Alexander Edwards, Webster Cary, Booker Williams and Mike Roote are all the same person, and it’s a she. They are the pen names of energetic Leonore Fleischer, 44, who, over the last eight years, has written more than two dozen paperback novels based on movies, from Benji, Super Fly and Funny Lady to her current hit, A Star Is Born.
Fleischer, who will rarely sign her own name because “I didn’t write the dialogue or make up the plot,” began churning out the books after her divorce in 1969. She wasn’t making enough to pay her bills as an associate editor of Publishers Weekly, so she got a free-lance assignment to turn an execrable film called C.C. and Company into a novel. “It had Joe Namath and Ann-Margret, but the central character was a motorcycle,” she recalls. In spite of knowing “nothing about the internal combustion engine,” she managed a coherent book. Five more assignments at $1,500 each followed. (Screenwriters rarely exercise options to novelize their stories, since they can make more money writing another movie.)
“When I had a full-time job I would sit down on Friday night,” recalls Fleischer, “and take amphetamines. On Monday morning I would topple over sideways with a completed manuscript.” She has since graduated to a higher pay scale, plus royalties. She expects to make her first “big chunk” from A Star Is Born, which she will split with co-author Douglas Mount, an old friend.
Fleischer still works nonstop. In the past year she produced six cookbooks (one on chicken soup). Since Star she has novelized The Lords of Flatbush and is working on what she terms “the kind of mass-market novel that makes a great deal of money.” She also looks after Alexander, her 12-year-old son, writes a biweekly book column for the Washington Post, and “schlepps around New York” searching out bargains for New York magazine.
Since she has long since sworn off amphetamines, how does she do it? “I get up early,” she says brightly. “I go to bed early—and I gave up sex.”