Tuesday, April 28, 2015

WHAT WE'RE WRITING--Hank Phillippi Ryan and WHAT YOU SEE

HANK PHILLIPPI  RYAN:  It’s what we're writing week, and I am being grateful for deadlines, because otherwise how would we ever be finished? When I look back at my work (sometimes), or read it out loud at events (rarely!) there is always some little thing I would change. Sigh. I guess that’s good, always striving to be more evocative, more emotional, more exciting. Shorter.
          I’m five thousand words into a new book—more on that soon. And every word feels like a triumph. Not that the words are so great—simply that they exist, where there was once only a blank page! And I keep telling myself that if I keep going, inevitably and inexorably, the new story will emerge. So far, I’ve got a car accident, a murder victim, and a new job for Jane. And that’s only the first three chapters. I can make it better later.
          You know, every time I start a book, I have a moment of thinking: this cannot be done!  And then, months and months later, there it is. Now we are coming up to the pub date for  the fourth Jane Ryland/Jake Brogan thriller, WHAT YOU SEE. I am so excited to say it’s October 20, and why sure, you can pre-order.

WHAT YOU SEE begins with a murder in broad daylight, a stabbing at Curley Park just outside Boston City Hall.  (Inside info: This incident is very loosely based on a case my defense attorney husband had! He represented the accused killer. More on that another day…) Anyway, in the book at least: Soon after the crime, a newbie police cadet takes our hero, Detective Jake Brogan, aside, and tells him a bystander might have a lead on the bad guy.


  Chapter  3
     “Down that way—in the alley!” The cadet grabbed Jake’s arm, and Jake followed the kid’s pointing finger toward the narrow curved passage between the bank and the liquor store. “Some guy, hiding in a Dumpster. Down there. Or someone put something in the Dumpster. Something like that.” The cadet gulped for air, trying to get the words out. “A girl—I mean, a woman—told me. Anyway, what if it’s the—”

“Who told you? Where’d she come from?” Jake needed specifics. “Where is she now? This girl-woman? What’d she say?”

“Ah, I don’t know, she just said—what I said. The Dumpster. We were all taking names and addresses, see, they’re still doing that, like you wanted, and she came up to me and—” 

The cadet’s black plastic name tag said brad lonnergan. Lonnergan pointed again, jabbing the air. “Down there. What if it’s the guy who—”

“You kidding me? Do you see her? Find her.” This Lonnergan kid was not clear on the law enforcement concept. “Hold her. Do not let her leave. Understand? D!”

Jake signaled DeLuca with one finger. Me. You. That way. Let’s go.

They couldn’t afford to spook the crowd. All he needed, a mob following them into Franklin Alley, hooting like medieval peasants while they dragged some poor jerk from a Dumpster. Jake, checking to make sure D was behind him, snaked behind the spectators, dodging and weaving. Only one or two seemed to notice they were on the move. He and D didn’t look like cops, after all. Just two guys wearing jeans and leather jackets. Walking fast.

Jake glanced over his shoulder again. Most eyes focused on Kat McMahon, the ME now kneeling over the victim. For once, better to keep it that way. Cadets—the ones with brains—were taking names and addresses. Asking if anyone saw anything. Asking spectators with cameras and cell phones to stand by. The whole thing was already verging on out of control. And now this.

But maybe this would solve the whole damn case and they all could go home.

Ahead of them, the alley. Cracked pavement, cobblestones scattered with gravel. Framed on the right by the bank’s brand-new red brick, on the left by the pockmarked brownstone of Jodi’s Liquors and the University Inn. With its twists and turns, only the first ten feet or so of Franklin were visible from the street. Jake knew it was a dead end. If someone was in there, like Lonnergan’s “girl-woman” said, there’d be no way out except toward him and DeLuca. A bad guy who planned where he was going, or was at least familiar with this part of the city, would never have chosen this as an escape route. Unless he was panicking. Or hurt. Or trying to hide, waiting it out.

Or luring them in? Trapping them?

At the curb, Jake stopped, put up a hand, assessing. DeLuca skidded to a halt, almost slamming into Jake’s back. Broad daylight, not like anyone could surprise them. The quiet hubbub of Curley Park softened into background.

One second, two.

Jake felt for his Glock, drew it, felt the sun on his face. A seagull squawked, swooping, headed for the harbor. Lured into a dead-end alley? Windows above. Rooftops. Where was the woman who’d sent them down here? Who was she? Whose side was she on? What if—well, there were too many what-ifs to consider right now.

“You ready?” he said.

“Ready,” DeLuca said.

“On my three.” Jake began, “One.”

“Help!” A voice, from down the alley. “Help me!”

“Three,” Jake said.

HANK: Okay, I like it. It still makes me smile.  That‘s a good thing. 

 And let’s give away an advance reading copy, whaddaya say?  I need a name for a female drama teacher at a small college in Boston. I was thinking her first name is Sasha. What’s her last name? (No beginning with J, or M, or D, or R. In fact, can it begin with V? )

Is she a good guy or a bad guy? Too early to tell.  But I’ll choose an ARC winner at random for the suggestions…and I’m hoping I can also use a name!

