SUE GRAFTON: I’M TELLING THREE STORIES IN X
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Sue Grafton became a legend in mystery and thriller genre with her Alphabet series. The 24th novel of Kinsey Millhone’s adventure is carrying the title X and was published in August. Once again the story received splendid feedback and currently is standing with av. 4.3 Amazon stars from 530 plus reviews. It’s a great honor to welcome at Land of Books Lady Sue Grafton.
– Sue, what is your new book X about?
– X is set in the late nineteen eighties, during the last California drought. I’m actually telling three stories, the strands of which are woven into the narrative. Kinsey is hired to do a job for an elegant woman, who’s lying about the job itself and pays her in cash with two bills that turn out to be marked. Kinsey pursues the issue to find out what’s really going on. She’s also caught up in the arrival of new neighbors while her landlord, Henry Pitts, struggles to get his water usage down in the midst of shortages. She’s also on the trail of a man who’s suspected of murder though he’s eluded discovery for years.
– How did you decide to write the story of Alphabet series?
– I chose letters of the alphabet as a means of linking the titles of the series of mysteries I set out to write about a female, hard-boiled detective, living and working in the Southern California town of Santa Teresa, a fictionalized version of Santa Barbara, where we live part-time. Little did I know that A IS FOR ALIBI would launch such a lasting career.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process in such a long lasting series?
– The challenge is always to keep the writing fresh and to come up with a new and original story every time I start a new book. I don’t want to write the same book twice so I’m forever re-inventing myself.
– Tell us something more about your main character Kinsey? Is she close to someone from your real life?
– Kinsey Millhone is 38, twice divorced, no kids. She began her career working for the Santa Teresa Police Department for two years before she decided to get her private investigator’s license and set up an office of her own. She’s down-to-earth; owns one dress, cuts her hair with a pair of nail scissors every six weeks. She eats junk food, but she also jogs three miles a day which keeps her fit. She’s based largely on myself or at least the braver aspects of my personality.
– Who are you?
– I’m 75, married for 37 years to a wonderful man, who teaches Philosophy of Physics at the University of Louisville and at the University of California, Santa Barbara. We have three children, four granddaughters, and a great grandson. I love writing, reading, knitting, walking, and spending time with family and friends.
– What are your writing habits?
– I write every day, usually from 9:00am until mid-afternoon. In the early phases of a book, I work in fits and starts, using trial and error as I make my way through the process. Toward the end of a book, my writing hours are extended and I sometimes work three sessions a day.
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– For X, I did a book tour, twelve cities in twelve days with any number of book signings, print and phone interviews, and e-mail questionnaires such as this.
– When we will see your next novels Y and Z, and would you unveil something more about it?
– Y should be out in 2017 and Z in 2019. Y is a work in progress and I don’t discuss the content until a book is done. With Z, there’s nothing to unveil as I haven’t started work on it yet.
– At the beginning of your writing her career your novels struggled to make a breakthrough. How did you manage to sustain your persistence to wait for your chance?
– My novels didn’t ‘struggle’ with anything. Gradually, I picked up an audience of enthusiastic readers and that swell of support is what carried me through. With writing, the point is to write, which I love to do when it’s going well. The ‘persistence’ applies to the days when the work is not going well and that’s where courage and fortitude come in.
– Which is difficult to write – a screenplay or a novel?
– It’s much more difficult to write a novel because the research and preparation are all-consuming. With a novel, you have to know what you’re talking about. Structure is important to both the screenplay and the novel, but with the novel there are also the issues of description, setting, texture, and pace.
Take a look at her books: