Robert B. Parker and Sue Grafton: Author One-on-One In this Amazon exclusive, we brought together blockbuster authors Robert B. Parker and Sue Grafton and asked them to interview each other.
Robert B. Parker’s wise-cracking, street-smart Boston private-eye Spenser has earned him a devoted following and wide critical acclaim. Parker also writes the bestselling Jesse Stone novels and has started a new series of Westerns featuring two guns-for-hire, Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. Read on to see Robert B. Parker''s questions for Sue Grafton, or turn the tables to see what Grafton asked Parker.
Parker: Tell me about you and Kinsey Millhone and the connection between you.
Grafton: Kinsey Millhone is my alter ego, the woman I might have been had I not married young and had children. She''s younger, thinner, and braver than I, but a good companion nonetheless. Since she can know only what I know, I''ve taken classes in criminal law and self-defense. I''ve studied police procedure, private eye procedure, toxicology, ballistics, and crime scene investigation. Beyond that, the prime agreement between us is that I don''t tell her, she tells me. When readers ask what she’ll be doing after Z is for Zero, I assure them I haven''t the faintest idea.
Parker: Describe your writing process (e.g., I get up in the morning, have a martini to get my heart going…).
Grafton: I take a 5.4-mile walk five days a week, so my writing schedule is often dictated by the weather. If it''s too hot or too cold, I walk first thing in the morning, come home, shower, dress, and reach my desk at 9:45 or so. I work until lunch, when I take a short break, returning to my desk until mid-to-late afternoon. If I haven''t done a morning walk, I walk when my work is done. Then I drink. Parker: You''ve spent time in Hollywood. Tell me about that.
Grafton: I refer to that period of my life as "doing one to fifteen in Hollywood." I loved it at first, as dazzled as anyone who hasn''t figured out yet how treacherous life there can be. As I''ve said on previous occasions, I learned two things about myself in Hollywood: one, I''m not a team player; and two, I''m not a good sport. The producers I met were well-educated and articulate, and usually offered me a cup of coffee before they set in to savaging my work. I got too old and cranky to put up with that, so I invented Kinsey Millhone as my way out. I liken it to digging my way out of prison with a teaspoon.
Parker: Do you read reviews? Pay attention to them? Find them helpful? Have an opinion on them? Grafton: Where possible, I avoid reviews. The good ones only encourage swell-headedness and the bad ones hurt my feelings or infuriate me. In either case, by the time reviews appear, the book is written and out on the stands. What''s a poor girl to do? There''s no point in subjecting myself to the reactions of readers and reviewers, since their response is nothing I can control. Parker: People sometimes ask me why I write what I write, and I answer, "Because that''s what I know how to do." (Then they say, "Would you please stop?" but I''m sure they''re just kidding.) Talk about why you write what you write.
Grafton: I write what I write because when I put in my application for a position at Sears, they never got back to me. I''m still hopeful, especially with the Christmas season coming up. Aside from that, I write what I write because when the work is going well, it makes me happier than just about anything except my kids and grandkids. When the work is not going well . . . which is maybe thirty-five percent of the time . . . I know it''s my job to sit patiently and keep at it until I figure out what''s wrong. In large part, writing is the only thing I know how to do.
C alling T is for Trespass "taut, terrifying, transfixing and terrific," USA Today went on to ask, "What does it take to write twenty novels about the same character and manage to create a fresh, genre-bending novel every time?" It's a question worth pondering. Through twenty excursions into the dark side of the human soul, Sue Grafton has never written the same book twice. And so it is with this, her twenty-first. Once again, she breaks genre formulas, giving us a twisting, complex, surprise-filled, and totally satisfying thriller.
It's April, 1988, a month before Kinsey Millhone's thirty-eighth birthday, and she's alone in her office doing paperwork when a young man arrives unannounced. He has a preppy air about him and looks as if he'd be carded if he tried to buy booze, but Michael Sutton is twenty-seven, an unemployed college dropout. Twenty-one years earlier, a four-year-old girl disappeared. A recent reference to her kidnapping has triggered a flood of memories. Sutton now believes he stumbled on her lonely burial when he was six years old. He wants Kinsey's help in locating the child's remains and finding the men who killed her. It's a long shot but he's willing to pay cash up front, and Kinsey agrees to give him one day. As her investigation unfolds, she discovers Michael Sutton has an uneasy relationship with the truth. In essence, he's the boy who cried wolf. Is his current story true or simply one more in a long line of fabrications?
Grafton moves the narrative between the eighties and the sixties, changing points of view, building multiple subplots, and creating memorable characters. Gradually, we see how they all connect. But at the beating center of the novel is Kinsey Millhone, sharp-tongued, observant, a loner-"a heroine," said The New York Times Book Review, "with foibles you can laugh at and faults you can forgive."
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