Liberty States Create Something Magical Conference Speaker Interview Series: Hank Phillippi Ryan

LSFW Interview series graphic

Today the Liberty States Create Something Magical Conference Speaker Interview Series continues with author Hank Phillippi Ryan:

  1. What made you want to become a writer?

That’s a fascinating question. A few years ago, I was at a conference, checking in, and the person at the desk said—are you Hank Phillippi Ryan, the writer? And I looked at her—almost wondering what to say. And with much joy back then, going on thirty-plus years as a reporter and five also as a mystery author, I realized I could say, “Well, yes!” But what made me want that? I can only say it’s a love of storytelling. When I was about seven years old, I devoured Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew books, up in the hayloft of the barn behind our house in rural Indiana. That’s when I knew I wanted to be either a mystery writer or a detective. Turned out, as an investigative reporter and crime fiction author… I’m a little of each. It just took a while.


  1. Is there one piece of advice you would give an aspiring writer?

Don’t aspire. Write. Sit in the chair and stop making excuses for why you can’t or don’t have time or why you’ll do it later. There is no later. Believe me, I am the master of putting it off. Once I even decided I needed to alphabetize my spice rack. But if I had succumbed, I’d haven lovely spices and no books.


  1. If you could co-write a book with any author, dead or alive, who would it be?

Oh! No one has ever asked me that. Ah. As an investigative reporter, I need to ask all the clarifying questions: What do you mean, co-write? Would we chat and discuss, and then do it together? And Shakespeare doesn’t count, because he didn’t write books?  And we’d get equal billing on the cover?  Wow, I love this. Okay, Edith Wharton. (Because she’s a wonderful brilliant story-teller, and we could go to her house, which is gorgeous, and assistants would type up what we wrote.) Or—Sue Grafton. Yes, Sue Grafton. But then I would  be tempted to just let her write it. This is a very hard question, and I am ridiculously thinking about it.


  1. Who is on your bookshelf?Ha. If you saw the bookshelves in our house, you would howl with laughter. They are double and triple packed! It’s out of control. But they are heavily weighted with thrillers, and novels of suspense. They say write the kind of books you love to read, and that is exactly what I did.


  1. Can you tell us about one of the most memorable moments in your writing career thus far?

So many of them! But how about this: You have to picture me at the party in Manhattan where they were about to give the Mary Higgins Clark award. Mary Higgins Clark, the queen of us all, was there in person. I was nominated for THE OTHER WOMAN, and deliriously happy. I was also very calm, because there was no way I was going to win, and I was simply luxuriating in being nominated. So—true story—Mary Higgins Clark gets up on the podium, resplendent in couture and emeralds, and she’s introducing the award.

And a thought struck me, so powerful I almost yelped.

I grabbed the arm of the pal who was standing next to me—and whispered: “Oh, my gosh. I could win.”

She smiled, and whispered back: “Take off your name tag for the photos and remember to thank everyone.”

Ten seconds later, my name was called.  I still get goosebumps.


  1. Tell us about your newest release/current work in progress.

I am at the glorious nexus of having WHAT YOU SEE, a Library Journal Best of 2015 on stores shelves now, and SAY NO MORE (Oct 2016) all tucked in and done and edited and in the publication process with my dear publisher Forge Books, and inching through the beginning of OUT COLD, the sixth in the Jane Ryland/Jake Brogan series of standalones, which will be out in October of 2017.  So you can imagine my brain! It’s revving into the red at every moment.

So work in progress is SAY NO MORE.  I can safely say my stories are ripped from my own headlines—part of the joy of my dual career as investigative reporter and crime fiction author. In SAY NO MORE, reporter Jane witnesses a run of the mill fender bender—which turns out to be the key to a murder. But if she tells what she saw—it puts her own life in danger.  Detective Jake–tracking down the death of a beautiful college professor—uncovers a devastating and destructive campus code of silence.  I was so surprised by the ending! And I’m always delighted when that happens.



About the author:

hank primary headshot


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate. She’s won 33 EMMYs, 13 Edward R. Murrow awards and dozens of other honors for her groundbreaking journalism. A bestselling author of eight mystery novels, Ryan has won multiple prestigious awards for her crime fiction: five Agathas, two Anthonys, the Daphne, two Macavitys, and for THE OTHER WOMAN, the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. National reviews have called her a “master at crafting suspenseful mysteries” and “a superb and gifted storyteller.” Her 2013 novel, THE WRONG GIRL, won both the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and the Daphne Award for Mainstream Mystery/Suspense, and is a seven-week Boston Globe bestseller. TRUTH BE TOLD is the Agatha Award winner for Best Contemporary Novel, an Anthony Award nominee and a Library Journal BEST BOOK OF 2014. Ryan also won a second Agatha Award in 2015 for Best Nonfiction, as editor of WRITES OF PASSAGE, an anthology of essays by mystery authors, which was also honored with a Macavity Award and Anthony Award. Ryan’s newest novel, WHAT YOU SEE, is a RT Book Reviews Top Pick for “Exceptional suspense!” and named a Best Thriller of 2015 by Library Journal, which raves, “Mystery readers get ready: you will find yourself racing to the finish.” She’s a founding teacher at Mystery Writers of America University and 2013 president of national Sisters in Crime. Visit her online at HankPhillippiRyan.com, on Twitter @HankPRyan and Facebook at HankPhillippiRyanAuthor.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: