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Meet Hank Phillippi Ryan author of the Agatha-winner Prime Time, Face Time and Air Time
http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/767/1/Meet-Hank-Phillippi-Ryan-author-of-the-Agatha-winner-Prime-Time-Face-Time-and-Air-Time/Page1.html
Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on June 18, 2009
 
                 

Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor Of Bookpleasures.com interviews Hank Phillippi Ryan author of the Agatha-winner Prime Time, Face Time and Air Time

 

Click Here To Purchase Hank's Novels


Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is honored to have as our guest, Hank Phillippi Ryan author of the Agatha-winner Prime Time, Face Time and Air Time. Hank is presently on the air at Boston’s NBC affiliate, where for the past 22 years she has been working to break big stories.

Hank has won 26 Emmy’s and dozens of other regional, national and international honors for her hard-hitting investigations. In addition, she has won ten Edward R. Murrow awards for reporting and writing, as well as a top award from the National Association of Science Writers and the prestigious Investigative Reporters and Editors Award.


Good day and Hank and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

When did you first consider yourself a writer? What keeps you going?

Hank: 

That’s a great question. I’ve been a television reporter for more than 30 years. And, as a result, I write every day. But until a few years ago, if  you’d asked me what I do for a living, I’d have said: reporter. Now, I pause. And still say: reporter. But when I sit down at my computer to work on my novels, I think to myself: writer. And when I seem my books in bookstores and especially libraries, I think: wow. Writer. It brings tears to my eyes to even tell you.

Norm:

What are the preponderant influences on your writing?

Hank: 

Fear. Deadlines. Okay, no really. Ever since I began as a reporter, I would try to make every story I did--even the features, about cat shows or  Celtics fans—be the best story I could possibly write. A jewel. Memorable.  I think it was—Hank Aaron? I could be wrong—who was once asked—why do you play your best ever time? And he said: because it might be the first time someone sees me. Well, as a reporter, I may be the only person giving a viewer information. It had better be correct. It had better be interesting And it had better be understandable. And, I add, I’d like it to be original. Unique.  A really good story. So my influences—are my instincts to excel at telling stories. Or try to.

Norm:

What do you prefer, authoring novels or journalism and how would you compare and contrast the two?

Hank:

Oh, they’re very different. And the same. You’re looking to tell a great story. Following leads, tracking down information. Finding wonderful compelling characters. Looking for justice. Changing the world. In writing for television, it just has to be true. And much, much shorter! I love both.

Norm:

What is your work schedule like when you're writing? As a follow up, what's the most difficult thing for you about being an author and an investigative journalist?

Hank:

 Ha. My work schedule is: all the time. I go to work at Channel 7 around 8:30 am. Work til maybe, 7pm. My husband and I drive home together. When I’m in writing mode,  I go to the study and write until about 10. Then I make dinner—not as elaborate dinners as I used to cook! We have dinner together, and then I go back to writing.

When I’m in promotion mode, we often go to an event at a bookstore or library in the evening. We haven’t had a vacation in several years. My husband—a criminal defense and civil rights attorney—is very very patient.

Norm:

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
 

Hank:

Oh. After 30 years in television,  my brain is trained to find ideas everywhere. That’s one of the reasons I’m enjoying my life as  journalist so much—there’s an idea in every encounter. I have a huge file of clippings, overflowing and spilling out of the folder. I get dozens of emails and calls a day from viewers with tips.  Newspapers and magazines are full of leads—I read a story and think: really? I wonder if that’s true? I wonder about the rest of the story. And then I go investigate.

Ideas for the books? That’s a bit more difficult. Each one has arrived in a sort of aha moment. For PRIME TIME, I mistakenly opened an obvious spam in my email. The subject line said: Need refinancing help?  Or something like that. But the body of the email was what looked like a scene from a Shakespearean-era play. I thought—why would someone put those words in an email about refinancing?

And then I thought: maybe it’s a secret message.   Ah. And in that second, I had the plot for PRIME TIME. There’s a story like hat for all for of my books. Actually, all 6—two more are percolating.

