Amazon Asks: Laura Lippman

Neal Thompson on August 29, 2012

Ten years ago I left my last newspaper job, capping off a five-year gig at the once-great Baltimore Sun. Among the many inspiring reporters and editors I worked with was Laura Lippman, and it's been great to watch Laura's writing career evolve from her early Tess Monaghan novels to the fantastic stand-alone novels of recent years. Laura's latest, And When She Was Good, is one of our Best of the Month mystery/thriller/suspense editors' picks for August. During her Seattle book tour stop last week, Laura and I caught up and talked books over a midday beer.

Lippman1Describe your book in 10 words?

She's the mom next door--and a high-priced call girl.

What's on your nightstand/bedside table/Kindle?

Pages away from finishing galley of Ben Schrank's Love is a Canoe. Reading John Lanchester's Capital on my iPad (sorry! I'm a Macophile). Gearing up for annual Marjorie Morningstar re-read, which makes my husband fear for my mental health.

Favorite books of all time?

Lolita, Emma Who Saved My Life, Love Story (not the one you think but a memoir by Ruth McKenney, who wrote "My Sister Eileen," among other things), the entire Betsy-Tacy series.

Important book you never read?


Lippman2Book that made you want to become a writer?

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is under-rated, in my opinion. Made me want to be a writer and also taught me some valuable lessons about writing.

Most memorable author moment?

I started as a paperback original writer and one of the first things I ever did to promote my work was have a pizza party with the drivers who put the books in racks at grocery stores, drug stores, etc. One of them asked me if this was my first novel and I swelled with pride when I said yes, figuring he was going to comment on my youth. Instead, he shook his head and said: "And you're already $5.99?"

What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility)?

I want to be able to inhabit other people's minds, to feel what they are feeling--but I want to be able to shut it off, too.

What are you obsessed with now?

Finding a bed for our narrow rowhouse that will allow us to have a place to put books and beverages.

What are you stressed about now?

Being away from my 2-year-old daughter for the longest period since she was born.

What are you psyched about now?

People are reading! I am actually super Pollyanna-ish about the future of the book in all formats. I think reading is increasingly appealing in our chaotic world.

What's your most prized/treasured possession?

Right now, the single most important thing in my household is a stuffed Winnie the Pooh who is so dirty he appears to have leprosy. My life's not worth living if he disappears.

EmilyPen Envy - Book you wish you'd written?

That changes day to day, so in this day, this moment, I'll say Stewart O'Nan's Emily Alone.

What's next for you?

A novel inspired by the disappearance of Julius Salsbury, who skipped out on a 15-year sentence connected to his numbers/sports book empire and was never seen again. But I'm interested in writing a novel about the women left behind--a wife, three daughters and a mistress.

What's the last dream you remember?

My husband found my journal and read it. Strange, because I don't actually keep a journal.

Favorite line?

From Auden: For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives/In the valley of its making where executives would never want to tamper, flows on south/From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs/Raw towns that we believe and die it; it survives,/A way of happening, a mouth.

Favorite method of procrastination? Temptation? Vice?

Cleaning is for procrastination. Procrastination is temptation. If wine is a vice, so be it.

Lippman3What do you collect?

Folk art.

Best piece of fan mail you ever got?

Technically not fan mail, but Stephen Sondheim did write me when he heard that he was referenced in To the Power of Three, so I sent him a copy and appreciated the fact that he entrusted me with his return address. In exchange, I have resisted the urge to stalk him.

>See all of Laura Lippman's books

>Read the "How I Wrote It" interview I did with Laura last year

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