“My work draws on nothing that’s apparent...

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“My work draws on nothing that’s apparent from my personal life,” Elmore Leonard says. It’s just as well, judging by the sleazy, if colorful, characters and perilous situations confronting his heroes. In his newest tricky thriller, “Glitz” (Arbor House: $14.95; Feb. 28), Miami Beach cop Vincent Mora winds up in Atlantic City bumping into such unlovely specimen as Teddy Magyk, a mother’s boy maniac; Ricky the Zit Catalina, a k a Ricky the Sickie; Frank “The Ching” Chingoro, who “used to kill people,” and maybe even one or two nice folks.

What writers influenced Leonard? “James M. Cain, to some degree. The major influence in the beginning was Hemingway. . . . But I recognized my attitude about storytelling, not in Hemingway but in authors such as Vonnegut, Richard Bissel and Mark Harris. I felt a kinship with them, with their ability to see humor, absurdities, in serious situations.”

Nearly all of Leonard’s books, “Glitz” included, have been optioned by film companies. (“Stick” was recently made into a movie by Burt Reynolds.) And he has written scripts from other novels, such as William Kienzle’s “The Rosary Murders.” Of that craft, he notes: “People who don’t know how to write presume to tell you what to write. People who seldom leave Beverly Hills tell you about social behavior out in the world. Writers try to give them reality, and they turn it down or into a comic-strip movie. Raymond Chandler’s advice is to wear your second-best suit, artistically speaking, when writing a screenplay; but be polite and thank them when you leave, because you might want to come back.”


PUB ROW--Ross-Erikson, Santa Barbara publisher, has just released “The Southern California Anthology, 1984,” edited by Jonathan Woetzel, Michael McLaughlin and Chris Westphal ($9.50). Wanda Coleman, Manazar Gamboa, Gerald Locklin and Ivan Roth are among those represented. And there are interviews with William Burroughs, Norman Cousins and Ray Bradbury. . . . John Rechy, who contributed the introduction to the “Southern California Anthology,” has three books newly in reprint from Grove (“City of Night,” “The Sexual Outlaw” and “Numbers”) and one from Carroll & Graf (“Bodies and Souls”). . . . Arbor House, which has a new editor-in-chief, Ann Harris, will publish writings by George Orwell that were recently discovered in the archives of the BBC, mainly adaptations of stories by such as H. G. Wells and Oscar Wilde and other never-published work, including essays, radio scripts/commentaries on World War II and letters. “Orwell: The Lost Writings” will be published in September of ’85. . . . Illuminati has recently issued “Prickly Heat and Cold,” the second volume of Richard Meltzer’s “authorized autobiography” and Meltzer’s controversial and funny “Guide to the Ugliest Buildings of Los Angeles.”

EVENTS-- Today: 7 p.m., poets Steve Beckman, Kelli Bond, Marta Mitrovich, Leonard Nash, Phyllis Thompson and Mitsuye Yamada appear in the first winter Celebration of the Arts at Dana Point Community Center in Dana Point (24542 San Juan Ave.). . . . 8 p.m., an open reading of poetry takes place at Beyond Baroque in Venice (681 Venice Blvd.). Sign up prior to 8 p.m. . . . Tuesday: 7-9 p.m., Robin Blaser and Lyn Hejinian read their poetry at Fellowship Hall of Westwood United Methodist Church (10497 Wilshire Blvd.), sponsored by the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. . . . 10 p.m., James Carroll talks about his “Prince of Peace” with Connie Martinson on Group W’s Ch. 10 and Valley Cable’s Ch. 57. . . . Wednesday: 7-10 p.m., author-editor Bayla Winters chairs a nine-week writing workshop for UCLA Extension at Scott United Methodist Church in Pasadena. Call (818) 846-1879. . . . Thursday: 10:30 a.m., Art Seidenbaum speaks about “Out of Print” at the Fairfax Library (161 S. Gardner St.). . . . Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Dick Turpin, Los Angeles Times real estate editor, chairs a one-day seminar on Careers for Journalists in UCLA’s Architecture Building. Call Extension, 825-0641. . . . 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Kathleen Wiegner, senior editor of Forbes, begins a nine-week UCLA Extension course in business and financial reporting at 3157 Bunche Hall. Call 825-0641. . . . Upcoming: Saturday, Jan. 19, starting at 9:45 a.m., “Literary Women: The Long Beach Festival of Authors” will take place at the Edgewater Hyatt. Screenwriter Diane Thomas (“Romancing the Stone”), prize-winning poet Pamela Alexander and author Bernice Kert (“Hemingway’s Women”) will be among the participants. Information, call (213) 597-9441 or (213) 436-8791. . . . Feb. 6, writer Merrill Joan Gerber begins a fiction course at Pasadena City College. Information, from the English Department, (818) 578-7371. . . . March 6-8, Albion College in Albion, Mich., will hold the Ring Lardner Centennial Symposium with Matthew Bruccoli, Sydney Harris, Ring Lardner Jr. and other guests. Information from Prof. Hal Wyss, coordinator, Ring Lardner Centennial Symposium, Department of English, Albion College, Albion, Mich. 49224.

FINALLY--Paul McMahon’s “Potato Jokes” (Long Shadow: $3.95) is filled with punny punch lines (i.e., Who rules over the kingdom of French fries? The Duke of Oil. What did he title his autobiography? “Lord of the Fries.”). My favorite: Where do rich potatoes send their children to boarding school? Au Groton Academy. In case you wondered who the poet laureate of potatoes might be, it’s Ogden Mash.