Alice K. Boatwright

The Writing Life

Notes on writing, reading, publishing and life

 K is for Kinsey

This summer I finally read Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Series – all the books from A to Y without stopping. It was wonderful fun, and I learned a great deal about how to write a series by observing how she varied her plots and settings, what relationships and situations she developed (and which she didn’t), what details were repeated, and so on.

The books were published between 1982 and 2017, so most readers won’t have had the compressed view of the ongoing story that I had. By the time I finished the 25th book, I had developed my own alphabet, based on the details that stuck in my mind as intrinsic elements of Kinsey’s world:

A is for Alibi, Architecture, and Albanil, the street where she lived

B is for Black Dress, Beach, and Brownies

C is for Chardonnay, Cinnamon Buns, California, Coffee, and Cheney

D is for Daniel, Dietz, and Dolan

E for Ed the cat and Eggs hard-boiled with mayo and salt

F is for French Fries, Fog, and Father, about whom little is ever said

G is for Gin, the aunt who raised her; Grand, the grandmother who didn’t; and her Garage home

H is for Henry, Hungarian food, and Hair hacked with nail scissors

I is for Index Cards

J is for Jogging, Jonah, and Jeans

K is for Kinsey and Killer the dog

L is for License, Lompoc, and Library

M is for Mickey, Mustang, Mountains, and Millhone

N is for Neighbor (an encore for Henry)

O is for Offal and Ocean

P is for Peanut Butter, Pickles, Pick locks, Palm trees, Pantyhose, Parking, Pee, PI, Pistol, and Police

Q is for Quarter Pounder with Cheese

R is for Rosie, Rita, and Ruthie

S is for Sweats, Savings, Stucco, and ST (Santa Teresa)

T is for Typewriter, T-neck, and Trailer; Tasha and Terrence, her erstwhile relatives

U is for UCST, a “new” campus of the UC system

V is for Volkswagen, Vera, and Vegetables, which she eats about once in 25 books

W is for William, Wolinsky, and Weather

X is for Xanakis and the Bank of X

Y is for Yearning. . . that there could be more.

There is no Z.

Thank you, Sue Grafton, for many hours of pleasure.

Read more on my Paris Writer tumblr blog