Laura Lippman, the New York Times bestselling writer, has written twenty novels, and has won Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, Nero, Gumshoe and Shamus awards for her clever and carefully constructed mysteries. She has also won Author of the Year Award by the Maryland Library Association.
Lippman wrote for newspapers for 20 years, 12 of them at the Baltimore Sun. Her series of books about the Baltimore private eye and former newspaper writer Tess Monaghan (a Washington College alum) has been wildly popular since Tess’s first appearance in 1997. Her 2003 novel Every Secret Thing was adapted into a movie which starred Diane Lane.
Lippman very kindly answered some questions from The Spy in advance of her appearance at the Kent County Public Library in Chestertown on Friday, May 13.
Congratulations on the publication of your latest novel, Wilde Lake. Stand-alone books or series writing – which do you prefer? What are the challenges or rewards of each?
I like the challenge of creating characters/worlds anew in the stand-alones. I like the challenge of finding fresh ways to write about Tess’s familiar world. I prefer — whichever one I’m not currently working on!
What were your favorite books growing up? Did you read mysteries? Was To Kill a Mockingbird an influence?
I did love To Kill a Mockingbird. I read widely as a child, going through the entire list of Newbery prize winners while my mother was studying library science in graduate school. I loved Encyclopedia Brown. I also loved books about teenage girls written in the 1950s, with their details about prom dresses and a much more ritualized style of dating, if you will. My favorites were the Beany Malone books by Lenora Mattingly Weber.
Who are your favorite living writers? Do you have a favorite genre? Do you belong to any fabulous literary societies and attend lavish soirées and engage in witty banter?
I hesitate to start listing writers; I’ll leave someone out. I read literary and crime fiction most often, but I respect and enjoy all genres. As for fabulous literary societies and witty banter — does Facebook count? I have a small child. I don’t get out much.
What are you reading now? What was it like to read all the books for the National Book Awards for fiction? Do you read electronic books, or do you need to enjoy the tactile pleasures of paper and scribbling marginalia?
Oh, I am reading an advance copy of Ann Hood’s book, The Book That Matters Most and it’s so good. Reading for the National Book Awards was marvelous and an honor, but it was a bit like being locked in a chocolate factory for a year. I don’t think it’s incidental that I began reading a lot of nonfiction this year. I read both physical books and digital books, but I prefer physical ones as I like to read in the bathtub.
Did you have much say in the adaptation of your book Every Secret Thing? Did it feel odd to release your words and characters, and let someone else re-imagine them, or is that just business? Do you have a favorite movie adaptation of a book?
I had very little say, which is what I wanted. I sold my book to smart people and I let them do their job.
My favorite film adaptation is Adaptation, which was a meta version of The Orchid Thief. Very much a writer’s movie. My husband and I watched it with a non-writer cousin who found it baffling.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a lean, nasty little book set in a fictional Delaware town.
Do you have any favorite Eastern Shore bookstores? Do you have any favorite Eastern Shore restaurants?
I love Mystery Loves Company in Oxford; Kathy Harig and I go way back. As for Eastern Shore restaurants — my mom lives in Delaware, so I guess the place I eat most often is the chicken place on 404.
Laura Lippman will be speaking at the Kent County Library (408 High Street, Chestertown, MD 21620, 410.778.3636) on Friday afternoon as part of their Spring Speaker Series. It is a free event, but reservations are required: https://friendsofthekcpl.org/news/. Beginning at 5:30, the general public is invited to meet the author during a catered reception and book signing. A limited number of Ms. Lippman’s books will be available for purchase.