"Mirror Image" (Poisoned Pen Press) now at your bookseller's.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sue Grafton's Integrity

I just read a terrific interview with best-selling mystery novelist Sue Grafton in The Strand magazine. (Pretty terrific magazine, too---and I mean that sincerely, not just because they published two of my mystery stories!)

Anyway, the best thing about the interview was Sue's continual insistence on not selling the rights to her long-running Kinsey Milhone series of books to Hollywood.

Having worked as a TV writer for years before becoming a novelist, she's too well aware of what can happen when the Hollywood "development" process gets a hold of a beloved character.

As she reminds the interviewer, Strand editor Andrew Gulli, "From my perspective, they would ruin my series in a heartbeat. One of the lessons I learned many years ago was from Lawrence Block, who sold his Bernie Rhodenbarr series to Hollywood. Bernie Rhodenbarr is a white, male, Jewish burglar. They cast Whoopi Goldberg in the part!"

Sue goes on to point out that, regardless of which current "hot" actress was chosen to play Kinsey, many of her readers would be upset, or at least disappointed. And with good reason.

"They will cast anybody they think will sell tickets," she explains, "which means they most certainly would pick somebody totally inappropriate to play the part of Kinsey Milhone."

While I think Sue might be over-stating her case a bit--Kathleen Turner was perfect casting for the part of V.I. Warshawski; they just screwed up the movie--I do respect her integrity and allegiance to the character she created. As well as to her loyal fans who've supported her work over the past twenty years.

BTW, though I doubt she'd remember, Sue and I met many, many years ago, when we were both members of an awards selection committee of the Mystery Writers of America. I can't remember myself exactly what category we were deciding (best mystery short story, best TV crime show episode, etc.?), all I know is that at the end of a very pleasant--though long--afternoon at fellow writer Mark Schorr's house, we ended up giving the coveted Edgar award to something.

Anyway, I recommend the interview with Sue Grafton whole-heartedly. It contains a lot of great writing tips, as well as rueful advice about the writing life.

You can learn more about The Strand magazine by going to http://www.strandmag.com/.

It's worth the visit.

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