Profile and photos by Deborah Morgan
Since the appearance of his first novel in 1976, Loren D. Estleman has written 59 books and hundreds of short stories and articles. Among those books: Writing the Popular Novel, from Writer's Digest Books; the first in a new series featuring Estleman's Los Angeles film detective, Valentino (Frames, coming in Fall 2007); the eighteenth Amos Walker novel, Nicotine Kiss (April 2006); The Adventures of Johnny Vermillion (a rollicking comic western, May 2006); American Detective (the nineteenth Amos Walker novel, coming in Spring 2007); and the Spur award-winning The Undertaker's Wife (2005). Estleman is currently working on a historical western novel, some short stories, and proposals for future novels in both the mystery and historical western genres.
All of this on a manual typewriter, no less.
Estleman has received fan letters from such notables as John D. MacDonald, The Amazing Kreskin and the late, great Mel Tormé. He has acquired a loyal cult readership across the United States and in Europe, and his work has appeared in 23 languages.
An authority on both criminal history and the American West, Estleman has been called the most critically acclaimed author of his generation. He has been nominated for the National Book Award, the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award, and England's Silver Dagger Award.
He has received eighteen national writing awards: four Shamuses from the Private Eye Writers of America, five Spurs from the Western Writers of America, two American Mystery Awards from Mystery Scene Magazine, two Outstanding Mystery Writer of the Year awards from Popular Fiction Monthly, two Stirrup Awards for outstanding articles in the Western Writers of America magazine, The Roundup, and three Western Heritage Awards from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. In 1987, the Michigan Foundation of the Arts presented him with its award for literature. In 1997, the Michigan Library Association named him the recipient of the Michigan Authors Award.
In 1993, Estleman was Guest of Honor at the Southwest Mystery Convention in Austin, Texas. He was Honored Guest at Eyecon '99 (Private Eye Writers of America Convention), held in St. Louis in July of that year. In June 2001, he was Guest of Honor (the first American chosen) at the Bloody Words Convention in Toronto, Canada.
He has been a judge
for many literary honors, including the prestigious Hopwood Award
given by the University of Michigan. He has written book reviews
for many newspapers, including The New York Times
and The Washington Post, and in 1988
he covered the filming of Lonesome Dove
for TV Guide.
Loren D.Estleman at home (both literally and
figuratively) with his manual typewriter.
He's worked hard to get where he is, beginning in the unheated upstairs of the 1867 Michigan farmhouse where he was raised. His fondest childhood memory is that of curling up in his robe with a mug of hot chocolate in front of the television to enjoy such grand western series as Maverick and Gunsmoke.
When he was fifteen years old, he sent out his first short story for publication. Over the next eight years, he collected 160 rejections. He attributes his tenacity to ego, and he's earned that, too. He and his brown-bag lunch commuted to Eastern Michigan University to cut expenses after his father was disabled and his mother went to work to support the family.
Estleman often says he's not a fast writer. He is, however, consistent, spending an average of six hours a day at his typewriter. He polishes as he goes, consuming a prodigious amount of cheap typing paper; a process he refers to as "writing for the wastebasket."
His favorite writers -- and those who have inspired his work -- include Jack London, Edgar Allan Poe, W. Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, and Edith Wharton.
A sought-after speaker and a veteran journalist of police-beat news, Estleman graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Journalism. On April 27, 2002, EMU presented him with an honorary doctorate in letters. He left the job market in 1980 to write full time. He lives in Michigan and is married to mystery novelist Deborah Morgan.