Sunday, June 17, 2007


Zippy the Pinhead: You mean we have no idea what will happen next? Or when? Or why?
His pal: That's pretty much it, yeah.
Zippy: Cool.
***Bill Griffith, cartoonist

Hallie is gallivanting through the olive groves and vineyards (and boutiques) of Italy. Jan is leading a group of teenagers through the jungles (jungles?) of the Dominican Republic and Ro is in Tanzania helping a village build a library. Do we have a jet-setting group or what?

And as for me—I’m here in Boston—but doing a big take off of my own. And I can't wait to show you the photos! (See below!)

Prime Time, my first novel is now in bookstores. (I’ll dare to say it one more time—RT Book Reviews gave it a top pick, and called it “a perfect combination of mystery and romance.”)

And launch week was—well, you know they always talk about once-in-a-lifetime experiences? This was one. And it’s still happening.

Tuesday morning—launch day—I got up at the crack of dawn to appear on the Breakfast Club on WODS radio. (A fast-paced and hilarious morning show that plays all the oldies.) Dale Dorman and his wacky colleagues (they love to be called that) made it a great time. And provided coffee, luckily. I didn’t know what to expect—and that’s what happened.

The first question? They asked me to explicate and explain the lyrics of the sixties anthem Walk Away Renee. Okay, talk about random! But it was fun—and I’m pretty good at sixties song lyrics. Thank goodness.
But we also talked about Prime Time—and Dale had clearly read it—what a treat! But then it was back to music—they’d read somewhere that I was vice president of the national Beatles Fan Club (when I was 14, for gosh sake). So with that, they asked me to sing Rocky Raccoon! These guys are unstoppable. My incredibly bad singing voice aside, Rocky Raccoon? No problem. (All together now: Rocky came in, stinking of gin, only to find Gideon’s Bible…)

That afternoon—it was off to Borders in Boston’s Back Bay. Would it rain and keep the lunchtime shoppers in their offices and away from the store? Would the place be empty and I’d wind up chatting with myself?
Hurray. No. In fact, the place was so full of people, the Borders crew had to bring in extra chairs. And what a terrific group—many many many folks I didn’t know—and some wonderfully familiar pals: YA series author Marley Gibson, NEC-RWA mogul Katy Cooper—well, it was great.
And I signed and signed.
And look at the display of Prime Time.
Thanks Borders. You, um, rock.
Tuesday ended with a cocktail bash and signing at the ultra-chic and very elegant Ralph Lauren boutique on Newbury Street. (If you’ve been there, you know how fabulous it is. Three floors, filled with the most fantastic…well, you know.)

Anyway—it was packed and hilarious…champagne and beef tenderloin and white wine and crab cakes. And many friends, colleagues, and members of the press.
Here’s the inimitable Bill Brett (author of the amazing book of Boston faces called All One Family), taking my photo for the Boston Globe. (Where it appeared the next day in a very lovely article by Carol Beggy.)

And here’s (from right) author Becky Motew ( of the wonderfully funny Coupon Girl), fashion mavens from “Dressing Well” Mary Lou Andre and June Tartar, and the extraordinary Hope Denekamp from Kneerim and Williams Agency, whose expertise guided me through unfamiliar territory when Prime Time was in its earliest of stages.

And again, I signed and signed.

I’ve got so many more photos of that signing on the way—its was absolutely SRO--and I’ll show you all the good ones at some point—but the party photographer still has them all! We sold lots and lots of books on launch day—and I’m already getting some incredibly enthusiastic reaction.
Wine and champagne as a sales tool. Remember it.

And then the next day: an event with the incomparable Kate Mattes of Kate’s Mystery Books!

She hosted a bustling and convivial reading—it was lively and full of old friends and new friends (Hi Pat from DL! Thank you so much for coming) and fellow authors. Here’s my independent editor Francesca Coltrera and her husband Andrew Cornell and the two Emmas---and my husband.
Here’s how it looked as I read from Prime Time. In the audience—Vinnie O’Neil, winner of last year’s Malice Domestic contest for Murder in Exile, who came all the way from Rhode Island to share the fun.

