"My name is Kinsey Millhone. I'm a private
investigator, licensed by the state of California. I'm thirty-two
years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yesterday I killed
someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind."
such simplicity of style and straightforward prose, Sue Grafton has won a place
in popular American literature. Best known for her series of novels featuring
female private investigator Kinsey Millhone, she has written mysteries,
non-mysteries, and miscellaneous fiction.
Born on April 24, 1940, in Louisville, Kentucky, Grafton
grew up with two alcoholic parents. She once said, "When you grow up
in a dysfunctional household, you quickly tune in to what's going on under
the surface. From age five or six, I was scanning, figuring out all
the stuff not being discussed."
She started writing novels while she was working in a series of secretarial
jobs and raising her children. Her first published books were non-mysteries
that received poor reviews. She began writing
made-for-TV series screenplays, but she soon came to hate how executives and
marketing committees rewrote her scripts. "I finally reached
a point where I felt that if I wanted to redeem whatever minimal writing
skills I had left, I'd better get back to solo work."
The idea for her first mystery novel came to her when she was embroiled in a
custody battle with her second husband. She began fantasizing about
murdering him, but she said, "I knew I couldn't pull it off. So I
decided to just put this in a book and get paid for it." She took five
years to write the novel, spending much of that time researching things such
as insurance fraud, toxicology, lock-picking, and how to handle a gun.
She finally published the book in 1982 as "A" Is for Alibi, and it
was a huge success.
"I like to read biographies of
writers who really trashed their lives. People like Edna St. Vincent
Millay. It makes me feel so much better." - Sue Grafton
Kinsey Millhone has proven so popular that she even has her own Web site, as
well as a book called "G" Is for Grafton, a look at
the author who created her. Grafton has since gone on to publish many more novels in
her popular series,
each book beginning with the next letter of the alphabet—"C" Is for Corpse (1986), "D" Is for Deadbeat (1987), "E" Is for Evidence
(1988), and so on. She plans to keep writing the novels until she gets
to the letter Z and says she'll name that book, "Z" is
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