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Although she momentarily flirted with the idea of becoming an entertainment lawyer so she could make deals at the Palm and get tickets to the Oscars, she eventually realized she had watched Robert Altman’s “The Player” one too many times, and instead decided to pursue criminal law after spending a semester in an externship with the U. As a prosecutor, Alafair worked primarily in two positions, as a trial lawyer prosecuting domestic violence offenses and as a liaison to the police department, where she worked directly out of the police precinct, trained officers in search and seizure, and wore a Kevlar vest for night-shift ride alongs.
After five years of working at the District Attorney’s Office, Alafair was ready to marry her love of crime fiction with the stories and knowledge she had gathered as a prosecutor.
In Ellie, Alafair wanted to create a character different from Samantha Kincaid and every other female protagonist in crime fiction.
She moved from the Encyclopedia Brown series to Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie and eventually to Sue Grafton.
Considered rebellious and off the beaten path in Wichita, she was perceived quite differently at the college whose unofficial slogan was “Atheism, Communism, Free Love.” Fellow dormies (lovingly) called her Nancy Reagan and The Cheerleader.
In Judgment Calls, Alafair takes a (loving) jab at Reed when Samantha Kincaid notes that the locals refer to Reed as “that hippie school.” After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Reed, Alafair went to the decidedly less hippy-ish Stanford Law School. She graduated from Stanford with distinction, earning admission into the Order of the Coif, and then accepted a coveted judicial clerkship with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals before turning to an appointment as a Deputy District Attorney in Portland.
Alafair’s professional life stems from a long fascination with all things crime-related: the horrible acts of which human beings are capable, the strategies used to solve and prosecute crimes, and the punishments doled out upon the convicted.
Alafair’s immersion into those questions began in childhood when her parents moved the family in the late 1970’s from the chaos of a changing southern Florida to a supposedly quiet and provincial neighborhood in Wichita, Kansas.