Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hank Phillippi Ryan & DRIVE TIME


Investigative reporter Charlotte McNally is an expert at keeping things confidential, but suddenly everyone has a secret--and it turns out it is possible to know to much....

Compelling? I think so. This is the start to Hank Phillippi Ryan's back cover blurb DRIVE TIME. Fortunately, I'm not bound by journalistic integrity so I can easily spread the word. I loved DRIVE TIME and couldn't put it down. Please welcome the winner of 26 Emmys for investigative reporting and Agatha winner, HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN to the Five Scribes.

D.B: Hank, I'm so excited to talk to you today. Confession time. DRIVE TIME is the only work of yours I've read, an oversight I plan to remedy immediately. It's obvious with titles like PRIME TIME, FACE TIME and AIR TIME, these books are a series. But after reading DRIVE TIME, I think they can stand alone. Do you agree?

HPR: Oh, thanks! I'm delighted to be here. And yes, you are so right. Although PRIME TIME was written first, they are definitely stand alones. Just as you can read Sue Grafton's L,and then B, and it won't matter, you can read DRIVE TIME first and then pick up FACE TIME or AIR TIME or PRIME TIME. (Suzanne Brockmann read DRIVE TIME first, and was so enthusiastic, she went back and read the others.)

There's no insider stuff, or repetitive backstory, or spoilers about the previous books. I will say if you don't read PRIME TIME first, here's one thing you'll know that Charlotte McNally doesn't know. But I've gotten lots of mail from readers who had a wonderful time with that.

It's like where you meet a new friend--you find out the most current thing about them, right? And then later, as you get to know them, you learn their history. So that happens with the Charlie books.
So--which one are you reading next?

And ...this just in: AIR TIME was just nominated for the prestigious AGATHA Award for best Mystery of 2009!

D.B.: Omgosh! Breaking news! Congratulations, Hank! Well, it doesn't take a mystery sleuth to know AIR TIME's next on my TBR list.

You write in first person, present tense. I found the style captivating. Are all the Charlie McNally books written in this fashion, and do you find this the ideal complement to your voice?

HPR: What a lovely question. Yes, all the TIME books are first person present. And I have to say --that's not a decision I consciously made. It's kind of funny--when I had the idea for PRIME TIME, I thought it was such a good idea for a plot that I was obsessed with writing it. But I couldn't begin until I had my first sentence.

One night at dinner--over blackened tuna sashimi--it came to me. I dug for a pen and wrote it on a paper napkin: "Between the hot flashes, the hangover and all the spam on my computer, I'll never get anything done before eight o'clock this morning. I came in early to get ahead and already I'm behind." That's how it came out--first person present. And that set the tone. And that sentence never changed through all the revisions.

But first person present is very--television, don't you think? It's fast-paced, and intensely personal, and makes the books all about perception. Because there's what Charlie thinks--and also what the reader thinks about that. I mean, the reader knows Charlie could be wrong! And first person also allows me as the author to "help" with Charlie's perception--while all along I know what's really happening.

You're right. I felt I knew Charlie very well while reading in this tense. But it's not just about tense and first person, you have a gift of creating characters. Your investigative reporter character Charlie McNally is newly engaged to a hunky Mr. Chips-type English lit professor. She's about to become a step-mom to Penny, a precocious nine year old, who calls her father, Daddo, Charlie, Charlie Mac, and who has fallen head over heels with Charlie's cat, Botox.

Career-wise Charlie works alongside two unforgettable characters, her producer Franklin who alone calls her Charlotte, but thanks to a fading Mississippi accent pronounces it (Shaw-lit), and a camera man named J.T. (who if I ever see those initials on anyone else, I will find it impossible not to think of Hank Phillippi Ryan.) With such an unforgettable cast, Hank, who or what inspired them?

HPR: Well, Charlie appeared in my head, named and fully formed. (We can talk about "is Charlie really you?" a bit later!) But bottom line, no one else is based on anyone specifically. What inspired them, you ask? Such an interesting question. Because, really it's unanswerable. I love them, and I know them. But they just--appeared when the book was ready for them.

