Metro Detroit resident Elmore Leonard, who was born in New Orleans in 1925, was best known for gritty crime novels including Get Shorty, and shoot-’em up westerns including the short story 3:10 to Yuma. He passed away early today.
Leonard once said that his interest in literature began in the fifth grade when he read a serialization of All Quiet on the Western Front in a Detroit newspaper. In interviews through the years he said he was most influenced by well-known writers including Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Raymond Carver.
Leonard’s first novel, The Bounty Hunters, a western set in Southern Arizona, was published in 1953. He was the author of 45 novels and had been in the process of writing his 46th at the time of his death. His works inspired numerous screen adaptations; most of them never actually satisfied Elmore’s expectations. “I wanted to see my books made into good movies, but for some reason they’d just be lame,” he once said.
When it came down to writing, Elmore had several rules, among them we writers can find some great tips:
• “Never open a book with weather.”
• “Keep your exclamation points under control.”
• “Never use the words ‘suddenly’ or ‘all hell broke loose.'”
• “Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.”
Leonard’s many accolades include the F. Scott Fitzgerald award in 2008, and the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. He received a further lifetime achievement prize last year, presented at America’s National Book Awards.
Leonard suffered a stroke earlier this month in Detroit and had been hospitalized since. He died at his home in the city’s Bloomfield Village suburb.
He was 87.