Sue Grafton

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Sue Grafton_table_infobox_0

Sue GraftonSue Grafton_header_cell_0_0_0
BornSue Grafton_header_cell_0_1_0 Sue Taylor Grafton

(1940-04-24)April 24, 1940 Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.Sue Grafton_cell_0_1_1

DiedSue Grafton_header_cell_0_2_0 December 28, 2017(2017-12-28) (aged 77)

Santa Barbara, California, U.S.Sue Grafton_cell_0_2_1

NationalitySue Grafton_header_cell_0_3_0 AmericanSue Grafton_cell_0_3_1
Alma materSue Grafton_header_cell_0_4_0 University of LouisvilleSue Grafton_cell_0_4_1
OccupationSue Grafton_header_cell_0_5_0 NovelistSue Grafton_cell_0_5_1
Spouse(s)Sue Grafton_header_cell_0_6_0 Steven F. HumphreySue Grafton_cell_0_6_1
Parent(s)Sue Grafton_header_cell_0_7_0 Sue Grafton_cell_0_7_1
PeriodSue Grafton_header_cell_0_8_0 1964–2017 (first published novel: 1967)Sue Grafton_cell_0_8_1
GenreSue Grafton_header_cell_0_9_0 MysterySue Grafton_cell_0_9_1
Notable worksSue Grafton_header_cell_0_10_0 Kinsey Millhone Alphabet seriesSue Grafton_cell_0_10_1
SignatureSue Grafton_header_cell_0_11_0 Sue Grafton_cell_0_11_1
WebsiteSue Grafton_header_cell_0_12_0 Sue Grafton_cell_0_12_1

Sue Taylor Grafton (April 24, 1940 – December 28, 2017) was an American author of detective novels. Sue Grafton_sentence_0

She is best known as the author of the "alphabet series" ("A" Is for Alibi, etc.) featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone in the fictional city of Santa Teresa, California. Sue Grafton_sentence_1

The daughter of detective novelist C. Sue Grafton_sentence_2 W. Grafton, she said the strongest influence on her crime novels was author Ross Macdonald. Sue Grafton_sentence_3

Before her success with this series, she wrote screenplays for television movies. Sue Grafton_sentence_4

Early life Sue Grafton_section_0

Sue Grafton was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to C. Sue Grafton_sentence_5 W. Grafton (1909–1982) and Vivian Harnsberger, both of whom were the children of Presbyterian missionaries. Sue Grafton_sentence_6

Her father was a municipal bond lawyer who also wrote mystery novels and her mother was a former high school chemistry teacher. Sue Grafton_sentence_7

Her father enlisted in the Army during World War II when she was three and returned when she was five, after which her home life started falling apart. Sue Grafton_sentence_8

Both parents became alcoholics and Grafton said "From the age of five onward, I was left to raise myself". Sue Grafton_sentence_9

Grafton and her older sister Ann grew up in Louisville, where she went to Atherton High School. Sue Grafton_sentence_10

She attended the University of Louisville (first year) and Western Kentucky State Teachers College (now Western Kentucky University) in her sophomore and junior years before graduating from the University of Louisville in 1961 with a bachelor's degree in English Literature and minors in humanities and fine arts. Sue Grafton_sentence_11

She was a member of Pi Beta Phi. Sue Grafton_sentence_12

After graduating, Grafton worked as a hospital admissions clerk, a cashier, and a medical secretary in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara, California. Sue Grafton_sentence_13

Grafton's mother killed herself in 1960 after returning home from an operation to remove esophageal cancer brought on by years of drinking and smoking. Sue Grafton_sentence_14

Her father died in 1982, a few months before "A" Is for Alibi was published. Sue Grafton_sentence_15

Writing career Sue Grafton_section_1

Grafton's father was enamored of detective fiction and wrote at night. Sue Grafton_sentence_16

He taught Grafton lessons on the writing and editing process and groomed her to be a writer. Sue Grafton_sentence_17

Inspired by her father, Grafton began writing when she was 18 and finished her first novel four years later. Sue Grafton_sentence_18

