If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

August Interviews

8/5 Lucy Burdette, The Key Lime Crime

8/12 Maggie Toussaint, All Done With It

8/19 Julie Mulhern, Killer Queen

8/26 Debra Goldstein, Three Treats Too Many

August Guest Bloggers

8/8 Leslie Wheeler

8/15 Jean Rabe

August Interviews

8/22 Kait Carson

8/29 WWK Authors--What We're Reading Now


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hank Phillippi Ryan

  “Jane Ryland was a rising star in television news…until she refused to reveal a source and lost everything. Now a disgraced newspaper reporter, Jane isn’t content to work on her assigned puff pieces, and finds herself tracking down a candidate’s secret mistress just days before a pivotal Senate election.

Detective Jake Brogan is investigating a possible serial killer. Twice, bodies of unidentified women have been found by a bridge, and Jake is plagued by a media swarm beginning to buzz about a ‘bridge killer’ hunting the young women of Boston.

As the body count rises and election day looms, it becomes clear to Jane and Jake that their investigations are connected…and that they may be facing a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to silence a scandal.”
                                                            Back Cover The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Welcome to WWK, Hank. Your nominations and awards precede you so I’ll dispense with my normal introductions. Our readers know you!

**Well, lovely! And yes, I’m pretty thrilled that THE OTHER WOMAN won the Mary Higgins Clark award—and is the only book nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, Daphne, Shamus and Macavity! I am still floating. And one of the joys of this new career is making so many new friends—and getting to meet some of authors I’ve read for years.

At the beginning of The Other Woman, a slander lawsuit against TV reporter Jane Ryland, your main character, places her in an ethical dilemma resulting in the loss of her job. Does the business-side of journalism often clash with the professional side?

***Clash. Well, depends who you ask, right? As a reporter, I try to avoid the whole business side. When a story needs to be told, we do it. People say—whoa, is the subject of that investigation an advertiser on your station? I say—I have no idea. If by the “business side” you mean does the hope for good ratings affect story choices? Well, sometimes…it’s always good to do a story that people want to watch. But a good story is everyone’s goal. (The same with writing fiction, right?)

Jane accepts a job reporting for a Boston newspaper. Do ethical or reporting standards vary  
depending on the type of medium?

***Nope. A professional journalist—whether in TV or newspapers or radio—is out to dig up the truth, give a voice to the voiceless, shine light on problems, and point the world toward solutions. The ethical bottom line is theoretically clear—tell the truth and keep your word. That’s where my Jane Ryland gets caught—if she tells the truth, she can’t keep her word. SO she does the honorable ethical thing (the way she always would—she’s Jane!) and protects her source—and as a result, loses her job.

Not only, it seems, do reporters have the problem of protecting their sources, but they also have conflict of interest problems that can hamper personal relationships. Have you ever turned away from a friendship or potential relationship due to conflict of interest?

**I am laughing. And this question arises because Jane is madly in love (although she won’t quite admit it) with the attractive Boston detective-who’s also been a source. That’s a huge dilemma—how can she cover the cop shop—while she’s sleeping with a cop? And how can Jake hang out with Jane—if there’s ever a lead from the Boston Police—won’t he be the first one suspected?

As for me—when I was the weekend anchor at WSB in Atlanta, I dated the city editor of the Atlanta Journal. It was all fine…until that huge story of the missing and murdered children—remember? A serial killer? Well. Our station finally had the scoop on the arrest, and I knew it was coming, but couldn’t say a word. My beau had dinner at my house that night, and when he left, I said—you might want to watch the 11 o’clock news. He said—why? And I said—just watch.

The next time he saw me, I was live on the air from FBI headquarters.

And now my husband is a criminal defense attorney—and he knows things he just can’t tell me—and I know things I can’t tell him. We’ve worked it out. 

Hank chats with Sue Grafton
Many journalists have turned to writing fiction after their primary career is over, but you are doing both at the same time. Are there similarities in the writing, and do you find yourself editing out the fiction writer on the job? Are there other challenges to balancing both?

