Day 12 Hank Phillippi Ryan – Investigating Romance

No Mystery, Romance Matters

Tell the Story Without Romance? I Dare You to Try.

Here’s a confession. And what would you have said?

The Other WomanFirst you need to know I’m a TV reporter, have been for the last 35 years or so. So my entry into writing came with non-fiction. I could NOT make stuff up, I could not detour from the facts, I had to be absolutely objective. From the Challenger explosion to the Boston Marathon bombing, even with heart wrenching stories and life-changing events, my emotions could not come into play.

(Of course they did, eventually—when I’d go home and cry. But that’s another blog.)

AS I began my fiction career, wondered if my imagination would let me create new worlds where nothing existed before. Would I be able to come up with fresh new characters? Unique situations? Would I be able—for the first time since I was a little girl—to make stuff up?

And so, at my computer just outside Boston, I began to learn to let emotion in. Not just what happened, but how the participants felt about it. How their world changed them, and tormented them or when it made them deliriously happy. It allowed me to introduce a word that’s often not part of a hard news story—“love.”

And when that happened, it made me look at my news stories differently. Although I’d always been a story teller, adding fiction to my resume—in my books, mind you, not on TV!—opened new doors for how I thought about the world, and the people in my stories. Who did they love, why did they love, what were the stakes and what were the goals?

Being a reporter helped my fiction writing—but being an author also helped my journalism.

So now—the confession. Someone asked me once whether I could write a romance without a mystery.

I have to admit—I laughed. I said, well, I suppose. But what would the people DO?

I will pause now, while you laugh. This is why I write romantic suspense, I guess, rather that only romance.

But then the person followed up. Could you, she asked, write a mystery without romance?

And that was much easier. No way, I said, not if the characters are real people with real desires and real emotions. Even if you have a career-oriented down-the-line professional person, a corporate lawyer or brilliant surgeon or an FBI agent or a Marine—she’s always got romance in at least the back of her mind.

Right? Even if she’s thinking: “I don’t have time for this”–hmmm, what is she pondering that got her there?  If she’s twenty—she’s thinking—I have 80 years ahead of me! Am I going to spend it alone? If she’d thirty—she may be thinking:  I love my career—but what if I want o have children? Will I do that by myself? If she’s forty: she could be thinking—wow, I love my success—I wonder if there should be someone who I could share it with. If she’s  fifty, she might be thinking—well—you get the picture.

So it turns out, my realization is that romance is not “additional.” Romance-whether you call it love or not-love, lust or desire or longing or yearning– a crush or a passion or two ninety-year-olds holding hands—romance is all there is in our lives. And what brings us together.



Look for books published by Henery Press,  a brand new and completely fabulous publishing company doing top-notch cozy and edge-of cozy mysteries. One of their authors, Susan Boyer, won the Agatha for Best First Mystery! They are a terrific mix of romance and humor and suspense.

For an e-published author, NO question about this one—the incredible Rosemary Harris. Her brand new THE BITCHES OF BROOKLYN is already creating amazing buzz.

Questions for Hank:

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

This duck bowl! We gave it to my father as a birthday present maybe 40 years ago—and he LOATHED it! He didn’t even pretend to like it! But I adore it, and have had it ever since.

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

THE JUGGLER. Because that’s all I do—juggled between my full-time job as an investigative reporter and a writer and a wife.  Who would play me? Candace Bergen.

What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?

A woman in the post office stopped me and said—are you Hank Phillippi Ryan? I’m used to being recognized from my years in TV, so I said, yes. She reached into her purse and pulled out a copy of THE OTHER WOMAN. I LOVE YOUR BOOKS! she said.  I almost burst into tears. Anytime someone loves my books—I am so endlessly delighted and grateful.  So, the gift of being able to tell a story, I guess…I am very lucky.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

Well, Jane and Jake, who make their debut in the Mary Higgins Clark award winnings THE OTHER WOMAN.  I think of them as Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, you know? I love how they talk to each other, and I love how they yearn for each other. Theirs is a relationship that is prohibited by Jane’s job as a reporter—and Jake’s as a detective. Will they ever get together?  More to come in THE WRONG GIRL—this September.