(And who is going to Malice this weekend? Crossing fingers for my Agatha-nominated TRUTH BE TOLD  and WRITES OF PASSAGE!)


  1. This excerpt really captures the tension of the investigation and the eagerness of the cadet. I can't wait to read on to see what happens next! Thanks for this;
    I have really enjoyed all the Jane Ryland/Jake Brogan stories and am looking forward to reading "What You See" . . . .

    "V" surnames for Sasha? How about Vincent or Vaughn or Voigt or Volkov?

  2. I can heartily recommend my last name--Virtue. Honestly.

  3. Sasha Cohen? Just seems natural.

  4. Good tension--we can't tell if the cadet is just really that wet-behind-the-ears or if something else is going on!

    How about Sasha Vianetti? It suggests some excitability, some pretension for an actress who made it as far as a small college and no further.

  5. I've always wanted to be in one of your books so how about "Sasha Naiman".

    See you at Malice!

  6. Love it, Hank! Sasha Vorhyzek (my college roommate's last name...)?

    See you in Bethesda. Must pack, must pack.

  7. It's wonderful Hank--I'd be happy happy happy to have that on MY page too!

  8. Oh,you all are terrific! Hmm…I wondering if her last name has to be Russian-ish. Let's see if we can make it less so. Although you all are tempting me. It gives her a little different edge.

    And yes, Flora, so far she is pretentious. SO that's a good thing. Virtue is terrific..tha's be fun. Elaine, that;s so nice of you! ANd hmmm..

    Keep them coming--this is so helpful! What a treat to have such savvy team.

  9. Wow. You certainly do know how to set the hook, Hank. LOVE this. So jealous. Wanna be done with a book.

    Female drama teacher. Sasha starts-with-V? Sasha Vida. Sasha Vann. Sasha Valentine.

  10. Valentine. Valentine. Oh. Hmm.

    Thank you, dear Hallie! xoxo

  11. There is the generic, such as to be suspicious, Sasha Victor.

  12. Yes, Gerald--I love that concept…generic IS suspicious! Because it's made up, right?

  13. Me, me, me (going to Malice)! Last name starting with a "V"? How about Vuketich?

    Loved the excerpt, Hank, and can't wait to read the book. See you in a couple of days!

  14. Great excerpt. Suspenseful!

    I'm not going within 100 miles of Baltimore this weekend.

    Sasha Vincente

  15. Shasa Verdanne

  16. Love this, Hank. Cannot wait, as always. I won't see you at Malice but maybe Bouchercon?

    Sasha Vigliotti?

  17. I really loved this excerpt -- can't wait to see where it leads!

    Hallie may have nailed it with Sasha Valentine -- that has a nice feel to it. But just in case that isn't it, I had been thinking Sasha Ventresca, Sasha Vianelli, or Sasha Van Horn.

    I have a close friend who actually does teach theater at a small college in Boston, so of course I have a whole different perspective on what that person would be like than any of the comments so far. But I guess I'll just say this: remember, it may not be that she made it as far as a small college and no further....it may be that after years of acting, she decided to get some academic credentials and seek a settled life to raise a family. Yet another aspect of the book for me to look forward to!

  18. Sasha Victory

    Sasha Vale/Vail

    Sasha Vick

  19. To make Valentine more Russian, just drop the end "e": Valentin, or change it to Valentinov.

    One thing I've learned from having a Russian/Polish last name is that female versions are different (mine, in Poland, would be Maslowska, for instance). So you could add "ska" to it, also, for authenticity.

    I will be very happy to see you all at Malice this year. Can't wait for the Jungle Reds panel!

  20. I know a Brazilian Sasha. How about Viera? or Vargas?

  21. Sasha Bishop. That sounds good!

  22. Well, I suppose Sasha Cootie wouldn't work.

    Snappy, edgy, terrific as always - is it October yet?? At least now I have a release date to put on my calendar.

  23. Can't wait to read this!!

    How about Vessel for Sasha's last name??

  24. Another really, really exciting and interesting scene!

    My vote: Sasha Villard.

  25. Wonderful!

    Hmmm...Vance or Vence? VanBuren?

  26. My first thought was Sasha Voss and nobody else mentioned it. Sasha has a lilt and Voss, to me, is downbeat. Sort of a contradiction. (And the last name is nobody I know of.)

  27. Velasquez gets my vote for the last name. I know it's not the same nationality as Sasha, but I just love how they sound together, and it would make for an interesting character back story.

    But this new book? Jane/Jake? Charlie? Something new?

  28. Love the excerpt, Hank! Way to set a hook!!!!

    How about Sasha Verlaine?

  29. Oh, just got back to my offcie-to all these wonderful names! You all are BRILLIANT. And I am going from having nothing ( I was using Vogel, Sasha Vogel. Then I decided I had too many two-syllable names, so I made it Voglesby. Which is ridiculously made up, right?) to having so many wonderful ideas that I may give her two names!

