Monday, February 1, 2010

Guest Author -- Hank Phillippi Ryan

Award-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan is on the air at Boston's NBC affiliate. Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in restitution. Along with her 26 EMMYs, Hank’s won dozens of other journalism honors. She's been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine working with Hunter S. Thompson. Pretty impressive, huh? And on top of that, she's an incredibly nice person. :)

Her first mystery, the best-selling PRIME TIME, won the Agatha for Best First Novel. It was also was a double RITA nominee for Best First Book and Best Romantic Suspense Novel, a DAPHNE nominee, a TOP PICK and an RT Reviewers' Choice Award Winner. FACE TIME (August 2009) and AIR TIME (Sept. 2009) are IMBA bestsellers. DRIVE TIME is out February 1 from MIRA Books. Please help us welcome Hank back to The Romance Dish!

Can you keep a secret?

Okay, I see you all leaning forward...she’s going to tell us something big, you’re thinking. A secret. And yes yes yes, we can keep it.


What if—all you had to do was tell, and it would change your life? Would keeping the secret as you promised be more important? Or would you be tempted…
What if—all you had to do was tell the secret—and you would be a huge success?
And what if—you really thought telling my secret would make someone else’s life better? Would it be more important to keep your promise to me? Or to tell for the greater good?

Okay, I don’t have a secret. (Not that I’m going to tell you today, at least.) But secrets are at the heart of mystery, and certainly at the heart of romance. Right?

How many times have you wondered just how much you can really share—or SHOULD really share—with that amazing guy across from you at the restaurant table? And haven’t you wondered exactly what he’s keeping from you? Or curled up, cozy, propped up on pillows with just a downy quilt over the two of you…what have you been tempted to divulge? Or not?

If your loved one asks: “can you keep a secret”-- what do you say?

And if you know a secret do you tell your significant other? When you say—oh, I’ll never tell—does he/she count? And in that floating time just before—or after,--um….when it seems like it’s only the two of you. What would you tell then?

And it’s not just in your personal life, of course. How about on the job? As a TV reporter for the past 30 years, keeping things confidential is the hallmark of my work. There; are things I’ve been told that I can never reveal. Sources have divulged documents and reports and financial information and medical info, but where it all came from, I can never tell.

When you hear some juicy gossip at work…and you know you’ve got to keep it confidential—can you do it?

And what happens when the secrets of your personal life (and we all have them, including my main character TV reporter Charlotte McNally) and the secrets of your professional life (and we all have them, including Charlie McNally) are coming together on a deadly collision course?

As DRIVE TIME proves, the real secret of a secret—may be knowing when to tell.

In this excerpt from DRIVE TIME, Charlie and her brand new fiancĂ© are asleep in Josh’s bedroom. At least, Josh is asleep. Charlie is wondering what her life will be like when she leaves her home on Boston’s chic Beacon Hill and moves in with her dishy prep-school professor husband. And then—it turns out Josh is having a difficult night, too.

My new nightgown was a major success. But I still can’t sleep. Brookline’s old-fashioned line streetlights weave criss-cross patterns on Josh’s bedroom ceiling, stripes of shadow across the stark white. They’re now as familiar as my own ceiling design, Beacon Hill’s gas-lit yellow cast across the pale blue I painted myself. It’s been home for a long time. Now, I sleep here as much as there. And I’m feeling just as comfortable. Almost.

“Sweets?” Josh whispers. “You asleep?”

“Not one bit,” I say. “I’m trying, but not terribly successfully. My brain won’t turn off. Nor will the rest of me, thanks to you.” I turn to face him, eyes open again, smiling with possibility, glad for a good excuse to be awake. I’ll just be tired tomorrow. It’s happened before. I expect Josh to reach out for me, but his expression is—concerned? And why are his glasses back on? My Josh-radar pings into the red.

“What?” I ask. “What’s wrong?”

“Can you keep a secret?” he says. He’s still on his back, hands clasped over his chest, head turned to watch me.

I sit up, yanking the comforter over me, and twist around to look down on him, assessing. Can I keep a secret? What kind of a question is that?

“Um, keeping a secret, that’s the reporter’s credo, right?” I smile, trying for adorable-cheerful. Maybe I’ve misread his mood. I squint at the digital alarm clock. It’s hard to be perceptive at 3:34 AM. “Confidential sources stay confidential?”

Josh scoots up, back to headboard, grabbing his half of the comforter. “It’s Bexter,” he says. He leans over, gives me a quick kiss. “I’m sorry, sweets, to be distracted. Tonight, especially. But you know Dorothy Wirt? The Headmaster’s assistant? Well, the Head and I found her at her desk, a few days ago. Crying.” He shakes his head, remembering. “She finally told us she’s been getting some pretty disturbing phone calls. She didn’t want to tell, she insisted, didn’t want to “alarm” the Head. I mean, I think it’s more alarming that she tried to keep it to herself.”

(( Josh tells Charlie she has to keep this to herself. But Charlie’s an investigative reporter for a Boston TV station. And she thinks this could be a big story. Josh says his boss ordered him never to tell. But Josh’s daughter Penny—soon to be Charlie’s step daughter—goes to Bexter Academy. What if she’s in danger? But the Headmaster insists—Josh must never tell about the phone calls.))

