Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Pro-File: Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman is one of the most successful and distinctive voices in contemporary crime fiction. If you doubt that, consider that she has won the the Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, Nero Wolfe and Shamus awards. A remarkable acknowledgment of her formdiable skills.

Pro-File: Laura Lippman

Tell us about your latest novel.

1) The ninth Tess Monaghan novel, NO GOOD DEEDS, will be published in
late June. Baltimore Noir, an anthology I edited, shows up in early

Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?

2) I'm working on my third stand-alone, although stand-alone is a bit
of a misnomer as there are some overlapping characters in these books,
an accidental trilogy set in suburban Baltimore. This one is sort of
Anastacia meets Scheherazade. A woman shows up, claiming to be a girl who disappeared thirty
years ago, but there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical.

What is the greatest plasure of your writing career?

3) I like writing, the actual act of it, the tactile pleasure of
fingers on keys, the giddiness of just making stuff up and watching it
show up on the screen. I like it better when it's going well, but even
a bad day writing is pretty good. I was a newspaper reporter for a long
time and the nature of that business is that bosses often interrupt
you, redirect you, spike the thing that you love and assign you to do
something else. No one ever sneaks up behind me anymore and asks: "What
are you working on?" (A question that, in the newsroom, was almost
always followed by: "Well, I need you to do this instead.")

I'm writing this from Phoenix, where I flew out to attend the Brandeis
Book Luncheon, one of the largest in the country. We were late leaving
the gate and the head winds were strong, so it took mor than six hours
to get here. I tried to work on the plane, but it wasn't going very
well. I arrived with only a little time to shower and change, then go
to the welcome reception. And you know what? If that's a tough day,
it's a pretty blessed life.

What is your greatest DIS-pleasure?

4) Well, it's not a meritocracy. And once you admit how much luck is
involved, you have to concede that your own luck could run out at any
moment, which is terrifying.

If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is

5) You know what? I've had the good fortune to work with people (at
HarperCollins and Morrow) who are really, really smart. They clearly
know more about publishing than I do, so I wouldn't presume to give
them any advice. I couldn't begin to do what they do. It does strike me
as curious when publishers knock themselves out, bidding on some former
politico's memoir to the point where it can never earn out. But maybe
there's some intangible benefit to such deals.

Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see
in print again?

6) I know Sandra Scoppetone mentioned Liza Cody, but I'd like to
reiterate that. I was crazy about her Eva Wylie books. I think Kathleen
Taylor had an original sensibility and I miss her characters.

Tell us about selling your first novel.

7) I remember it was October 1995. The manuscript had gone out to 10
publishers, and the morning started with a phone call: Berkley had just
offered a three-book contract. My agent then checked in with the other
editors and two more bid. One of them, Carrie Feron of Avon, wanted to
talk to me, however, see if I had a firm idea for my second book. By
the end of the day, I ended up going with Carrie, who's still my

About midway through the morning, I wandered to the coffeehouse across
the street in a cheerful daze and ran into one of my colleagues who had
published a nonfiction book, with great success -- winning an Edgar,
seeing a television show based on his book become a moderate hit. It
just seemed natural to tell him what was happening. He totally got it,
insisted on buying me a cup of coffee and congratulated me. Many years
later, our personal lives had altered dramatically and we became a
couple. He still totally gets what I do. And, on occasion, he'll still
buy me a cup of coffee.


Blogger Bryon Quertermous said...

I second the call for more books by Kathleen Taylor. Why the hell these things were ever marketed as cozy books is beyond me.

7:27 PM  

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