She continued writing and completed six more novels. Sue Grafton_sentence_19

Only two of these seven novels (Keziah Dane and The Lolly-Madonna War) were published. Sue Grafton_sentence_20

Grafton would later destroy the manuscripts for her five early, unpublished novels. Sue Grafton_sentence_21

Unable to find success with her novels, Grafton turned to screenplays. Sue Grafton_sentence_22

Grafton worked for the next 15 years writing screenplays for television movies, including Sex and the Single Parent; Mark, I Love You; and Nurse. Sue Grafton_sentence_23

Grafton sold the movie rights for The Lolly-Madonna War and co-wrote the screenplay for the feature film. Sue Grafton_sentence_24

The adaptation, released in 1973 as Lolly-Madonna XXX, starred Rod Steiger and Jeff Bridges. Sue Grafton_sentence_25

Her screenplay for Walking Through the Fire earned a Christopher Award in 1979. Sue Grafton_sentence_26

In collaboration with her husband, Steven Humphrey, she also adapted the Agatha Christie novels A Caribbean Mystery and Sparkling Cyanide for television and co-wrote A Killer in the Family and Love on the Run. Sue Grafton_sentence_27

She is credited with the story upon which the screenplay for the made for TV movie Svengali (1983) was based. Sue Grafton_sentence_28

Her experience as a screenwriter taught her the basics of structuring a story, writing dialogue, and creating action sequences. Sue Grafton_sentence_29

Grafton then felt ready to return to writing fiction. Sue Grafton_sentence_30

While going through a "bitter divorce and custody battle that lasted six long years", Grafton imagined ways to kill or maim her ex-husband. Sue Grafton_sentence_31

Her fantasies were so vivid that she decided to write them down. Sue Grafton_sentence_32

Alphabet series Sue Grafton_section_2

Grafton had been fascinated by mysteries series whose titles were related, such as John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series, each of which included a color in the title, and Harry Kemelman's Rabbi Small series, each of which included a day of the week in the title. Sue Grafton_sentence_33

While reading Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies, a picture book with an alphabetized list of ways for children to die, Grafton decided to write a series of novels whose titles would follow the alphabet. Sue Grafton_sentence_34

She immediately sat down and made a list of all of the crime-related words that she knew. Sue Grafton_sentence_35

These became the series now known as the "alphabet novels", featuring sleuth and private investigator Kinsey Millhone. Sue Grafton_sentence_36

The series is set in Santa Teresa, a fictionalized version of Santa Barbara. Sue Grafton_sentence_37

Grafton followed the lead of Ross Macdonald, who created the fictional version of the city. Sue Grafton_sentence_38

Grafton described Kinsey Millhone as her alter ego, "the person I might have been had I not married young and had children." Sue Grafton_sentence_39

The series begins with "A" Is for Alibi, published and set in 1982. Sue Grafton_sentence_40

"B" Is for Burglar, followed, then "C" Is for Corpse, each novel's title combining a letter with a word, except X. Sue Grafton_sentence_41

After the publication of "G" Is for Gumshoe, Grafton was able to quit her screenwriting job and focus on her writing. Sue Grafton_sentence_42

Since the publication of "A" is for Alibi, a new episode was released each year or so. Sue Grafton_sentence_43

The name of each book was a source of speculation. Sue Grafton_sentence_44

In May 2009, Grafton told Media Bistro that she was "just trying to figure out how to get from "U" Is for Undertow to "Z" Is for Zero" and that "just because she knows the endgame title for Z [...] doesn't mean she knows what V, W, X, and Y will be". Sue Grafton_sentence_45

Grafton said that the series would end with "Z" Is for Zero, but she died before she could begin writing it. Sue Grafton_sentence_46

Her daughter said Grafton would never allow a ghostwriter to write in her name and "as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y." Sue Grafton_sentence_47

Grafton's novels have been published in 28 countries and in 26 languages. Sue Grafton_sentence_48

