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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is “The Ambassador” not listed in your fimography?

Monahem Golan hired me to adapt my novel, Fifty Two Pickup and set it in Tel Aviv.  I wrote two drafts and then told him to get another writer.  He did and the result was The Ambassador which has nothing to do with Fifty-Two Pickup.  It has none of my characters, none of my situations, nothing.  But he still owed me for the screen rights and had to pay up before he could release the picture.

Are you a mystery writer?

Not in the strictest use of the term, no. There is never a mystery in my books in my plots. There are not whodunits. The reader knows as much as I do. The reader knows more than the main character does. I’m not interested in mystery. I do write crime novels. There is always a crime in my novels

“You’ve said that you were most happy with three movies made from your work: Which is your favorite?

I can’t chose. Get Shorty was the first film that “got it.” It demonstrated that you could deliver “funny” lines in a movie without reaction, without the character knowing he or she was being funny. It really worked. Jackie Brown came next and stuck very close to the book, Rum Punch, and had my sound, but left plenty of room for Quentin to do his thing. Finally, Out of Sight had Steven Soderbergh’s look but it sounded like me.

“What is your favorite western? ”

Valdez is Coming.

“Have you every written a novel in the first person? ”

Hombre was in the first person

“What is your favorite book? ”

Tishomingo Blues. I had the most fun writing it. Before that is was Freaky Deaky

“How long did it take to develop your sound?”

Ten years. It took about ten years before my sound emerged. That’s about a million words

“Are you involved in the website? ”

No, My researcher, Gregg Sutter, is doing the site. We talk about it from time to time, but I wouldn’t say that I am involved.

I don’t own a computer, so I don’t send or receive e-mail

Why don’t you write screenplays anymore? ”

Because it’s work. Because you are an employee working for not just one person, but often several. Everybody has something to say about the script. I don’t write with other writers. I have to be on my own. It can be no other way. I have to maintain my sound.

“Do you read unsolicited manuscripts? ”

If I were to start reading unsolicited manuscripts then I would be an editor and I am not an editor. I am a writer. I don’t have the time to give editorial advice. I don’t even feel qualified.

“What is the secret to your writing success? ”

My purpose is to entertain and please myself. I feel that if I am entertained, then there will be enough other readers who will be entertained too.

“Do you use a word processor? ”

No. I use a pen. I have been using a pen now for nearly 50 years. It seems to work ok. I do have an electric typewriter which I bought five years ago which I use each day. Everything is created in longhand. I put it on the typewriter as I do a page or two or three. It has to be on the typewriter to see what it looks like.

“Have you ever been in prison? ”

No. I’ve been asked. Inmates of various prisons have written and asked me how do I know about their mindset, how do I seem to know so much about their lives or prison life. I listen, I study, I talk to convicts, and I do my homework.

“How do I get an agent? ”

My advice is to learn how to write and the agent will find you.