New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman will be making an appearance at the South Coastal Library for a discussion, reading and book signing for her book “I’d Know You Anywhere,” on Tuesday, Aug. 17, at 6 p.m.— the very day her latest book is being released.
Lippman’s parents reside in Fenwick Island, and her mother, Madeline – a retired librarian – has been volunteering at the South Coastal Library for years.
“She had said that Laura was going to be coming to visit her, as she does most summers, spending some time here. And we knew Laura had a new book coming out and we said, ‘Do you think that she might come and do a book signing for us?’” explained Barbara Litzau, the library’s assistant director.
Bethany Beach Books has partnered with the library and will be on-hand at the event to have the book available for purchase.
Lippman spent 20 years as a journalist after earning a degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
“I wanted to write for a living,” she explained. “My father was a journalist at the (Baltimore) Sun, and that was what I knew of what it took to have a full-time writing job. I didn’t know any novelists, and the people I knew who wanted to write fiction were spending a lot more time teaching than writing. So I thought, ‘Well if I go into journalism, I’ll write every day, and I will make my living as a writer and perhaps that will lead to being able to become a novelist.’ That’s really what I always wanted — was to be a novelist.”
Although Lippman’s day job as a journalist was all about fact-checking, her true passion was writing fiction.
“I wanted to write fiction because I love fiction and because, although it’s a bit of a cliché, it’s true that there is sometimes more truth in fiction than in journalism. Journalism is good on the facts. It’s good at telling us what happened yesterday. And it’s not always good at looking at larger issues.”
Lippman spent the last seven years of her 12-year tenure at the Sun as both a novelist and reporter. She said she didn’t have trouble keeping her careers separate and, in fact, believes the two complemented each other.
“There was no difficulty separating and compartmentalizing my two lives. I was never sitting in the (Baltimore) Sun newsroom thinking that I was writing fiction. I was really clear on it.
“Actually,” she continued, “one of the things I would say is that, a novelist working in a newsroom – I think people who do both jobs really respect the difference. It’s interesting. It’s the people who aren’t trying to write fiction who cheat, who make stuff up, who fabricate. People who are writing fiction really respect it, and they don’t want to do it for the newspaper. They want to do it separately.”
Lippman has written 15 novels, one novella and a book of short stories, or “2 million words,” as she described it. She noted she is drawn to writing about crime and uses it to explore society and culture.
“It was a little less presumptuous than sitting down and writing the great American novel,” she noted. “Once I started doing it – I just feel that crime is a really good scrim in which to write about our culture. Murder, in particular, disrupts our community, and it strips away a lot of the surfaces, and you see what’s left in the wake of a crime.”
Lippman said she understands her readership is savvy and, although she may want to hold out the suspense in her novels to the very end, she hopes that readers who figure out her plots early on will be so engrossed in the story that they will continue on the journey.
“My motive operandi when I sit down to write is to say, ‘OK, there’s going to be a secret in this book.’ So somebody is going to figure out my big secret. My goal is to write a book where someone might figure out the twist or the secret by page 30 but they’re so interested in the people that they read all the way through,” she explained.
In her upcoming novel, Lippman examines the concept of intimacy and survival.
“I’m drawn to things that have a thematic resonance. We talk a lot about survival in our culture and people being survivors, and we use it in a literal and a figurative sense. But I felt as if I hadn’t read or heard a lot about what we actually expect from survivors and how there are these unspoken and implicit obligations for survivors. We expect them to follow certain scripts and behave in a certain way, and I wanted to examine that. I also wanted to examine the concept of intimacy.”
“I’d Know You Anywhere” opens with suburban soccer-mom Eliza Benedict receives a handwritten letter from her childhood kidnapper and death row inmate, Walter Bowman — as his sole surviving victim.
“Proximity does this odd thing to people, and I was really interested in looking at the notion of intimacy and what its inherent responsibilities and obligations are. When you know someone, what do you owe that person? The title of the book is really conscious of that. It’s there in the first chapter, ‘I’d know you anywhere.’ What does that mean?”
Explained Lippman, “I wanted to explore the idea of whether, if you’re the only person who really knows someone, is that an obligation? Eliza is the only person who really knows Walter, but it seems ridiculous to think she owes him anything. She’s his victim. She gets him. She absolutely gets him. And that’s sort of the crux of her dilemma. She has no affection for him. She doesn’t want to help him out. But she always knows what he’s feeling. And that’s kind of like a superpower, in a way. And what will she do with it? And what will other people have her do with it?”
Lippman is the bestselling author of “What the Dead Know” and the creator of the Baltimore-based book series featuring private investigator. Tess Monaghan. Many of her novels take place in Baltimore, where she grew up.
Having moved to Baltimore in 1968 with her parents, Lippman said she remembers visiting Delaware beaches as a child and continues to do so today, with her own family.
“We love it. One of the first things we did – we moved into our house in Baltimore, and we went to Rehoboth for a week.”
Lippman said she can’t imagine a summer she hasn’t been to the Delaware beaches and is looking forward to spending time with her family while staying in Fenwick Island.
“We go to the beach; I love to swim in the ocean. We usually go up to Rehoboth or down to Ocean City, hit the boardwalk... We like to go to the place in Ocean City that has all the different car tracks; we like to play board games at night. What’s nice is, visiting with my parents, we have nice, home-cooked meals. We shop at the farmers’ market, watch television and drink mojitos — all the beach things.”
The reading, discussion and book-signing event is free and open to the public, but seating will be limited. Those interested in attending are being encouraged to arrive early to get a free entrance ticket for Lippman’s appearance.
“We knew the community would be extremely interested, hearing her say a few words and having her sign some copies of the book,” said Litzau. “The staff, we are all really excited about this. This is very much a highlight for us for the summer, as far as our adult programming goes, because she is such a popular author and has published numerous books. We’re just really excited about this and hope the community is going to be as excited as we are.”
For more information, call (302) 539-5231 or visit www.southcoastal.lib.de.us.