Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Who Is THE OTHER WOMAN? Ask Hank --

JRW: Our own Hank Phillippi Ryan's much anticipated "The Other Woman" launches today and Jungle Red is thrilled to welcome it in style!  

As for Hank, she's seeing stars (starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist; IndieNext Great Read). So we had to haul her down to earth to talk about this fabulous suspense novel that's being compared to the work of Harlan Coben and Lisa Scottoline, but which in truth is uniquely her own.

On the (gorgeous!) cover of the book it says: You can choose your sin but you cannot choose your consequences... Readers will be repeatedly taken by surprise at where the story leads.

So welcome, Hank! (And we'll give away a copy to a lucky commenter!)

Hank, this book it's so different from your Charlie McNally novels which are thrilling, of course, and suspenseful, and funny, like The Other Woman -- but somehow this seems bigger. Were you consciously trying to shift into higher gear?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well--I didn't really think about it as “higher gear.”  I thought about telling this story--and how it needed be told to make it as suspenseful and full of tension as possible.  The story was so big and so juicy that I realized that it couldn't be told from a single first-person viewpoint, because the reader had to know things that some of the characters didn't know. That meant I had to craft the story in a different way. So the form came from the essence of the story.

JRW: This novel has five viewpoint characters, as many plots and subplots, and, not to spoil anything but a huge number of breathtaking twists, some of them coming right on top of each other. And yet reading feels seamless. How did you keep everything straight?

HANK: That is one of the magical things about writing this book. I had the whole book—every word and every theme-- in my head the whole time. Like those plates on sticks on Ed Sullivan, I had to keep all the plots spinning. And keep each one understandable. When I neared the end of the book I actually made a list of all the loose ends that had to be tied up, and one by one I crossed them off.

And I was constantly surprised. Each time I figured out what happened, I would say  WOW I had no idea! So when readers are surprised at the outcome--well, I was, too..

Practically speaking-- if writers are interested--I made a scene-by-scene chart which included what happened at the end of each scene. So then when I went back I'd know the last thing that POV character knew.  

JRW: This book is so full of surprises for the reader, too! You start the book thinking: "The other woman" -- Oh, I know what that means. This is the "philandering politician" story told from the viewpoint of the mistress. Only it isn't. Well, it is but it isn't, which so cool.

HANK: (Laughing) Thank you! Yes, I was 100% conscious of that! I love being able to play with readers' perceptions. First, remember that I didn't know what was going to happen.

After that, it's sort of all happening on three levels-- I know what I know as an author. I know what the reader expects. And I know if I don't do what the reader expects, that's what reader expects, too. So I have to do something else.  I wanted the reader to go into the book thinking one thing and then—after turning pages as fast as they can-- come out thinking, whoa, that's not what I predicted at all.

JRW: Jane Ryland, your hero, is a reporter who will do anything to protect a source and suffers for it. Have you had times when you had to do something personally risky to protect a source?
HANK: I'm trying to think if there's anything that I can actually tell...

JRW: Is that your final answer?

HANK: Yes.

Can you tell us where you got your names, especially Jane Ryland and Jake Brogan? Because they sound awfully familiar...

HANK: Oh, this is so hilarious. I needed a name for this character. I knew her name was Jane, that was set from the moment I had the idea for the story. But what was her last name? So I'm on the Acela from Boston to New York, thinking like crazy, very frustrated, and I gave up. I said to myself:  Fine. The next name I see on a building or billboard is going to be the name. Zooming through Connecticut I see billboard that says Ryland Industries.

So I think, perfect. I love it! Jane Elizabeth Ryland. And it never crossed my mind that it was like Ryan. Never never never. Until I read the advance bound manuscript that the publisher sent. And I thought holy moly – Ryland is kind of like Ryan. A year and a half after I started writing the book!

Jake Brogan. I needed his name to be similar to Jane's (you’ll see why when you read the book!) so Jake works perfectly. His name had to be Irish, because his grandfather was a police commissioner in Boston. (Which is why Harvard-educated Jake is a cop. I envisioned them watching Hill Street Blues together!)  I went through all of the Irish-sounding names, and they were too obvious, too predictable, not quite right. Then one day I thought--Brogan!  Detective Jacob Dellacort Brogan. Jake Brogan. Perfect. And it wasn't until later I thought--oh no!  Jan!  