**Yes, I hope my TV career is not over! We just won 2 more Emmys (that makes 30!) and I hope to win more. Are there similarities? Sure! Because in journalism and in fiction—it’s all about telling a good story, right? With compelling characters, and a problem that needs to be solved, you want the good guys to win and the bad guys to get what’s coming to them, and in the end you want a satisfying solution, and you want to change the world. Exactly the same, fact and fiction.

Of course, in TV you can’t make stuff up.

You wrote the Charlotte McNally series in first person, present tense—a hard-core crafting technique few can master. But in this series, you’ve chosen third person, past tense. Which do you prefer, and how did you choose?

**I love to talk about this—because to me it illustrates the magical (yes, magical) qualities of writing. When I started writing PRIME TIME, my first book—well, people ask me “how did you decide to do first person present” I have to admit—I didn’t “decide.” After I got the germ of the idea for the plot, the first sentence just, um, came out. And every writer and reader knows, after that, there’s no changing. And somehow, that style and rhythm and syntax came very naturally to me.

That’s the good news.

The, well, not bad news, but different news: When I wanted to write THE OTHER WOMAN, I knew it was a “bigger” book. A much bigger book. And because I wanted to have the engine of the book be dramatic irony, the only way to do that is by multiple points of view…and to do it in third person past tense.

It was very very difficult. Very. Initially, I thought—past tense? I’m writing something that’s...already happened? I was quite baffled. Then, I actually said to myself “Once upon a time, there was a….” and I realized I understood that construct. And for weeks, every time I sat down at the computer, I’d say to myself “once upon a time…” and go from there. I’m used to it now…and my brain is just as happy either way.

As a journalist, you have to be sure of your facts. How much research and what type of resources did The Other Woman?
you seek in writing

**Oh. Research. Ah. Well, I’ve been a street reporter and an investigative for almost 40 years—including covering countless political stories of every kind. I also worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide in the US Senate and the US Congress, and for a few years as a staffer on several political campaigns. So I know this stuff, from years and years of experience.   

Jean Voltaire said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” In your experience, how responsible are powerful people?

**Oh, I thought you were going to ask about the responsibility I felt as a reporter. Which is huge. How responsible are powerful people? The spectrum goes from zero to a hundred.

After reading The Other Woman, I thought other writers might have chosen another starting point by having the trial as back-story. But you chose to write it head on. How did you decide when to start this story?

***Initially the story started with chapter 2, with Jane throwing up after the verdict. But then I decided it needed to start with the conflict between reporters and law enforcement, the pressure on cops to solve crimes, and the lust of reporters for a sexy story. Because all those are themes in the book. And it seemed to work. I’d love to hear how you would have started! 

Do you believe the Biblical verse, “…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”?

**Yes. One hundred percent. I think of it—or some incarnation of it—every day. 

Now that the soft cover version of The Other Woman has been released, and the ARCs for WRONG GIRL are out, can you give us a glimpse of Jane’s next challenge?

**Oh, yes! Delighted. In THE WRONG GIRL—and I did a lot of research for this, but I hope you won’t notice—Jane’s on the trail of an adoption agency that may be reuniting birth parents with the wrong children. And Jake’s tracking down the killer of a foster mother—where’s the baby who should be in the crib in her bedroom? I love this story—it’s so realistic—and so very creepy.

Then coming up—book three, still untitled— How far would you go to keep your family’s home? Jane’s there when a body is found in a home where the owners have just been evicted. A bank executive decides banks have been bailed out long enough, and it’s time for people to be bailed out—so she manipulates bank records so people don’t go into foreclosure. Will she be killed? That’s what I’m figuring out right now—I have no outline—so we shall see! And Jake’s dealing with a guy who’s confessed to a murder which Jake is sure he didn’t commit. What if Jake is wrong?

