Who’s writing this? : notations on the authorial I, with self portraits.
Edited by Daniel Halpern
Hopewell, N.J. : Ecco Press, 1995
“What Elmore Leonard Does”
by Elmore Leonard
What he does, he makes us do all the work, the people in his books. Puts us in scenes and says, “Go ahead and do something.” No, first he thinks up names, takes forever to think up names like Bob and Jack, Jackie for a woman, the female lead. Or Frank. Years ago anyone named Frank in one of his books was a bad guy. So then he used Frank as the name of the good guy one time and this Frank wouldn’t talk, refused to come out and become the kind of person Elmore wanted; so he changed his name to Jack after thinking of names for another few weeks and it felt so good you couldn’t shut the guy up. I mean this Jack, not Elmore. So he names us and says, “Okay, start talking,” and that’s want we do. Sometimes, if a character has trouble expressing himself, he’s demoted, is given less to do in the book, or, he might get shot. What can also happen, if a minor or even a no-name character shows he can talk, he can shove his way into the story and get a more important part. So, Elmore names us, gets us talking to each other, bumping heads or getting along okay and then, I don’t know what happens to him. I think he takes off, leaves it up to us. There was a piece written about him one time in the VILLAGE VOICE called “The Author Vanishes” and it’s true.
Mr. Leonard’s self-portrait from the book is attached below!