‘When my brother was eighteen, he broke his arm in an accident that ended in another young man’s death. I wish I could tell you that we mourned the boy who died, but we did not. He was the one with murder in his heart and, sure enough, death found him that night. Funny how that works.
‘It happened at the lake. Wilde Lake.’
— from ‘Wilde Lake’ by Laura Lippman
New York Times-bestselling author Laura Lippman, whose latest standalone novel, “Wilde Lake,” was released last month, will be visiting the South Coastal Library in Bethany Beach this Saturday for a book talk and signing.
“It’s wonderful to have her, as a bestselling author, because so many people love her books. I can’t even keep the display full of her books,” said Sue Keefe, director of the South Coastal Library.
The talk and signing will be held on Saturday, June 4, at 1 p.m. in the library’s meeting room. As there is no preregistration for the event, Keefe encouraged those who wish to attend to show up early to guarantee their spot. For those who are unable to make the reading, there will still be an opportunity to meet Lippman and purchase a signed copy of her book following the event.
Keefe said Lippman’s books have always been popular library reads.
“I’m actually borrowing other Lippman books from other libraries to fill our display,” she said.
Lippman’s work includes stand-alone novels, the Tess Mongaghan novels, a novella and short stories. She spent 20 years as a journalist after earning a degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Lippman spent the last seven years of her 12-year tenure at Baltimore’s The Sun as both a novelist and reporter.
“It taught me how to meet deadlines — and not to romanticize research,” said Lippman of how her career as a journalist influenced her fiction writing. “I had days at the Baltimore Sun where I had to learn, in the space of eight to 10 hours, how to explain, for example, how the city’s water filtration center worked, why it broke and how it would be fixed.”
In her latest work, Lippman tells the story of Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected — and first female — state’s attorney of Howard County, Md., a job in which her widower father famously served. Fiercely intelligent and ambitious, she sees an opportunity to make her name by trying a mentally disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death in the woman’s home. It’s not the kind of case that makes headlines, but peaceful Howard County doesn’t see many homicides.
As Lu prepares for the trial, the case dredges up painful memories, reminding her small but tight-knit family of the night when her brother, A.J., saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Only 18, A.J. was cleared by a grand jury. Now, Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them. What details might have been withheld from her when she was a child?
The more she learns about the case, the more questions arise.
Lippman said the idea for “Wilde Lake” came from “a convergence of ideas.”
“I was thinking about some high-profile sexual-assault cases and the he-said/she-said template. I was thinking about ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and how its story might function differently if the story was brought forward to a different era. And I realized that a particular place — Columbia, in the late 1970s, the time I was in high school there — was a good place to note the progress that has been made, and the distances we still need to travel.”
Lippman’s work has been awarded the Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, Shamus, Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards.
As to her writing process, Lippman said, “I write in the morning, try to hit 1,000 words a day, five days a week. Over time, it adds up.”
“I love them, pure and simple,” she added of writing mysteries/thrillers. “And there’s nothing the crime novel can’t do. There’s a lot I can’t do, but there’s nothing the crime novel can’t do.”
Lippman, who has visited the library before, has vacationed at the Delaware beaches since she was a child and still does to this day.
“Our first vacation, after moving to Baltimore in 1965, was to Rehoboth. A few years later, my father discovered Bethany and we began spending our beach vacations there. My parents loved it so much that they bought land north of Fenwick Island in the 1980s.”
Visiting the South Coastal Library is extra-special, because Lippman’s mother, Madeline, a retired Baltimore City school librarian, is now a volunteer there.
“I’m always happy to come to the library at Bethany — it feels like a bit of a homecoming, as my mother has been a volunteer for years,” she said.
“On a local level, it is so great to see her come because her mother volunteers here. It’s so great for her to be able to come in for us to host her,” added Keefe.
With summer in full swing, the South Coastal Library has plenty of programming to keep all of its patrons busy.
Keefe said the library has doubled up on dance classes, due to the program’s popularity. The next class will be held on June 17 at 10 a.m., when dancers may learn or refresh their swing and cha-cha dance steps with professional dance instructor John Brillantes.
“It’s wild to see room of about 36 people. If you don’t have a partner, come and partner up with someone. Just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you can’t come and learn how to cha-cha!”
The Orphan Train returns on June 30, at 6 p.m. Donna Aviles will tell the history of this 75-year “social experiment,” which transported an estimated 250,000 homeless children from the streets of East Coast cities to farming communities of the Midwest.
On July 7 at 6 p.m., local professional skimboarding brothers Dave and Tom Bracht of RELYance Skim Camp give a skimboarding workshop on dry land for youth ages 10 to 18. Pre-registration is required and begins July 1.
The 25th Annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour to benefit the Friends of the South Coastal Library will be held Wednesday, July 27, and Thursday, July 28, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“They’re such a wonderful group,” said Keefe, “The Friends group pays for almost all of our programming, and the Cottage Tour really supports that.”
On Aug. 1 and Aug. 8 at 6 p.m., Bill Gudelunas returns to the library to give two-part talk that examines the Electoral College — what it is, how it started, how it works and why it continues.
On Aug. 4 at 6 p.m., Gary Wray will discuss the history of Fort Miles and the restoration plans to make it one of the best World War II museums in the U.S.
On Aug. 11 at 2 p.m., the library will host its second iteration of the Bake for Good Program, sponsored by King Arthur Flour Company. Registration for the program is required and begins Aug. 1.
“Kids get a kit with all the ingredients and instructions on how to bake bread,” explained Keefe. “The kids come here and watch a video and take a short little workshop on how to read [recipes]. Each kid takes two kits home and bake two loaves of bread. The kids keep one, and the second one they return to the library, and that one goes to charity. We donate them to one of the local soup kitchens.”
Keefe said that, last year, all but one of the participating children (grades 4 through 6) returned the second loaf.
“It was fantastic,” she said. “And the kids were so proud of themselves.”
For the summer, the library has three different program brochures for adults, teens and children, to ensure that each group can make the most of their summer months.
“The kids have everything from magic to painting to juggling. And, of course, tons of music programs, because they really love them,” said Keefe.
The Summer Reading Program is also under way, with participating adults challenged to read 10 books, teens to read 1,000 pages and children to read 10 hours. Those who complete the program will receive a prize bag.
Keefe encouraged all patrons to visit the library and check out the fun programs happening every week at the library and take advantage of the free, local resource.
“There is so much going on!”
The South Coastal Library is located at 43 Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach. For more information, visit www.southcoastal.lib.de.us or call (302) 539-5231.