The Writing Life

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Dec 2017

S is for Sad

Posted by / in The Writing Life / 5 comments

Fellow Kentucky Colonels Lee Goldberg & Sue Grafton

I’m so sad to hear about Sue Grafton‘s death. Not only was she incredibly talented, she was also a very nice woman.

I met her for the first time in the mid-1980s at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference…shortly after her first or second book came out. I had a long, thoroughly delightful lunch with her, my Mom, and Paul Lazarus…and then I think we did a panel together. She wasn’t a celebrity then, but she made a strong impression on me and Mom. We liked her instantly. After that, I ran into Sue often on the “book circuit” and she was always so gracious and nice to everyone…and never failed to ask how my Mom was doing.
A few years ago, she was a special guest at the Riverpark Center in Owensboro, KY…we did a panel together during the day and I was honored to interview her at a gala dinner. She was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel during one of the events. As the Kentucky secretary of state or whomever it was told the audience all the reasons she deserved the honor, she leaned over & whispered in my ear: “This is the third or fourth time they’ve made me a Kentucky Colonel. You’d think they’d keep track of this stuff”. But she went up on stage, thanked the politician for his kind words, and said what an honor it was for her to receive it as a native Kentuckian.
In between, those events, I got together with her and her husband at Denny’s for some nice breakfasts together, where we talked shop.Those were the special times for me.
The last time I saw her was at Bouchercon in Albany, where we chatted for a while at the bar and I got to introduce her to some writer-friends of mine, who she immediately treated like old friends of hers, too. That’s the kind of lady she was.


Sue, me and Zev Buffman at the Angie Awards in Owensboro, KY

Kentucky Colonels Sue Grafton and Lee Goldberg at Bouchercon

I wish I could remember what I did to earn this delightful inscription! 🙂

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  • charlene

    December 30, 2017, am31 9:02 AM

    sue grafton was a wonderful writer and I loved all of her books.

  • Noreen Ayres

    December 30, 2017, pm31 12:14 PM

    Lee, I’m sorry you lost a friend and colleague in Sue Grafton. These departures hit hard. I dread turning to the pages in the annual MWA booklet and in Poets & Writers Magazine that list the names of the writers we’ve lost — “we”, as in our living world.

    But these artists who have touched us in one way or another are still alive in our culture, and will be with us until the sun devours our earth in flame. I think of the constant effort of writing much like the activity of cooking for others. There is first the motivation, the inspiration, then the sometimes rugged preparation, and then the offering, the Gift. Sue Grafton enriched the world. No wonder you grieve.

    This remark of yours amused me: “I wish I could remember what I did to earn this delightful inscription!”, regarding her fulsome thanks to you inside her book (I assume) for the letter O. It seems to me that of course you might not remember what she or someone else has thanked you for. You give often, simply by your personal energy and warmth, and because of your talent. I’ll thank you once again before I get busy … or fly off myself to that other realm.

  • William Grabowski

    December 30, 2017, pm31 9:10 PM

    Very sad news, Lee. No one can say she spent her time complaining about the world, and not writing. What a HUGE volume of works she created for readers to enjoy.

  • Nancy Ena Randall

    January 2, 2018, pm31 1:14 PM

    Sue Grafton didn’t seem to be all that old. It’s a terrible loss for her family and for all of us. Sincerely Nancy Ena

  • Jerry Wolff

    January 2, 2018, pm31 4:00 PM

    At a book tour not long ago Sue Grafton was asked whether she was an instant success. “Oh no. Rejections were so discouraging. But then an agent made a breakthrough.”

    Sue Grafton relit memories of an earlier pre-computer, pre-cell phone way of life with searches in old phone books at libraries and other what now are considered primitive detective tools.

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