“G” is for Grafton (1940-2017)

I first went to work in a NYC mystery bookstore in the late 1980s. The store was Foul Play here in the Village, and in my first week on the job we held my very first author signing. When the author arrived, the manager, John Douglas, introduced me to her as “Tom Savage, the new kid.” She sat at the signing table and began greeting her fans.

My job was to stack copies of her book on the table beside her, and I was nervous as hell. I was writing my first novel at the time, dreaming of being published, and here was a Famous Mystery Writer in the flesh! I was so nervous that I knocked a stack of books off the edge of the table. I sank to my knees to retrieve them, and I realized that someone else had knelt beside me to help. Guess who! She leaned over to me and whispered, “Don’t worry, Tom, you’ll get the hang of it.”

I don’t know what surprised me more—the fact that she got down on the floor to pick up books or the fact that she’d remembered my name. I said, “Thank you, Ms. Grafton,” and she said, “Sue.”

And that was that. I worked hundreds of signings over 20+ years, first at Foul Play and later at Murder Ink, and she always arrived to sign for us. Most of the authors were gracious and friendly, of course, but her smile stands out of the crowd, as the lady herself stood out of every crowd. It was an honor to know her.