Thursday, March 27, 2008

Author Stalking: Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman was at Politics and Prose last night, so I went to see her and pick up the latest Tess Monaghan story. P&P records all author visits, so you can actually purchase a DVD of the actual event, rather than relying on the parts I found most interesting, but there you go.
Lippman asked how many folks had read the Tess stories compared to the stand-alones, the crowd was full of Tess fans, but a healthy percentage had also read the stand-alones. The preference was for Tess stories. I meant to clarify this with her during the signing, but forgot - I think it's there's a really simple reason for this. Lippman talked about how in the stand-alones she really uses up the characters - this is their one shot and we are getting there story out there, so after that, it takes a while before she is ready for that level of intensity again. So, the Tess books allow Lippman to recharge and yet still write because, as she pointed out, you can't totally use up your protagonist in a series. And I think the experience is similar for the reader. I read Every Secret Thing and was riveted, but I needed something light and airy to read after that. Whereas the Tess stories don't have the same emotional impact. They're still great, but you have the distance of viewing them through the eyes of someone you know is going to survive the book.
Anyhoo, Lippman talked about the irony of the fact that she had tried to set up clear boundaries between her personal life and professional life and then went and wrote a book about Tess going to assist on a television show being shot in Baltimore, which therefore was going to mean that every interview was going to mention her relationship with David Simon and that she saw the strange but ultimately thought it was a writer thing - to be unable to not use this information. Lippman did point out that while she certainly made use of her knowledge of how TV shows work, "The Wire" was a show about Baltimore made by people who know and love Baltimore, whereas the show in Another Thing to Fall takes place in Baltimore but is being made by people who don't know Baltimore. (It is also an intentionally silly premise).
Lippman also talked about the invisible people phenomenon, the state of journalism and some quick thoughts on solutions to crime in Baltimore. (Although she pointed out she has the advantage as a writer of being able to make up crimes that get solved, so you know.)
So, it was great fun to see Lippman in person. And I have a great book to read too.