Highly successful author Elmore Leonard visits Prague for Writers' Festival

Elmore Leonard

As you may know, the Prague Writers' Festival is currently in full flow. In terms of commercial success at least, the biggest name at the festival is undoubtedly the American author Elmore Leonard, whose first novel was published almost 50 years ago. He became a huge success in the 1980s and 90s when several of his novels were made into highly popular films, such as 'Get Shorty' and 'Jackie Brown', which was based on his novel 'Rum Punch'. From a young age Elmore Leonard has had the nickname "Dutch" - Ian Willoughby asked him why.

It's better than"Babe" Leonard.

"It's much better than Babe or Butch, or something like that."

You're known for film adaptations of your novels - do you enjoy the films?

"I've been fortunate in that of the 37 books, about 34 of them have been either bought outright or adapted. About 19 pictures have been made, not all of them good. I thought the early westerns were quite good; 'Hombre' with Paul Newman, 'Valdez is Coming' with Burt Lancaster...Many of them however failed because the emphasis was on the action, rather than on the characters, because my books are character-driven. The last three, 'Get Shorty', 'Out of Sight' and 'Jackie Brown' - which was adapted from 'Rum Punch' - all worked quite well because the emphasis was all on the characters, and the adaptations were quite true to the book. 'Jackie Brown' especially was the most closely adapted - Quentin Tarantino's film. I've been fortunate in that these sales to Hollywood supported my novel writing for quite a number of years."

Do you often attend literary festivals?

"I attend when I have time, that is when I'm not working. But if I'm into a book then the writing of the book comes first."

Do you think for some writers attending festivals and doing publicity tours gets in the way of actual work, of writing?

"There is no question that notoriety gets in the way of doing the work, no question about that, because I'm invited to commit to attend festivals and writers conferences many months in advance. And that's very dangerous to do, but yet there's no other way to do it. This particular conference - everyone said "you've got to go to Prague - you've got to because your'e going to love the city". It's amazing - I think you can just walk around all day long and the sights are enough. Yesterday. we walked upthe hill to the castle and had dinner on the way back - it was a very, very successful day."

And you can find out all there is to know about the Prague Writers' Festival at www.pwf.pragonet.cz