Now wouldn't every author love such a cooperative muse ;) In your everyday work you're an investigative reporter, so it's no surprise that you write flawlessly and seamlessly...

HPR: (Blushing.)

...but fiction novels and hard news stories are not twin professions. In investigative reporting, you have to switch gears, multi-task and function as a team. In fiction writing, you need high levels of concentration and alone time. Will you talk about your processes, and here's a hard question: If you had to give up one, which would it be?

HPR: You know what's so interesting--to me at least--in the newsroom, at Channel 7, it's chaos. There are dozens of televisions blaring, on all different channels and people running around, and phones ringing, and general craziness. Deadlines, headlines, breaking news, changes, arguments, lights, camera, action, all that. And I can work perfection--typing and researching and writing scripts, as you say, madly multi-tasking, with all that going on. No problem.

But when I'm writing my books, at home in my study, it has to be completely quiet. No music, no background noise no one else in the room. And the surroundings just melt away, time disappears.

Sometimes my darling husband (a lawyer) comes in to ask me a question--like when's dinner?--and it's as if I'm being yanked out of another world. It's amazing. And wonderful.

For the past 25 years or so, my next news story has been in my brain every minute of the day. It's what I discussed, what I considered, what I worked on, all I cared about. Now, I realize when I walk down the street, my brain is in mystery world. I'm thinking of what happens to Charlie next, or--this just in--to a new character who's just new emerging.

Still, when I walk into the newsroom that--poof--goes away. (Until something happens that would be just PERFECT for Charlie...then I can't help it.)

If I had to give one up? Ah. Ten years ago that would have been easy to answer. Now, I'm not sure. Can I get back to you on that one?

Sure. But I suspect from your answer you're passionate about both. DRIVE TIME has masterful pacing, transitioning effortlessly from Charlie's personal world to her professional life. You incorporate the mystery/characterization and plot elements with hooks and narrative that make it look easy.

Lines like: Who'd have imagined a continental divide in the middle of a king-size mattress?.... He's right. And I'm right. Is there a right?....Forty something women in television are as rare as shoulder pads and leg warmers. I know my own style is destined to go out of style.

HPR: Oh, thank you! Because part of what makes Charlie real is that she's dealing with changes in her life, right? Dilemmas we all face. Loyalties, ethics, priorities, perceptions. How did we wind up where we are? And what will happen to us next?

I found Charlie very three-dimensional. I also appreciated the confidence she exudes as an Emmy-award winning reporter as well as her ticking clock desperation. When she has the opportunity of a lifetime, I found myself aching for her tough decision. I loved her ethics, her commitment and passion for journalism and I loved her smarts. In one scene she has to disable a Mustang rather than let the bad guy get away. So, how is Charlie McNally like Hank Phillippi Ryan, and how is she different?

HPR: When my husband talks about Charlie, he calls her "you." As in--when "you" are held at gunpoint, when you track down the bad guys, when you solve the mystery...and I have to remind him, "Sweetheart, it's fiction. It didn't really happen."

But a couple of things: I've been a TV reporter for more than 30 years. (Yes, really.)
And so it would be silly, in writing a mystery about TV, not to use my own experiences. Think about it--as a TV reporter, you can never be wrong! Never be one minute late. Never choose the wrong word or miscalculate. You can never have a bad hair day, because it'll be seen by millions of people! It's high-stakes and high-stress--literally people's lives at stake--and I really wanted to convey that in the books.

And everything that TV people do and say in the books is authentic and genuine. (Of course, Charlie can say things I can't say, and reveal things I can't reveal.) We're both devoted journalists, and over-focused on our jobs.

But Charlotte McNally is different, too. She's single--I'm happily married. She's ten years younger than I am, and so is facing different choices and dilemmas. She's braver than I am, certainly. Funnier. And a much better driver. But I hope she feels real.

