any money. And he was working on Pulp Fiction at the time.