Interview with Elmore Leonard


Do you like to write? I spend a lot of my free time writing. Dancing with the Stars, or American Idol. Or football games or baseball games. I certainly get all that in, too. You will not be discouraged. When you send a book in, is there much rewriting required? Well, for Quiver, there was quite a bit of rewriting.

There were a number of suggestions that my editor, Pete Wolverton made. And I listened to him and I believe that his suggestions helped make Quiver a much better book.

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I had one of the best book editors, ever. And Don Fine would give me a sheet with say 15 little points that he wanted to make about the manuscript. And I would talk him out of at least half. One time I said, I think for some reason around this thing starts to slow down.

And that did it, huh? Yes, that did it. And it made no sense to me still. One amusing thing that Wolverton said was, I have a character in Quiver his name is DeJuan and he likes to use the word, motherfucker. I think he was right, there were just too many. You read the original version of it. The first chapter was backstory, it was Kate in Guatemala. And you were right. And you had one other good suggestion, in fact.

His name was spelled Dewan. And now you want out. Well, after writing ads for 25 years, it gets boring. That was one of ther reasons I decided to try writing fiction just to do something else. To amuse myself in another way. You wrote ads, how long did you do it? Well I did Chevrolet ads for 7 years.

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And then as soon as my time came, my profit sharing came do, I left. That was in And it takes money. I want to talk more about writing. The act of writing. When you sit down to write, you see a scene? How much of the scene do you see? Or are the words much more important? Well I think it depends on the situation. But I think the words are very important. And then add to that dialogue.

Interview with Elmore and Peter Leonard

I do like dialogue. Because I feel that my goal always with any book is to move the story with dialogue. And keep it going. Well I like to keep it going, too. But I like to keep the dialogue short and quick. I wanted to ask you how you see yourself as the author. I try to keep my nose out of it, I try to let the characters tell the story. So that evidently, I was making that point. I much prefer to let the characters tell the story.

I should develop the story.

Because if I were to sit down and outline the book. I disagree to a certain extent, because I think with Quiver for example, I knew the story. Because I had written it as a script so I knew the story.

When will they contact Vera Mezwa, the Ukrainian spy who is working for the Germans, and her houseman Bohdan? I love Graham Greene: And we meet Honey who was married to a German sympathizer—a German national who became an American citizen. And it made no sense to me still. The act of writing. They get up in the morning, and they wonder what to wear when they are going to do a job — like anyone else.

The fun was, plotting along the way and making it interesting, and making it suspenseful and exciting. I did a lot of plotting. And that was good.

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Tell me how do you look as yourself as a writer. Are you a crime writer? But books have to be categorized, right?. I probably take more time with the bad guy than the good guy. And they might be know you, on the fence, between. There are just degrees of bad, it seems. But the bad guys are more fun. And my favorite character in Quiver is DeJuan.

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It was really enjoyable. He actually makes me laugh.

It just would surprise me. It was just work. You would be told what to do.

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Studio execs would cross out my dialogue and put in their dialogue. Those movies were terrible. They put in the obvious things you had thrown out right away when you were writing.

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