“Writing, basically breaks down to relationships between people and that is what you write about.” – Leon Uris
I first read Leon Uris when I was in junior high, geting a beaten up copy of his World War II novel Battle Cry when my mother found it at a garage sale and brought it home to our South Dakota farm. After reading that book, I knew I had found an author who wrote things I enjoyed so the next time we went to Sioux Falls (which was nearly 80 miles away), I asked Mom to go find another garage sale and see if he had written anything else.
That was 1959 and his book Exodus was now on the market, and – as luck would have it – at a garage sale. She bought it for me and I have since read every book this amazing author wrote, many actually purchased in book shops.
Born this day in 1924, Uris started his own reading at age 3, writing by 4 and writing creatively by age 8. But it wasn’t until after he came out of World War II (he enlisted at age 17 and spent 4 years in the service) that he started his successful career, first writing for newspapers and then doing short stories before writing Battle Cry in 1951. Known for his historical fiction and the deep research that went into his novels, he wrote 20 novels and many nonfiction works.
Both Exodus and Trinity (the first work that really helped me understand what was going on in Northern Ireland) were mega-bestsellers, and many, many more were on the New York Times Bestsellers List. Also a screenwriter, he had three of his own books – Battle Cry, Exodus and The Haj – made into successful movies.
Uris wrote continuously for 50 years until he was struck down by kidney failure in 2003. He said he always was proud that the work he wrote in 1950 was just as much read as that written 30 or 40 years later. “You can try to reach an audience, but you just write what comes out of you and hope that it is accepted,” he said. “You do not – and should not – write specifically to a generation.” Good advice for every writer.
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