And I love that you mentioned the Mustang scene--that's one of my favorites! I still laugh when I think about it.

Me, too! It was a clever move for Charlie. Have you always had an interest in writing fiction? Is mystery your main passion, or are you interested in other fiction genres?

HPR: You know, I have a funny juxtaposition of desire to be in the spotlight--and
sheer terror or being in the spotlight. I love my job in TV--and have to go live and unrehearsed all the time. I want to be perfect, and when you're on live, you can't possibly be. That's one reason why I love investigative reporting--there's more time to work, and dig, and polish, and produce. It's like making a little movie, and I can make it as perfect as possible.

My mother says she always knew I would be a television reporter--but I think that was just her way of rationalizing that all I did as a pre-teen and teenager was read books and watch TV.

I knew from my first Nancy Drew that I loved mysteries. Nancy was my first best friend--I was a geeky unpopular kid, and it was such a relief to go home and hang out with Nancy. She was smart and made it be okay to be smart. She was confident and inquisitive and resourceful. I loved that.

But my career took a different turn, and I got into journalism.

But writing non-fiction, as an investigative reporter, and writing fiction, as in mysteries--I've learned that they are really very similar. You're looking to tell a great story, right? With compelling characters, and an important conflict, you're tracking down clues and following leads, doing research and interviews--and hoping, in the end, that the good guys win and the bad guys get what's coming to them. You're looking for justice, and you're trying to change the world.

So whether it's a work of mystery fiction, or the toughest non-fiction news story, there's the same goal. To tell a heck of a story, and to get people to care.

Of course, in television, you can't make stuff up!

Well, you could, but you wouldn't win an Emmy for it. ;) Hank, can you talk to us about your schedule? Do you submit your fiction work on proposal; how long does it take to finish the book? And how many months do you have to work between sequels?

HPR: First, I'm still on the air at Channel 7. So I work all day, then come home and write at night and on the weekends.

In PRIME TIME, I totally winged it. I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going, so I just blithely typed away. It took maybe--10 months? I typed The End, and then took it to be printed. It was 723 pages long! I had to cut half of it. Yikes.

It was a real editing education but also taught me I needed to be a bit more organized. And a lot tougher as a self-editor. (Now, I outline. Like crazy. My outlines are 60 pages long. I loathe writing them, but I adore it when I'm finished.)

I must say, though, that in writing PRIME TIME with no plan, I surprised even myself. I got about half-way through the book, and realized I'd chosen the wrong bad guy! I literally (as I remember it) sat up in bed, and thought--wait! The person who I thought did it--didn't!--and it just dawned on me who the real culprit was. It was all I could do not to run downstairs to the computer and see if I was right. The next morning, as I read over my 40,000 words--I barely had to make a change.

The real killer had been lurking in my very own pages--I just hadn't realized it! Talk about a surprise ending.

Anyway--FACE TIME took about 7 months, and AIR TIME and DRIVE TIME about

I only work on one book at a time. Well, no, not really. The next book is always forming in my head and just pushing to come out. Sometimes I have to hold it back!

How funny! A muse that alternately pushes and keeps secrets from you. ;) Your character works at Channel 3 in Boston. Hank Phillippi Ryan is employed by Channel 7. When you created Charlie McNally, did you tell the network execs what you were planning to do? Did your wanting to write this type of character ever cause a conflict? What do your Channel 7 co-workers think of your books?

HPR: Ha! What a wonderful question! Well, I admit I was a little leery of writing a book that I feared people would think was autobiographical--it isn't--and a book where people might think they recognize someone. (And really, there's no one who is based on an actual character. Except, perhaps, in a strange way, my mother. But don't tell her that.) But in the most practical of ways, I wanted to make sure my TV contract did not interfere with my new career idea of writing mystery fiction. So I oh-so-casually told my immediate boss, my executive producer, that I was writing a mystery. "Oh," she said, "that sounds wonderful." Then she paused. Then she said, "Does the executive producer get killed?" I assured her, no. So then I went the next step up, to the Assistant News Director. "Writing a mystery," I casually dropped into the conversation. "Oh, terrific," he said. Then HE paused. Then he asked, "Does the assistant news director get killed?"

