The Elmore Leonard Home Page

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The Bounty Hunters
The Law at Randado
Escape from Five Shadows
Last Stand at Saber River
The Big Bounce
The Moonshine War
Valdez is Coming
Forty Lashes Less One
Mr. Majestyk
Fifty-Two Pickup
Unknown Man No. 89
The Hunted
The Switch
City Primeval
Gold Coast
Split Images
Cat Chaser
Freaky Deaky
Get Shorty
Maximum Bob
Rum Punch
Riding the Rap
Out of Sight
Cuba Libre
Be Cool
Pagan Babies
Tishomingo Blues
Mr. Paradise
A Coyote’s in the House
The Hot Kid
Comfort to the Enemy
Up in Honey’s Room
Road Dogs


The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard
The Tonto Woman and Other Western Stories
When the Women Come Out to Dance
Trail of the Apache
Apache Medicine
You Never See Apaches…
Red Hell Hits Canyon Diablo
The Colonel’s Lady
Law of the Hunted One
Cavalry Boots
Under the Friar’s Ledge
The Rustlers
Three Ten to Yuma
The Big Hunt
Long Night
The Boy Who Smiled
The Hard Way
The Last Shot
Blood Money
Trouble at Rindo’s Station
Saint with a Six-Gun
The Captives
No Man’s Guns
The Rancher’s Lady
Moment of Vengeance
Man with the Iron Arm
The Longest Day of his Life
The Nagual
The Kid
The Treasure of Mungo’s Landing
The Bull Ring at Blisston
Only Good Ones
The Tonto Woman
Hurrah for Captain Early
Karen Makes Out
The Odyssey
Hanging Out at the Buena Vista
Fire in the Hole
Chickasaw Charlie Hoke
When the Women Come Out to Dance
Showdown at Checotah
Louly and Pretty Boy
Chick Killer (2011)
Ice Man

Film and TV

Moment of Vengeance
3:10 to Yuma
The Tall T
The Big Bounce (I)
The Moonshine War
Valdez is Coming
Joe Kidd
Mr. Majestyk
High Noon, Part II
52 Pickup
The Rosary Murders
Glitz (TV)
Cat Chaser
Border Shootout
Split Images
Get Shorty
Last Stand at Saber River
Elmore Leonard’s Gold Coast (TV)
Jackie Brown
Maximum Bob
Out of Sight
Karen Sisco
The Big Bounce (II)
Be Cool (2005)
The Ambassador
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Killshot (2009)
Freaky Deaky
The Tonto Woman
Life of Crime

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Author Elmore Leonard visits his latest ‘scene of the crime’

Indianapolis Star
Written by Joe Shearer

imageVivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series featuring Elmore Leonard
• When: 7:30 p.m. Monday.
• Where: Butler University’s Clowes Hall, 4600 Sunset Ave.
• Cost: Free to the public, and no tickets are required.
• Information: (317) 940-9861.

More than 60 years into his career, Elmore Leonard is still the most respected name among crime fiction writers. He’s written 44 books, and had two dozen of them adapted into TV or film productions, including “3:10 to Yuma,” “Get Shorty,” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown,” adapted from “Rum Punch.” FX’s series “Justified,” starring Timothy Olyphant, is based on Leonard’s novella “Fire in the Hole.”

His latest, “Djibouti” (William Morrow), is set in the country of the same name on the Horn of Africa, and tells the story of an award-winning documentary filmmaker who films pirates with a concealed spy camera.

Leonard, 85, will lead a free reading and discussion at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Butler University’s Clowes Hall, as part of the Visiting Writers Series.

During a phone interview from his home in Detroit, Leonard talked about working with Tarantino, writing his stories in longhand and investigating the (fictional) disappearance of an Indianapolis woman involved in pea-shake gambling.

I was listening to a radio show the other day that talked about how in every profession, there’s a dumb question everyone gets asked all the time. What’s your question?

Oh . . . [laughs] I don’t know what it would be. Well, I’ll tell you, from the very beginning, in the ‘50s when I was writing, I would get up at 5 a.m. and write for two hours. And I was always anxious to write for the movies. I was fortunate that I sold four of them in the ‘50s. I didn’t like writing movies. . . . I did that for a while, because when I did sell one, I’d get involved with the filmmakers, and the studio people would make me rewrite so much that it wasn’t fun. When I write a book, I never had to rewrite anything.

So, do you not get involved with projects based on your books nowadays?

What I’m doing now is writing on my own for “Justified.” I really like it, so I’ve been sending them ideas. They have seven writers, but they’re not as familiar with my characters as I am. So I’ve been sending them (information) like coal mining in eastern Kentucky, and what they get into there, and how the mining companies run the show.

I’m sending them chapters as I write them, and they will develop whatever they like of mine, but when I’m through with it, I’m going to have a book. What I’m doing now is I’m going to start the story in Indianapolis with a girl at Butler. This girl got into that pea-shake gambling. Her stepfather is a sports bookie and is into a little of this pea-shake gambling, and the girl disappears.

So we’ll open on Raylan Givens investigating during the NCAA Finals. And while I’m at Butler, that will give me something to read, because they want me to read rather than talk.

So did you do this because you’re coming to Butler, or did you do the story after you learned you were coming?

No, I did it after. This is something they’d know about.

When you write something that is eventually made into a TV show or movie, how much are you invested in those stories?

Well, I’m anxious to see a movie sale being made, and I’ve had some good ones. “Get Shorty” and “Out of Sight,” and the one Tarantino did, “Jackie Brown,” those are good movies. And Tarantino’s especially stayed close to the book.

And there have been other adaptations that have varied widely for the worse. That’s the way it is with making movies.

Do you ever develop a feeling during the production process, where you know it’s not going to turn out well?

Oh, sure, you can get that feeling, especially if you visit the set and talk to the writers and the director, and you can tell when it doesn’t look good.

Your Rules of Writing started as almost a joke. How did you come up with them?

It was the year 2000. I was the guest of honor for the Bouchercon, which is a writers’ convention. That afternoon in the hotel, I wrote my 10 rules. So I presented them onstage, and as I was walking off, some guy came up to me and said, “Can I have those?” So I gave them to him. They were just written in longhand on some yellow sheets of paper, because I knew what they were. Then years later, The New York Times asked me to do a column. I wrote on the rules of writing, and I had them more formally developed. But this guy who had the originals offered them up for sale on one of the . . . don’t know what they are . . . what do you call them?

Auction sites?

Yeah, auction sites. I don’t know about that stuff. I don’t have a computer or e-mail or anything like that, so when The Wall Street Journal calls me and asks about writing that way, I say, “Wait. I write longhand.” I’ve been writing for 60 years and I do it all by hand. That’s the way I like to do it. I’m closer to it, and I’m in it.

So you write in longhand and someone types it for you?

Well, I type as I write. I’ll write a page, then I’ll type it and look at it. It takes me maybe three pages to get a page that I like. And when I finish it, I give it to my daughter, and she types it up and sends it out whatever way you send things on the Internet.

So you do your rewriting while you’re writing, then.

Yeah. If I wrote the entire book, then tried to rewrite it, I think it would be almost impossible. I don’t use an outline ever. I don’t want to know what happens next. I want to surprise myself while I’m doing it.


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