Your term as President of Sisters in Crime is almost complete. How much progress have female mystery authors made toward equality with their male counterparts since SinC’s inception, and what are the challenges remaining?

****Oh, it’s amazing, the time has gone by so quickly. And I’m so honored to be part of such a powerful, vibrant, successful and passionate—and compassionate! organization. Equality. Ah—what’s equality, really? How do you quantify? We’re getting there when it comes to number of reviews, right? Not there yet, certainly, but we’re working on it. Equality in talent? Puh-leeze. Equality in perception? Well, that’s interesting. I do think that “men” are sometimes thought as “better” writers, which is so absurd. I’ve never had a woman say I don’t read books by men. But I have had men say to me—I don’t read books by women!

But. As I said to the guy who told me that—it’s a genre thing, maybe, more than gender? Nevertheless, that’s another challenge that certainly remains. I think our mission of parity and equality continues. I don’t think women writers are “victims” anymore—I think we have our power, and now we’re continuing to make sure that’s the standard.

I’m gong to stay active in SinC as long as they’ll have me—and MWA too, where I’m on the board! It’s so important. And Kate Flora said in our recent meeting, the key to SinC is: “You write alone, but you’re not alone.” (Anyone who wants to join, I can hook you up!)

Your preference, Hank: beach or mountains?

**That is surprisingly tough! I love the beach...to watch the pelicans and listen to the water. (Not so much buying bathing suits, though.) But I’m also big on views, and vistas, and stars, and sweaters. So—either way. Happy.    


Paula Gail Benson said...

Welcome, Hank! Thanks to you and E.B. for a great interview. Best wishes on your nominations and for success with The Wrong Girl.

Jim Jackson said...

Hey Hank, Glad you could stop by Writers Who Kill.

You say the Jane Ryland series are "bigger" books than the Charlotte McNally - what were your key decisions that made it bigger?

~ Jim

Shari Randall said...

Hi Hank - I cannot wait for THE WRONG GIRL - sounds like an absolutely great read.
How on earth do you get it all done? You must be the hardest working woman in the mystery business.
Thanks for stopping by,

Warren Bull said...

What a great interview. Thanks, Hank and E.B. I'm looking forward to THE WRONG GIRL.

Sarah Henning said...

Great interview! Hank, your answers are always fantastic to read! Thanks so much for stopping by. I can't wait for THE WRONG GIRL!

E. B. Davis said...

Hank made this interview fun and easy. What I can't understand is how she does it all. Busy can't describe her packed life. I can only imagine Hank's life is much the same as her character, Jane Ryland, who rushes from place to place and arrives at the right time.

I found The Other Woman very suspenseful, making it a great read, and like Shari, I'll read The Wrong Girl when it's released.

Thanks for the interview, Hank.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

So lovely to see you all...thank you!

And of course--an ARC of THE WRONG GIRL to one of todays commenters--

What shall we chat about? Let's see--I'm addicted to word count, and right now in my new book, I'm at word 70,356..and right on schedule--if this was last week.

How are you all doing?

And readers--what's your current book?

Paula Gail Benson said...

I appreciate your bringing up word count. I've been concentrating on writing short stories this last year. At first my stories were in the 2000 to 2500 word range, but as I've progressed, I now find myself writing about 3000 to 4000 words per story. I wonder if writing a particular type of fiction consistently helps to build confidence and increase word count? Or maybe after getting more at ease with a format you can expand on it?

Maybe I should link this question with Jim's--Hank, you call the Jane Ryland books "bigger"--is that word count or content?

E. B. Davis said...

I just finished reading Stephen King's book on writing. When I'm revising my script, I have to cut 10,000 words from 92,000 I wrote, according to Stephen (he's probably right).

I'm in the middle of reading the latest by Peter Mayle, The Marseille Caper. It's a fun read. I've read his others so I thought, just one more.

Gloria Alden said...