So bottom line all the way up the chain, all anyone cared about was whether the character who had their role was the murder victim.

D.B.: LOL. I found it fascinating how you weaved DRIVE TIME's car theft ring into a subplot that affected Charlie's inner circle. I'm curious if the plot originated from something you'd already investigated or was it a "What if" scenario you ran with?

HPR: The plot of DRIVE TIME--pretty amazing, huh, how timely it is right now? As a reporter, I have done many stories about automobile recalls, and I know the system and the pitfalls and the danger for drivers. So as a mystery author, exactly as you suggest, I asked myself, "what if" there was something else going on?

The germ of the story is from reality--and then I tried to tweak and twist and change and polish to come up with something original. Because of my research into safety recalls and the auto industry as a reporter, I could come up with a nefarious scheme that could actually work--and that' s what I love. I 'm hoping readers never think about their cars the same way--or about parking in a garage.

There's a huge been-there-done-that element to the books--I've wired myself with
hidden cameras, confronted corrupt politicians, chased down criminals...been in disguise, been stalked, and threatened and had many a door slammed in my face. I've had people confess to murder, and others from prison, insist they were innocent. So when something happens to Charlie, it's fair to imagine me.

You've already added an Agatha to your resume for PRIME TIME and now another Agatha nomination for AIR TIME. I imagine that agents and editors were excited about having a chance to represent/publish you. Have there been any rough spots in your writing career? Was there ever a time you called the project, "the book from hell?"

HPR: Oh, are you kidding? I've had my share of rejection letters, certainly. And there was one day in 2006 or so that my agent said PRIME TIME "was probably a dead project." My stomach still lurches when I remember that. I think the Charlotte McNally mysteries also cross over into [the] romantic suspense world, happily. But that's also created some dilemmas for us. They're shelved in Barnes & Nobel in the romance section. Huh. That baffles me, and worries me that mystery fans won't find it. What else? I had one potential cover for FACE TIME (someday, over a cup of tea, I'll tell you about it) that had me in tears for several days. But thanks to the wonderful people at my publisher, it all ended nicely. I try to look at disappointments as the opportunity for another opened door. Yes, I understand it sounds sappy. But you never know what's good or bad. The thing that seems like the most terrible--often turns into the best thing that ever happened. So I work to remember that.

You have two amazing quotes on the cover of DRIVE TIME. One from New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers. She writes ~ Smart, witty and no one's fool. Charlie is a heroine for today. ~

The second quote caught my eye, particularly because the world recently lost this writing legend. New York Times best selling author, Robert B. Parker said of your work ~ "Hank Phillippi Ryan knows the television business entirely; she understands plotting, and she writes beautifully. No wonder I loved DRIVE TIME. Anyone would."

I suppose I could have used those two quotes and come up with a wonderful blog right there. But then we would have been deprived of your answers. So, while you're here, any advice for aspiring authors?

HPR: Carla is such a wonderful person, and such a talent! We met after she read DRIVE TIME, and we've become great pals now. And dear Robert P. Parker was so generous and so supportive from moment one. I was terrified to request a blurb--just like with Sue Grafton!--and I have their blurb letters framed in my study. I'm so grateful.

On my bulletin board there are two quotes: One says, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" And that's so powerful to me. Because if you knew you would be successful, absolutely knew it, you'd do anything and battle any obstacles along the way, because you were sure that prize you sought was at the end of the road.

So that's how I try to look at my writing--and sometimes my reporting. I decide it's going to work. And then I do it. Can't hurt, right?

The other quote is from my mother. When I was in the midst of writing PRIME TIME, there was a moment I realized I had no idea what I as doing. You know? So I called my mother, and I said--I love PRIME TIME. It's fast-paced, and original and funny and smart. But I'm not sure I can finish it.