    Sasha Voss-Velasquez. Now THERE'S an interesting person.

    Sasha Villard-Ventrscaa. Also interesting, right, but TOTALLY different.

    Got to admit, it's a cool thing to play with.

    Keep them coming!

  30. Verlaine! Lovely. Thank you, Debs!

    Villard-Verlaine. Great-great granddaughter of French poets.

  31. Great excerpt - can't wait to read more!
    As for the name, I suggest:
    Sasha Vale

  32. Huh? What? I'm immediately ensconced in this story, and then it stops, so I have to come back to the real world. I love how easy you make it, Hank, to be swallowed up by the story. I think that's called great storytelling. If I had to choose just one word to describe you and your writing, it would be "solid." I can always expect a completely solid story, full of intense action and emotion that leads to a whole resolution using all of the parts. It's reflective of the solid, dependable person you are, Hank. Oh, I think I just started my review of What You See. I can't wait to read it!

    Last name for Sasha? How about Sasha Vashti? The last name is actually the first name of my painter's female assistant.

  33. last name, vreeland.

  34. Sasha Vreeland Vale. Very very chic! Right??

    Or Sasha Vale Vreeland?

  35. Sasha Verchild

    Sasha Vickers

    Sasha Vinchy

    Sasha Valley

    Sasha Veneto

    Sasha Venice

  36. Oh the suspense! Not fair! I can hardly wait. <3
    Sasha . . . hmm, mixing nationalities . . . Valenti? (market/caterer in St. Peters -- I'm sure they wouldn't mind ;-) I like the sound of it.

  37. I was going to say Valesquez, but someone beat me to it, so I'll go with Vickers.
    Thanks so much for the excerpt!

  38. How about Sasha Vizcaya, or Sasha Villeneuve?

  39. These are terrific! I could NEVER have thought of them, it's so funny how our brains work differently, isn't it?.

    Love this.

    And mixing nationalities is good thing. It prevents the reader from stereotyping, right?

    More, more!

    This is tempting me to have you all name EVERYONE in the book!

  40. That little bit hooked me. V names, huh? Van Buren, Vanocur,
    Villanueva, Vargo, Von Trapp, Vanderpool, Vanderbilt.

  41. Von Trapp? Love it, PAt D. that would certainly give her a potential new history!

    Vanderbilt too. :-)

    Sasha Villenueva. Good one!

  42. What about Vissa, Vindon or Vincet?

  43. I have a few ideas:

    *Vega (one of the brightest stars in the night sky ... she'd always dreamed of stardom and thought her name should evoke that)

    *Van Moro or Van Moor (anagrams of Romanov, the Russian royal house to which there have been a number of pretenders)

    *Vidor (as in Oscar-winning director King Vidor)

    *Vaivora (pronounced vye-VOR-ah; Lithuanian goddess of the planet Mercury; I really like how "Sasha Vye-VOR-ah" sounds)

    *Vakarinė (pronounced va-ka-REE-nay; Lithuanian goddess of the evening star)

    *V (Why not simply "Sasha V"? There have been a few individuals with a surname consisting of only a single letter, or else it could be merely an affectation for stage purposes -- as would all of the above)

  44. YOu are all too amazing now. I am--so impressed,and feeling a bit like I don't try hard enough with names :-)

    . LOVE these, and am so enchanted with the thought you are putting in to this! And very tempted by all of them.. Van Moor and Van Moro are really clever!

    Love Vissa, too. ANd Volante. Sigh. NOW I'm in trouble...

  45. Joan, I'm taking Vaughn. For someone else, though, not Sasha. It really works. xooo and thank you!

    Stlll thinking about Sasha.

  46. So glad I could help, Hank!

    There are lots of great suggestions for Sasha's name [and so many "V" surnames]. Here are a few more that haven't been posted yet:
    Sasha Venneman . . . Sasha Vetrano . . . Sasha Vickery . . . Sasha Vogelman . . . Sasha Von Bergen . . . Sasha Von Seggern

  47. Laurie, also good! YAY. Think anyone would notice if EVERYONE in the book had a last name beginning with V??

    Joan, you are rocking the names!

  48. Oh Hank! I am in love with this book already!

    I hope I'm not too late to suggest Sasha Valori.

  49. Renie--never too late! xoxo
    Valori! Or Valeri! Hmm...

  50. Sasha Varracuda.....she got a bite to her Can't wait to read it!

  51. Diane, you are too funny! xoxo
    I'll pick a winner at midnight!
    But all of you are winners..you are brilliant and fabulous.
    Truly, this is amazing.

  52. My vote for last names goes to Sasha Voronov. If you don't like that one, well perhaps Vazov. Russian names all. I like using the three sylabble to vary the name sound.

    Good luck!

  53. I love the build-up in the excerpt. Can't wait to read the entire book!

    Verity - it means truth. Because she's truthful? Or...maybe she's not truthful?

  54. Hank who won the ARC from this blog I do not see the winner announcement anywhere? Thank you.

  55. I love the excerpt!! As for V names, how about