Monday, February 22, 2010


By Hank Phillippi Ryan

This is a first for me--I actually get to blog about a member of the Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit right after attending an event.

If you're not from the Boston area you might not know that in addition to being an award-winning mystery writer, Hank Phillippi Ryan is an Emmy-winning investigative reporter and a TV icon in Massachusetts.

She's also a charming and inspiring speaker ...

And a warm, delightful person.
Plus, she just found out that AIR TIME, the third book in her series, was nominated for an Agatha Award. Way to go, Hank!

But today I want to talk to you about the latest book, DRIVE TIME, which could very well go on to win an award of its own one day. Here's the synopsis:

Investigative reporter Charlotte McNally is an expert at keeping things confidential, but suddenly everyone has a secret, and it turns out it may be possible to know too much. Charlie's latest TV scoop--an expose of a dangerous recalled car scam complete with stakeouts, high-speed chases and hidden-camera footage--is ratings gold. But soon that leads her to a brand new and diabolical scheme (incredibly timely!) that could put every driver in danger.

Charlie's personal and professional lives are on a collision course, too. Her fiancé is privy to information about threats at an elite private school that have suddenly turned deadly.

Charlie has never counted on happy endings. But now, just as she's finally starting to believe in second chances, she realizes revenge, extortion and murder might leave her alone again. Or even dead. Emmy and Agatha award winning reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan proves that when everyone has a secret, the real mystery is knowing when to tell.

Hank was kind enough to answer some interview questions about the book, so here goes ...

I can't help noticing that your main character, 'Charlie' McNally has more in common with you than a boyish name--you're both investigavie journalists. Are you and Charlie very much alike in other ways?

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.

You’ve got four books under your belt, you’ve won an Agatha, and been compared to Lisa Scottoline. Will there come a time when you say goodbye to journalism to focus full time on your fiction?

Ain't that the question! I still smile in delight every time I see my Agatha teapot. And when the starred review in Library Journal for DRIVE TIME compared me to Lisa Scottoline, well, I burst into tears. But I still love my job in TV. So--you could ask me that question every day, and every day I'd have a different answer. And I guess the bottom line is: who knows?

Any plans to write a non Charlotte McNally novel?

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

Any mistakes you’ve made along the way, have you learned anything from them?

Hah. That’s another long blog for another day. Mistakes? Ah, on a huge level, people always yell at me for working all the time. ALL the time. Is that a mistake? None of this would have happened without that. Would I change it? I have to say no. So is that a mistake? I'm not sure. On a tiny level, I should have put together a mailing list of bookstores. Still haven’t done that. Wish I had.

Any advice for fledgling writers and journalists?

For journalists: Don’t be afraid. Be very afraid. Be scrupulously careful. Think. And think again. Never give up.

For writers? On my bulletin board there are two quotes. One is a Zen saying: “Leap and the net will appear.” To me, that means: Just do it. The other says “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” And I think that’s so wonderful—just have the confidence to carry on. Writing is tough, arduous, not always rewarding in the moment—but no successful author has ever had an easy path. When you hit an obstacle, pat yourself on the back. You’re a writer

Great advice! Thanks so much, Hank. It was great meeting you in person and I wish you tons of luck with your wonderful books!

You can buy DRIVE TIME at the your local chain or independent bookstore. To buy online visit,, or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Hank's website at


Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Ellen! How wonderful to see you and your adorable daughter--as we discussed I'm sure we'll see her on Broadway someday!

Thank you so much for cominig to see me, and for your incredibly kind words. (Yes, I'm so thrilled about the Agatha nominations!) And fabulous photos!

love love love

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

Hi Ellen,
You've written a wonderful blog post about Hank's appearance at BBB, her intriguing novels, and a great interview, too!
It was a pleasure meeting both of you.

Ellen said...

What a wonderful event! It was so great meeting both of you.

Hank, you're my hero!!