Hank is generously donating three copies of The Other Woman for U.S. readers (apologies to international readers.) To enter, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by 11:59pm EST Aug 12 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


Hank Phillip RyanHank Phillippi Ryan is on the air as investigative reporter 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 30 EMMYs, Hank’s won dozens of other journalism honors. The author of six crime fiction novels, she has won the Mary Higgins Clark Award and two Agathas, as well as the Anthony and Macavity Awards. Her book THE OTHER WOMAN was nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Daphne and Shamus. Her newest thriller is THE WRONG GIRL, which the Booklist starred review called “another winner.”  Hank is president of national Sisters in Crime and on the national board of MWA.

Buy Hank’s books on Amazon


  • Nancy Huddleston

    Have to go read one now. Love finding out about authors I haven’t tried.

    • HankPRyan

      Thank you, Nancy! My complete pleasure…

  • Jen C

    I love that duck bowl! It’s awesome. And so is your blog post! 🙂

    • HankPRyan

      Aw, Jen. Yes, I love the duck bowl..and you are such a dear to say such nice things…..

  • Melanie Backus

    I think we just have to look around to see romance abounding.

    • HankPRyan

      True, huh?ANd pretty interesting! Thanks for visiting today!

  • Ann

    Romance is not “additional” – so true, I can’t think of many books that do not have some type of romance.

    • HankPRyan

      Absolutely! I agree…thank you! xo

  • Toni Linenberger

    What fun post. I like the insight into non-fiction that you got from writing fiction.

    • HankPRyan

      I do, too! ANd thank you for giving me the opportunity to think about it… xoxo

  • Meredith Richardson

    Thank you for sharing your story with us 🙂

    • HankPRyan

      My pleasure! xo

  • Ora

    I completely with Ann with romance being in many books not classified as romance. I love finding new authors.

    • HankPRyan

      Interesting, huh? I’m loving this month on RAR! So happy to meet YOU! xox

  • Kim Cornwell

    Love meeting new authors! Thanks for sharing!

    • HankPRyan

      And I love meeting new readers! Perfect! xo

  • Kareni

    I look forward to reading your books! Thanks for the post.

    • HankPRyan

      Thank you! xo

  • Kristy Birch

    I love the, “What would the people DO?” question. I love adding some suspense and mystery when I read. Romantic Suspense is also a favorite because it’s the sub-genre that I introduced to my sister and got her hooked on reading romance; it’s wonderful to share that with her.

    • HankPRyan

      Oh, you are such a good sister! Hmmm…that is a perfect title for me..the Good Sister. Hmmm…

  • Sandi in OH

    I love to read romances, mysteries, etc. Now I have a new author to look for. Romance is involved in everything. It is what makes the world go round.

    • HankPRyan

      I so agree, Sandi! Thank you!

  • Rosemarie N.

    Wow, now I have a new author to read. Thank you.

    • HankPRyan

      Hurray! Keep in touch, okay?

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I enjoyed reading your essay. I am going to have to check your books put. 🙂

    • HankPRyan

      Thanks, Melissa! Hope you love them..xoox

  • Karin Anderson

    I think all books are mysteries. You read them to find out what happens. I know I can’t say, “On page 53 Mark is going to take Jane to the Titanic Museum.” No story can be written without a bit of suspense.

    • HankPRyan

      What a great way of putting it, Karin! xo

  • Suzanne Brockmann

    A wonderful blog from one of my favorite authors! SO GLAD you decided to start writing fiction, Hank!

    • HankPRyan

      SUzanne–so so completely rock, I cannot even express it. We need to catch up! Let’s make a plan, okay? Love to you all..

  • tonda hargett

    I love your essay, I’m very glad you added writing fiction to your resume!

    • HankPRyan

      OH, Tonda. I am,too. I can’t tell you haw happy I am about it..and its such a surprise..xoo

  • TrishJ

    I love romantic suspence books. you get the HEA, but a roller coaster ride to the.end. This month is great to find new authors, but also we get to know the authors better. Just where is the duck bowl on display??

    • HankPRyan

      Oh, Trish, the duck bowl is in the sun room, right near framed photos of my family. Yup, and the roller coaster is definitely part of the deal! xo

  • HankPRyan

    Well, thank you! Yes, hi SUZANNE BROCKMANN! I wouldn’t be here if not for your friendship early on..thank you. SO lovely to hear from you all!

  • Marijane Diodati


    This is a great essay. Personally, since Romantic Suspense is my favorite genre, I want romance and the HEA. Please give Jane and Jake a HEA together!

    Keep writing!