There was a pause on the other end of the line. And my mother said, "Well, honey, you will if you want to."

And I thought--Ah, Yes. It's something I can control. I think it's the same for all of us--we can put up obstacles to our writing, or we can decide to do it. We will if we want to. It's our choice. And I chose to do it.

I think your mom's my new hero. "You will if you want to." What a great quote. Thank you so much for being with us today. I don't need a crystal ball or even the Neilsen ratings to know that your fiction career is skyrocketing.

HPR: Oh, how lovely. Thank you. Crossing fingers. (And your questions are so thoughtful and perceptive). So hey, Donnell, let's celebrate. Let's give away three copies of the newly Agatha-nominated AIR TIME to names drawn from commenters, and a grand prize of limited edition TIME totebag with any three Charlie books inside!

D.B.: Works for me. And in honor of St. Patrick's Day I'd like to add a little bonus. For any commenter who pops onto Hank's website (here, I'll make it easy for you and comes back and identifies one of the authors on her website you'll be entered to win this adorable "Am I Lucky or What?" Tinkerbell figurine. (BE SURE TO LEAVE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS SO WE CAN FIND YOU.)

So s
hall we get this party started? Questions for Hank? Comments?

**Newsroom Photo by Kara Delahunt.
Other photo by Lynn Wayne










"Am I Lucky or What?"

goes to....


(click on Contact in the upper left as soon as the little movie resolves)

Thanks all! Happy Reading & Writing


MaxWriter said...

What a great interview! Fun to hear the reactions of the Channel 7 people (when I interviewed a police chief for a book I hadn't even started writing, he said, "Who's going to play me in the movie?"). And I learned some things I hadn't known about Hank.

Edith Maxwell

June said...

Terrific interview! And great questions. I don't need to win your books since I own and have read them all, Hank--and they are wonderful.

Cindy Carroll said...

Great interview. Okay, confession, I don't like first person. But your first line of the first book made me want to read it. It sounds like a great series. And Charlie sounds like a great character. Looks like I'll be off to the bookstore this weekend.

Petrina said...

Excellent interview. Excellent questions. I've read and own all of the "Time" books. Love them, each and every one.

You're a fabulous writer, Hank, and I'm thrilled that you have another Agatha nomination. It's well deserved.

I don't need to win a copy of your book as it's sitting within reach on my bookshelf, but I do hope to meet you at RWA Nationals this year.

Thanks for the great interview.


Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hey all--what fun to see you! And yes, I agree--Donnell asked some really insighful and original questions. xo

Edith! You're off to Morrocco--can't wait to hear your stories.

Ah, June, thank you. And when does YOUR newest book come out?

Donnell said...

Okay, I'm starting to get worried. We have all these fun prizes and nobody wants them because they've READ them. I must protest. So nice to see everyone. Thanks for stopping by and celebrating St. Patrick's and Hank's success! She's amazing, isn't she?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

CIndy--thanks so much.Yes, the first person dilemma. As I told Donnell, the first person just "emerged" when I was writing--and I thnk it's very immediate and television-esque.

One annoyance, I think, for readers, is hearing "I" "I" "I" all the time--and I worked hard to avoid that! I should say: sometimes there are ways to avoid that.

But do give Charlie a try. It would be fun to hear what you think. (I hope.)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Petrina--really? How wonderful!Thank you. Did you find them in a bookstore, or on line, if you remember? I'm always intersted in where the TIME books are shelved, and how people come across them.

But hurray! (And RWA Nationals--not sure yet! But if we're both there, let's make a plan to get together, definitely!)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

You know, Donnell, it's really quite astonishing--one of the things that never ceases to delight me is when I'm at a bookstore, or at an event, and someone starts talking about the books, and Charlie and Franklin and how they liked this or that part.

And its like when a toddler sees a stranger wave bye-bye, or sing Sesame Street--are you with mne here? And you see that look of wonder on their little faces like--How did you know that?

