Mystery Scene


Sue Grafton on...

On Fatherly advice: "Well, I come from a family of lawyers. My father (mystery writer C.W. Grafton) was a lawyer, my stepmother was a lawyer, my uncle was a lawyer, I have two cousins who are lawyers. But my father said, "Don't ever go into the law—you will be so bored."

On one of her first jobs: "I'll tell you, you learn a lot about other people, cleaning their toilet bowls."

On honesty in writing: "Oh, Lord, that has a little ring of truth to it, doesn't it? Then, that may mean something."

On too much honesty in writing: "You know, Mama, let's just be a little discreet here."

On her protaganist: "The whole thing with Kinsey is that she's flawed and inconsistent and yet she works it out. But when they refer to her as a role model, well, that, oh my goodness, it just makes me cringe."

On finishing and starting a book: "Every time I finish a book I think 'that's it.' I am absolutely played out—nothing left to say, no place else to go. And so, when I inevitably start to write again, I have to do my research all over again, because I don't know anything. I've cancelled and deleted all that stuff, cleared it out of my brain, because I just don't have room for it. I have to start all over."


grafton_kinseyandmeSue Grafton is the author of the long-running Kinsey Millhone series, which began with A is for Alibi back in 1982. Since then, she has become one of the most popular and acclaimed mystery writers of the last three decades. According to Grafton's website, she has been published in 28 countries and 26 languages—including Estonian, Bulgarian, and Indonesian, and has an international readership numbering in the millions. She will be accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award from Bouchercon in Albany, New York, this month in recognition of her work.

"Everybody knows—or thinks they know—Sue Grafton," says Kevin Burton Smith, who interviewed Grafton this year for Mystery Scene's cover feature "Kinsey and Her" (Issue #128, Winter 2013). This sense of familiarity is even greater following her very close-to-the-bone Kinsey and Me, a collection of stories that are half about PI Kinsey Millhone, and half about Kit Blue, a fictionalized version of a young Grafton.

"Kinsey and Me was an invasion of privacy I did to myself," said Grafton, addressing the personal nature of her Kit Blue storeies, "A self-inflicted wound."

But the reasons so many of Grafton's readers and peers feel a warm affinity for the author is more than just the vulnerability of her writing. Congratulations to a truly accomplished, but equally warm, funny, and authentic writer.

Author Website