Sue Grafton

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  • Topic: Sue Grafton, Shamus Award, Cengage Learning
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  • Published : November 12, 2006
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On April 24, 1940, Sue Grafton was born to Cornelius Warren, an attorney and novelist, and Vivian Boisseau (Harnsberger) Grafton, a high school chemistry teacher, in Louisville, Kentucky. ("Sue Grafton" I 1) Her father, also called Chip, wrote and published three psychological mysteries and a novel as C.W. Grafton. ("Sue Grafton" I 1) With her parents being a lawyer, writer, and teacher, there were various books around the house that her mother labeled: dirty, dull, or good. ("Sue Grafton" I 1) At an early age, Sue Grafton was already pursuing her love for literature given that her parents allowed her older sister, Ann, and her to read any book of their choice. ("Sue Grafton" I 1) As Sue was indulged in adult crime novels, her friends were only reading Nancy Drew mysteries. ("Sue Grafton" I 1) Even with both her parents being alcoholics, she credits them, her father more so than her mother, for her initial love and inspiration in detective fiction and reading in general. ("Sue Grafton" I 1)

Sue Grafton first got married when she was only eighteen years old, and began college at the University of Louisville. ("Sue Grafton" II 1) Although Grafton maintained above-average grades, she was not at all devoted to her schoolwork, but "driven by her fright of poor performance." ("Sue Grafton" I 1) During her junior year, Grafton gave birth to her first child. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) She and her husband named their daughter Leslie Flood. ("Sue Grafton" II 3) Grafton graduated and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Louisville in 1961 with a major in English Literature and minors in Humanities and Fine Arts. (Grafton 1) In the fall of 1961 at the University of Cincinnati, she initiated her graduate studies in English. ("Sue Grafton" III 2) Though, she dropped out before the end of her first year, viewing the curriculum as "stifling and overly political." ("Sue Grafton" III 2) Grafton and her husband divorced in late 1961, only for her to quickly remarry the following year. ("Sue Grafton" II 1) Soon after their marriage, the two moved out to the west coast into California. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) Here, Grafton enrolled in a creative writing course at the University of California at Los Angeles. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) Robert Kirsh, who at the time was the book editor of the Los Angeles Times, taught the class, and encouraged Grafton to write novels. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) While in California, she and her second husband had a daughter, Jamie Schmidt, and a son, Jay Schmidt. ("Sue Grafton" II 3)

Before settling down as one of America's best-selling authors, Grafton held a variety of jobs including hospital admissions clerk, cashier, and clerical/ medical secretary. ("Sue Grafton" IV, 1) She took her experiences and knowledge gained from working in hospitals, and used it as material in some of her later books. ("Sue Grafton" III, 3) Along side the hospital work, she traveled to several colleges and a number of writers' conferences to give lectures. ("Sue Grafton" IV 1) Since she still had a passion for literature, Grafton stuck with her ambitions to be a writer, and wrote on her own time. ("Sue Grafton" I, 2) After four book-length manuscripts, she came out with her first novel, Keziah Dane, in 1967. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) Two years later in 1969, Grafton pushed her second novel out, The Lolly-Madonna War, which only caught the eye of film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) Grafton, in company with Rodney Carr-Smith, agreed to write the script of the screenplay which would come out in 1973. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) A year before the movie hit Hollywood, Grafton divorced her second husband, and ran off to Los Angeles with their two children. (Waxman 5) For the next couple of years, she played around with screenplays, mostly television scripts that she had modified from novels written by other authors. ("Sue Grafton" I 2)

On October 1, 1978, Grafton remarried for the third time to Stephen F....
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