That's how I feel when I hear someone loves the books. Wow. Books can really bring people together, can't they? I guess that's why we're all here!

Nancy Naigle said...

WoW -- this was as great as one of those Barbara Walters interviews .. loved it!

Thanks for bringing such a great interview to us on St Patricks Day -- we ARE lucky today.

kittyism said...

Wonderful interview! I should also mention that I haven't read any of these books yet, but I really, really want to! They sound fantastic.

Thanks for the chance to win.


debbie haupt said...

I'm not here for a free book but to hang out with my pal Hank. Great interview Hank and you know I love the series and I loved Drive Time check out my review on B&N

I hope Charlie keeps getting over her head into trouble
Take care my friend

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

What a wonderful interview! I am so going to read one of Hanks books now-I don't know why I haven't before. I went to the website, and all I could find were quotes from authors, so I'm naming one here-Sara Paretsky. I have a feeling that's not what you were looking for though. Email: buckeyegirlreads @

Pam said...

I heard you speak at the M & M conference in October, Hank, and you really inspired me as a writer. This interview was more of the same - what a great St. Patrick's Day gift! I visited your website, and your work has been given the seal of approval by so many - Sue Grafton, wow!! I usually read romance, but after all these teasers I think it's time for me to try one of your mysteries. Thanks for your wisdom and generosity in sharing it with all of us.


Cindy Carroll said...

That is one of the annoyances with first person. I have read first person books I liked and I'm getting the feeling I'll be adding these to that list.

I am here to try and win free books too!

I wasn't sure about the authors on the website either and found quotes so the author I'm mentioning is: Robert B. Parker

Jean said...

Oh, what a terrific interview! Hank, your website is full of interesting photos. My favorite, the Kiss of Death with Nina Bruhns because of those famous Lips in the background :) Okay, I'm a KOD member and loved seeing that photo, but Nora and Sandra Brown, too. You go!
Thanks for taking the time to chat with Donnell. She asked some great questions and I enjoyed the enthusiasm in your responses. My new quote, your mom's. "You can if you want to." How great is that!
Jean Willett

Barbara White Daille said...

Trying again, as blogger seems to eat my posts, so apologies if this shows up twice....

Hank, fabulous interview, and Donnell, kudos for the great questions!

Hank, the final quote from your mom really hit home for me. Thanks for sharing that.

As for your Web site, I checked out your previous books and also loved seeing the photo of you surrounded by other talented writers, such as Susan Wiggs, at the RWA New England Chapter conference.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today.


Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Nancy--whoa, Barbara Walters!Thank you so much--yup, Donnell is a great interviewer. And at least she didn't ask me what kind of a tree I'd like to be.

Although I think I read somewhere that Barbara insists she never asked that.

SO, hmm. now I'm thinking about what kind of tree I'd like to be. Sigh. Back to work!

+Jenny Lynn said...

I loved this interview! But it doesn't surprise me because Hank is such a lovely person. When I met her, it was like talking to an old friend. She has such a kind heart!

I have only read one of her books but I loved it! It makes the reading experience so much more entertaining when you know you can send the author an email and actually hear back from her/him.

I hope Hank continues to write for many years to come. I plan on starting my second Hank book this weekend and I cannot wait! I am guaranteed to have a good read. Kudos to Hank!


Donnell said...

Ah, dang, the tree question, I left out the tree question! (sigh) ;) thanks for all the compliments on the interview questions, gang. I simply asked the ones I was dying to know. Glad you liked them!

+Jenny Lynn said...

Donnell: Is that an English Bulldog in your profile picture? I have a 6 yr old English Bulldog named Guenevere Victoria (aka Gwennie). They are wonderful dogs! Gwennie loves to lay on my books when I am trying to read. :)

Kathy said...

What a fantastic person you are Hank. Not living in your area I'm honest enough to say I never heard of you.I will be looking for the books they sound just perfect for a good read. I noted you received 4 1/2 stars from Romantic Times reviewer Catherine Witmer and even Brenda Novak along with Suzanne Brockmann, Carla Neggers and Margaret Maron have recommened your books.

