Morning Meanderings: My Crazy Amazing Encounter with Sue Grafton

 

Good morning.  Or Afternoon.  Or evening.  Wherever you are and whenever you are reading this.  It is morning here in Minnesota on this exceptionally COLD day.  The coffee is brewing and I am capturing a few minutes to myself before my day explodes into activity.

You are probably familiar with the name Sue Grafton.  She was the author of the long running books that started with A is for Alibi, a series she started after having penned 7 previous books.  It was this alphabet series that went on to make her the famous author she had become.  She passed away in December, and although she was not an author I read (yet) she is one that holds a special place in my heart.

I have a personal story about her.  It was at the Penguin Bash in New York during the Book Expo of 2013.  I was at this event with my good friend Allison and my roommate that year Cindy (Cindy’s Love of Books).

I was siting and talking with a group of book reviewers when I believe it was Jill (Rhapsody in Books) who ran up to me and grabbed my arm.  “You have to come and meet Sue Grafton!” she said.  I remember feeling like a little kid putting the breaks on. I had not read Sue Grafton’s books and what would I say to a big name author who I had not read?

I was introduced and I came up with something awkward and surely cheesy by saying, “So.. you are on W.  What happens when you get to Z?  I mean, AA already means something and AAA means something else.”

GAH.

For some reason, she liked me.  We talked for about 15 minutes about writing and my wanting to do so myself and having yet (even now) to find my direction.  She gave me her email and told me to write her anytime to discuss writing.

Wait…

what?

Well as most things Expo for me…  I have HUGE plans when I return home, however life kicks back in and many things, such as emailing Sue Grafton about writing… fall to the way side.  It was a few weeks later the letter arrived.

It was a beautiful letter from Sue Grafton hoping that she was mailing the girl that she talked to about writing.  (Gulp)  I had not given my information to her but somehow she had come up with my mailing address and sent me this personal letter encouraging me to follow my passion.  It was beautiful.  Amazing.  And somewhere I still have that letter.

From that year on, she sent me a Christmas card every year.  Now, January 12th, I have put away all the Christmas cards of 2017… except hers.  Hers is still on my refrigerator.  I am savoring the memory of her, the conversation, the letter and knowing that this is the last Christmas card I will receive from this amazing author…  who changed the world – and ended the alphabet with Y.

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Sue Grafton and I  2013

36 Comments on “Morning Meanderings: My Crazy Amazing Encounter with Sue Grafton

  1. Thank you for the tribute. You already knew how special she was, while many don’t reach that level until it is too late. Our memories of the great ones in our lives give us pause, make us cry and help us laugh with the memories they provide. On this very cold but beautiful Minnesota morning, it is good to laugh and to remember.
    Dee

  2. Lucky you!!! What a personal treasure to keep. The saying she quotes is my favorite saying, one I heard about fifteen years ago at a work seminar. It changed my life, as far as my dream to try running and writing (not at the same time). I started them both the following year, knowing that I’d “fail” for sure if I never tried either of them.

  3. That is a great story. Because I run a book club in which the author comes to the bookstore, I have met quite a few well known authors who are very down-to-earth. I have also been to a ton of author events and, again, have met a bunch of prominent authors. But your story stands out above all of mine. What a great memory of someone who passed away way too early.

  4. This is so cool. What a great story. You always seem to have the best and greatest adventutes, ever.

  5. What a great tribute! I loved her books and have read most of them. After she passed, I went through her list and found a few in the middle of the alphabet that I have missed. They are now on my list. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Sheila…you…are…..aMazing—do you know that?

    Since you pretty much get “all things Andrea” you have just seen my review of Kinsey and Me, which has sat on my shelf right next to The Jane Austen Book Club for almost 3 years after I snatched it off the library sale shelf. I brought it home, read the jacket, said…OK and… life, you know…. And then her picture popped into my FB feed, and I bawled like a baby.

    A little old grandmother introduced me to “these alphabet books, you have to read them” as she dropped 4 on my desk at the Nursing Home. Now, in those days, I read more history and Harlequins than mystery…. two days later…TWO DAYS I gave them back to her and told her I could hardly wait to read the others… .and I have

    When I started read/reviewing, it was cozies- and here she was, the Grandmother of the contemporary cozy…and I was heartbroken. I am currently on a massive waiting list for Y through our local library….and furious at Barnes and Noble for cashing in on her passing by running a gigundo sale on the whole series….so Down came the book, which if you’ve never read I’suggest at least a cursory look…the Kinsey shorts are marvelous, the Kit Taylor’s are harder because, for me, they hit real close to home.

    Thank you for your thoughts…..

  7. Great story! It somehow seems so wrong that she didn’t finish the alphabet. I hope that does’t sound uncaring. Sue Grafton lived in my town, Santa Barbara, so we’ve been doing a lot of talking about her and her books.

    • I hear you Helen although I like how her family is doing this tribute to her – honoring that she never wanted ghost writes or anyone to come in and finish her work. To me if feels… appropriate.

  8. My mum read all of her books; she hunted them down everywhere. How cool to meet her and to get a card from her.

  9. Pingback: Saturday Squawk – Travellin' Penguin

  10. Wow! What an amazing story. I’ve never read anything by her but now I want to start, just because an author that is so dedicated to people deserves to be read!

  11. I still haven’t read any of her books but I’ve known about her for many years. Thanks for sharing such a special story, Sheila.

  12. I haven’t read any of her books either. What a special person to reach out to you and encourage you to find your passion. I like when fame does not make an author feel she is too important to be kind to her fans. 🙂

  13. I love that! Never know what’s God is going to stir to encourage you to overcome!

  14. What a lovely story, Sheila. I have not read any of her books and that’s something I need to do.

  15. Oh, that’s just wonderful, how lovely. When I was 16, I wrote to Erica Jong, Iris Murdoch and one other I don’t remember to ask for writing advice. Iris wrote back to me (but I mislaid the letter; I think it’s still at my parents’ house). But not out of the blue like that. That’s amazing!

  16. Beautiful story, Sheila. Thanks for sharing.

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