Friday: Borders in Braintree where they set up a special display of Prime Time with the amazing Claire Cook’s latest Life’s a Beach.
Saturday: Barnes & Noble in Burlington--where I signed for three hours! The B & N gang was was wonderful. See all those books stacked on the metal cart? All gone… And there wasn't even wine.
Lots more wonderful singings and readings and appearances coming up…but you get the, um, picture. I’ll put more on my website…

But I know this is not a typical week in the life of a mystery author. And I'm so grateful for everyone who made this work. Who came to these signings. It was --as I said--once in a lifetime. And now it's back to the computer.

But let me say--each time I sign a book, and hand it over to the strangers who have just pulled out their wallet to BUY Prime Time, pages unread, author untested, just taking my word for it that it’s worthwhile and it’ll be a good companion on beach or airplane or pillow—I think—they’re taking off too. Just as I am. On a journey into the unknown.

Prime Time. My first novel. So far, so good.

Now back to our usual programming.

(and thank you to my darling husband Jonathan for the wonderful photography...)


  1. I enjoyed your interview with Emily Rooney last week. I can't wait to read the book.

    I was intrigued by your discussion of the writing process, since I'm having a similar experience. I have a story running like a movie in my head, but I'm faced with "reverse engineering" it into words that readers can then use to re-create the images.

    How did that process work for you? I find it daunting. But this is my first attempt at fiction.

  2. Great blog Hank! And I love the pictures.
    Now please explain "Just Walk Away Rene". : )

  3. Oh how I love living vicariously! What an exciting time you are having. Now I need to print out all the pictures and paste them on a board in front of me for inspiration. Amazon delivered Prime Time on Friday and it's sitting on my bedside table, waiting its turn ;) Congratulations on all your success and much more to come!

  4. Wow, wow, and wow! I'm so sorry I was away. Everything sounded wonderful. I want to know where you'll be signing this summer, so I can get another autographed copy. I'd read it, of course, and loved it, but gave it to a South African woman, so I'll just have to buy another...
    Way to go, Hank!!

  5. ...btw after you explain Walk Away, Renee, can you explain Louie, Louie?

  6. Hi Kira...Well, good question. I think, maybe, after thirty years of taking notes on interviews and incidents and press conferences and disasters as a reporter, I've kind of gotten used to taking reality and making it into a story. You know? A general assignment reporter comes in at 9am, say, then gets an assignement (fire, scandal, political camapign, hurricane, cat show), and by 6 o'clock, we've reasearched and interviewed, videotaped, written, and edited it all into a little movie.

    So I'm just --describing what I see in my head. I doesn't always work of course--but when I'm lucky, it's like telling a story to a child. 'Once upon a time,' you begin..and then, there's the story. It sounds odd--but one key may be not to worry about it too much, at least in the first draft. Just--get the story out there. Tweak later.

    And thanks, yes, Emily Rooney and her Greater Boston TV show are real treasures. For anyone else, the podcast of our discussion--not so much an interview by Emily, but a real conversation between two reporters--is on hmm..let me make sure on the website and get back to you.

    Anyone else?

  7. Ok you all...let's all get together and discuss Walk Away Renee.
    Test questions:
    1. Who is Renee?
    2.Walk away from where?
    3.Does the singer means: "walk away" as in "don't run" away because you might trip? Or "walk away" as in "just go away with all due speed." ?
    4. Extra credit: Left Banke of what?
    5. What's the deal with the extra E on Bank?

  8. RO:
    Louie Louie. NO idea.
    You think it's about the French revolution?

  9. Here's the real website of the podcast..just click on my name!
    xo Hank

  10. Congrats, Hank!

    Sounds like you are on a roll! Can't wait to read your book.

  11. Much deserved success, Hank, and all of your own making. Savor each moment, take a breather, and then gear up for Face Time!


  12. Hank,

    Very good analysis of Walk Away Renee. I will sing backup for you any time. I'm ready, girl.

    Excellent book. I loved it.


  13. I tried to wait till I could make it to a reading and get a signed copy, but I just couldn't do it. I passed the book one time too many in the store, and had to have it NOW.

    Just finished last night--an AMAZING read. Congrats on all your well-deserved success.


  14. Hi Hank!

    I have so enjoyed reading your book and trying to catch the references to Indy...Landman Hall, and is there really a Mr. Thornburg??

    Congratulations and I'll send pix soon. What an incredible time for you! Betsy