She refused to sell the film and television rights, because writing screenplays "cured" her of the desire to work with Hollywood. Sue Grafton_sentence_49

(TV movies in Japan, however, were adapted from "B" is for Burglar and "D" is for Deadbeat.) Sue Grafton_sentence_50

Grafton told her children her ghost would haunt them if they sold the film rights after her death. Sue Grafton_sentence_51

The books in the series were on The New York Times Best Seller list for an aggregate of about 400 weeks. Sue Grafton_sentence_52

F is for Fugitive was the first, entering at number 10 on the paperback list; by 1995 "L" is for Lawless entered the best seller list at number one followed by ten more in the series. Sue Grafton_sentence_53

Writing style Sue Grafton_section_3

Grafton's style is characteristic of hardboiled detective fiction, according to the authors of 'G' is for Grafton, who describe it as "laconic, breezy, wise-cracking". Sue Grafton_sentence_54

The novels are framed as reports Kinsey writes in the course of her investigations, which are signed off in the epilogue of each novel. Sue Grafton_sentence_55

The first-person narrative allows the reader to see through the eyes of Kinsey, who chronicles various descriptions of "eccentric buildings and places", giving depth to the narrative. Sue Grafton_sentence_56

The repeated descriptions of the Santa Barbara shoreline (chronicled as Kinsey's early morning runs), are "skillful, evocative writing of a caliber that takes Grafton well beyond being categorized as 'merely' a writer of detective fiction and into the so-called mainstream of 'serious' American fiction." Sue Grafton_sentence_57

Awards Sue Grafton_section_4

Grafton's "B" Is for Burglar and "C" Is for Corpse won the first two Anthony Awards for Best Novel ever awarded (1986 & 1987). Sue Grafton_sentence_58

They are selected by attendees of the annual Bouchercon Convention. Sue Grafton_sentence_59

She won the Anthony Best Novel Award once more (1991 for "G" Is for Gumshoe) and has been the recipient of three Shamus Awards. Sue Grafton_sentence_60

Additionally in 1987 Grafton's short story, The Parker Shotgun, won the Anthony Award for Best Short Story. Sue Grafton_sentence_61

On June 13, 2000, Grafton was the recipient of the 2000 YWCA of Lexington Smith-Breckinridge Distinguished Woman of Achievement Award. Sue Grafton_sentence_62

In 2004, she received the Ross Macdonald Literary Award, which is given to "a California writer whose work raises the standard of literary excellence." Sue Grafton_sentence_63

In 2008, Grafton was awarded the Cartier Dagger by the British Crime Writers' Association, honoring a lifetime's achievement in the field. Sue Grafton_sentence_64

Grafton received the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 2009. Sue Grafton_sentence_65

In 2013, she was presented Bouchercon's Lifetime Achievement Award. Sue Grafton_sentence_66

In 2014, she was a Guest of Honor at Left Coast Crime. Sue Grafton_sentence_67

She was nominated for a 2014 Shamus Award in the category of Best Hardcover Novel, which she had won three times previously. Sue Grafton_sentence_68

Personal life Sue Grafton_section_5

Grafton first married in 1959, aged 18, to James L. Flood, with whom she had a son and a daughter. Sue Grafton_sentence_69

The two divorced by the time Grafton graduated from college in 1961. Sue Grafton_sentence_70

Her second marriage was with Al Schmidt in 1962 but it ended with protracted divorce and custody proceedings over their daughter. Sue Grafton_sentence_71

She married her third husband, Steven F. Humphrey, in 1978. Sue Grafton_sentence_72

They divided their time between Santa Barbara, California, and Louisville, Kentucky; Humphrey taught at universities in both cities. Sue Grafton_sentence_73

In 2000, the couple bought and later restored Lincliff, a 28-acre (11 ha) Louisville estate once owned by hardware baron William Richardson Belknap. Sue Grafton_sentence_74

Grafton died at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara on December 28, 2017, after a two-year battle with cancer of the appendix. Sue Grafton_sentence_75


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sue Grafton.