TRAVERSE CITY — Jim Harrison packed light to write his acclaimed book, "Legends of the Fall," at a northern Michigan resort.
The author required few elements to create the novella that would 15 years later become an Oscar-nominated film — a desk, Lake Michigan and a drink.
"He rented one of our rooms in the off-season and brought his typewriter and his bottle of booze and holed up there," said Greg Jolliffe, owner of the Jolli-Lodge resort in Leland. "I guess that's all it took."
Harrison, a Michigan native and author of more than 30 books, died Saturday at his home in Arizona. He was 78. Linda King Harrison, Harrison's wife of more than 50 years with whom he had two daughters, died last fall.
The writer was the grandson of farmers and son of an agricultural extension agent. He grew up in Grayling, Reed City and Haslett and spent years of his adulthood in Leelanau County.
Harrison left an imprint on area writers such as Jack Driscoll, a retired Interlochen Center for the Arts creative writing teacher and winner of a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. Driscoll met Harrison when he moved to northwest Michigan in 1975, an era when Harrison was known more for his poetry than longer works.
The men met for beers and conversation about outdoor pursuits, such as bird hunting, fly fishing and dogs.
Harrison visited Interlochen to give readings of his work. He was an inspiration to students and teachers at the school, Driscoll said.
"He was so important to us," he said. "We looked up to him. We were so green, so unsure of ourselves and here he was successfully doing what he wanted to do. He was a model for us."
Harrison was often posted at the Bluebird Restaurant in Leland and Dick's Pour House in Lake Leelanau, "his two favorite bars straddling the 45th parallel," said George Ball, owner of Good Old Books in Leland.
The latter is where Ball first saw Harrison. The pair were never close friends but were connected by a love of literature, Ball said. They socialized at parties, Harrison's book tour stops at Horizon Books in Traverse City and Leelanau establishments.
Harrison was gruff, free spirited and poorly suited to the responsibilities of success, Ball said. The author's third novel, "Farmer," is Ball's favorite. It showed his softer side.
"I thought it was extremely genuine and it was beautifully, sensitively done," Ball said. "It was very meaningful to me because, having spent all my life up here to know Jim's life was spent something in that way."
Much of Harrison's work was set in northern Michigan, where characters visited the region's beaches, forests, taverns and farms.
Characters drove Harrison's writing, whether in poems, novellas, novels or non-fiction, Driscoll said. And Harrison himself was a character.
"He was an adventurer and worldly, with a big, bold appetite," Driscoll said. "An appetite for good wine, an appetite for good food, an appetite for good art and good books."
Harrison's most recent book, "The Ancient Minstrel," was published in March 2016.
Marta Hepler Drahos and The Associated Press contributed to this story.