90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
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

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • 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???

ONPOINT
TODAY
Jul 31, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin heads the Cabinet meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 30, 2014.  (AP)

The US and Europe face off against Russia. Are we looking at Cold War II? Something hotter?

Jul 31, 2014
A comical sign suggest the modern workplace is anything but collegial . (KW Reinsch / Flickr)

When the boss is a bad apple. How some pretty dark traits can push some to the top.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jul 30, 2014
Janitta Swain, Writer/Exec. Producer/Co-Director Dinesh D'Souza, John Koopman, Caroline Granger and Don Taylor seen at the World Premiere of 'America: Imagine The World Without Her' at Regal Cinemas LA Live on Monday, June 30, 2014, in Los Angeles, CA. (AP)

Conservative firebrand Dinesh D’Souza says he wants an America without apologies. He’s also facing jail time. We’ll hear him out.

 
Jul 30, 2014
Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Israel escalated its military campaign against Hamas on Tuesday, striking symbols of the group's control in Gaza and firing tank shells that shut down the strip's only power plant in the heaviest bombardment in the fighting so far. (AP)

Social media is changing how the world sees and talks about Israel and Gaza, Israelis and Palestinians. We’ll look at the impact.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Criticism, Conservatism And Dinesh D’Souza
Thursday, Jul 31, 2014

Best-selling conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza and On Point host Tom Ashbrook disagree about what makes America great…or do they?

More »
1 Comment
 
This 15-Year-Old Caller Is Really Disappointed With Congress
Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

In which a 15-year-old caller from Nashville expertly and elegantly analyzes our bickering, mostly ineffective 113th Congress.

More »
6 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: July 25, 2014
Friday, Jul 25, 2014

Why the key to web victory is often taking a break and looking around, and more pie for your viewing (not eating) pleasure.

More »
Comment