    • HankPRyan

      Thank you, Marijane! Well, I’m hoping for a HEA, too..but I have to admit, I just have no idea what’ll happen…. 🙂

  • Becky James-Muth

    I totally thought of Jane and Jake as a Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy type of couple! I can’t wait to read more about them. 🙂

    • HankPRyan

      BEcky, you are such a good pal! And we are so on the same wavelength–always have been! xox

  • Leslie Thompson Monfort

    You are a woman to be admired. I would love to be able to do as much as you and be so successful.

    • HankPRyan

      Oh, Leslie–so sweet of you! Thank you!

  • Pamby50

    I love the duck bowl. Glad you kept it. Looking forward to reading one of your books. Another new author to add to my list.

    • HankPRyan

      Thanks so much! Yes, the duck bowl is pretty hilarious…and has a lot of lovely memories attached. And some funny ones, too!

  • Britney Adams

    I love romantic suspense! I can’t wait to read THE OTHER WOMAN and meet Jane and Jake!!

    • HankPRyan

      Thank you, Britney. HOpe you love them…let me know. okay?

  • christinejensen

    I get bored when a book doesn’t have a romance running through it 😉

    • HankPRyan

      Well, it wouldn’t be very realistic, right?

  • Nicole Fortuna

    I love romantic suspense it’s the best of both worlds. I have a total addiction to mysteries and love to have the romance in it as well.

    • HankPRyan

      Oh. Nicole.I agree..! I;ve loved mysteries since I was a little girl. and of course, romance. I remember swiping Marjorie Morningstar from my parents bookshelf….and Peyton PLace!

      • Nicole Fortuna

        When I was little I was stuck on Nancy Drew. My mother in law actually asked me yesterday if I have ever read Peyton Place and I have to confess that I have not!

        • HankPRyan

          So interesting! I wonder if it’s be incredibly dated now…hmmmm… ANd I loved Nancy Drew too!

          • Nicole Fortuna

            I’m not going to attempt Peyton Place but I am going to check out the Other Woman!

  • Marilyn Levinson

    I’ve a romance or two in every mystery I write. It’s more fun that way:)

    • HankPRyan

      Hey, Marilyn! SO great to see you here…and love your books!

  • ki pha

    I just love authors who writes about what they know and of course having a job in investigating reporting it makes the story even more real. Thanks for your post!

    • HankPRyan

      My pleasure! Thank you…

  • Susan Coster

    Would love to read THE OTHER WOMAN…….today’s my 40th anniversary….don’t I deserve a lifetime merit badge of some sort?

    • HankPRyan

      HURRAY! That is quite a testament to your relationship…I’d love to know your secret of success! Cngratulations..and forty more…

  • Ruth

    Love your post, Hank! I love it that everyday this month, so matter what kind of romance – historical, suspense, mystery, contemporary, para-normal – once again, it is proven that romance is everywhere; we can’t escape it. Hooray!

    • HankPRyan

      ANd who would want to escape, right? zoo

  • MaryC

    Anyone who hasn’t read THE OTHER WOMAN should run out and buy it – can’t wait to read THE WRONG GIRL.

    • HankPRyan

      Thank you, Mary! So nice of you! I am so excited about THE WRONG GIRL…I’m going to be asking people about their experiences searching for their birth parents…so watch for that!

  • Ketta Peters

    Another author I have to run out and buy! So glad to have (finally) heard about you, this promotion is fantastic.

    • HankPRyan

      Great, Ketta! Crossing fingers you love the books.. let me know, okay?

  • Erlinda Mejia

    You have been recommended by Suzanne Brockmann and I can’t wait to read your books. I’m a new fan!

    • HankPRyan

      Thank you, Erlinda! SUzanne is incredibly brilliant–talented, and brilliant, and a completely wonderful person.

  • Marjorie morris

    I love your books.

    • HankPRyan

      Marjorie! Aww. What a wonderful thing to say..I am so grateful!

  • I truly enjoyed reading your post today. Romantic suspense is wonderful. I am a huge fan of Henery Press, happy to see you give them a shout out! Looking forward to checking out your books. Thank you for being here today!

    • HankPRyan

      Yes, Brooke, it’s a terrific publishing company. The woman who runs it, Kendall Lynn, is an incredibly accomplished author in her own right. I’m so impressed with them all!

  • Patty Vasquez

    In a way, it must have been a relief to be able to write fiction stories and have an outlet for the emotions you couldn’t share on-air. I can understand the cause and effect relationship between your fiction writing and your reporting. I enjoyed your article in the RT Book Reviews Magazine. You must have boundless energy to keep so many plates in the air spinning at the same time!

