A reporter for more than 20 years, including more than a decade at the Baltimore Sun, Laura Lippman infuses her Tess Monaghan Mysteries with the authenticity of experience. Ms. Lippman will be appearing at the Central Library's Montgomery Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11, the same day her new novel, Another Thing to Fall, will hit bookstores and library shelves. (This event is free--no tickets required.) She recently took a moment to chat with us about some of our favorite topics.
What role have libraries played in your life?
My mother's a librarian. Do I need to say more? I will, anyway. My mother went back to school in the 70s, to get her master's in library science, and one of my fondest memories is working through the Newbery list with her.
As an adult, I've been so fortunate to have librarians among my early fans. (See, that's librarians. They're actually much quicker to spot what's new and hip.) I couldn't possibly name them all, but one, Doris Ann Norris, is so important to me that she's the co-dedicatee of What the Dead Know.
What was your favorite childhood book?
Hmm, I guess this is one time when I can't cite Lolita as my favorite book, although I did read it as a 12-year-old. Didn't understand it, but I read it. I'm going to pick Half Magic, a perfect book. The thing about Edward Eager is that his youthful characters are all readers and don't run to stereotypes at all. The boys and girls (often siblings) share their adventures equally. In fact, the girls are often feisty and troublesome, while the boys can be calm and even-tempered. Since the Harry Potter mania began, I keep waiting for kids to go back and discover Eager, and Half Magic is the best of them all.
Who is your favorite fictional character?
It's really close, but Betsy Ray just squeaks past Beany Malone. (I don't have the hubris to pick Tess Monaghan, but she's good company.)
Who are the three authors you think everyone should be required to read--which books would you start with?
Jane Austen, Theodore Dreiser and James Crumley. And the books, respectively, would be Pride and Prejudice, Sister Carrie and The Last Good Kiss. Austen, because she illustrates what Eudora Welty wrote about writers with sheltered lives: all serious daring starts from within. Dreiser because, clumsy as his sentences can be, I've never known another writer who basically does the Vulcan mind meld on the page. Reading Dreiser, one becomes his characters. And Crumely because it is my oft-state opinion that he, more than any other crime writer, helped to kick in the renaissance of the PI novel in the 90s, when talents such as George Pelecanos and Dennis Lehane first started to flourish.
If you couldn’t write, what other job would you like to have?
I'd probably be a social worker. Or a librarian!