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Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton

"Listening to audiobooks is a wonderful way to forget where you are and get involved in the world of the imagination.”

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Talking with Sue Grafton

Instant friendship bloomed in September when, for the first time, author Sue Grafton met actress Judy Kaye, who narrates Grafton’s books for Random House Audio.

“I’m very fortunate to have Judy Kaye make the books available to the people on the road or who prefer to listen rather than read. She is so smart,” says Grafton on the telephone from her farm in Kentucky. In addition to relishing Kaye’s performance in the Broadway production of MAMMA MIA —“She was perfect!”—Grafton enjoyed the joint interview she and Kaye gave to PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.

“I got to hear what she said about the book. And I thought, ‘This gal gets it. She knows what I’m doing.’ I’ve always felt comfortable with the idea of her doing the audio of my books, but I had never heard her talk about character. When I’m writing, I hear my own voice. But I’m not an actress. There’s no way I’m ever going to sit down and tape my own books,” says Grafton in her warm Kentucky accent. “It’s just a perfect union of her ability and mine.”

An inveterate walker, Grafton listens to audiobooks when her walking mate can’t make it. “We can gossip when we walk, which is what one rightfully should do while walking. But when you walk alone, listening to audiobooks is a wonderful way to forget where you are and get involved in the world of the imagination.” Lately she has been listening to a series of tapes about the writing process.

Grafton laughs when asked about her 17-year relationship with Kinsey Millhone, the protagonist in her wildly successful Alphabet series. “I am Kinsey Millhone—unless you don’t like her. Then I disavow any connection with the woman. I think of her as my unlived life. If I’d remained single all my life and not had children, and if I’d actually been brave, which I’m not, then I might have done some of what Kinsey Millhone does. Through Kinsey, I have this other life.”

For the first time, Kinsey Millhone the fictional character might help solve a real-life murder. Q IS FOR QUARRY blends fiction with a 33-year-old unsolved murder of an as-yet-unidentified woman. The book and audiobook include pictures of a forensic reconstruction of the victim. “This is the one and only time that I’ve ever taken a cue from real life,” says Grafton, who first learned about the case when she met the attending pathologist at a dinner party. “Usually real life is not very mysterious. This time, we’re truly hoping there will be a way to get her identified.”—Aurelia C. Scott

DEC 02/JAN 03
©2002 AudioFile, Portland, Maine

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Photo by Mark Coggins

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