DETROIT Dec 31 As he struggled writing his
forthcoming book, "Blue Dreams," best-selling American author
Elmore Leonard thought his 47th novel would probably be his
Then, inspiration came in the form of a medallion.
Leonard won the National Book Foundation's Medal for
Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in November,
joining such U.S. literary luminaries as Toni Morrison, John
Updike, Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer.
Now, the award has given Leonard, 87, the vigor and
motivation to write at least two more books, he told Reuters in
an interview at his home in Bloomfield Village, Michigan, in
"I don't have any reason to quit," he said. "I still enjoy
Leonard is best known for dry, witty dialogue in his crime
novels and Westerns, which include 1990's "Get Shorty" and
1996's "Out of Sight" - both of which were adapted into
successful and critically acclaimed films.
He also served as an executive producer on FX's Emmy-winning
TV crime drama "Justified," which is based on Leonard's novels
"Pronto," "Riding the Rap" and a short story "Fire in the Hole."
After six decades of writing successful stories, novels and
screenplays, Leonard now has earned respect in the same breath
as America's most heralded writers of his time.
"I recognized all the names of the previous winners,"
Leonard said showing off the award's medallion while puffing on
a cigarette. "I was very happy about it. ... The prestige, to
me, is worth the most ... It's the biggest."
'I'll HAVE HIM SHOT'
Leonard's crime novels will be published in a multi-volume
set by the Library of America in 2014. The publisher keeps
important American literature in print permanently.
"Blue Dreams," which is scheduled for a 2013 release, is
about bull rider Kyle McCoy who is looking for an Indian bull
rider who has been unlawfully detained by border police. Along
the way, he falls in love with a young movie star.
Like the majority of Leonard's novels, the first half of
"Blue Dreams" establishes unrelated characters and then Leonard
has them interact in the end with unpredictable consequences.
Leonard, who is praised for his crisp realism, never
sketches a plot for his novels and always writes them longhand
on custom-made, unlined yellow writing pads. His daughter Jane
types up his books.
"The characters come to life and start doing things,"
Leonard said. "I don't think about the ending until page 300.
It's the middle part that's the tough part."
Even after 62 years of writing fiction, Leonard says he does
not have a favorite character.
"I like 'em all," he said. "If one doesn't work, I'll have
(Editing by Eric Kelsey and Bill Trott)