"Around the time I turned 30, I wanted to publish a novel.""Capo, my first golden retriever, so loved to swim she once jumped off a cliff to get into Lake Superior.""I always wrote; my first story was published in the magazine The American Girl when I was 11.""I grew up in conservative rural Kansas in the 1950s when it was expected that girls would not have a life outside the home, so educating them was a waste of time.""I had wanted to write Ghost Country for a long time, but it wouldn't work.""I have a friend who lives in the South Side of Chicago. I helped out at a church charity there where they try to give a bit of cohesion to a desperate area. Everyone was very welcoming.""I live and die with the Chicago Cubs.""I love to sing. I'm a soprano.""I realised I'd never climb Everest but thought I could still write a book.""I spent 10 years as a marketing manager. I've found my experience in the financial world invaluable background for writing about white-collar crimes.""I thought it was time for a tough, smart, likable female private investigator, and that's how VI came to life.""I wish I could remember where I put things. I spend half my life looking for my keys. With the other half I look for my glasses.""I'm a daydreamer.""I'm a grandmother, and a mighty proud one.""I'm lucky in having found the perfect partner to spend my life with.""I'm very honoured that there is a loyal following and I hope it continues.""In 1986 we were trying to help women get in print, stay in print, and come to the attention of booksellers and libraries. At that time, books by men mystery writers were reviewed seven times as often as books by women.""It took me nine months to write 60 pages. It was very frustrating.""Most people don't have the money to spend on advertising to create awareness among readers, nor do they have the contacts at newspapers or magazines to get their books reviewed.""My parents were liberal intellectuals but even they expected me to stay at home and look after my younger siblings and do the housework.""No agent wants to see a book until he or she has decided whether to pursue the relationship.""People have less privacy and are crammed together in cities, but in the wide open spaces they secretly keep tabs on each other a lot more.""Reviewers said Ghost Country was rich, astonishing and affecting in the way it blended comedy, magic, and a gritty urban realism in a breathtaking ride along Chicago's mean streets.""Sisters in Crime now has more than 4,000 members worldwide.""Sometimes I panic and think I can't really write.""Sometimes I think I'm a one-trick pony because I'm not very inventive about new ways of telling stories.""The best source for finding an agent is called Literary Agents of North America. It's a complete list of agents, not only by name and address, but by type of book they represent and by what their submission criteria are.""The crime novel has always been my favourite genre.""The possibility of bringing white-collar criminals to justice is ever receding over the horizon.""White-collar crime gets more outrageous by the second in America.""Write what you care about.""You get weird and unsettling behaviour in the country."
Paretsky was born in Ames, Iowa and raised in Kansas, graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in political science. She did community service work on the south side of Chicago in 1966 and returned in 1968 to work there. She ultimately completed a Ph.D. in history at the University of Chicago; her dissertation was entitled "The Breakdown of Moral Philosophy in New England Before the Civil War." She also earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Married to a professor of physics at the University of Chicago, she has lived in Chicago since 1968. She is an alumna of the Ragdale Foundation.
The protagonist of all but two of Paretsky's novels is V.I. Warshawski, a female private investigator. Warshawski's eclectic personality defies easy categorization. She drinks Johnnie Walker Black Label, breaks into houses looking for clues, and can hold her own in a street fight, but also she pays attention to her clothes, sings opera along with the radio, and enjoys her sex life.
Paretsky is credited with transforming the role and image of women in the crime novel. The Winter 2007 issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection is devoted to her work.