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SUNDAY BRUNCH

T Is for Tireless

January 11, 1998|TRACY JOHNSON

For the die-hard Sue Grafton fan who finished reading "M Is for Malice" eons ago and is beginning to think that "N Is for No More Books" because the alphabet queen didn't come out with a new novel this year, it may be of some comfort to know that "N is for Not Yet."

An editor for the best-selling writer of the alphabetized series about private investigator Kinsey Millhone, says Grafton is plugging away at "N is for Noose." The upcoming book is scheduled to hit stores May 5--Millhone's birthday.

Grafton has cracked off a mystery book almost every year since writing "A is for Alibi" in 1982, and her longtime editor, Marian Wood, says the 57-year-old novelist, who splits her time between Santa Barbara and Louisville, Ky., is far from slowing down. Grafton has simply returned to her original publication timetable, spring instead of fall, and has plans to continue writing books all the way to Z.

"She says that's our insurance policy," says Wood. "When she's done she says she'll start using numbers. She may live that long, but who knows if I will."

Only a few thousand copies were printed when Grafton wrote her first book, but her growing popularity lead publisher Henry Holt to put out 1 million hardcover copies of "M Is for Malice" last year and Wood says "N Is for Noose" will have the same print run.

Grafton is credited with making the female detective a literary genre to be reckoned with, and, over the years, she has become a household name among mystery book lovers. And as far as Grafton is concerned, that is where she'll stay. While she has had some inquiries about movies, Grafton has sworn never to let Hollywood get its hands on her private eye.

"Kinsey is Sue's alter ego except she's younger, thinner and smarter," says Wood. "She doesn't want anyone monkeying with her character and if her books became movies she'd lose complete control."

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