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The Late Elmore Leonard's Pens

Readers in the US are probably aware that Jon Stewart is ending his long run as host of the Daily Show on Comedy Central.

To commemorate his work on the show, the network's been live-streaming every episode of the Daily Show from the last 17 years. The other day, I caught an old one with prolific crime novelist Elmore Leonard as Jon's guest.

(Leonard passed away in 2013.)

He talked about his writing process, including the various pens he's used throughout his career. The man who wrote more than three dozen novels did it all by hand, with pen and paper!

 

The upshot is, for all that writing, Elmore Leonard's pens were mostly cheap, except for the occasional dalliance with a Montblanc he picked up for free at a conference.

Leonard offered some more details about his choice of pens in a piece for GQ.

To write with, I started out with a 29-cent Scripto pencil, then worked up to an orange 98-cent pen. I used those for a while. And now I'm up to an expensive Montblanc—and it works very well. It's a very nice pen. It's maroon. The pen is important because I'm doing it all in longhand, and it has to feel right. There has to be good flow. That is important—not absolutely necessary, but why not go with what works best for me?

(Note: Scripto doesn't make pencils anymore, according to this history by Roger Russell.)

When he passed, Elmore Leonard's pen was a Pilot V7 with blue ink and a yellow legal pad to compose his novels, according to his hometown newspaper, the Detroit Free Press.

You have to wonder if doing it old-school like that helped to inspire him as he created his sharply etched characters and quick-witted dialogue.

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