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'The biggest thrill of my life'

29 August 2011

'The biggest thrill of my life was selling my first novelette. It was a Western for Argosy magazine in 1951, called "Trail of the Apaches". I'd done a lot of research about the Apache Indians in the 1880s and they seemed like ruthless individuals out to raise hell, which fascinated me. I got paid $1,000 for it and thought, wow, I'm going to quit my job in advertising, which I did...

If it sounds like writing, rewrite it. I don't want my books to sound like I'm the one who's talking or somehow there behind the scenes, so I always reread what I wrote the day before; it has to sound like these people are feeling and thinking these things, so I'll take words out if it looks like the character is talking too much; after 60 years I've gotten pretty adept at it.'

Elmore Leonard in the Independent on Sunday