What the Mystery Writer Sue Grafton Can’t Travel Without

After more than 30 years writing the Kinsey Millhone “alphabet series” of detective novels, Sue Grafton is almost finished. The second to last, Y Is for Yesterday,” will be published on Aug. 22. Ms. Grafton spends half the year in Santa Barbara, Calif., and the other half in Louisville, Ky. She and her husband travel for pleasure, but she also tours for book signings every other year.

“I used to write a book a year and it just got to be too much. I was either writing or on the road or doing interviews and I got really cranky and I thought, this is no way to spend my life. So I cut it back to a book every two years and now I’m cheerful and good-natured and enjoy myself. Plus, I only have one to go, baby!”

When traveling for work, she doesn’t bother packing things she won’t use. “I never take workout clothes and I never take a laptop because I don’t own one. If I’m on the road I don’t worry about exercise and I don’t work. I focus on the job at hand, which makes me really boring, but at least I get in there and spend my energy correctly.”

There is one city she returns to again and again. “I absolutely adore London. I would go once a year if I could, but I’m always writing a book so I have to be selective. Once I finish the alphabet, who knows what’s going to happen. I probably won’t go too often, though. You don’t want to wear the nap off a country.”

This is what she takes on every trip:

“I think we all travel with five paperbacks: the one you’re reading, the one you realize you’ve already read, two you can’t stand and the one you finally settle on. Right now I’m reading Philippa Gregory’s ‘Three Sisters, Three Queens,’ which I’m very much enjoying. I read Sara Gran. And of course I read Lee Childs and Michael Connelly and Laura Lippman. I’m always hopelessly behind.”