Monday, July 14, 2008

Introducing the Lovely and Talented Hank Phillippi Ryan with her Double RITA Nominated book - PRIME TIME!

(Remember, to win a free copy of Hank's book PRIME TIME, just comment on the interview and you will be included in the drawing:) Happy Reading, everyone!

How did you get started in the publishing business?

Really really started? When I was 19, I worked as a proofreader for a publishing company. My colleague and I read the entire Indiana Code of Laws OUT LOUD, including punctuation and capitalization. Then we made the index for the whole set of books, using—index cards.
Fast forward through 30 years of being a TV reporter—and then one day, I had a great idea for a mystery. I can remember the moment I thought—secret messages in computer spam? It still gives me goosebumps. And that was the beginning of this amazing journey.
Now book three in the Charlotte McNally Mysteries, Air Time, will be published by MIRA next year, and then Drive Time. Very very exciting. And now I’m doing my own proofreading!

Any surprises? Biggest challenge so far?

Everything is a surprise. It has been a long time since I was the new kid at anything. So—writing a book? Writing a whole book? Getting an agent? A publisher? Writing a mystery series? It was all a challenge, and all a surprise. But I must say—one of the loveliest surprises was how wonderful all my new book world friends are—generous, patient, kind and gracious.

What is the best part of being a novelist?

Getting to say I’m a novelist! And seeing my book in a bookstore. No—here’s the real answer. I was in the post office the other say, and a woman came up to me and said—are you Hank Phillippi Ryan? I’m kind of used to being recognized, since I’ve been on TV here for so long, so I said yes, sure, hi. And she said—I love your books! And pulled a copy of Prime Time out of her purse. It just doesn’t get better than that. (Winning the Agatha for Best First Novel was also astonishing.)

What’s the average day in the writer’s life look like for you? Are you scheduled and organized or are you more the “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” type?

My average day is coming to work at Channel 7. Working a full day as the investigative reporter. Then dashing home, and ducking into my study to write. (My husband has eaten a lot of pizza over the past few years, and has done a lot of laundry. He’s really learned some survival skills!) I am extremely and totally organized. Have to be. Lists upon lists. I even have a chart of how many words I day I have to write. Most often, I’m behind. But at least I know how behind I am. It’s such a pleasure though, to create Charlie McNally’s world—the time just disappears.

What are your inspirations for your stories? Any tips and tricks for someone who is stuck?

I forget who said—Somerset Maugham maybe? I only write when I’m inspired. And I make sure I’m inspired every morning at 9am.
That’s kind of how it goes for me. I’ve spent so many years as a reporter, when you absolutely can’t miss a deadline, that I just have learned to power through times when it’s not working. I say to myself—just GO ON. Just write something. And then, I make it better later.
Tips? It’s all there in your brain. Just don’t be afraid to let it come out. I have a quotation on my bulletin board: “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

Have you had a mentor, critique group or teacher that has helped you get where you are today? Have you been a mentor to someone else?

Hmm. I was halfway through Prime Time when I finally took my first course in how to write a mystery. Hallie Ephron was the teacher, and she’s become a wonderful friend and mentor. Katherine Hall Page shepherded me a great deal, and Sisters in Crime has been an endlessly wonderful resource. I’m a mentor at for the debut authors at Thriller Writers, and that’s fantastic.
Critique group? Forgive me, but no. I’m just not the critique group type. Until my brilliant and amazing editor gets my manuscript, I guess I think I know best. I do adore editing other people’s work—but beware. I’m incredibly tough.
What does it mean to you to be nominated for a RITA award? How did you feel when you got the call? And what do you think the RITA means for the romance novel genre?
I’m laughing. I was in the midst of work chaos when I got the call, and had no idea it was RITA day. After the person said “I’m calling from the RITAs, and congratulations”…I fear I didn’t hear much after that.
I do remember asking, in disbelief and with apprehension about getting too excited—you mean—I’m a finalist? Nominated? Or just in a group where you’re still choosing the nominees? And the person said: Honey, this is the Oscars. You can put this on our tombstone!” That’s when I knew it was real. But I still smile whenever I think about it. When the second phone call came, for a nomination in the Romantic Suspense category, I was still floating. That caller certainly has no eardrums left.
Last Christmas, I gave my agent a first edition Nancy Drew, and a silver picture frame. I said—maybe we’ll put our RITA photo in it. That was a…well… Not a joke. But certainly a dream. I am full of joy and wonder to be on the list with such incredibly talented people.

What are you wearing to the RITA Awards Ceremony in San Francisco? (LOL) Do you have the dress picked out? Any stories?

Oh, the tension. No, I Don’t have my dress yet. Last year, the glam Michelle Buonfiglio wore the same ultra-slinky red dress that’s on the cover of Prime Time—I couldn’t believe it when I saw her! I’ll have to do some fast shopping—another RITA perk.

Are you preparing a speech in case you win?

No. Yes. No. Yes. Maybe. Am I superstitious? Or prepared? Hmm.

Congratulations on your RITA nomination. Any last thoughts?

You, too! And I wish we could all win. In fact, I think we already have. I’m so grateful. And so inspired. And I can’t wait to meet you all.
Thanks Hank for the inspiring interview! Learn more about Hank Phillippi Ryan and her books at


CherryBlossomMJ said...

