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Sue Grafton On ‘W Is For Wasted’

Mega-bestselling crime writer Sue Grafton joins us, on the evolution of the detective novel, and her latest, “W is for Wasted.”

Sue Grafton (photo by Laurie Roberts Porter)

Sue Grafton (photo by Laurie Roberts Porter)

Mystery writer Sue Grafton’s parents were serious alcoholics who effectively abandoned Grafton at age 5, with lifelong implications.  Same with Grafton’s fictional alter-ego, detective Kinsey Millhone.  Her parents straight up died in a car crash when she was five.  Fiction following life, just plainer, clearer.

Sue Grafton is a mega bestselling detective novelist.  Her “alphabet” series started in 1982 with “A is for Alibi”.  Now she’s on “W” with a lifetime in the trade.  But it’s always murder.

This hour, On Point:  Sue Grafton, and the life in detective fiction.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Sue Grafton, bestselling crime novelist. Best-known for her “alphabet” series of novels featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone. Her latest book is “W is for Wasted.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The Guardian: Sue Grafton: ‘My childhood ended when I was five’ — “Most novelists prefer to maintain a distance between themselves and their characters; it preserves a veneer of sanity. If not always one of mystery. Sue Grafton, author of the best-selling alphabetical detective series that began with A is for Alibi in 1982 and is now up to V is for Vengeance, has seldom made any effort to separate herself from her fictional creation, PI Kinsey Millhone.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Book review (fiction): W is for Wasted – “When Sue Grafton published ‘A is for Alibi’ in 1982, critics praised her debut novel, but few could have predicted the future popularity of her continuing alphabet series or her eventual stature as perhaps America’s premier writer of crime fiction.”

Excerpt: ‘W is for Wasted’ by Sue Grafton

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  • GarretWoodward

    Sue, do you have any advice for upcoming, aspiring writers? I’ve always been under the impression of just keep chugging through, keep writing and honing your craft…thoughts?

  • LucidGal

    Please remind Ms. Grafton that lots of very good books have gotten rejected over and over by mainstream publishers. The recent case of J.K. Rowling is proof positive that it’s easier to get published if you have already been published, even if the book is sub-par. It’s a new day. If an author can sell books by self-publishing, without a corporate gatekeeper, who would begrudge them that?

    • skelly74

      Imagine all the interesting books that have been written that never saw the light of day because of the “gatekeeper”. Every writer should consider self-publishing as an option.

      How many Confederacy of Dunces rotted in a shoebox because the gatekeepers kept saying no?

      Write what you want. Put it out there if YOU want.

      • LucidGal

        Amen. We should also remember that John Grisham couldn’t get A Time to Kill ~ probably his best book ~ published until The Firm got published. And probably one editor or at most a small handful of people keep it off the printing press.

  • JanaHod

    Can Ms. Grafton talk about how she gets inspired and how she researches for her novels? Live or googled autopsies, for example?

  • M. Jean

    Kinsey drives a rather rare car-1970 Boss 429 Mustang. (the Boss 429 was only produced in 1969 & 1970). I believe there were only about 800. By now in the story line, it’s worth 5 figures. Does Kinsey know it’s value? Does Sue Grafton have a Boss 429? What made her choose that car?

  • Edie

    I missed something somewhere. Whatever happened to Dietz? I think I had a cruch on him. I loved when Eve Dallas sat in her husband’s lovely library to read an antique Kinsey Milhone book.

  • Alice

    I started reading the Alphabet books in August, when I came across one in a bookcase of a vacation rental. Since then I have read seven of them and am already dreading coming to the end of the alphabet. Question for Sue: Is it best to read them in order, or is it OK to jump around?

  • CarolinZurich

    I love reading Ms. Grafton’s books–good plot with quality writing. I read that the series will end with Kinsey at 40, and that Ms. Grafton said that she won’t make us witness Kinsey going through menopause. Facing that soon myself, I wonder why? Anyway, I’m buying whatever this author is selling….I love Kinsey Millhone. All the best to her and her scribe, Sue Grafton.

    • LucidGal

      Having just been through it, I can tell you…it gets ugly! :o)

      • CarolinZurich

        I miss my late 30s, when I was able to put off thinking about menopause!

  • NN

    Could Ms. Grafton comment on her relationship with Ross MacDonald (Kenneth Millar), who wrote Southern California mystery novels and lived in Santa Barbara, and who invented Santa Theresa?

  • 2Gary2

    w=wasted which is what this show segment is. Whats the childhood poverty rate? How unequal is the wealth and income in this banana republic if USA?

    And all you can discuss is some stupid writer of boring books???

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