Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Q&A with Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman, photo by Jan Cobb
Laura Lippman is the author of the new mystery novel Hush Hush, featuring private detective Tess Monaghan. Her many other novels include After I'm Gone and The Girl in the Green Raincoat. A former reporter for The (Baltimore) Sun, she lives in Baltimore and New Orleans.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your new Tess Monaghan mystery, Hush Hush? 

A: It started with a column Anna Quindlen wrote about Andrea Yates, the Texas woman who killed five of her children. I don't remember the exact wording, but Quindlen shared a personal story, about her own life as a young mother, and said that she could understand how such things happen. I wasn't a parent at the time, but it stuck with me. And I have a long-standing interest in the insanity plea.  

Q: Tess Monaghan is based in Baltimore. How important is Baltimore to her essence as a character? 

A: Tess is Tess because of Baltimore. The city has formed her. She has a bit of a chip on her shoulder, claims not to care what others think about her, but she obviously does. That's pretty Baltimore, in my opinion.  

Q: When you wrote your first mystery featuring Tess, did you think it would turn into such a successful series? 

A: I just hoped it would turn into A series. Seriously, I didn't think much farther down the road than that. I hoped to do well enough to leave my newspaper job. And I did -- seven years later.  

Q: Which writers have inspired you? 

A: So many writers inspire me, pretty much every writer I read. And now I have a lot of writer friends, who are doubly inspiring. One of them, Ann Hood, is constantly on the go; I was just looking at her Instagram photos from Jerusalem today. I like writers who, unlike me, have incredibly diverse backlists.  

Q: What are you working on now? 

A: Working on the next novel, not a Tess, set in the present-day and Columbia, Maryland, in the '70s and '80s.  

Q: Anything else we should know? 

A: I break out in hives shortly before publication. Seriously. 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Laura Lippman will be participating in the Temple Sinai Authors Roundtable on February 28, 2015.

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