Happy birthday to author Elmore Leonard, who turns 85 years old today.
There’s a lot to like about Elmore Leonard, including the fact that he wrote short stories and novels for 20 years before he really began to get noticed, and then for yet another 20 before he became “America’s hippest, best-loved, most widely imitated crime writer,” as Janet Maslin calls him in her review of his new novel, Djibouti.
Yes, he has a new novel at 85, just like he had a new novel at 84 and will (inshallah) have one at 86. He doesn’t put down the pen much.
Djibouti is set in Africa among Somali pirates, with a hero loosely based on filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow — the same Kathryn Bigelow who won an Oscar for directing The Hurt Locker this year. The two met in 1987:
Leonard said that he knows Bigelow “very slightly,” explaining that he
randomly met her roughly 23 years ago, when she was promoting her 1987
vampire film “Near Dark.” He recalled her pulling up to his house in a
maroon limousine and running into the front room that he was using as an
office. She told him she liked his work and the two chatted for about
20 minutes and “then she ran out,” he said. “And that was it.”
Fun life. Bigelow also directed the 10th (and final) episode of Karen Sisco, the 2003-04 TV series about the hawt federal marshal created by Leonard in his 1996 novel Out of Sight.
Another thing to like about Elmore Leonard is that he has his own personal researcher. See a cool interview with that guy.
From Who2’s idiosyncratic research-based point of view, Leonard is lovable for his sensible, easy-to-read lists of all his novels and short stories. Would that all writers were so accomodating!
Finally, 2005 is the fifth anniversary of The Hot Kid, which is maybe my favorite Elmore Leonard novel. (Pleasant podcast here of Leonard musing about the bank robbers and oil tycoons of that 1930s era.) And Leonard was a pup of 80 when he wrote it.
Enjoy Elmore Leonard while you can. He can only keep up this pace for another 20 years or so.
(Photo credit: WENN)