Bestselling author Laura Lippman has written over 20 mysteries — which makes her the perfect person to ask about what it takes to write a good mystery.
Lippman’s latest novel, “Dream Girl,” is actually Archiweekend Book Club’s August pick. It has a juicy premise: Gerry Anderson, the author of a hit book, is confined to his bed after an accident. Reality and dreams start to merge as the isolated Anderson begins receiving calls from someone claiming to be Aubrey, the fictional character in his bestseller. Readers question who is actually tormenting Gerry and why — and whether there is even someone after him, at all.
Lippman recently spoke with Archiweekend digital correspondent Stephanie Gomulka about the process of writing mysteries. She explained there is a common misconception when it comes to writing: that the central premise matters most.
“What’s so interesting to me is that as lot of people think the idea is it. All you need is the idea. Ideas are not even a dime a dozen, ideas are so cheap. I never worry about ideas. Everything is about the execution of the idea,” she told Gomulka.
Lippman emphasized she doesn’t try to be “clever or twisty.” In fact, she doesn’t mind if the reader can sense the twist before it happens. What matters most isn’t the twist but if readers care about the characters, she said.
“The only thing you need to do as a writer is create characters that readers care about — not so much, necessarily, like or love, but are interested in and care about and want to see how they’re going to react to things. If you do that, you don’t have to worry about readers figuring out who did it, what the big surprise is, whats going on” Lippman said.
To see more of Lipmann’s interview with Gomulka, including her take on “Misery” and what other literary works influenced “Dream Girl,” watch the video above.
Check back each month for Archiweekend Book Club’s picks, which highlight the best true crime stories the literary world has to offer.
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