Donnell said...

Jenny Lynn: Yes, his name is Coach, named after my son's and his best friend's basketball coach. He got ran over two Christmas's ago, but he made it and he's fine now. He really does have a bulldog tenacity! Great dogs!

Mary Marvella said...

Fabulous interview, Donnell. Hey, Hank. Your answers make me feel as though I know you. If I don't have any of your books in my to-be-read pile, I'll put them on my list.

Mary is waving her hands! Donnell! I'll take the free book or books!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Thanks, Kittyism!

Debbie! How wonderful to see you..and I have to say, that reveiw brings tears to my eyes. Thank you thank you thank you..

What a terrific book club has going! Becke Davis has so many amazing guests...romance, and suspense, and mystery--everyone is there!

Joelle Charbonneau said...

What a fabulous interview. Thank you both! Hank, I love that your husband refers to 'you' when talking about what happens to your characters. How fun. Mine hasn't started that yet. I wonder if he will. Congrats on the Agatha nomination. I'll be crossing my fingers and toes for you.

Mary Marvella said...

Other than Suzanne Brockman?

VR Barkowski said...

Outstanding interview - although I'm still reeling.

Hank, that you could be out of the house working full-time and still finish a novel in seven months humbles me. Congratulations on your Agatha nomination. Looking forward to your win in May!

+Jenny Lynn said...

Donnell: I am so glad that he made it through all that! Gwennie has had 5 knee surgeries (both back legs) but she is still going (just not as strong as she used to). It is always nice to meet a fellow bulldog lover and reader! I wish you continued success!

Dale said...

Fabulous interview questions Donnell and great answers Hank. I had to sit back and ponder the first person issue. I've only written in 3rd person but have read several 1st person - and never really noticing the tense until later. Usually when it was pointed out by others.

I also like that you wrote down that first sentence and it never changed - that's exactly how my books start - just one sentence that HAS to be written down at the time. The book flows from there - sometimes months later.

Now I have more books to add to my reading wish list!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh, this is such fun...and thank yuo so much for the kind words. It's so amazing to think of the books going to all your nightstands and onto your comfy chairs. Really--its such a lovely picture!

Oh, Pam, thanks! The M&M conference was fantastic--what a group of incredibly talented (and welcoming) people! (I was a judge for the Maggies, too--wow. Some incredible manuscripts!)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Thanks Joelle! You must be so excited about Skating Around the Law--when's the pub date, again?

And oh, my mother will be so delighted that you're appreciating her advice. (I know I didn't always feel that way! But now we're pals..even though she seriously thinks she's Mrs. McNally! And she was not too thrilled about that.)

Renee Ryan said...

Donnell, what a great interview. Very insightful. Hank, I had the pleasure of meeting you at the RWA national conference in DC. We sat near each other at one of the luncheons. Remember? Haha, I'd be surprised if you did.

One thing I took away from that short brush was how gracious and charming you are in person. As far as your writing, WOW, I'm in awe of your first person present tense. I'm still trying to master third person past tense. Years of teaching Latin helps, but I still get hung up on had been or was or...wait, my head's starting to spin.

Anyway, thanks for the inspiring post. Now I'm an even bigger fan!!!

Renee (RYAN -- like you) :)

Irene said...

I read Hank's first three novels and I love them all. I met her at a party in Boston and she was an excellent speaker. I can't wait to read the fourth novel "Drive Time" and anything literary she writes. Thank you,

Irene Aguero-Torres

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Renee, was it the Eloisa James lunch? How wonderful of you to have such a nice memory..thank you! I'm always feeling kind of on overload at those conventions--they are terrific and educational and hilarious--but wow, when they are over, I'm zonked.

The Monday after--BOuchercon, I think? I was so tired I didn't realize, til late afternoon, that I had worn one blue shoe and one black shoe to work.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

VR, that's so nice of you! (Great blog, by the way.) And thank you for the good wishes--yes, I'm pretty delighted.

