Today's guest: Laura Lippman Why we love her: She's simply the best.
Her latest: And When She Was Good
The scoop on it: When Hector Lewis told his daughter that she had a nothing face, it was just another bit of tossed-off cruelty from a man who specialized in harsh words and harsher deeds. But twenty years later, Heloise considers it a blessing to be a person who knows how to avoid attention. In the comfortable suburb where she lives, she's just a mom, the youngish widow with a forgettable job who somehow never misses a soccer game or a school play. In the state capitol, she's the redheaded lobbyist with a good cause and a mediocre track record.
But in discreet hotel rooms throughout the area, she's the woman of your dreams—if you can afford her hourly fee.
For more than a decade, Heloise has believed she is safe. She has created a rigidly compartmentalized life, maintaining no real friendships, trusting few confidantes. Only now her secret life, a life she was forced to build after the legitimate world turned its back on her, is under siege. Her once oblivious accountant is asking loaded questions. Her longtime protector is hinting at new, mysterious dangers. Her employees can't be trusted. One county over, another so-called suburban madam has been found dead in her car, a suicide. Or is it?
Nothing is as it seems as Heloise faces a midlife crisis with much higher stakes than most will ever know.
And then she learns that her son's father might be released from prison, which is problematic because he doesn't know he has a son. The killer and former pimp also doesn't realize that he's serving a life sentence because Heloise betrayed him. But he's clearly beginning to suspect that Heloise has been holding something back all these years.
With no formal education, no real family, and no friends, Heloise has to remake her life—again. Disappearing will be the easy part. She's done it before and she can do it again. A new name and a new place aren't hard to come by if you know the right people. The trick will be living long enough to start a new life.
Our thoughts: She made us care about a suburban madam. That takes serious talent!
Giveaway: FIVE COPIES. Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 3pm PST on Monday, August 27th.
Fun fact: She wrote her first SEVEN books while working full time at The (Baltimore) Sun.
CHICK LIT IS NOT DEAD PRESENTS...LAURA LIPPMAN'S 5 THINGS I'D TELL THE TEEN ME
1. Stop dieting. Stop right now. Read about mindful eating (Geneen Roth and Martha Beck). Read Susie Orbach's "Fat is a Feminist Issue." Read Caitlin Moran's "How to be a Woman." Sorry to pile on so much homework, but you'll need all this and more. Eat exactly what you want to eat, when you want to eat and stop when you are full and you really will end up at a healthy weight. Do not describe food as "bad." Do not describe your own eating habits as "bad." Do not say "I hate my [fill in the blank]." Do not say anything about your body that you would not say to a beloved. Listen to it. Learn to identify physical hunger, ponder the emotional hunger when you recognize it, try to figure out what it really means. Wanting more is the human condition.
2. Practice being a gracious loser because you're going to get lots of opportunities to trot this skill out. Besides, if you know how to lose graciously, you'll also know how to win graciously.
3. Learn to take a compliment. It goes like this: "Thank you." Not -- "Oh, it wasn't really much of anything, anyone could have done it." Not -- "Well, the others who worked on the project deserve credit, too." Or, even: "I made so many mistakes at first and I really screwed up and I thought I would never finish." Again, this is how you do it. "Thank you."
4. Find a physical activity that you love, preferably one that takes you outside, and do it. Long, slow walks count.
5. Resist the urge to be cruel to others. Years later, of everything you have done, nothing will horrify you more than the tossed-off sarcasm you wielded against others like a weapon. Put it on paper. Keep notes. Use it against imaginary foes. Because, in the end, almost all your foes are imaginary.
Liz & Lisa
Photo credit: Jan Cobb