JRW: With your Charlie McNally series, you've said that Charlie is an TV news reporter who worries about what she's going to do when the camera doesn't love her any more. Here you are, six years later, still a glamorous investigative reporter on TV with what certainly looks to all of us like your breakout novel.

HANK: Aw. Thank you. Crossing fingers. Remember what I said about spinning the plates? I love my work as an investigative reporter. I've done it for 35 years and I'm still thrilled every day coming to work. As an investigative reporter you never know what's going to happen and you can work to change the world and get some justice and help the good guys win. 

But as for the novel writing—and remember, I started that at age 55!--there's never been anything that I love as much as that. The walls fall away and I’m in my own world when I’m writing. So what will happen next? As in my books, I just don't know.

JRW: Well, we all feel like we're in the last inning of a no-hitter, holding our breaths, and hoping you shoot the moon.

Here’s the video about The Other Woman— like the book itself, it’s not what you’d expect! And it’s getting a lot of buzz. 

So, gentle Reds, join the conversation! You know Hank will answer any question... well, almost any. And remember--we're giving away a copy to one lucky commenter!


  1. Good luck, Hank, although I'm guessing like JRW you won't need much. This feels like a breakout, in that there is so much buzz about the book and your thriller writing skills. Has Ron Howard called yet?

    1. His people called Hanks people..You want 5% : ) So much Buzz...Red Carpet Ready Hank..

  2. So excited to read this book, Hank! Congratulations.

    That naming thing. Last week, right before I sent in my manuscript, I changed several characters' names. I had originally plucked them from air, then realized I'd ended up with name of friends attached to bad guys in the book. Didn't like that. I kept the same letter of the alphabet and found another name that fit: Sherman became Stuart, for example. It's tricky!

  3. Oh dear Hank, I'm so excited for you and cannot wait to read this book!

    Your description of the naming thing--reminds me so much of my career as a therapist (well, if I must admit, my time in therapy too!) The unconscious mind comes up with things and the conscious mind is just a little slow to catch on:)

    Wishing you much success! and get some sleep:) xoxoxo Lucy

  4. Well, thank you so much! Yes, it's very exciting..and quite amazing!

    I'm always thinking of names, now..in lists of movie credits, and the "unclaimed money" lists from the state treasurer, and baseball teams.. Baseball players names NEVER work though--why are they so weird?

    Anyway! Thank you, everyone--I am in the oh-gosh-no-one-is-giong-to-buy-this! mode. So spread the word, okay?

    And YAY LUCY! Death in Four Courses is out today too! We are quite a team!

  5. Lots of buzz everywhere I go and I can't wait.

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  7. Hank, tell us where your travels are taking you over the next few weeks... just in case anyone wants to give you in-person congratulations? I, for one, will be at the Brookline Booksmith launch tomorrow (9/5).

    We're all waiting to exhale...

  8. I like how you picked the names in this book-I can't wait to read this book for I've heard alot about it! carolefiore@yahoo.com

  9. Lucky moi had an advance reader's copy of The Other Woman and I just posted my review on Amazon -


    While you're there make sure you Like and Share!

    Hint....in my unbiased opinion this book ROCKS!

  10. Happy Book Day, Hank! My copy is on the way and I can't wait to read it.

  11. I just won the book so I'm out of contention for this drawing, but I wanted to chime in and tell everyone how much loved it. I got it on Saturday and finished it yesterday morning. As I was reading it, the complexity didn't really register because Hank juggled everything so neatly.

  12. So much buzz! I think yoiu can safely leave fears that no one will like it! Congratulations on what surely is your breakout book. May we assume it will remain a stand-alone? Do keep using your fascinating background in fiction--it works so well for you!

  13. I too was a lucky recipient of an Advanced Reading Copy. It is SO amazing!!! and you know what? I'd read a few pages and catch myself going "Oh, wow." Then I would think I had things all figures out and - HA! oh, wow. And when I finished reading it I just sat there with it in my lap kind of savoring it all when out of the blue I remembered - I actually know the incredibly talented woman who wrote this! oh wow. Hank? I am SO so very proud of you!

