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Sue Grafton

  • Wherever there is sex, we work to create a relationship that's worthy of it.

  • Too much virtue has a corrupting effect.

  • ... clouds were piled up like heads of cauliflower in a roadside stand.

  • Insecure people have a special sensitivity for anything that finally confirms their own low opinion of themselves.

  • ... a kid whose conscience is clear because he doesn't have one.

  • The clouds hung above the mountains like puffs of white smoke left in the wake of a giant old-fashioned choo-choo train.

  • He smelled like something that spent the winter in a cave.

  • He tended to speak in doubtful tones, as if he weren't absolutely certain he was telling the truth.

  • ... grief is an illness I can't recover from.

  • I love being single. It's almost like being rich.

  • She thought she was married to him, but it turned out the warranty hadn't run out on his first wife.

  • Sometimes I wonder what the difference is between being cautious and being dead.

  • Happiness is seasonal, like anything else

  • The style is an anomaly in this town, falling as it does between the Spanish, the Victorian, and the pointless.

  • People in California seem to age at a different rate than the rest of the country. Maybe it's the passion for diet and exercise, maybe the popularity of cosmetic surgery. Or maybe we're afflicted with such a horror of aging that we've halted the process psychically.

  • There's a certain class of people who will do you in and then remain completely mystified by the depth of your pain.

  • Being with him was like being in a crowded elevator, stuck between floors.

  • I hate nature. I really do. Nature is composed entirely of sticks, dirt, fall-down places, biting and stinging things, and savageries too numerous to list. Man has been building cities since the year oughty-ought, just to get away from this stuff.

  • It's been my observation, after years in the [insurance] business, that a certain percent of the population simply can't resist the urge to cheat.

  • It never pays to deal with the flyweights of the world. They take far too much pleasure in thwarting you at every turn.

  • That's the way the system works. Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you.

  • He'd forgotten just how addictive crime can be. Repeat offenders are motivated more by withdrawal symptoms than necessity.

  • There's really no such thing as an 'ex-cop' or a cop who's 'off-duty' or 'retired.' Once trained, once indoctrinated, a cop is always alert, assessing reality in terms of its potential for illegal acts.

  • There is no sound so terrible as a man's sorrow for his own death.

  • Pay enough for anything and it passes for taste.

  • ... he had no sense of theater. His delivery was so slow and so methodical it was like reading the entire Bible through a microscope.

  • There's nothing quite as irksome as someone else's mess.

  • This was a woman who didn't take death seriously. In its aftermath, she'd come along to do the dishes and tidy up the living room, but she probably wouldn't devote a lot of time to the hymn selection for the funeral service.

  • Age plays cruel tricks on the human face; all our repressed feelings become visible on the surface, where they harden like a mask.

  • He has opinions, but no ideas.

  • Emotion doesn't travel in a straight line. Like water, our feelings trickle down through cracks and crevices, seeking out the little pockets of neediness and neglect, the hairline fractures in our character usually hidden from public view.

  • ... if high heels were so wonderful, men would be wearing them.

  • Thinking is hard work, which is why you don't see a lot of people doing it.

  • The hard thing about death is that nothing ever changes. The hard thing about life is that nothing stays the same.

    • Sue Grafton,
    • "J" Is for Judgment
    • ()
  • Poise and indifference so often look the same.

    • Sue Grafton,
    • "J" Is for Judgment
    • ()
  • She was short and round, and looked like someone whose eating habits had long ago outstripped any fat-burning activities.

    • Sue Grafton,
    • "J" Is for Judgment
    • ()
  • If your mind isn't open, keep your mouth shut too.

  • The memory is like orbiting twin stars, one visible, one dark, the trajectory of what's evident forever affected by the gravity of what's concealed.

  • Society values cooperation over independence, obedience over individuality, and niceness above all else.

  • Lying contains the same hostile elements as a practical joke in that the 'victim' ends up looking foolish in his own eyes and laughable in everyone else's.

