Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton has one of the most recognizable trademarks in fiction: the books in her series, from A Is for Alibi in 1982 to her new book, U Is for Undertow, are all named after a letter of the alphabet.

From her Q & A with Andrea Sachs in Time Magazine:

What's the origin of the alphabet tradition?

In the back of my mind, when I thought I would write a mystery novel, I understood the virtue of having titles that readers-at-large could recognize so that they'd know you had a next book out. I was reading an Edward Gorey cartoon book called The Gashlycrumb Tinies, and his book is a series of pen-and-ink drawings of Victorian children being done in various ways. If you have not read it, it is truly amusing. His book goes, "A is for Amy who fell down the stairs. B is for Basil assaulted by bears. C is for Clara who [wasted away]," on down the alphabet. And I thought to myself, "God bless it. Why couldn't you base a series of crime novels on letters of the alphabet?"

This is the 21st book in the series. How have you come up with so many different plots?

Part of what I do is keep charts of the books I've written, so I have a record of the gender of every killer, the gender of the victim, the motive for the crime and the nature of the climax — how does the book end? I also have a series of log lines for each book. In A Is for Alibi, Kinsey Milhone is hired to prove the innocence of a woman just out of prison for the murder of her husband. In B Is for Burglar, Kinsey Milhone is hired to find and get a signature on a minor document. So I know...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue