The Medicare open enrollment deadline is Wednesday! Find out more.
by Daniel Stashower, AARP The Magazine, March, 2010
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.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
You'll start receiving the latest news, benefits, events, and programs related to AARP's mission to empower people to choose how they live as they age.
You can also manage your communication preferences by updating your account at anytime. You will be asked to register or log in.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at