  • When all else fails, cleaning house is the perfect antidote to most of life's ills.

  • It is a truth of human nature that we can ponder life's mysteries for only so long before we lose interest and move on to something else.

  • God save us from the people who want to do what's best for us.

  • ... I'd like to say I'm a big fan of forgiveness as long as I'm given the opportunity to get even first.

  • Personally, I don't endorse the notion of mortality. It's fine for other folk, but I disapprove of the concept for me and my loved ones.

  • Grieving is like being ill. You think the entire world revolves around you and it doesn't.

  • Sometimes I claim I write because I put in an application at Sears and they've never called back.

    • Sue Grafton,
    • in The Writer ()
  • I've never known anyone yet who doesn't suffer a certain restlessness when autumn rolls around. ... We're all eight years old again and anything is possible.

    • Sue Grafton,
    • "Long Gone," in Marilyn Wallace, ed., Sisters in Crime 4 ()
  • People without authority will often simply stand there, reciting the rules like mynah birds. Having no power, they also seem to take a vicious satisfaction in forcing others to comply.

    • Sue Grafton,
    • "Long Gone," in Marilyn Wallace, ed., Sisters in Crime 4 ()
  • I only get writer's block about once a day.

    • Sue Grafton,
    • in The Writer ()
  • Writing isn't about the destination—writing is the journey that transforms the soul and gives meaning to all else.

    • Sue Grafton,
    • in The Writer ()
  • ... any mystery writer is both magician and moralist ... two species of artist in short supply.

    • Sue Grafton,
    • in The Writer ()
  • One of the things I've learned about this process is that you have to give everything away every single time. You can't hold back. ... there's always a sense of consuming yourself.

    • Sue Grafton,
    • in Naomi Epel, Writers Dreaming ()
  • Writing is self-taught. Consulting other people only teaches you to depend on their reactions, which may or may not be legitimate. Quit looking for approval ... Learn to evaluate your own work with a dispassionate eye ... the lessons you acquire will be all the more valuable because you've mastered your craft from within.

    • Sue Grafton,
    • in Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz, Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life ()
  • Writing is a process and you must trust the process! Fear and anxiety are part of that process along with the enthusaism and the good days and the joy and the passion and the great hopes you have for a book. But when you run into problems, when you get stuck or scared, you must trust that that is part of how a book comes to pass, and what you need to do is get very still and quiet because Self will tell you how to get out of a hole you've dug for yourself.

    • Sue Grafton,
    • in Barnaby Conrad, The Complete Guide to Writing Fiction ()
  • The beauty of word processing, God bless my word processor, is that it keeps the plotting very fluid. The prose becomes like a liquid that you can manipulate at will. In the old days, when I typed, every piece of typing paper was like cast in concrete.

    • Sue Grafton
  • Who knows what part we play in other people's dreams?

    • Sue Grafton,
    • "J" Is for Judgment
    • ()
  • There is, apparently, some law of nature decreeing that all home construction must double in its projected cost and take four times longer than originally anticipated.

  • Grade school was perilous. ... I can see how I must have worried them. I was the kind of kid who, for no apparent reason, wept piteously or threw up on myself. On an especially scary day, I sometimes did both.

  • Mildred was a big woman, angry and insecure, an abrasive woman, who marched through life hoarding grudges like bad debts on which she could eventually collect.

    • Sue Grafton,
    • "The Quarrel," Kinsey and Me ()
  • Earlene's handshake consisted of laying her fingers passively across mine. It was like having a half pound of cooked linguini placed in your palm for safekeeping.

  • She took a moment to stub out her cigarette, blowing the final stream of smoke to one side. This, for a smoker, constitutes etiquette.

  • Memory is subject to a filtering process that we don’t always recognize and can’t always control. We remember what we can bear and we block what we cannot.

  • You can't save others from themselves because those who make a perpetual muddle of their lives don't appreciate your interfering with the drama they've created.

Sue Grafton, U.S. mystery writer


Her bestselling alphabet mystery series features Kinsey Millhone.