“That’s exactly what he said, “ Josh replies. “I don’t agree with him, but he’s the boss. And that’s why I asked you about keeping a secret. You can, right?”

Silence has never been so noisy. How do I answer that? For the past twenty years, my loyalties have been only to journalism. I stare at my engagement ring again. Somehow, now, the glitter contains a bit of a taunt. Who’d have imagined a continental divide in the middle of a king-sized TempurPedic?

“I’m just thinking,” I begin. “If there’s a possible danger to the kids, including Penny? I’ve seen it, so often, the tragic results when people try to cover up a problem or pretend a threat doesn’t exist. And it’s my responsibility as a journalist to investigate what people are trying to hide. Right?”

Josh’s turn on the tightrope. Are his loyalties to me? To the Bexter kids? To his boss? This is a discussion we’ve never needed to have. Now we’re having it in the middle of the night, naked, and when I kind of have to go to the bathroom.

“Wrong,” Josh says.

I shiver, though it’s not cold. I need to let him continue. I need to hear this.

“Wrong,” he says again. “Because it’s your job to—to wait. Until you have all the facts. And we don’t have any facts. I told you something in confidence.”

He turns to me, face softening, then picks up my hand, twisting the diamond on my finger. “We’re not source and reporter here, sweets. We’re almost husband and wife.”

He’s right. But I’m right. Is there a right?

In DRIVE TIME, Charlie is torn between her loyalties to her fiancĂ©, her new daughter, her job, her career, her future and her dreams…can Charlie really have it all? Can anyone? And perhaps, as DRIVE TIME explores—maybe the real secret of a secret—is knowing when to tell.

So—when is it right to tell a secret? Ever? Are you faithful as a tomb when it comes to keeping our mouth shut? Have you ever told a secret—and regretted it? Have you ever KEPT a secret-and regretted it?

GIVEAWAY! The choice of any one of Hank’s Charlie McNally series—to five lucky commenters! And one grand prize winner gets the first three books--plus a terrific limited edition black canvas tote bag.

Did you know?

Suzanne Brockmann says: “I love this series!” Sue Grafton says: "This is first-class entertainment." And Library Journal just gave DRIVE TIME a starred review, saying in part “Placing Ryan in the same league as Lisa Scottoline…her latest book catapults the reader into the fast lane and doesn’t relent until the story careens to a stop. New readers will speed to get her earlier books, and diehard fans will hope for another installment.”


  1. I think if someone could get hurt, maybe it's not a secret worth keeping. I'm very good at keeping secrets. I don't normally tell them to anyone. I have kept secrets before and regretted it so I try not to encourage people to keep secrets. As I've heard before, "the truth will set you free", or get you in trouble, one or the other.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  2. I'm usually pretty good at keeping secrets, but I have occasionally told someone else because it was weighing on me and I need to share with another.

  3. I would only share a secret if I felt there was a strong need to- like if someone was being hurt or needed help.

    Now if someone asks me to keep something a secret or in confidence to protect them or someone else, then I would do so without a second's hesitation.

  4. I'm always be a secret keeper for most of my friends. they trust me when they share their secret with me. i'm kindda an introvert person :)

  5. I like to think that I could be trustworthy enough to keep someone's secret for them - as long as it's not illegal and no one will get hurt by it. If either of those two things come into play, I don't want to know anything about it. I don't like lying, especially not for other people.

  6. Personally, I prefer if people don't tell me their secrets. I am pretty private myself and tend not to confide in others. I mean, I share my thoughts and concerns but if something is too personal, or too serious in nature I'd rather not know. That being said, I would never not listen to my friends & family so if they do share a secret I will keep it. Scout's honor, unless of course, it may lead to someone being harmed then...hmm, it gets hairy, which gets me back to why I don't want to know any secrets!! lol.

  7. OH, Linda, that's interesting. I wonder if secrets are basically not a good thing. Unless, of course, it's a lovely surprise. But then--I really hate surprises. I made my husband promise never to give me a surprise party. Yuck.

    (What do you all think about surprise parties?)

  8. Jane-and therein lies the inherent problem with secrets. It's almost impossible never to tell them, right?

  9. Hi Hank ^^
    I read your Primetime book and it was absolutely wonderful!

    For me the question of keeping secrets really comes back to the things i learned in my ethics class. That is to keep everything in confidence unless the person is considering hurting themselves or someone-else seriously. I try to keep it to myself or skit around it if i must. I don't generally give out secrets to people because there are too many big mouths and gossips in my family for it to ever stay quite. If it's something i feel the need to get off my chest i'll usually put it in my journal where i can keep all those who know me personally out.

  10. Hello and welcome back to The Romance Dish, Hank! We're so glad you could join us on your release day for DRIVE TIME!! Congratulations!! Btw, great excerpt!

    Hmmm, secrets are a tricky thing, no? I must have a "secret keeper" aura about me because people have always told me secrets, especially when I worked outside the home. And I must say that I'm really good at keeping them. However, like others have stated, if telling the secret could save someone's life, etc., then I would tell. Otherwise, my lips are sealed! :)

    I'm off to volunteer and will be back in a bit!

