Monday, November 21, 2011

Lessons from the Radio, Sue Grafton

On Sunday as my hubby and I ran errands, we had our favorite talk radio on, and who should be interviewed but Sue Grafton, mystery writer. Grafton has been on the bestsellers list since 1982, starting with her first novel A is for Alibi. Her goal is to complete the alphabet by 2018. She only puts out a book every two years, because she only writes 2pgs a day on average.
She had an interesting and witty take on the publishing industry and writers in general. I found the 2pgs a day interesting. Since a lot of authors, including myself, were under the impression successful bestsellers wrote much more, and many do. But since she’ll only produce one book every two years, 2pgs a day works. She said, it was how she maintains her voice, and her sanity. With the pressures of the publishing world, she still stood her ground and refused to produce more books. One every two years has kept her alive and well on the NYT list since 1982, with her fans waiting for the next installment to the Kinsey Millhone, detective.
After a stint in Hollywood writing screenplays, she took five years to write her first Kinsey mystery. What hit me, and sort-of resonated with my method of writing was the 2pgs. There are days I’m lucky to get that much done. It confirmed to me, that maybe moving slower through my writing endeavors is okay. That I should stand against the pressures to produce more.
In the world of indie, most authors don’t agree with this writing habit. To pump out as many books as their little fingers can produce off the key board in a year, to keep ones name out there, among the growing numbers of indie seems to be the analogy. When the interviewer mentioned this, Grafton responded, “They have so many books out, you just want to shoot them.” My belief, (I think Grafton is proof of this) if you write a great story that is well received by the readers they’ll remember your name.
I have e-mails asking when my next book will be out, because of It’s all about the Magic, in the anthology, Madness under the Mistletoe. Nothing new can be seen from me until mid to late January, because of those 2pgs a day. I also had to tell my new found fans, that I don’t write chicklit, but dark mysteries. Something very different then, It’s all about the Magic. I wrote that story for a fun Christmas read, but really it’s not my voice at all. I’m a gritty writer, with a very dark sarcasm.
As I listened to Grafton’s wit, she had me smiling at her opinion of selling her books to Hollywood. I quote, “I’d rather roll in glass then sell my books for a screenplay.” After a few years in Hollywood, it definitely left a realistic view of what can happen to a story once tinsel town gets a hold of it. I admired that about her, it was never about the money, the fame or NYT list, it was always about her integrity to her storytelling and her characters.
Grafton found a new fan in me, because of this interview. I could relate.

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