Noir event spotlights Leonard in Courmayeur, Italy
November 29, 2006 Wednesday
BYLINE: Nick Vivarelli
ROME—- Elmore Leonard will be feted by Italy’s Noir in Festival, dedicated to movies and books broadly belonging to the noir genre.
The 15th edition will be held Dec. 5-11 in the Alpine resort of Courmayeur.
Leonard is expected in Courmayeur Dec. 7-8 to receive fest’s Raymond Chandler Award and to tubthump the Italian edition of “The Hot Kid,” his 40th novel, published in Italy by Silvio Berlusconi-owned Einaudi.
Three-Ten to Yuma
The third of four paperbacks of the Complete Westerns has been released. It is titled Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories.
There are seven stories in this collection:
Under the Friars Ledge
Three Ten to Yuma
Note that The Captives was filmed as The Tall T
Elmore in Italy
From the Courmayeur Noir in Festival website:
It is time once again for another rendezvous with crime novels and noir films on the snows of Mont Blanc: from December 5-11, Courmayeur will host the film and literature festival entirely dedicated to thrillers and mysteries as well as world-renowned filmmakers and writers.
This year’s guest of honor will be US writer Elmore Leonard, who will receive the prestigious Raymond Chandler Career Award on December 7 in Courmayeur and meet with festival audiences on December 8. The Italian translation of The Hot Kid (the latest novel by Quentin Tarantino’s favorite author) will be out in Italy at the end of November, while the highly anticipated release of the latest big screen adaptation of Leonard’s work, Killshot, by UK director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, Proof), is imminen
Touchstones are Back!
A touchstone is “a standard or criterion by which something is judged or recognized.” In The Dutch Forum, the term means a connection that exists in Elmore’s work across the boundaries of a single work. A touchstone may be a character, a place, a line of dialogue; basically anything that shows the writer revisiting some previous thread, the evolution of the writer’s though process, if you will.
Touchstones were started as a thread suggested by Joel Lyczak in 2002:
By Joel Lyczak on Wednesday, August 14, 2002 - 04:30 pm:
An idea for an addition to the web-site.
Call it: TOUCHSTONES;
A person, event, or something that links one Leonard novel with another
Click here to read all 212 posts in the Touchstones Archives which date from August 14, 2002 to November 18, 2004. They make fascinating reading. When you have thoroughly examined the Archive, add your new touchstone to the new Touchstone Thread in The Discussion Forum.
By MICHAEL ECK, Special to the Times Union
First published: Thursday, November 23, 2006
Songwriter Jesse Winchester describes the writer’s craft and quite naturally evokes Elmore:
You have to be sure that the meaning is clear. You have to be honest and talk about real things, without being flighty or poetic or artistic. You’re trying to be as conversational as you can. I remember something that Elmore Leonard says in interviews, he says, “I work very, very hard to try and make these books sound like I’m not writing.” You don’t want the listener to go away thinking, “Wow, what a well-written line that was; what a clever turn of phrase that was.” You want the listener to go away thinking, “Yeah, I know just what you mean; I’ve felt that way myself.”
Elmore on Adaptations of His Work
Are you satisfied with the screen adaptations of your works?
Yes, for the most part, with the exception of The Big Bounce remake and Be Cool, which were major disappointments. We’ll see how 3:10 to Yuma comes out with Russell Crowe. The original with Glenn Ford and Van Heflin was a honey.
Of the screenplays I’ve written, The Moonshine War, Joe Kidd and Stick were either stupid or not very good for other reasons. I thought John Frankenheimer’s 52 Pickup was good, but all I did was add needed punctuation to the screenplay.
I am always optimistic. I expect from the time the book sells to Hollywood, it’s going to work. Especially if they maintain the sound and attitude of the book. Notable successful adaptations are Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and Out of Sight, which all had strong directors who insisted the actors stay with the dialog as written.
Of my forty books, some thirty of them have been optioned or bought outright and at least twenty produced. In addition to the 3:10 to Yuma remake. Killshot, under John Madden’s direction is also in the works.
I may write another screenplay someday but writing a novel remains my most satisfying activity.
Elmore’s First Million Words
It wasn’t until 1950 that I really decided to be a writer. I chose westerns because I liked westerns movies and I wanted a market that I could sell to without a lot of trouble, without having to learn too much, I figured I would get better as I managed the craft.
John D. McDonald said that you had to write a million words before you really knew what you were doing. A million words is ten years. By that time you should have a definite idea of what you want your writing to sound like. That’s the main thing. I don’t think many writers today begin with that goal: to write a certain way that has a definite sound to it.
You must learn the most effective way to put the words down as far as your interests and ability are concerned. I knew that I could not write in the formal sense of a serious writer, whose voice is the most important thing in the book. I didn’t develop the ability to write in that style. I thought books written that way for the most part were boring.
Richard Bissell - Major Influence on Elmore
Hemingway was big with Elmore but Bissell may have been bigger.
Richard Bissell was the next influence, perhaps an even bigger influence than Hemingway. He wrote Seven and A Half Cents, High Water and A Stretch on the River. He wrote about real working people in a very natural, conversational style. He was funny without trying to be funny. He didn’t write comedy. Reading Bissell, I came to realize that I shared his attitude about telling stories and began to see characters that showed a lighter side to their outlook.
Hemingway does have a serious strain running through the sound of his writing that is effective with the kinds of characters who people his novels, but I felt he did lack a natural sense of humor. Bissell was more relaxed.
If you haven’t read Bissell, do so. You may have to hunt, because I don’t think everything is in print. The above three titles are the best and I especially recommend High Water. This link is to the Minnesota Historical Society which still lists it in their catalog. It is also available at Amazon.
Elmore’s Method of Writing
I think of a person who I presume will be the main character, in whatever kind of situation or job he’s in, whether he’s a high diver, a federal marshal, a guy who gets the stigmata, a hard sentencing judge who is a womanizer or the girl who wants to do stand up comedy.
I fill in other characters that relate to what this main character is doing, what motivates them, what they like and what they don’t like, the kind of people they are, good or bad. I mix them up and see what happens.
I keep a notebook about my characters’ backgrounds and personalities, and sometimes write a few practice scenes from their past.
I always write in scenes and develop the plot as I go along, I don’t outline. If I were to plot thirty chapters of scenes and narratives, it would be a waste of time because I know that when I get into the writing itself, I’m going to have better ideas.
I think of the book in three acts, each about 100 pages. By the end of the first act, I know who all the characters are and their intentions. Act two then takes some plotting to keep the action going. By the time I’m 300 pages into the manuscript, I’m looking at the way the book could end.
I have to be satisfied with the ending even though my editor might say, “This book ends awfully abruptly.” And then I say, “But it’s over.”
I write to please myself. I don’t worry about who’s going to read me. I figure that there should be a few million people out there worldwide who think the way I do and if there are, and they get their hands on my book, they’ll read it and like it.
What’s Happening with Killshot?
A lot of you want to know what’s happening with Killshot. It missed its announced release date of October 20th and it now appears it will not be released until sometime next year. Weinstein Co. Vice President of Publicity, Diana Peters says that no release date is currently scheduled. Speculation is that it will be released in the fall of 2007, and will be first shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Details are scarce, but stay tuned.