Welcome to WWK, Hank. I so enjoyed having you at Killer Heat on Sunday. As always, you were funny and delightful.I enjoyed THE OTHER WOMAN and I'm looking forward to reading THE WRONG WOMAN, which I've preordered.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

OH, "bigger" in content, definitely! The story I'm telling in THE OTHER WOMAN had to be told from several points of view--you can see how telling it simply via JAnes POV wouldn't have worked--the structure of the book had to be bigger,--the architecture of it, ou know? And as a result, I think the whole thing came out with more "heft" somehow.

Thinking about it--you get the world view through several people's brains and perceptions, not just Jane's. And as a result the reader is taken into more ways of looking at the world, and at events, and at philosophies of characters.

Ah--for instance-you can see what JAne thinks of an event-then see the same event through the eyes of another character. And then, as a result, we learn how Jane was right or wrong--and what our own perception of the event is. And that allows the story to be richer.

That's what I mean by "bigger." Does that make sense?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

PAula GAIl Benson...Hi! xoo ANd as for your "word count" questin--so interesting! I only use word count as a sort of touchsotne--I know my book will be about 100,000 words, andI know the "rhythm" of that.

Aos I know at about 70,000, one of the plots is going to have to get wrapped up, and the reader will have to start getting some answers. This is the sort of "cut bait" and "reveal something" portion of the story. (Would that I knew what I was gong to reveal--but I'll know by later today!

So I think the best word count of a piece is what the story itself dictates. Obviously you're not going to pad something out to make it longer..and obviously, sometimes, when it's too short, its just a screenplay without the texture.

Jim Jackson said...

WORD COUNT in current WIP 52,655, but I had to take a break at around 35,000 when the first round edits of CABIN FEVER (BAD POLICY sequel) came back & just yesterday second round edits arrived. Still plan on getting first draft done by 9/30 at latest, allowing six months of rewrites before I turn it in.

That's the plan and then there's life...

~ Jim

Paula Gail Benson said...

Hank, that's brilliant! "Rhythm" is the best way of describing comfort with a writing style. Feeling like you're part of the process with the words on the page rather than just trying to reach a word count goal.
Best wishes with your reveal! Can't wait to read it!

Pauline Alldred said...

First I want to congratulate you on your many successes. Next, I love the idea about searching for the truth but I wonder if it doesn't go better into fiction than non-fiction. I hear intelligent people say they don't want to read books that upset or worry them. Early morning news shows are mostly fluff. Everything has to be popular or as the saying goes, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down but the sugar alters everything. And now I'll stop worrying about it and face reality.

Unknown said...

Great interview, Hank, and thanks for all you've done for SinC (my fav crime writers org)

Hana Haatainen Caye said...

Can't wait to read THE WRONG GIRL! Currently, I'm reading Eva Marie Everson's UNCONDITIONAL, which I picked up when we were both on the faculty at the St. David's Writers Conference in June.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Welcome, welcome to WWK, darling Hank! So glad to see you here!

I loved THE OTHER WOMAN and can't wait for THE WRONG GIRL. (Of course, I loved the Charlie McNally books, too.) You really gave yourself a challenge in writing about both adoption and the foster system in the new book, didn't you?

As far as word count, I'm as obsessed as you are, especially right now with a particularly difficult deadline to meet. I'm at 57,693 words, which would be dandy if my deadline weren't Aug. 15. Of course, I'm having to revise what I wrote the day before each morning, so I'm really having to do first and second drafts together, but still... *sigh*

Keep on with all your incredible award-winning streak and all the events you manage to do. I always say I want to be like Hank when I grow up. xoxoxoxo

PS Ben can't come on here from work, but sends his love.

Booky65 said...

So excited to read THE WRONG GIRL - loved, loved, loved THE OTHER WOMAN - it was the best book I've read (and I'm a bookaholic) in a very long time. I've recommended it to all my friends and everyone I talk to. Thanks for the good reads!! Great interview!!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

PAuline, thank you! Oh the morning news--that's perfect for another whole blog, don't you think?Do you still watch?ANyone? (I do...)

