Leonard introduced Givens in earlier short stories and novels, but is writing about him now for the first time since cable network FX made the character the centerpiece of the critically acclaimed "Justified" series. Timothy Olyphant plays the role to perfection, capturing Leonard’s wise-guy charm and steely, shoot-em-up bravado. The novel arrives just as "Justified" begins its third season Jan. 17.
Leonard recently discussed the TV show, the book and what comes next during a telephone interview from his home in Michigan. Following are edited excerpts from that conversation.
On why he wrote "Raylan": I figured I should do something since they were paying me as an executive producer [for the show]. I can’t just sit here, I’ve got to do something. But I didn’t ask them what they were doing and try to tie in with it, I just wrote my own things. It worked out so they could use a little bit here and there.
On how his approach changes because of the TV show: That didn’t bother me because as soon as I met [Raylan] in earlier books, I liked him a lot. He just seemed to work. He seemed easygoing, but serious, too.
But seeing him now [as a TV character] just reinforces my feeling about it. That he’s the guy. [Timothy Olyphant] is probably the best one to do one of my characters. [The late actor] Richard Boone would recite the lines exactly the way I heard them, he was in a couple of movies [based on Leonard works], but this guy’s perfect. He’s the good guy. Richard Boone was always the bad guy.