Sue Grafton, A to Z

Studio 360
Sue Grafton grew up pulling noir crime fiction off her father's shelves in their Louisville home. But it wasn't until she was in her 40s, already a published novelist and Hollywood screenwriter, that she tried her hand at the genre. In part, it was to escape the movies. "I'm just not a team player," she told Kurt Andersen. "I don't like to write by committee and I don't like help. In Hollywood if you're not interested in collaboration, you have no business being there." Grafton has refused to sell movie rights to her crime novels, and she threatens to haunt her heirs if they do. Her first detective novel, A is for Alibi, published in 1982, stood out for its female private eye, the tomboyish Millhone. "I was out of my element," she explained. "I didn't know what a private investigator did, I had to read up on police procedure, California criminal law, ballistics, and toxicology. I figured my only area of expertise was being female and I better take advantage of that." But the book audaciously promised to be the first of many. "Looking back, I think, what nerve, what cheek I had ... thinking I could do 26 novels," Grafton says. "I was flying by the seat of my pants." Next month Grafton will publish her latest book, W is for Wasted. After that, she'll have the grueling task of writing and naming the final novels of the series. "I hope someone will invent an entirely new crime" for X or Z, Grafton laughs. "I hope it's going to be really juicy and nasty." After that? "I will be close to 80 years old, and I personally think I should be allowed to take a long nap and then party." (Originally aired: January 25, 2013)   Bonus Track: An excerpt from W is for Wasted
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