Who is Estleman?
Interested in more about
the man behind the words?
Profile by Deborah Morgan
Since the appearance
of his first novel in 1976, Loren D. Estleman has written nearly
70 books and hundreds of short stories and articles. Among those
books: Writing the Popular Novel, from Writer's Digest
Books; the second in a new series featuring Estleman's Los Angeles
film detective, Valentino (Alone, featuring Greta Garbo,
December 2009); Burning Midnight (the 22nd Amos Walker
novel, June 2012); Roy & Lillie: A Love Story (between
a reprobate Old West judge and
Estleman has received fan letters from such notables as John D. MacDonald, The Amazing Kreskin, Mel Tormé, and Steve Forbes. 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, and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award.
He has received twenty national writing awards: the Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement from Western Writers of America, The Barry Award from Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine, 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, Outstanding Western Writer, 1985, 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 Author's Award. In 2007, Nicotine Kiss was named a Notable Book by the Library of Michigan.
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.
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.