You would think that blogging isn't the kind of thing that gets put off when you're sick. After all, how much energy does it take to type up a few paragraphs?
Clearly, more energy than I had with this damned flu, which is why I'm late blogging about a wonderful new book from the beautiful and talented Hank Phillippi Ryan, who's not only an author, but an on-air reporter for NBC in Boston.
She's touring now to talk about the latest in her breathless Charlotte McNally mystery series, AIR TIME.
Check out some of the buzz this book is getting:
"Sassy, fast-paced, and appealing. This is first-class entertainment."
"The most fun I've had reading in a long time. Hank Phillippi Ryan has given us one of the best heroines to emerge in a long while, and her stories zip along as fast as news bulletins. AIR TIME is a fun, fast read with a heroine who's sexy, stylish, and smart. I loved it."
"Loved it! Smart, funny, fresh, intriguing and thoroughly entertaining—I highly recommend this series."
"AIR TIME is a thrill ride from the first page to the last. This story will tickle your funnybone and to uch your heart. Hank Phillippi Ryan is a fabulous new talent."
"Excellent! Hank Phillippi Ryan knows how to create characters that come to life and capture your heart. Don't miss this engrossing story."
"Hank had me from the first line. In her latest addictive page-turner AIR TIME, real-life TV reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan once again thrills us with her terrific counterpart, investigative reporter Charlotte McNally. AIR TIME isn't only exciting and sexy and even funny—it's also damned well written."
—David Morrell, Founding co-president International Thriller Writers
"Ripped straight from the newsroom! Hank Phillippi Ryan dishes up the inside scoop—the deadlines, the duplicity, and the danger. AIR TIME is authentic, full of intrigue, and great fun—truly a page-turner."
—Kelly Lange, TV News Anchor-Reporter, Mystery Author
And now here's Hank to answer some questions ...
How did you come up with the idea for AIR TIME?
Imagine the research I had to do into the world of designer purses! It was tough, but someone had to dive in…
Actually, Charlie’s investigation into the world of counterfeit couture cames straight from been there-done that. In my day job as a TV reporter, my producer (not Franklin!) and I have done several in-depth investigations into the world of knock-offs—not only purses and scarves, but blue jeans and watches and DVDs and videos.
We went undercover and with a hidden camera—like Charlie does—into various back-alley stores where counterfeit merchandise was being sold, and also into some suburban purse parties where women—certainly knowing they were fake and thinking was fine—were scooping up piles of counterfeit Burberrys and Chanels.
You should know— law enforcement tells us, it’s not illegal to buy the purses—unless you’re buying large amounts that are obviously for resale. The illegality is in the copying and manufacture and sale of what’s clearly a trademarked and proprietary item. (As the elegant fashion exec Zuzu Mazny-Latos tells Charlie in AIR TIME—it’s like taking Gone with the Wind—and putting your name on the cover.)
Anyway—lots of AIR TIME is based on research and reality—besides the undercover work, and the research, I’ve done many interviews with the federal agencies in charge of battling counterfeiting, the attorneys who help big companies protest their products, and even the private investigators the designers hire to scout out counterfeits.
Are you more driven by plot or by character?
Ah, it's both. I start with one little germ of a plot twist--and then figure out how Charlie is going to figure it out! So I know what I know--and she knows what she knows. And then she has to solve the mystery--based on what I let her know.
Who's your favorite character in AIR TIME and why?
Oh, I can't possibly answer that. Charlie McNally is dear to my heart of course. When my husband talks about Charlie, he calls her “you.” As in: when “you” get chased by the bad guys, or when “you” get held at gunpoint. And I have to remind him, “Sweetheart, it’s fiction.” But Charlie can say things I can’t say about the reality of television, and because she’s fictional, she can go places I can’t go. And say things I can’t say!
And the very sweet 8-year-old Penny, I must say, touches me every time I write about her And I get so many letters from readers, concerned about her, and asking about her, and who I based her on. But really? She’s right out of my imagination. (She’s the character who sometimes makes readers cry...along with Charlie’s mother. I guess family relationships are sometimes—universal.)
And in AIR TIME there’s a new character --a gorgeous FBI agent named Keresey Stone. She’s amazing. And unpredictable. But I wonder what you’ll think about her?
Your double-duty career must be difficult. What's your writing process/writing environment like?
I’ve been a television reporter since 19, um, 75. I’m still on the air at Boston’s NBC affiliate, and still at work as an investigative reporter. (And I’m always hoping my best story ever is just around the corner.) So I come to work at Channel 7 every morning—tracking down clues, doing research, hoping for justice and looking for a great story that will change people’s lives. (Hmm..sounds a lot like mystery writing!)
Then at night we go back home—and when I’m in writing mode, I write til about ten pm, in a wonderful study that’s lined with bookshelves. I admit—I have a cluttered desk, and no real filing system, except for “piles.” But I know where everything is. I like it to be quiet.. At the TV station, it’s chaotic and loud, with three TV’s blasting all the time—and I can work fine there! But at home, with the books—quiet.
Because my schedule is so tight, I keep track of my words. If I know I have to write 90,000 words by the deadline, I literally divide that number by the number of days I have—and then set that as a goal. I try to write maybe—to pages a day. And on weekends, more. If I can do that, I’m thrilled.
I push my way through a first draft. I say to myself—just get the story down. Just do it. And you can fix it later.
Then I cook dinner, and my husband and I have a very late dinner together! You can imagine how patient he is!
I used to be a pretty good cook, and diligent about exercise. My husband and I gave dinner parties and went to movies and went on vacation. Sigh. That’s all pretty much over. I have a full time job as reporter, a full time job as a mystery author, and a full time job as a wife (with two step-children and two step-grandchildren!) That doesn’t leave much time for much else.
What's your favorite part of writing?
Revision, no question. I love that. You have this whole first draft, and you get to go back and see what you really have. I often have wonderful revelations when I read over the first draft—there are themes and rhythms and even clues that I didn’t realize were there! It’s always so rewarding.
And after 30 years in TV, I know how valuable editing is—so I look at it as a real treat. To get to polish, and tweak, and rearrange, and make it all shine—oh, it’s great fun.
The other favorite part—when readers love the books. I can’t tell you how often I’m out on a story, for instance, and a stranger will come up to me , and pull the book out of a purse or briefcase, and ask me to sign it. I can barely resist bursting into tears. It somehow completes the writing, you know? when someone reads it.
What's the best piece of advice you ever got about writing?
There’s a plaque on my bulletin board with the question: “What would you attempt to do if you know you could not fail?” That gives me a lot of courage.
Thanks so much, Hank!
To purchase AIR TIME or the other books in this riveting series, visit your local chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, borders.com or any cyber retailer. For more information, visit Hank's website at hankphillippiryan.com.