  14. Congrats Hank, Loved the book can't wait to talk about it with my peeps and you at B&N.com.
    Pretty soon we'll know all your secrets :)


  15. I'm another lucky early reader, and to echo Rosemary, the book totally rocks!

    Congratulations and enjoy, Hank!

  16. Hank, I'm very excited that your book will be waiting for me when I arrive home this afternoon. The buzz is fantastic. And, as I noted on FB, I'll have my copy in hand to stand in line for your autograph at Bcon. Congratulations on all the incredible reviews. Can't wait to get started reading!!

  17. Awww...thank you! I keep thinking--is there something I should be DOING??? Anyone have advice?

    And I did a special
    thank you video..
    So excited--


  18. Congrats on the book, which I know will be awesome. I love the cover, love the video and know the starred reviews are just the beginning of many, many, accolades!!

  19. So excited for you, Hank!
    Here's to that best seller list.

  20. Congrats, Hank! Loved this book, as you know, and so did Ben. (I'm afraid his Hank-crush has just grown a little.)Everyone is going to buy this and love it.

    Everyone, Hank did a great interview at my blog yesterday.


    And Lucy, hip, hip, hurray for your new book also. I know it's going to be a big success. This is truly a Red letter day!

  21. Hank...you asked what you should be doing. Breathe! Just breathe!

    I am looking forward to reading the book. Even if I don't win it, I will get out to the bookstore-I promise:-):-)

    Linda...I read your interview with Hank. Everybody else should read it, too!

    And Lucy/Roberta...best wishes to you, too! I had hoped to get to your book launch but a second look at my calendar showed me that I could manage it only if I broke some laws: speeding, and time/space. But I will be with you in spirit and I will get a copy of it ASAP!

  22. Yay, Hank!! I'm so excited for you and for this fabulous book!

    And YAY for Lucy, too! The publication of two Jungle Red authors' book on the same day must mean the stars are aligned.

  23. I can't wait to read this after all the starred reviews!I'm picking up y copy later today.
    Have your ears been ringing Hank?I can't stop talking (and badgering loved ones who live in the Boston area) about your books.
    Enjoy your day!

  24. This book sounds so fantastic and will surely be a best seller. I will be also heading down to the Brookline Booksmith launch tomorrow.

  25. That last unknown was Kathy in Michigan-LOL technology is not my strong suit.

  26. This is so exciting! I feel like I'm an insider, somehow, almost like it's my book too, but of course it's not, could never be--it's just that I'm that excited to 1) read it, of course, and 2) see if my two predictions come true: hit the NYT bestseller list and receive an Edgar nomination, and 3) watch the breakout novel madness ensue (as it has already been ensuing).

    Hank, it's gotta be a dream come true!

  27. Lisa, I LOVE your confidence in me..thank you! And I will try to channel it..

    (I'm still in the "Pleeese someone buy this" mode.)

  28. Jack--ah, thank you! That would be great... I'm so happy with the book, I have to admit, a movie would be great, of course.. but I am happy happy happy now....

  29. Her's my schedule for the next couple of weeks--PLEASE come! Treats, wine, prizes and special guests...xoo

    Sept 5 – Brookline, MA – Brookline Booksmith, 7pm

    Sept 6- Concord, MA – Concord Bookshop

    Sept 7 – Paper Store - Beverly MA 630pm

    Sept 8 –Washington, MI – Romeo District Library (Mystery Comes to Michigan), 1:30pm

    Sept 9 – Ann Arbor, MI – Kerrytown BookFest (Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore)

    Sept 12 – Hingham, MA – Public Library – hosted by Buttonwood Books, 7:00pm

    Sept 14 – Newburyport, MA – Jabberwocky Books, 7:00pm

    Sept 15 – Chester, CT – Seascape Authors Retreat

    Sept 19 – Newton, MA – New England Mobile Book Fair

  30. I'm so excited for you Hank and my copies of TOW better arrive in my mailbox today because I can't wait to read it and post a five-star review on Amazon (which I'm sure everyone else here will do, as well) because I know this book will be brilliant and moving and life-changing!