Norm:

What is your secret in keeping the intensity of the plots throughout your novels?

 Hank:

Everything must advance the plot. It’s all about the story. And that’s all I leave in. If it’s—just me thinking I’m so clever, so succumbing to the delusion that I’m such a good writer, or tangential, or unnecessary, or cute, or excessive internal dialogue—I just slash it.

Norm:

In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much? As a follow up, what does it mean to tell the truth? And what does it mean to tell stories in a work of non-fiction?

Hank: 

The truth is easy for me. As a journalist, I’ve made my reputation by telling the truth. And by that I mean—what is correct. I don’t take any liberties with that. Many things are not  black-or-white, I understand that.  But my goal is to be fair. To tell both sides of every story. I  use what I call the “brother Chip” test. I think: if this story were about my brother Chip, would I think it was fair? And if yes, it’s fine.

In fiction, truth is what I say it is. Sometimes my characters tell me it’s something else. And then we discuss it.

After all these years as a journalist, I wondered if it would be difficult to make things up. It isn’t.

 Norm:

 What do you think makes a good story? 

Hank: 

 A terrific and meaningful conflict. Where the stakes are high, and the decisions important, externally and internally. A main character (or two) you really care about, who have believable and honest motivation to do what they do.  A clever plot. Some  new way of looking at the world.  Those stories stay with you long after the book is closed. 

Norm:

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
 

Hank:

I leaned a tremendous amount from Hallie Ephron. And from Katherine Hall Page. But that was after my first book was well underway—even finished.  The authors I admire? Mark Helprin, whose book Winter’s Tale still haunts me. The careful plots and richly textured Sue Grafton.  Nancy Pickard, oh she’s wonderful. Julia Spencer Fleming. Peter Abrahams, for his brave challenges to the rules. Lee Child, for his incredible generosity. Stephen King. He’s an amazing storyteller, and his book on writing made a lot of difference to me.

Norm:

Do you have any suggestions for our readers as to help them become better writers? If so, what are they?  \

Hank: 

It’s very difficult to be a good writer. Incredibly. I have seen so many terrible manuscripts, from new writers who really think you can just go to the computer and dash something off. I love revisions, I love polishing, I love making my work better. I am grateful to my editor, who constantly  pushes me to be better.  But I’d say: work on it. Read great things. Practice. Revise. Persist. Don’t be impatient. When you think—wow, this is hard! Then you’re getting there.

When I was halfway through PRIME TIME, I called my mother. And I said: Mom, I really love my book But this is more difficult than I’d imagined. But I’m not sure I can finish it.

And she paused—then she said: Well, you will if you want to.

And that was that.

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?

Hank: Oh, thank you! My WEBSITE

Norm:

What is next for Hank Phillippi Ryan and is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?

Hank: 

My first book, PRIME TIME won the AGATHA award for Best First Mystery. And as a result, it’s coming out again, this time from MIRA books, on June 30, 2009. Book two, FACE TIME  (in which main character reporter Charlotte McNally stakes her career on working with the Justice Project to free an innocent woman from prison—but then begins to think the woman might actually be guilty) comes out again July 28. Both of those books were bestsellers. Then on August 25, the all new book three, AIR TIME (where Charlotte uncovers a timely and clever scheme that’ll have you rethinking every plane trip you’ve ever taken!). Sue Grafton says  “Sassy, fast-paced and appealing. AIR TIME is first-class entertainment.”

(Yes, Sue Grafton. Wow.)

And then, DRIVE TIME in February 2010. (What really happens in valet parking? And wait ‘til you see who’s blurb is on that cover!) Of course you can find the books at all bookstores, and everywhere on line.

The fabulous people at Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont PA invited me to do a virtual signing of the Charlotte McNally books—here’s the deal: order there, and get an autographed book with free shipping!

http://mysterylovers.com/


Thanks again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Click Here To Read Kelly Moran, one of Bookpleasures's Reviewers Review Of Prime Time