Sue Grafton has another successful Kinsey Milhone mystery as she starts the race to the end of the alphabet. Only five books from the end of series, Grafton tells Writers Digest in the February issue that it hasn’t gotten any easier for her.  Grafton started the series in 1982 with A is for Alibi and has produced a new novel about every two years.

She describes the journals she writes for each of her novels, calling them “long, whiney conversations I have with myself about what I’m doing.” She says she thrown out far too many ideas that she decides would not be workable, hoping for inspiration to strike. She also tries very hard to keep the voice she calls “Ego” from taking over her work, preferring to let the voice she’s named “Shadow” to write. “Shadow knows how to write books. . .Shadow is that still, quiet voice in your soul that tells you if you’re on track or off track.”

This newest book has Kinsey’s curiosity roused when a young man presents himself in her office, claiming to have seen two men burying an abducted child when he was a youth. Although Kinsey finds out this fellow is known to stretch the truth, enough of his story checks out to involve her. And she’s off and running. . .

The book has tons of twists and turns, enough to satisfy any Milhone fan.  Grafton says her husband is her first reader, and this is his favorite of the novels. “He loves this book.”

I found it interesting that Grafton admits that this series was born during a brutal divorce, when she imagined various ways to murder said ex!  She found a wealth of ideas to start Kinsey on her adventures.

Grafton says each book has gotten harder and harder to write.  Even as she admits one of her favorite sayings is “trust the process,”  she says she has to keep reminding herself that  writing “should be a form of play.”

As an author awaiting the release of my own first novel, I take great comfort in Grafton’s words:

I keep saying the fate of the free world does not hang in the balance. Even if I write a book that fails, nothing will happen. I’ll be mortified and embarrassed, but lives will not be lost over this.”

Amen to that!