Sue Taylor Grafton was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 24, 1940, to Cornelius Warren “Chip” Grafton, an attorney, and Vivian (Harnsberger) Grafton, a former high school teacher. Her father published several mystery novels, and both parents were avid readers. Although her parents were alcoholics and her family was dysfunctional, Grafton says her childhood was happy as her parents gave her a great deal of freedom and intellectual stimulation.
Grafton’s first attempts at writing were poems and articles for her high school newspaper. She began to write short stories at the age of eighteen and majored in English at the University of Louisville, graduating in 1961. While still in college, Grafton married, had a daughter, and was divorced while pregnant with a son. Her first daughter was raised by her father. Grafton studied creative writing through an extension course offered by the University of California at Los Angeles, and instructor Robert Kirsh, the book editor at the Los Angeles Times, encouraged her to try her hand at writing a novel. However, Grafton did not seriously consider a career as a writer. She married again, at the age of twenty-two, to Al Schmidt, with whom she would have another daughter. She worked at various jobs in the medical field: secretary, cashier, and admissions clerk.
The stability that Grafton sought through marriage did not make her happy, however, and she kept writing. She published several...
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