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Festival of Books: Mystery writer Liza Lutz

April 23, 2010 | 12:00 pm

SpellmansstrikeagainTrying to keep up with the Spellmans? Lisa Lutz, author of the popular Spellman mystery series, will appear at the L.A. Times Festival of Books on the Sunday panel "Watching the Detectives" with Elizabeth George, Stuart Woods and Susan Kandel. She answered Carolyn Kellogg's questions via e-mail.

Jacket Copy: When you wrote your first Spellman mystery, did you have any idea that it would continue  as a series? What's been the most exciting thing about being able to stick with the character Izzy for four books?

I intended the first book to be a stand-alone, but enough time passed as I was hunting for an agent and then an editor that the characters took on a life of their own. I've always believed that no matter where you end a book, you should have a sense of where your characters are going next. So when a sequel was proposed, I could already envision how it would unfold.

But one of the best parts of writing a series is that the characters don’t always develop the way I would have expected. Early on, I worried that their "evolution" might sap some of the life out of them, but they continue to surprise me. We’re not going to see Izzy become an old lady, but if we were, I think she’d be just as funny. Or funnier, probably.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished Robert Crais's "L.A. Requiem," and now I'm reading "How I Became a Famous Novelist" by Steve Hely.

What are you looking forward to at the festival?

It's always fun to watch James Ellroy sign books. It's as good as Shakespeare in the Park.

What do you hope to see or do in L.A. apart from the Festival of Books?

I'll be coming off a long tour at that point, so I'm looking forward to sleeping in an air-conditioned hotel room.

Do you have a favorite book or movie about California?

“Dirty Harry.” Is that about California?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

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