A look inside Michigan novelist Elmore Leonard's Bloomfield Hills home

Elmore Leonard wrote 19 novels inside home; place of his inspiration


BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. – When novelist Elmore Leonard passed away on Aug. 20, the world lost a great writer and a creator of some very interesting characters.

Local 4's cameras were recently allowed inside Leonard's home where he wrote 19 novels -- the place of his inspiration.

Leonard's 5-bedroom house is listed for $2.1 million in Bloomfield Hills. His son, Peter Leonard, remembers running by the house back in 1985.

"Well, let me first tell you the story behind it. When I got home, I called Elmore, and I said you gotta go look at this house on Yarmouth," said Peter. "I think he did either that day or the next day, walked up, knocked on the door, and made the guy an offer and bought it."

Peter said that pretty much sums up his father -- he went after what he wanted. Peter remembered when he was a child what his dad said.


"He said, 'Yeah, I'm gonna make my run.' I said, 'What does that mean?' and he said, 'I'm quitting my job and I'm going to write full-time,' so that was really something," said Peter (pictured, left).

In the basement of Leonard's home, is the result of that determination with stacks and stacks of his novels. His old typewriter sits in the corner.

Leonard's daughter, Jane, actually transcribed his books because he wrote everything out long hand on yellow pads of paper.

"They were the same thickness, he just loved this paper," said Jane.


"And he would write four pages to get one good page, one clean page," Peter said.

His kids tried to get him to use a computer to save time. Elmore simply said, "Why would I want to save time?"

The famed novelist spent most of his time in his writing room.

"I think the passion was there, that writing was his life. He loved it," said Peter. "It wasn't work, it was fun, and he always said to me if you're not having fun when you're writing, you're doing something wrong."

The room is a special spot in the house. On the mantel, strangely enough, is an autographed photo of Charlie Sheen.

"What person would you like to come back as, or who would you like to come back as, and Elmore said Charlie Sheen," said Peter. "Yea, he wrote, to Elmore, do you think you could handle being me? Charlie Sheen."

The family can remember there were plenty of memories about interacting with the Hollywood types.

"'Dad, Clint Eastwood's on the phone,' and so we all, this is when you could pick up the phone and unscrew the mouthpiece, so we all went to different phones and listened," said Peter.


The room is also where lots of A-listers visited when Elmore would have a party, like George Clooney.

"Yes, he probably stood right here, and the girls all around him, they just flocked."

But most importantly, the room was Elmore's spot to create.

"We would describe scenes to each other, and dialogue and characters, and Elmore would say to me, something like, 'Well, I don't know if your bad guy has the right name,'" Peter said.

Peter admits at times it was intimidating following in his father's footsteps as an author.

"I got a lot of emails saying, 'How dare you think you can write a book as good as your father,' you know, things like that, which I found odd," said Peter. "Isn't there room for both of us?"

But Peter would then rely on his father's advice.

"He said, 'You never say a word, you don't respond to the critics, you don't defend yourself, you just take it and you keep going and maybe you learn something from the criticism.'"

As Elmore's children gave Local 4's Karen Drew a tour of the 5,000-square-foot home, Drew said there was something you could feel as you walked from room to room: Simplicity. Even the master bedroom was large, but nothing overwhelming or over the top -- Elmore didn't live like that.

The kitchen was also one of the writer's favorite spots.

"He would have his dinner and watch Jeopardy every night," Peter said.


The backyard and patio saw many special times with Elmore, his children and his grandchildren. Elmore did backflips off the diving board up until his mid-80s.

"Then my dad would do every year his annual backflip off the board," said Peter.

Family members couldn't believe it when Steven Tyler and members of his band, Aerosmith, stopped by to hang out one summer afternoon.

Local 4's Karen Drew says the house, in a way, is so much like Elmore's novels, filled with twists and turns and with so much character.

"He wrote 19 novels here, I think, so this was definitely his place of inspiration," said Peter.

So what's next? Peter admits he hasn't written much since his father died, but when he does get back to it, he has something special he wants to do.

"I am toying with the idea of writing a Raylan novel," said Peter. "Raylan Givens is a character who is the main character in the TV show 'Justified,' and my dad's last novel is called 'Raylan.' It would be a tribute to him."

As for the home, the children say hopefully another family can have just as many great memories here as well.

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