Sounds interesting. count me in!


Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Jamie! I'm so happy to be here..
thank you so much for being such a gracious host!

And--small world--I'm from Indiana, too!

Anyone else out there a Hoosier? Or--as I am now--living in New England?

Lalycairn said...

Funny about the slinky red dress. . . There are so very many good books nominated this year, I can't imagine having to make the decision!


Martha said...

Congrats on the RITA nomination!! Good luck. Great interview!

Carole said...

I heard a lot of good things about Prime Time in a mystery group I'm in, and would love to read it. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Amy said...

I've never heard of her, sounds like a good book, and what an interesting interview!

Cheri2628 said...

Congrats on the nomination! Your life as a TV reporter must give you some great material for your writing. I wish you much continued success!

jamie carie said...

Thanks so much for your wonderful interview, Hank! What part of "Hoosierdom" are you from? Is New England completely different? I have a sister-in-law from Connecticut and it has been an adjustment for her to go Hoosier! (Read, my brother like to fish and hunt!!) LOL!
I'm reading PRIME TIME now (yes, I bought my own copy) and I can't put it down! Great characters - wonderful plot and a real page-turner.
Looking forward to seeing you in SF!!!


Kelly Parra said...

Great interview, Hank! All this blogging just makes me want to meet each of you all the more!

Belinda said...

I love a good read.

squiresj said...

We are all winners with you. To be the reader and read such a fabulous book is a winning thing for us out here who enjoy a good book. God Bless and may you continue to prosper in spirit. I don't know how you handle a job and writing.

tetewa said...

I've been wanting to get this one for awhile, congrats on the nom!

Eva S said...

Thanks for the interview and congrats on the RITA nomination! An interesting book...

Maureen said...

Congratulations on your nominations and best of luck. You must be tremendously organized to be a television reporter and an author.

DDCKnitt said...

Prime Time is great! I own it and highly recommend it. As for being a Hoosier my dad was before he got stuck in the swamps of Jersey. Jamie congrats on the nomination!!!


Barb said...

I, too, have never heard of Hank. I am always looking for new Christian novels to read, and will certainly rush out to purchase Prime Time. You had me from the first words of the interview - I love the name "Hank" for a woman.

Molly Daniels said...

Hello fellow Hoosier:) Congrats on the nomination! I grew up in Lafayette; went to both Vincennes and Ball State Universities; lived in Indianapolis and Martinsville; and am now back in Jamie's home town.

I'm thinking at this rate, I'll eventually get to Florida...

Shannon said...

This book sounds good! Thanks for highlighting someone whose books I have not read. I love finding new authors!

bison61 said...

congratulations on the nomination!

tiramisu392 (at)

WK said...

Ohh great interview Jamie.
Very intersting!


Rita said...

Good luck at the RITA's (I just love the name of that award. . . :) )
We are all cheering for you at the Christ Church Book Club.
Rita Bulington
Lafayette, IN

jamie carie said...

Thanks for the support Rita! Please tell the book club how much I appreciate them!! I am so blessed and blown away just to be nominated with this talented group of writers!!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the comments. I have read one of Hank's other books and it was very good. She makes her stories believable

Pat Cochran said...

Congratulations on the nomination!
With the talent which is up for all
the Ritas this year, I wouldn't want
to be the one who has to make the

Pat Cochran

Pat Cochran said...

Congratulations on the nomination!
With all the talent that is up for the Rita Awards, I wouldn't want to
be the one to make the final selections!

Pat Cochran

Pat Cochran said...

Congratulations on the nomination!
With all the great talent up for
the Ritas, I wouldn't want to be the
one having to make the final selections!!

Pat Cochran

Pat said...

How you relate to the young people and make reading such a joy. With of the books are adio books more kids are getting into books these days

Pat Cochran said...


My bad! My mistake!!

Pat Cochran

Anita Yancey said...

I really want to read this book, it sounds so great. Please enter me, and thanks!

Rel said...

Hey!! Soooo many comments - that's great, Jamie and Hank!

Smilingsal said...

That post office experience has GOT to be one of the most wonderful times of her life!

BethAnn Miller said...

Congrats on the RITA nomination. Great luck.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hi all--
I'm working on a big story--got distracted--and came back to visit to find so many new friends! You all bring tears to my eyes..I'm so grateful and delighted.

So hey. Jamie brought us together, and I'm so happy that--you know what? Email me via my website..
and everyone already here will get a coupon for a free copy of Prime Time when the new MIRA edition comes out next summer.

(Prime Time in July, Face Time in August, and Air Time in September. Then Drive Time in 2010.)

Jamie, you are so lovely to host! And I'm so eager to meet you.

I grew up in Zionsville, just outside Indianapolis.

Maureen, oh, yes you're so right! It's all about organization. And lack of sleep. And forget about cooking. And vacations.

And Smiling Sal--you got it. The post office experience--well, I still get goosebumps.

You all keep in touch, okay? And don't forget to email me.

Carol said...

Just wanted to say that I have read Prime Time and Face Time and I enjoyed both of them very much!