Elmore Leonard proves crime still pays at 85

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The Independent Culture

Now 85, Elmore Leonard has written 45 novels in 60 years. "I have friends who have written more than a hundred," he says, citing Donald Westlake, the fellow crime writer who died in 2008.

In London for a brief promotional tour, it's remarkable he even has the time to sit down for a cup of tea. His last novel, modern-day pirate tale Djibouti, was published in February, to considerable enthusiasm (Samuel L Jackson and Morgan Freeman are circling the movie adaptation). And he has already finished his next, Raylan, the third novel featuring his character Raylan Givens, who is also at the centre of Justified, the hit TV series (shown here on 5USA) that has recently ended a highly successful second season.

He has allowed segments from the as-yet-unpublished Raylan to be plundered for the show.

"I feel, if I'm going to be an executive producer, and my name is up there every week, I should do something for the money!" he says. "They pay you $12,500 every time it goes on! I can't just sit there." Leonard admits he was surprised when Justified creator Graham Yost sent him the script for the pilot. Inspired by 2002 novella Fire in The Hole, Yost faithfully used the plot, with just the addition of a prologue (actually taken from the end of Pronto). "I didn't see anything wrong with it at all," he says. It is his most successful TV outing.

'Justified' series two is out on DVD