Novelist Sue Taylor Grafton (1940-2017) was born on this day in Louisville, Kentucky. She helped popularize the mystery genre of the female private eye with her heroic character Kinsey Millhone who Grafton called "a stripped-down version of me."
"If high heels were so wonderful, men would be wearing them," Grafton once observed.
A film and television writer for a time, in 1982 she turned to detective stories following her divorce, beginning the Alphabet Mystery Series with A Is for Alibi. The book was a New York Times Bestseller and won the Anthony Award, which recognizes the best in mystery writing.
"I chose the classic private eye genre because I like playing hardball with the boys," said the novelist who from the beginning planned to continue the series through the letter Z.
A stickler for realism, Gafton did her own research, learning about murder and forensics, even owning the guns her heroine uses.
"He'd forgotten just how addictive crime can be," she wrote in H Is for Homicide (1991). "Repeat offenders are motivated more by withdrawal symptoms than necessity."
Her creative work celebrated a unique voice, a unique vision.
Grafton's popular Millhone is a tough and strong female detective for-hire, in the tradition of Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade or Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe. Intelligent and independent, Millhone was a passionate advocate for women who have been victimized.
"Because of Kinsey, I get to lead two lives--hers and mine. Sometimes I'm not sure which I prefer," said Grafton who is determined not to repeat herself in any of her storylines.
"I'm a slow writer," she said. "I envy writers who can just dash right through. I agonize, I whine, I back up, I delete. Eventually, something comes out that seems to be a book, but you can't prove it by me. I'm still waiting for it to get easy."
Call intuition cosmic fishing.