  11. Hello and welcome back to The Romance Dish, Hank! We're so glad you could join us on your release day for DRIVE TIME!! Congratulations!! Btw, great excerpt!

    Hmmm, secrets are a tricky thing, no? I must have a "secret keeper" aura about me because people have always told me secrets, especially when I worked outside the home. And I must say that I'm really good at keeping them. However, like others have stated, if telling the secret could save someone's life, etc., then I would tell. Otherwise, my lips are sealed! :)

    I'm off to volunteer and will be back in a bit!

  12. Hi, Hank and welcome back! Great topic! I seem to be a magnet for people wanting to tell a secret. I'm a good secret keeper, and I'd only tell if it was life threatening to someone involved.

    My husband was a naval intelligence officer for 21 years, so I'm very familiar with living with someone who NEVER discussed work! :)

  13. Hi Hank! Your a new author for me, but after reading this interview and the excerpt you gave us I'm definitely going to have to start this series.

    I'm a pretty good secret keeper. However, I agree with the others if someone is going to end up getting hurt pretty badly I would feel like I would have to say something.

  14. Gannon--that's so fascinating. Did it haunt him? Worry him? (Or am I just too much into the fiction world and making it too romantic..?)

  15. Jedisakora (your name always intrigues me..) Thank you so much--so happy you liked Prime Time. Can't wait to hear what you think of Drive Time..there are parts that made me cry when I wrote them!

    Sometimes I just don't know what my characters are going to do--and then I'm surprised.

  16. Scorpio M--I'm with you. I just--don't want to know. I mean, of course I WANT to know--but sometimes it's easier not to.

  17. Interesting excerpt/question. I think family has to come first. If you can keep a secret only conditionally, tell the other person why and let him decide if sharing is a good idea. Love your books.

  18. I really need to get these books they sound awesome.

    I am pretty good at keeping secrets although where I work there is a lot of gossip that goes on and I am never sure whethere it is true or like chinese whispers the more it gets told the more it changes. Part of the reason I am pretty good at keeping secrets is I am sure I have a very bad short time memory LOL.

    Have Fun

  19. Amber, thank you! So glad you like the excerpt..DRIVE TIME is a very exciting book--if I do say so myself!

    (This morning I opened a copy to check something..and I started reading it. Then I just kept readi
    ng it. And I forgot I wrote it! Writers--that ever happen to you?)

  20. Helen, you just made my day. That is the FUNNIEST thing I have ever heard!

  21. I'm really good at keeping secrets. There is one secret that I'm keeping that I think should be told but I it probably would do more harm than good.

  22. Now see, Spav? That's exactly the kind of thing that makes us want to know...

    Have you ever had someone try to convince you to tell a secret? That's really difficult .. Oh,I'll never tell, they insist...

  23. Did it haunt him? Worry him? (Or am I just too much into the fiction world and making it too romantic..?)

    LOL @ Hank! You'd think so, wouldn't you? If it did, he never let on.

  24. I am surprisingly closed mouthed when I am told a secret. However, if it was a matter of life and death,(esp if it is MY life! LOL!) I am sure I would babble fairly quickly.
    Telling me too many secrets may not be a good thing, I did let one slip once, because I couldn't remember who knew what. Oh Mercy.

    Great excerpt, all the best with the release!!

  25. Hey Hank! Thanks for spending the day with us today!

    It all depends on what the secret is :-)

  26. Hi Hank! Welcome back to the Dish and congrats on the release of DRIVE TIME!

    Sorry I'm so late posting. I've been out of town and just got home but this will be quick because I have to go pick up the dogs. I'll be back later. I promise! ;-)

  27. Hi Hank ^^
    My username is one i've had since i was 12. It's sort of my alias on the net. ^^ The jedi comes from star wars and Sakora is the name of a character from the anime CardCaptor Sakura. It's not SakUra because when they dubbed it in English hey changed it to SakOra to make it easier to pronounce. My 12 year old self didn't know that so.... ^^


  28. Ooh, DEPENDS? That's pretty tantalizing...

    I'm off to a booksigning--hurray! But I'll be back continue to DISH.

    Don't forget to comment so you can be entered to win!

  29. Oh, I hope you have fun at your signing, Hank! Wish I could be there! :)

  30. I'm a terrible secret keeper. I mean, I do it, of course, but it kills me. I so desperately want to tell somebody. I treasure the dead-end loop hole--the one that states you can tell a secret you've sworn not to tell so long as it's to a total dead end, somebody who would never under any circumstances cross paths with the person for whom you're keeping the secret.

    Oh, hell, I'm a bad secret keeper, aren't I? :-)

    Thanks for coming by to talk about your book, though, Hank. The whole series sounds really intriguing!

  31. Jedisakora..that's adorable.

    And Susan--that seems so risky! After all--have you ever met anoyone who had NO connection to anyone else? Hmmm...

    The signing was great, thanks! It's such fun to see people take my books home...

  32. I've kept secrets with my best friend for 60 years. That's one reason we are best friends. We Trust each other to keep secrets, and to help each other when needed.