Monday, February 22, 2010

GCC Author Interview and book giveaway: Hank Phillippi Ryan

She's back! Hank Phillippi Ryan has visited us here before, and today she's back with a new book, DRIVE TIME, and even better still, a BOOK GIVEAWAY!!! Deets on how to enter to win are at the bottom of this post.


Wanna know all about Hank?! Here goes:

Award-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan is on the air at Boston's NBC affiliate. Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in restitution. Along with her 26 EMMYs, Hank’s won dozens of other journalism honors. She's been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine working with Hunter S. Thompson.

Her first mystery, the best-selling PRIME TIME, won the Agatha for Best First Novel. It was also was a double RITA nominee for Best First Book and Best Romantic Suspense Novel, and a Reviewers' Choice Award Winner. FACE TIME and the new AIR TIME are IMBA bestsellers. DRIVE TIME, February 2010 from MIRA Books, just earned a starred review from Library Journal. Hank is on the national board of Mystery Writers of America.

And the latest news on Hank? Her novel AIR TIME was just nominated for an AGATHA for Best Novel of 2009 and her short story "On the House" was also nominated--for the AGATHA for Best Short Story of 2009!

Wow! Hank totally rocks!! So, without further ado, let's get to the questions!



Tell us about your recent novel.

DRIVE TIME is about secrets. TV reporter Charlie McNally’s working on a story about a dangerous scheme that could absolutely happen…and let me just say, if you own a car, or rent a car, you’ll never look at your vehicle the same way after reading DRIVE TIME. In fact, after writing the book, I now get a bit creeped out when I go into a parking garage. That’s all I‘ll say.

Charlie’s also drawn into another frightening situation—this one at the prep school where her fiancĂ© is an English professor. When Charlie learns a secret that might put her step-daughter-to-be in danger, and might also be an blockbuster investigative story—how does she balance her loyalty to her husband-to-be—with her need to protect the public?

So this is a tough one for Charlie. And she must make many life-changing decisions. Just when she begins to think she might be able to have it all—a terrific career and a new husband and a new life--revenge, extortion and murder may bring it all to a crashing halt.

DRIVE TIME just got a fabulous starred review from Library Journal. Just a snippet of the rave: “Placing Ryan in the same league as Lisa Scottoline…her latest book catapults the reader into the fast lane and doesn't relent until the story careens to a stop. New readers will speed to get her earlier books, and diehard fans will hope for another installment."

And dear Robert B. Parker’s quote is on the cover—he says “I loved DRIVE TIME!”


Growing up, did you ever think you’d be an investigative reporter?


Definitely—not. You know, I have a funny juxtaposition of desire to be in the spotlight—and sheer terror of being in the spotlight. I love my job in TV—and have to go live and unrehearsed al the time. Confession: I’m still terrified every 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.

Anyway, my sisters and I used to create musical shows when we were all young, and perform for our parents in our back yard. I did acting in high school and college. I wanted to be a DJ on the radio for a long time! But I thought I would be an English teacher, or a lawyer for the Mine Workers union, or for awhile, a political activist.

(My mother, though, 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 being a TV reporter was not in my sights. Little did I know!


How did you get started in that type of journalism?

I got into TV by chance. I had worked as a radio reporter (hired because, as I informed the radio station, they didn’t have any women working at the station! Hey. It was the seventies.) But after a few years working in Washington DC (on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide and then for Rolling Stone Magazine,) Rolling Stone closed its Washington office and I needed a new job.

I went back home to Indianapolis, and applied for a job as a TV reporter. It was 1975. I had covered politics in Washington, and the news director of the station figured he could teach me to be a TV reporter. (This was incredibly risky—I had never taken journalism and didn’t know one thing about TV. But I wasn’t afraid and I knew I could do it.)

Problem was, I should have been afraid! I quickly learned I had no idea what I was doing. I went home every night for the first two weeks, sobbing. Because I thought I would never understand it. Soon after—it hit me--oh, I get it! And I have adored it ever since. I took a chance, and found my calling.

I started as the political reporter (and was also the movie reviewer, of all things! At age 26.) At various times I’ve been the medical reporter, a weekend anchor, and an on the road feature reporter. When I came to Boston, I was the funny feature reporter--cat shows, sports features, poems, and anything quirky or funny. They used to call me “something out of nothing productions,” because I could find a story in anything.

But starting in 1988, I covered the presidential election, doing long elaborate think pieces. It was terrific. And then I told my news director I didn’t want to be the funny one anymore. I wanted to be the serious one. And from that day on, I've been the investigative reporter.

And I love it every day.


How did the character of Charlotte ‘Charlie’ McNally come about?

What a great question. I have NO idea. She was born when I got a weird spam in my email. It was what looked like lines from a play by Shakespeare. I thought--why would someone send a spam like that? And it crossed my mind--maybe it's a secret message.

I still get goose bumps telling you about it. And I knew, after all those years of wanting to write a mystery, that was my plot. And that turned out to be the Agatha-winning PRIME TIME. But Charlie? Well, I knew I had a good story, but who would tell it? A television reporter, of course. And she just instantly popped into my head. Named, fully formed. I knew her perfectly.

The other characters were more difficult to get to know. But now, Charlie surprises me a lot! And I love when that happens.


Is she anything like you? Has she ever done anything you wouldn’t do to get your story?

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.


Any plans to write a non Charlotte McNally novel?

Yup. Absolutely. It's in the works. You heard it here first.


We can't wait!! Thanks so much for stopping by, Hank! If you'd like to enter to win a copy of Hank's latest, DRIVE TIME, just leave a comment below and you're entered to win! The winner will be announced in two weeks. US entrants only, please.

9 comments:

Sue said...

I'd love to read Drive Time! Thanks for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Sue (okibi_insanity) said...

Hi. Drive Time sounds like a fun read. I cant believe the idea came about via spam mail. Hmm... I wonder if I should read my spam mail now. Hehe Thanks for stopping by and giving us a chance to win.

Sue
okibi_insanity[at]yahoo[dot]com

AEKZ2 said...

Drive Times sounds quite interesting. I'd love to read it.

annettekz2@yahoo.com

Kaye said...

I'd love to read this one. I remember Hank from the Boston area when she was on tv. I promise I won't say how many moons ago that was!

florida982002[at] yahoo.com

rubynreba said...

Please enter me - this looks like a book I would really like! Thanks!
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Wrighty said...

This sounds so good! I'm very curious now about creepy parking garages. Should I be afraid of my car? Best wishes and thanks for the giveaway!

5wrights1[at]verizon[dot]net

Mitzy said...

enter me please!

mitzyanne33@gmail.com

holdenj said...

Please count me in! I enjoyed Prime Time and definitely want to read more about Charlie and friends.
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

Auriette said...

I love the Charlie McNally books. I like to read and I like mystery and romance, so I'd probably like them anyway, but one thing that drew me to the series is that I used to work as a TV news producer. Some of the "behind the scenes" moments bring back memories. I just don't know how a busy reporter finds time to write books on top of her "real" job.