Questions for Elmore Leonard
Q:Where did the inspiration for the title Road Dogs come from?
A: Road Dogs was on a list of prison expressions my researcher Gregg Sutter got for me: inmates who watch each other’s back. I liked the sound of the words together.
Q: What made you decide to bring back Jack Foley, Cundo Rey, and Dawn Navarro now? What is it about these three characters that stuck with you through the years?
A: Foley was played by George Clooney in Out of Sight. I imagined George in the scenes I wrote and it worked. Dawn Navarro was the psychic in Riding the Rap, a supporting character ready for a leading role. Cundo Rey from LaBrava, another favorite of mine, also deserved a bigger role, so I brought him back..
Q: Any chance Foley and the woman he loves, Federal Marshal Karen Sisco, will be back in the near future?
A: I’m not sure Foley is up to robbing another bank. But Karen Sisco, the federal marshal in Out of Sight, could show up again; maybe working for her dad, a private investigator.
Q: One of the hallmarks of your writing is your gift for the telling detail. When Foley is offering Cundo Rey’s money man, Jimmy, some advice about his skimming, he tells him that Cundo won’t kill him, but he might “break your legs with a José Canseco bat.” That’s one of those small yet wonderfully deft touches that adds color without slowing the pace. How do you do this so well?
A: Realism is the key to my style of writing and dialogue is what keeps it moving, always in live scenes. Rather than use my voice, my language, to describe what’s going on, I let the characters tell who they are and what they’re up to by the way they talk. Scenes are written from a character’s point of view, never mine.
Q: Many of your characters are working class stiffs and tough, intelligent broads. What draws you to these kind of characters? What do you think accounts for their popularity?
A: My women often upstage the guys; they’re natural, their own person, while my cops and criminals talk the way I’ve observed them through research and being on the scene.
Q: What’s next for Elmore Leonard?
A: Next comes Djibouti, with Dara Barr, a documentary filmmaker with the Somali pirates off the coast of East Africa.
From Publishers Weekly
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