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ENTERTAINMENT
21 Aug 2013
ELMORE LEONARD, CRIME NOVELIST, DIES AGED 87

A statement on his official website said he had died on Tuesday morning "surrounded by his loving family".

The author of 45 novels, Leonard had been in the process of writing his 46th.

Author Patricia Cornwell paid tribute, saying he was "one of the true icons of crime literature and entertainment".

She added he would be "hugely missed".

Leonard suffered a stroke earlier this month in Detroit and had been in hospital. He died at his home in the city's Bloomfield Village suburb.

British author Ian Rankin called Leonard "a great writer". "Gave me a few tips once," he wrote on Twitter. "I ignored most of them."

Journalist and author Tony Parsons also remembered Leonard as a "great writer" whose books would "never die".

Born in New Orleans in 1925, Leonard started out writing western stories before turning to crime fiction in the 1960s.

Renowned for his terse, no-nonsense style and sparse use of dialogue, his works inspired numerous screen adaptations.

Hombre, 3.10 to Yuma, Get Shorty and Rum Punch were among those filmed, the latter by Quentin Tarantino under the title Jackie Brown.

One of his more heroic characters, US Marshal Raylan Givens, inspired the TV series Justified, while his 1978 novel The Switch was filmed this year as Life of Crime.

Yet Leonard was not always impressed by how his books were adapted, being particularly dismayed by the two films made of his 1969 novel The Big Bounce.

"I wanted to see my books made into good movies, but for some reason they'd just be lame," he once said.

"At first that sort of thing frustrated me, but I've since learnt to live with it."

His 10 Rules of Writing, published in 2001, contained such salutary admonishments as "never open a book with weather" and "keep your exclamation points under control".

"I always start with the characters," he revealed in 2004. "I get to page 300 and I start thinking about the ending."

The same year he wrote A Coyote's In the House, a book for children about a coyote who befriends some canine performers in Hollywood.

His many accolades included 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.

Crime writer Mark Billingham paid tribute to Leonard, describing him "as one of the greats. A crime writer whose work made it abundantly clear that a mystery novel or a western could have literary merit. He was flat out one of the best writers of dialogue that has ever lived and one of the very best when it came to writing about writing.

"His 10 Rules Of Writing are indispensable to any serious writer. They should be pinned above the desk of anyone who calls themselves a writer. My favourite of the rules is 'try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip'. Nobody ever skipped a word reading an Elmore Leonard novel."

Fellow writer Peter James also paid tribute: "He was a fabulous writer and a diamond of a guy. I was privileged to have had dinner with him a few years ago in Italy, and we slunk away outside a few times for sneaky ciggies!

"I told him how much I loved his work, but every time I re-read Get Shorty I could not get John Travolta out of my mind as Chili Palmer. In his wonderful, quiet, laconic voice, Elmore said to me, 'You know Peter, I have another problem with John Travolta. Every time I meet him I can't think of anything to say to him!'

"He gave me a grin that said it all. I know would a million times over who I'd rather have dinner with. And I'm sad that now I'll never have another chance."

Michael Morrison, president and publisher of HarperCollins, said: "It feels not in keeping with Elmore's 'no fuss' persona to try to pay tribute to this great man. But Elmore was a true legend - unpretentious, unbelievably talented and the coolest dude in the room....

"All of us at HarperCollins will miss working with this national treasure and one of our favourite authors of all time."

Leonard's editor William Morrow, of publishers David Highfill, said: "There was, is, and will be only one Elmore Leonard. He was the most original in this prolific age of American crime fiction, the original jazz man.

"His voice - sly, gentle, funny, often startling, always human - will speak to readers for generations to come through Ray Givens, Jack Foley, Chili Palmer and so many other unforgettable characters. I miss him already."

Leonard is survived by five children, all from his first marriage, as well as 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He divorced his third wife Christine divorced last year.

 

source: www.bbc.co.uk

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