Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today




Caucasian couple looking at a laptop computer together


Virgo - AARP Horoscope

Look at what your future holds if your birthday is between August 23 & September 22

Contests & Sweeps

Enter the $50K Picture Your Retirement Sweepstakes. Ends 8/31/15. No purchase necessary. Enter for Official Rules.


The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More

Most Popular


P Is for Perseverance

Stalwart Sue Grafton still spells murder ABC.

Q: A Is for Alibi, starring series sleuth Kinsey Millhone, came out in 1982, so your latest—U Is for Undertow—is your 21st "alphabet novel." Is there a secret to your staying power?

A: I wouldn't call it a secret. I was taught to work hard, and I do that. I try not to take shortcuts; I don't haul out plots I've used before. But I take the time needed to do the job well, and if that's a secret, I'll give it to you.

Q: Did you write other books before the Kinsey Millhone novels?

A: I wrote three novels before I had one published. Not just outlines or treatments—I wrote beginning, middle, and end. The fourth novel, Keziah Dane, was published, and so was the fifth, The Lolly-Madonna War. Numbers six and seven were never published. So A Is for Alibi was my eighth book. It was the first mystery I tried, so that must be what I was born to do.

Q: Time passes more slowly in Kinsey's hometown than for the rest of us.

A: I was 42 when I started, and Kinsey was ten years younger than me. Now I'm 69 and she's 38, and I resent that! Looking back, it was cheeky to imagine doing the entire alphabet—was I smoking something?—but I remember thinking that if Kinsey aged one year for every book, it would start to seem silly. I didn't want her to be postmenopausal, chasing bad guys around. It just seemed…not dignified.

Q: How did you feel when the Mystery Writers of America gave you their "Grand Master" award last year?

A: I had a wonderful time, but I didn't take it very seriously, because it didn't make my job any easier. Nothing makes my job easier. I need to remember what I'm about, and what writing books is about.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

AARP Bookstore

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Live Nation

Members save 25% or more when buying tickets in groups of four from Ticketmaster.

Cirque Du Soleil

Members save 15-30% on tickets to live Cirque du Soleil shows.

Member Benefit AARP Regal 2

Members pay $8 for Regal ePremiere tickets purchased online. Conditions apply.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.