    • HankPRyan

      Oh, Patty…thank you! I ever thought of it that way..but I bet you are right. And the more I consider it, the luckier I feel. And wow, I was so thrilled with the RT story. Thank you so much for reading it! Keep in touch, okay?

  • rebecca moe

    Your Jane and Jake series sounds great–my TBR pile keeps growing!

    • HankPRyan

      Ah, I know..the curse of a happy reader..a teetering TBR. I’m with you!

    • I’m doing my best, Rebecca! ;o)

  • Mary McCoy

    I love your duck bowl! I agree with you, romance is not additional, it is integral to any story I read. Thanks again for coming to the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books, we all enjoyed your panel.

    • HankPRyan

      Oh, Mary, my pleasure! It’s a terrific festival..and I hope I get invited back!

      • What? When? I missed this. :o/

        Thank you SO MUCH for being her today, Hank!

        • HankPRyan

          Oh, I’ve loved it! And so flattered you invited me..xoo What a terrific group of readers and authors!

        • Mary McCoy

          Bobbi, it happens every fall at UW Waukesha, with over 100 authors. This year they have an emphasis on Sci Fi, but all genres are represented. I am just lucky enough that I happen to live in Waukesha. Best of all, free admission and quality speakers like Hank…

          • Mary – please get in touch with me in Sept, okay?

    • You’re in WI, Mary? Where? I’m in Madison. xoxo

  • BookLady

    Great post! It is very interesting to learn about an author’s background and inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

    • HankPRyan

      Thank you! You never now, right, what’s going to give you a good idea?

  • QuenKne M

    I don’t know how you do it all? You must be one of those women that was created from a romance novel in a previous life – you know the kind, the ones that can do it all!! Congratulations on all your many successes!!

    • HankPRyan

      Aw….that is the nicest thing! Thank you….what a charming idea…

  • Laura Z

    Well The Other Woman sounds like a really good book, I think that the romantic suspense books are my favorites now but that can change as I go thru phases where I only read books set during the civil war or set in London. Looking forward to reading another new to me author.

    • HankPRyan

      I go through phases, too! (And whoa…it’d be fun if you were in a “hank” phase…:-) ) Thank you!

  • NancyRoessner

    You’re right, of course, every story must have a little romance, or a lot.

    • HankPRyan

      I’m with you, Nancy!

  • Becky Rabalais

    Gosh! I love the idea of romance and suspense, but haven’t read many.. Can’t wait to read The Other Woman.

    • HankPRyan

      Oh, this is the perfect place to start! Especially if you like intrigue! xo Can’t wait to hear if you like it.. keep in touch, okay?

  • M Kuxhaus

    That duck bowl is very intriguing. I like it!

    • HankPRyan

      Isn’t it hilarious? xo

    • HankPRyan

      Yes..It’s fascinating..I can’t quite figure out how it works… xo

  • Marcia Berbeza

    What a rewarding career you have had. Both the fiction and the non-fictional aspects of it! And yes, I like that darn duck bowl too!! It’s just funky enough to be the one piece everyone either loves or hates!!

    • HankPRyan

      Yup! I’m counting blessings..xo

  • brhill2010

    I think it is an accomplishment to go from a reporter to a writer. I also love the duck bowl!!

    • HankPRyan

      Well, thanks! it has been fascinating to me, too, to use the different parts of my brain! And the duck bowl..well, that’s altogether different!

  • Kim

    I love the questions about romance and mystery. Romance is an integral part of life, whether you are single or have a partner.

    • HankPRyan

      Yes indeed! Thanks, Kim! xo

  • Dawn

    Great post! Suzanne Brockmann sent me 🙂 I enjoyed reading about how your journalism experience informs your fiction writing and vice-versa. Very interesting. I’m looking forward to reading your books. Loving RARM! And love the duck bowl!

    • HankPRyan

      LOVE Suzanne! She’s amazing..hope you love the books…and so happy about the duck bowl! xo

    • Thank you, Dawn! Glad you’re here. :o)

  • Ann Mettert

    I love your books!! Really. 🙂

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Loved your post today. Looking forward to adding your books to my TBR list

  • Pam P

    Great insights Hank as to how your career as both a journalist and author affect each other. At one time I was heavily into thriller and suspense and then got addicted to romances, so romantic suspense satisifies both. My mother loves mystery and suspense and I finally convinced her to try romantic suspense with your first book, which made her a fan of yours and the genre.

  • Jenny Martin

    Love finding you as an author!