Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Hank Phillippi Ryan, who will be at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester on Saturday, September 7th at 3:00 PM to sign her latest Mystery book, The Murder List! Hank is our local award winning –well, I’ll let her tell you herself! I asked Hank to tell me a little about herself and her career, and her answer is below:
I’m a writer with a double life! I’m the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, winning 36 EMMYs and 14 Edward R. Murrow Awards. But I’m also a nationally bestselling author of 11 mysteries! I’ve won—can you believe it?– five Agathas, three Anthonys, two Macavitys, and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. And , amazingly, my novels are Library Journal’s Best of 2014, 2015 and 2016, and TRUST ME (now finally in paperback!) is an Agatha Nominee, and a Best of the Year from The New York Post, BOOK BUB, Real Simple Magazine, PopSugar, and CrimeReads. But SO excited—my new THE MURDER LIST is now available! And it’s a CNN Ultimate Beach read, as well as a BookTrib and BookBub Editor’s Choice! The Library Journal starred review sys: “A must read!”
Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester –though they should totally check here first!).
Everywhere books are sold!
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
Oh, thank you! On Insta @hankpryan. On Facebook at HankPhillippiRyanAuthor, and Twitter @hankpryan And my website http://www.HankPhillippiRyan.com
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from The Murder List? How would I describe?
Well, one fabulous reviewer said: “If John Grisham and Lisa Scottoline had a book baby, this would be it!” And I think that is perfect. It’s a psychological thriller — that just happens to have two veteran lawyers and a newbie lawyer as main characters. It’s twisty turny gaslightly and suspenseful, a cat and mouse and cat game. But you will never guess which one is the mouse!
What was the inspiration for THE MURDER LIST?
SUCH a fun story! I was listening to my criminal defense husband discuss a murder case one day. One track of my mind was listening to his narrative, and the other track was thinking—wow, what a good guy he is. The authentic real thing—standing up for the little guy, protecting the rights of the individual against the vast power of the state and the prosecution, making sure the prosecution plays by the rules and that the trial is fair and just.
And then I thought–what does the prosecutor’s wife think about her husband? Certainly she things he’s a good guy—protecting the public, putting miscreants behind bars, keeping criminals off the streets, standing up for law and order.
So how, I thought, can everyone be a good guy? And I started thinking about good, especially when it comes to the justice system. And realized that everyone involved chooses the side they think is the good side. And then they fight it out to see which “good” wins.
So I created law student Rachel, trying to figure out her legal life. And her influences—her brilliant defense attorney husband and her new employer, the powerful prosecutor. Two sides, battling for the legal soul of this novice attorney.
At least, that’s what they think they’re doing.
Gorgeous ambitious Rachel. Brilliant obsessive Jack. Powerful manipulative Martha. Who is next on the Murder list?
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
That is such a great question, because I don’t use an outline when I write. So I never know what’s going to happen next! In fact, that’s what gets me to the computer every day – I’m obsessed to find out.
So as I was writing my three main characters in this book, as well as the mysterious other characters, Clea, Nina, and Senator Rafferty, I had no idea who was good or bad, or who would be lying or who would be guilty or who, even, would be next on the murder list! So there was no question of liking them, you know? I was learning about them, and what they wanted, and how far they would go to get it. And that was incredibly fascinating.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
I’ve been a television reporter for 43 years, can you believe it? And for 43 years, I’ve written what we call “a good story,” you know? A story with characters you care about, and a problem that needs to be solved, where the good guys win and the bad guys get what’s coming to them. I don’t want you to turn the channel when you’re watching my investigative stories– and I want you to miss your stop on the T when you’re reading my books!
So I think writing a powerful compelling story that the readers cannot put down, and having situations that could really happen is the key to my suspense. Everything in my books is authentic, and all the more chilling for that. And unpredictable! That’s what draws readers to my books. They tell me—“Oh, I can just picture that! That sounds so real! And I was so surprised!” And that is so fabulous!
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?
My husband and I don’t celebrate the anniversary of the day we met–we celebrate the anniversary of the day before we met. And we call that You Never Know Day. Because you never know what wonderful thing is around the next corner! I feel that way about writing, too. We can worry worry worry worry, but all we can really control is that we simply sit down at the computer, and work hard, and write a fabulous story that people will love.
And then, the universe will take care of the rest.
Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us, Hank! We look forward to seeing you at Annie’s on Saturday, September 7th at 3:00 PM.