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Friday, September 25, 2009

Guest Star: Hank Phillippi Ryan

My Guest Star author this week is Hank Phillippi Ryan, author of the Charlotte McNally Mystery series, Prime Time, Air Time, and Face Time.

About AIR TIME, the latest in the series:

Star reporter Charlotte (Charlie) McNally enters the glamorous and high-stakes world of high fashion ...and soon discovers when the purses are fake, the danger is real.

To break her latest big-money blockbuster, Charlotte must go undercover--but what if the bad guys recognize her? This savvy TV journalist must face more than her fear of flying when her inside scoop on designer duplicates suddenly turns deadly.

Carrying a hidden camera and dressing to deceive, Charlie finds she's not the only one disguising her identity. Nothing--and no one--is what they seem. And that means nothing--and no one--can be trusted. In her high-risk job and in her suddenly steamy love life, how can she tell the real thing?

Charlie is forced to make some life-changing--and life and death--decisions. With only a split-second to act and with her own life in the balance, Charlie knows if she chooses wrong it will be the last decision she ever makes.

Real-life investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan devises a scheme so timely and innovative you'll wonder why someone hasn't tried it. AIR TIME takes you behind the scenes of TV news--and reveals what can happen when a savvy, sexy journalist turns from hard-working reporter into becoming a killer's target.

And here's an awesome interview with Hank!

1. Charlotte (Charlie) McNally is an investigative TV reporter, and so are you! What qualities do you share with Charlie, and how are you different?

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.

2. Charlie has some exciting adventures in your mystery series--going undercover, confronting some really bad guys. Tell us about some of your adventures as an investigative reporter.

There's a huge been-there-done-that element to the books--I've wired myself with hidden cameras, confronted corrupt politicians, chased down criminals . . . been in disguise, been stalked, and threatened and had many a door slammed in my face. I've had people confess to murder, and others, from prison, insist they were innocent. So when that happens to Charlie, it's fair to imagine me. Although the plots are completely from my imagination, those are real-life experiences.

3. Your job sounds very demanding. How (and when) do you find the time to write? Do you ever take a vacation, and, if so, what do you do with your time off?

Short answer--no. I don't take vacations anymore. We used to! We love Nevis, a tiny island n the Caribbean with empty white beaches and nothing to do. We love to go to western Massachusetts, to Tanglewood, to go to plays and the symphony and museums. We love to go to Cape Cod, to Truro, to sit on the beach with pals and read, then go out to wonderful dinners. All in the past. Now, I write. And Jonathan lounges in the back yard. Luckily, we have a lovely yard, with a pool and beautiful gardens.

4. Charlie is afraid of flying, and the airlines are constantly losing her luggage. When you write in Charlie's voice about these dilemmas, you sound like you're writing from experience. Is this true?

Sigh. Yes. I am a luggage-loss magnet. If they can lose my bags, they will. It's almost funny. Almost. As for fear of flying, yes, I am afraid. (Although not as much has I used to be. I've worked very hard and tried a lot of things to get over it.) I was once covering a very bad plane crash, in a major airport, and was in a room with a lot of the bleeding and upset survivors of the crash. I often wonder if that bad energy someone affected me.

5. Even though Charlie has a love interest, basically she's married to her job. You are married to a very successful criminal defense and civil rights attorney. Is it difficult to maintain a balance between the demands of your careers and your relationship, or do your exciting careers help "keep the fire going."

Fire? Well, hey. We both really respect each other, and we each think the other is really attractive and funny. We each understand when the other is immersed in work--in a story, or a writing a book, or handling a big case. We think each other's work is fascinating. Jonathan is incredibly patient. An endlessly interesting. It's wonderful for me to have in-house counsel to make sure my books are authentic when it comes to legal issues--and it's fun for him to have a writer-wife who had advised him on his dramatic closing arguments.

Click here to order Air Time on Amazon!

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Jessica Brody, author of the forthcoming novel, The Fidelity Files, explores the thorny topic of infidelity in modern-day society