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Remembering crime novelist Elmore Leonard

Author Elmore Leonard poses during a portrait session prior to a reading and signing of his latest novel
Author Elmore Leonard poses during a portrait session prior to a reading and signing of his latest novel "Up In Honey's Room" on May 24, 2007 at Book Soup in Los Angeles, California. Leonard died at age 87 in his home Tuesday [Aug. 20].
Vince Bucci/Getty Images

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Crime novelist Elmore Leonard died Tuesday morning at age 87 following complications from a stroke. In addition to his well-known novels, “Get Shorty,” “Freaky Deaky” and “Glitz,” Leonard was highly regarded for redefining and mastering his genre. He wrote more than 40 novels, and many of his writings have been turned into movies and TV series.

After the 1995 movie version of “Get Shorty” starring John Travolta, Leonard won the attention of many directors, including Quentin Tarantino. But Leonard never wanted to have any input into the film versions of his works. 

"His feeling was, 'I write a novel and what happens after it is not my work and has noting to do with me,'" said "Get Shorty" filmmaker Barry Sonnenfeld. "In fact, he came to a recruited audience screening we had in Chicago before we released the movie and he came up to me in the end and he really loved the film."

Screenwriter Graham Yost worked on "Justified," which was based on Leonard's novella "Fire In The Hole." He says Leonard stayed out of the film and TV adaptations of his work for good reason. 

"He had some bad experience in the '70s writing screenplays. That's one reason why he stuck with books," said Yosy. "He let us do what we did and, frankly, part of what we decided to do was let Elmore be Elmore."

Last fall Leonard became the first crime writer to receive the National Book Award, an honor shared with literary giants Philip Roth, Norman Mailer and Arthur Miller. 


Barry Sonnenfeld, filmmaker and director for "Get Shorty," "The Addams Family," and "Men in Black; also produced "Out of Sight"

Graham Yost, film and television screenwriter, best known for his film "Speed" and his work on the miniseries "Band of Brothers" and "The Pacific"; Yost is also the creator and executive producer of the TV series "Justified", which was based on Elmore Leonard’s short story “Fire in the Hole”