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Dennis Lehane: Place is elemental in our books. Talk about Baltimore and how it inspires your stories.
Laura Lippman: Baltimore is like an eccentric relative, that quirky uncle who you think is amazing when you’re a kid, and you love him so much. Then you grow up and you realize he’s unreliable and a drunk and maybe even a teeny bit racist – and you still love him so much. He’s your blood, your family. How do you work your head around that? Writing books was one way to do it..
DL: Who or what inspires your characters in After I'm Gone? Do you have a particular type of character that fascinates you?
LL: I let my husband give me an idea. Has there ever been truer proof of love? But he thought I was going to write about the real-life disappearance of Julius Salsbury, maybe even solve it. As the book proves, I was pretty uninterested in the man who disappeared even after creating my own version of him, Felix Brewer. I was fascinated by the women left behind. Harlan Coben said once that the stories about the missing are more haunting than the stories about the dead. It was a good observation. So I stole it.
DL:When it comes to process, I have all the discipline of an over-caffeinated flea in a puppy mill. But you’re quite regimented. Can you speak about the pros and cons of that approach?
LL: Anything that makes you comfortable is dangerous. And routine has always been my Prozac. Writers like me, we lean hard on that Flaubert chestnut. “Be regular and orderly in your life so you may be violent and original in your work.” But if you’re too orderly, too safe, how can you ever do something harder, deeper, stranger? Because there’s the other Flaubert quote, the one that our friend Sterling Watson taught me: “Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.” I want to melt the stars and that goes beyond discipline. Sometimes, I feel like Veda in Mildred Pierce, when she goes to audition for a new piano teacher. He closes the lid on the keys, almost on her fingers, and tells her there’s nothing in her fingers, but there may be something in her head. I hope there’s something in my head to make up for what I don’t have in my fingers.
DL: I stopped writing about Kenzie and Gennaro when they simply stopped talking to me, can’t tell you why, can’t explain it any better than that. What about you and Tess Monaghan? Was there a moment—or a series of them—that led to you leaving that series behind?
LL: She had a baby. And I didn’t know what to do what that darn baby. I wrote The Girl in the Green Raincoat in 2008 when I was hoping to become a mom, but it was so theoretical and abstract. Then I became a mom in 2010 and talk about hardboiled – mud, blood, feces, urine, these endless logic problems. “If a person is traveling alone with a child and that person needs to go to the bathroom, yet the child has finally fallen asleep -- ”
But I need to give Tess a proper ending. I’ve gone back to her for my 2015 book, and I’m trying to build to something, perhaps an arc of 3 books in which I finally let her go. I always feel as if I’m standing between her and a happy life
“Despite the murder at its center, this is less a suspenseful whodunit than a masterly novel of character, with secrets skillfully and gradually revealed. Revel in the pace and pleasures of this book [...] that should add to Lippman’s literary luster.” (Library Journal (starred review))
“Lippman is a bet you just can’t lose.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“I never miss Laura Lippman’s novels.” (Anna Quindlen, New York Times bestselling author)
“She’s one of the best novelists around, period.” (Washington Post)
“smart and mesmerizing [...] an involving and elegant novel of the psychological ravages of crime” (Booklist)
“Equal parts love story, tragedy and murder mystery, Lippman’s latest thriller delivers twist and emotional depth with its tale of a philandering scheemer whose long-time mistress turns up dead years after he skipped town.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“Lippman is as skillful at plot as she is at characters and setting, and the twists in the novel’s final pages are both surprising and satisfying. [...] Like everything else Lippman has written, “After I’m Gone” transcends the limits of genre.” (Washington Post)
“In this edge-of-your seat tale, a man’s disappearance has unexpected consequences for the women he’s left behind.” (O, the Oprah Magazine)
“pure delight.” (People)
“enthralling” (Houston Chronicle)
“Lippman is one of the deftest hands at whodunit around, and the great characters make for an engaging read.” (Dallas Morning News)
A story told from several points of view and from different points in time. Police consultant Sanchez looks into cold cases. Read morePublished 18 days ago by RY
Mysterious Book report No. 156 - After I'm Gone
by John Dwaine McKenna
Have you ever played the WHAT IF game? You know . . . the one that goes like this . . . Read more
Lippman always gives you the unexpected, and this will not disappoint.Published 1 month ago by Linda M. Derebery
Very good and quite insightful. Her characters are deftly drawn and are very alive to this reader. Great insight into the human condition paired with a murder mystery - I love a... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Antoinette M Mathis
Always enjoy Lippman's stories. This one jumps around a little from one era to another, but still was an enjoyable read.Published 2 months ago by Nora M
This is an entertaining read as the characters are so life like. The story seems so real and my being I hope as born and raised in Baltimore, another fun read about my home town. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dianne0220
I appreciate a mystery that I can't figure out until the very end. This one fit the bill--and was extremely well written. I'm a Lippman fan!Published 3 months ago by B. Daniel