  31. Yay, Hank! (And yay, Lucy!)

    Those moments of realizing what the unconscious has brought together have got to be some of the highest highlights of the writing process. A toast to them!

  32. Thanks Deb R--do not break laws to get there. I know you'll be there in spirit!

  33. Hank, I'm so excited--my book is supposed to arrive today! I can't wait to read it!!

    Congratulations! Wishing you much success!

  34. Yay Susan! I wish I could come to your launch party for LOW COUNTRY BOIL! I loved it!

    And yes, Leslie, exactly...xoxo

  35. An exciting day. Congratulations, Hank!

  36. Good Luck, I can't wait to buy a copy of your book!

  37. Congratulations on your book release Hank!

  38. Hank isn't your real name is it? Maybe Henrietta?

    I used to like making up names for characters and I'm not even really a writer. I would use the phone book and pick names that I liked and mix the first and last names. Or you could accidentally come up with a more foreign-sounding name if you make errors while typing or sometimes a made-up name just comes to you.

  39. MIchelle F--okay, fine, it's HArreit. But even tough I never liked it as a kid, now I really do .HArriet Tyan seems like a very nice author noame, don't you think?

    And hey--if you come up with some good names, LOVE to hear them! I often auction off a character naming for charity--and I have gotten some really great ones!
    In The Other Woman, you'll meet Sheila King, and Kris Archambault, and Darrell James and Jan Kurtz! All names from auctions..

    And you see how complicated it is--all those J's and K's.

  40. Phew! The bookstore should open at dawn when we are waiting with bated breath for books from two of our favorite writers . . . .

    Hank: Congratulations on “The Other Woman” . . . what an amazing story! Kept me glued to the pages and guessing all the way to the last page!

    Lucy: Congratulations on “Death In Four Courses” . . . I loved your book . . . and now I’m off to make that Hot Fudge Pie!

  41. Joan..your review! I am so thrilled and delighted...thank you! What surprise! What a treat! xoxoo

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  43. Thank you,Beth, Dru and Marie! So lovely to hear from you..very exciting!

    Lucy and I both have launch parties tomorrow (hurray! I wish you could all be there!)...and here in Boston, it is going to POUR!

  44. I want The Other Woman! Especially when you say that Boston is a character as much as the journalist and police officer. Thank you.

  45. After reading this great interview, excellent reviews and wonderful comments, I am eager to read this book. It sounds marvelous.

  46. Would really Love to read your new book Hank...Thanks for the chance..

  47. Congratulations on the new release Hank! I am a lover of suspense/murder mysteries and I cannot wait to read this book.

  48. This sounds like another winner for you and is #1 on my wishlist!

  49. Thanks for the chance to win your new book Hank. (that was my dads name) I enjoy reading murder mysteries and this sounds really good . Hope to win.

  50. WOw--this is so lovely to see! Thank you, so much! It's a wonderful thing to read such kind words..I am so grateful.xooo

    Crossing fingers you love it!

  51. In a way, I envy you your inspiration. You had the plot in your head right from the beginning!

    In another way, I don't. It's kind of fun to write and find out what's going to happen, kind of like a reader would.

    Morgan Mandel

  52. Well.....I've known several "Other WomEn," so I look forward to reading how this one fares!

    Thank you for the chance to "win" a copy of this well received entertainment! I need it desperately!

    When will you visit Austin?

    Carla S.

  53. I just CANNOT wait to read this book!!

  54. Great video---now I REALLY want to read this book.

  55. I have read great reviews and have this on my wishlist. Congrats!

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  56. Oh, this is so wonderful to hear! Thank you! xo

  57. Hank, your book is the newest addition to my To Be Read stack. And if you come to the San Francisco Bay Area, I'll be in line to meet you!!

    I'm not eligible for a prize copy, having recently won, but I'll be happy to buy a copy for myself. Soon.

  58. Congrats on your new book. Looking forward to reading it.
    Sue B

  59. I WANT The Other Woman!