Coming to the Festival of Books: Laura Lippman
Laura Lippman, the author more than a dozen books, writes the Tess Monaghan mystery series. Like Lippman, who lives in Baltimore, Monaghan is a former journalist -- unlike Lippman, she's an accidental private eye. Lippman's books have won the Edgar, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards.
Lippman's stand-alone novel "I'd Know You Anywhere" is a finalist for the L.A. Times book prize in mystery. She'll be at the L.A. Times Festival of Books on April 30 at the panel "Mystery: Dangerous Histories" at 10 a.m. with fellow finalists Kelli Stanley and Tom Franklin. Laura Lippman answered Jacket Copy's questions via email.
Jacket Copy: You've written both stand-alone mysteries and the Tess Monaghan series. Is it hard to switch back and forth?
Laura Lippman: It's very similar to my current exercise routine, in which I vary sessions with a personal trainer with classes in suspension training, spinning and ballet-inspired isometric exercises, with the result that I manage to be sore and frustrated pretty much all the time.
JC: How much does place inform the stories you tell?
LL: It's central. It's how I understand the world and other people. "Where are you from?" is probably the first question I ask most people I meet. I never try to fake place in my fiction. Even if a locale has only a passing moment in the narrative, it's a place I know somewhat well. And I'm respectful about places. Although I've spent quite a bit of time in New Orleans over the last two years, I've written only two short stories about it.
JC: Your mom was a librarian. What lessons did you take from her about books?
LL: My mom was a little snobbish about what her own children read -- she really wasn't big on the syndicate-written mysteries -- but maintained that any kind of reading was worthwhile. She also never mentioned the fact that she knew I was hiding a "dirty book" ("Lolita") under my bed. Then again, I never told her that I knew her copy of "The Valley of the Dolls" was hidden in the linen closet.
JC: Are you looking forward to anything in particular at the Festival of Books this year?
LL: The highlight will be flying there with my very good friend Tom Franklin. Tom is the best storyteller I know. He's so good that I ask him to tell stories that I've already heard.
JC: What do you hope to see or do in L.A. apart from the Festival of Books?
LL:It's really sad, but I'm in Los Angeles for almost exactly 24 hours and most of that time is spoken for by the festival. I have an 11-month-old daughter and I've spent only four nights away from her since she was born. I'm not a crazy, over-attached parent, but she's really good company.
Tickets for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books panels will be available through Eventbrite beginning Sunday, April 24 at 9a.m.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Laura Lippman. Credit: Jan Cobb