I forgot to say my short story, On The House, is also nominated for an Agatha. (whoo hoo...)

You can read it on my website!

Thanks, Irene! So delighted you love the books!

Jennifer said...

Wow! Fabulous interview! And a great reminder that I'm behind on reading Hank's books. Must rectify that right away. Thanks, ladies!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Thanks, Jennifer! xo

Sylvia said...

I took the liberty to copy the following from your website:

"Excellent! Hank Phillippi Ryan knows how to create characters that come to life and capture your heart. Don't miss this engrossing story."
—Brenda Novak

That's the feeling I had when I read your interview--that you are totally into your characters. Thanks Donnell for introducing me to this glamorous and most talented author. I will definitely read her books.

Auntie Knickers said...

A fine interview with top-class questions and answers! I just read FACE TIME and enjoyed it tremendously. I liked how Charlie was a very authentic and non-self-absorbed woman but had to be realistic about her profession's need for youthful-appearing faces. The whole "face" theme was expertly done. (I almost wish we had some kind of really powerful antenna so I could get the Boston tv stations in Maine!)

Elizabeth Pina said...

Okay I admit that I haven't read any of your books yet (hides head in shame and waits for DB to chastise) BUT I enjoy first-person present and am entralled by the interview so that will all change! Especially if I win one, LOL.
I'll mention BRENDA NOVAK (love her) and give my email as
Good luck, Hank, I can't wait to discover Charlie.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Sylvia--what a lovely thing to do. Thank you!

And, Elizabeth, DB will never chastise...she'll just oh-so-gently suggest. (And yes, Brenda is amazing. Her auction is soon!Hope to see you all there!)

Auntie K-I hope to come visit Maine soon--keep in touch. And thank you for the shout out about the Face Time theme. Sigh. I really love it, and it's so reassuring when people get it. xxox

kellyannriley said...

Terrific interview! I really enjoyed it. Congratulations Hank on Air Time being nominated for a AGATHA award. How cool!

Also loved your website. And for author's names--I saw Brenda Novak on there.

Thanks for a great interview,

Kelly Ann Riley

Cee Dunsheath said...

How have I missed reading these books??? I'm amazed. I'm ashamed. I'm ... firing up my B&N gift card as I type!

Excellent questions and wonderful answers -- a top notch intervew. I'm exhausted just thinking about how you fit all you do in a day -- do you sleep??

And on top of all that, you get your picture taken with Lee Child?! As if this Reacher Creature wasn't already totally impressed ...

Wishing you all the best,
Cee Dunsheath

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Kelly Ann--thank you so much--yes, it's incredibly exciting. I'm very honored..

And Cee, Lee Child is amazingly kind and generous..charming, friendly, and so very classy. You'll see when you meet him!

As for sleeping--yes, that was the first thing to go! Then, cooking, laundry, vacation...but all worth it!

Leslie Ann said...

Welcome to Five Scribes, Hank.
I'm totally intrigued by the name Hank...I was expecting a guy pix and here pops up this stunning woman at the top of the blog. I'm prying, but there has to be a story behind the name...,

Loved the interview Donnell and love your site Hank and all the blurbs from some of my favs, Hallie, Sue, Suzanne.
Very nice. And now I'm sure I've found another fav in Hank.

Congrats on the new Agatha nomination. I can't wait to dig into the series.


Donnell said...

I'm so grateful to Hank Phillippi Ryan for talking with Five Scribe Readers yesterday, and to all of you who stopped by to support her fine work. We'll be doing our drawing and announcing today. So check back in. Thank you! & Happy Reading & Writing! ~ Donnell

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

What a wonderful time! Thank you, Donnell, for your terrific interview..and thanks to all of you for stopping by.

Please stay in touch, okay? And when you read the books, :-), please let me know what you think--love to hear from you!

And I do hope our paths cross in person!