Thursday, March 20, 2014

PPWC 2014 Q&A - Hank Phillippi Ryan

Only two days to register for Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2014 before pricing increases!

Hank Phillippi Ryan, Author, Keynote

1. What was the defining moment that made your realize you wanted to be an author?

I had a great idea for a mystery. It was SUCH a good idea, there was nothing I could do but write it. (It turned out to be PRIME TIME, which won the Agatha. I was 55 years old.)

2. What is the one thing you cannot work without? What is your creative vice?

Coffee. Lattes, iced or hot, who cares. It's wrong to think of that as a vice, though. Oh, Diet Cokes, put in the freezer until they are slushy. And almonds. Plus--it's also not a vice!-- but even though I work at the computer, I still need a pencil and a legal pad and an eraser.

3. If you could 'revive' any literary figure from the past for a one hour conversation, who would you choose?

Shakespeare. The best story-teller ever, relentless suspense, absolutely reliably wonderful plots, intense and poetic and original, with psychologically rich characters, and big- finish endings.

4. What is one of your more notable or unusual conference or convention experiences?

At BEA, I was interviewed by Lee Child. It's used on my audio book! Amazing. At CCWC, I got to interview the brilliant Sue Grafton, for which I studied for weeks. And, in a scene right out of Ziegfield, I was asked to interview the incredible David Baldacci, in front of the entire Bouchercon, with only a few hours notice when Robert Crais had to cancel. I'm a reporter, can do. But here's my philosophy--one wonderful thing happens at every conference. To each and every person. I promise, You just have to go and see what it will be.

5. If we asked your friends and family to compare you to a cartoon character, which would they choose, and why?

Ha. I'd love to know that, and now I'm going to ask them. I would predict the Roadrunner, because I am always going a million miles an hour, and sometimes don't realize I need to stop. But he's happy, right? And he keeps trying!

And as an addendum: I went to Facebook (of course) to actually ASK my friends which cartoon character I reminded them of. And I was--touched and amused, frankly, and still laughing at the results. There was a big contingent of Brenda Starr, and of Lois Lane. Makes sense, right? A few "Cathy," which I love, and Veronica from Archie, ditto, and Joan Jetson, brilliant, BOTH Daphne and Velma from Scooby Doo, which I embrace totally. And, from the "you gotta be kidding but thank you" department, Wonder Woman and Jessica Rabbit. Only a few people--- all dear friends--picked Roadrunner.

6. What is one thing would you like aspiring authors to know about the road to success?

It's different for each person, so it's a waste of time to compare what you have with what others have. Work as hard as you possibly can, do the best you possibly can, every single minute on every single project. You never know when the wonderful thing will happen. Be generous, be kind, be grateful, be patient. This is what you always wished for! And when you have a bad day (as we all do!)--pat yourself on the back, because that means you're giving it all you've got--and that's what writers do! And don't forget to have fun.

About the Author/Keynote: HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate. She’s won 30 EMMYs, 12 Edward R. Murrow awards and dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism. A bestselling author of six mystery novels, Ryan has won multiple prestigious awards for her crime fiction: the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and most recently, the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. National reviews have called her a “master at crafting suspenseful mysteries” and “a superb and gifted storyteller.” Her newest thriller, THE WRONG GIRL, is a Boston Globe bestseller and was dubbed “Another winner” in a Booklist starred review. She’s on the national board of Mystery Writers of America and 2013 president of national Sisters in Crime. Visit her online at, on Twitter @hank_phillippi and Facebook/HankPhillippiRyanAuthorPage.

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