Michael--I am so pleased with SinC and all we do--and it's just going to get better and better. Thank you so much for the kind words--that's so reassuring!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

My dear Hana! ALways such a treat to see you..what is the St. David's Writers conference? They were lucky to have you!

LINDA! Goes without saying..xoxoo to you both..ANd I do that too, revise what I wrote the day before, then go on. Which I should be doing RIGHT NOW!

BAck soon and xoxo

NoraB said...

Hank, I cannot wait for this book. I am exhausted for you....busy busy woman! May you continue to be successful and remain wonderful!

Lynn M said...

I am 3/4 of the way through and absolutely loving it! Can't wait for the library to be able to buy it and I can recommend it to patrons! Is it going to be an audio book? Read by the same person as "The Other Woman"?

Mo said...

Great interview. i hadn't been to this blog until you tweeted about it today. The site is now bookmarked to visit oten. I am lookingforward to reading The Wrong Girl and hope it is as successful as The other Woman.

Karen in Ohio said...

I'm convinced Hank is really triplets. How else can she accomplish as much as she does, and so capably?

Hank, really looking forward to THE WRONG GIRL, especially after reading THE OTHER WOMAN so recently. Best of luck with it!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Thank you, Nora B! I am running on happiness.and you all are the fuel!

Lynn M--thank you! You, it's a Macmillan audiobook--read by Ilyana Kadushin, the same woman who read TOW! Very dramatic, right?

MO, so glad to introduce you! WWK, this is MO!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

KAren, thank you! Triplets, huh? That's such a funny thought..we'd all be bumping into each other, and fighting over the shoes...xoo

sandy gardner said...

I am so eager to read The Wrong Girl-- yay, Jane!
Sandy Gardner

Audra Spicer said...

*The Other Woman* has been keeping me company during this hot, hazy week. Looking forward to keeping up with my fave characters in *The Wrong Girl!*

Cy said...

I am teetering at the edge of half-way through my next book, LYLA. Word count: 49,240. This is the first book I've sold on contract before its completion, so it is an entirely different writing experience for me. Tell me, Hank, do you ever sleep? You could make your fortune by bottling your energy and selling it to the masses. You amaze me.

Tammy Pick said...

Hank, You're always so inspiring and entertaining.

You're also on the short list of authors from which I've read every novel they've ever written (The other two are Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee!).

Congrats on all the awards -- can't wait for The Wrong Girl.


Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hi, Sandy! Hi AMS! Thank you!

Cy--that;s so nice of you--cannot wait to read your new book!

And Tammy--that is the most hilarious and wonderful thing I've heard today! Thank you! Aww.

And you'll be pleased to know I did my 2000 words. Now I have to go take some of them out...

Nancy Jo said...

Loved the interview. I can't wait to read The Wrong Girl. Thanks for the give away!

Vickie P said...

Really enjoyed The Other Woman...can't wait for The Wrong Girl...in the meantime I'm reading your Time books!!

Vickie P said...

Really enjoyed The Other Woman...can't wait for The Wrong Girl...in the meantime I'm reading your Time books!!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Nancy Jo...thank you! Yes, the questions were terrific, and very thought -provoking!

VIckie--thank you! I do love the Time books, and they are getting some more attention now, for which I am very very grateful..

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Andthe winner is...well, there's still time to enter...
And thank you, so much, for a wonderful day!

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for spending the day with us, Hank. I've enjoyed your books, and hope to read them for a long time. Interviewing you has been a pleasure.

Reine said...

The Other Woman... such a difference from the others. Love them all. This one though. So different in style. Bigger and deeper. Real like the others. But different. Complex. More visual. Sensual. I could smell the water. I am waiting for The Wrong Girl. Can't wait really. It's making me itch waiting.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Thank you, dear Reine! You know how much I rely on you..

Thanks, WWKs! I so enjoyed my visit!

And the winner is: AMS! Email me directly at h ryan at wheh dot com and tell me your address!