Coming to the Festival of Books: Laura Lippman

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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