During the latter part of her study, her mother, who was wracked with cancer, took her own life on Sue's 20th birthday. Her father later remarried.
Her experience as a screenwriter taught her the basics of structuring a story, writing dialogue, and creating action sequences, and Grafton felt ready to return to writing fiction. While going through a "bitter divorce and custody battle that lasted 6 long years" Grafton would make herself feel better by imagining ways to kill or maim her ex-husband. Her fantasies were so vivid that she decided to write them down.
She had long been fascinated by mysteries that had related titles, including those by John D. MacDonald, whose titles referenced colors, and Harry Kemelman, who used days of the week. While reading Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies, which is an alphabetical picture book of children who die by various means, she had the idea to write a series of novels based on the alphabet. She immediately sat down and made a list of all of the crime-related words that she knew. This exercise led to her best known works, a chronological series of mystery novels. Known as "the alphabet novels," the stories are set in and around the fictional town of Santa Teresa, California, which is based on the author's primary city of residence, Santa Barbara, California. (Grafton chose to use the name Santa Teresa as a tribute to the author Ross Macdonald, who had previously used this as an alternative name for Santa Barbara in his own novels.)
All novels of the series are written from the perspective of a female private investigator named Kinsey Millhone who lives in Santa Teresa, California. Grafton's first book of this series is "A" Is for Alibi, written and set in 1982. The series continues with "B" Is for Burglar, "C" Is for Corpse, and so on through the alphabet. After the publication of "G" Is for Gumshoe, Grafton was able to quit her screenwriting job and focus on her novels. The timeline of the series is slower than real-time - "Q" Is for Quarry, for example, is set in 1987, even though it was written in 2002. Her latest book, "T" Is for Trespass, was released in December 2007. Grafton has publicly stated that the final novel in the series will be titled "Z" Is for Zero.
Grafton's novels have been published in 28 countries, in 26 languages including Bulgarian and Indonesian. She has refused to sell the film and television rights to her books, as her time writing screenplays had "cured" her of the desire to work with Hollywood. Grafton has even threatened to haunt her children if they sell the film rights after she is dead.
On June 13, 2000, Sue Grafton was the recipient of the 2000 YWCA of Lexington Smith-Breckinridge Distinguished Woman of Achievement Award.
In 2004, Grafton received the Ross Macdonald Literary Award, given to "a California writer whose work raises the standard of literary excellence."
For more on Kinsey Millhone see Kinsey Millhone
Sookie: I love to dress up in those cozy clothes, the furry boots, and curl up with a Sue Grafton mystery. I got "R" Is for Ricochet and "S" Is for Silence… If the ski conditions are good, I can get a good 8 hours of Kinsey Millhone in.
Sue Grafton is proud of her and other female mystery novelists' contribution to the genre. (Originated from Knight-Ridder Newspapers)
Jun 01, 1994; LEXINGTON, Ky. _ You think Sue Grafton's best-selling mystery novels _ the wildly popular private-eye series with those catchy...