Edith: Welcome to New England SINC members Lucy Burdette and Hank Phillippi Ryan! You each have a new book out. Tell us a little about your books.
Lucy: DEATH IN FOUR COURSES is the second in the Key West food critic mystery series. The book is set at the annual Key West Loves Literature conference, which draws the biggest names in food writing from all over the country, and Haley Snow is there to catch a few fresh morsels of insider gossip. Superstar restaurant critic Jonah Barrows has already ruffled a few foodie feathers with his recent tell-all memoir, and as keynote speaker, he promises more of the same jaw-dropping honesty. But when Hayley discovers Jonah’s body in a nearby dipping pool, the cocktail hour buzz takes a sober turn, and Hayley finds herself at the center of attention—especially with the police. Now it’s up to her to catch the killer before she comes to her own bitter finish.
I can’t help adding that I was so thrilled to have my first review in Publishers Weekly—in ten books! They called DEATH IN FOUR COURSES a “yummy sequel” and said: “Anyone who’s ever overpaid for a pretentious restaurant meal will relish this witty cozy.”
Hank: I love that Julia Spencer-Fleming called THE OTHER WOMAN The Candidate meets Basic Instinct. I’ve called it The Good Wife meets Law & Order. A Booklist starred review (!) calls it “The perfect thriller for the election season.” It’s a fast-paced page-turner about a reporter on the trail of a candidate’s secret mistress. Who is the other woman? And if a candidate is having an affair—should the reporter make that public? And its the first in a new series, so readers are starting at the beginning. Fans of Lisa Scottoline and Harlan Coben will love it, I hope!
Edith: What’s new and different in this book from your previous publications (which are many!)?
Hank: Yes, THE OTHER WOMAN is very different! When I got the idea for the story, I realized it was too big and juicy and complicated to be in first person present tense. My thought was—there are too many elements that need to be going on at the same time. And the main characters, Jane Ryland and Jake Brogan, each needed their own point of view. That allowed me to reveal, separately, what each person knows and what they believe to be true—and also allows me to let the reader know thing that the character doesn’t. It seemed so ripe for dramatic irony—and it was an amazing and rewarding challenge to write it. Incredibly fun.
And the TIME books are funny, THE OTHER WOMAN really isn’t. But the fabulous Oline Cogdill, in her rave review, commented on my “effortlessly wry humor”–so I guess it’s not all drama and suspense!
Lucy: Everything about this series is fun, but I especially enjoyed attending the Key West Literary Seminar on Food Writing for my research. And to complicate Hayley’s life a little, I had her invite her mother down to the conference. But then she realizes that having her mother tethered to her for the weekend isn’t a great professional advantage. Writing about the mother-daughter interactions was both challenging and illuminating. Hayley is forced to start growing up!
Edith: Do your books come out in paper and eformats at the same time? What do you think is the best way to maximize sales in these different reading methods?
Lucy: Yes both at once, which is a publisher choice. I simply don’t worry about the different formats. (One of the few things I don’t worry about.) I’m sure self-publishing an ebook would mean a different set of skills, but at this point, I try to get the word out about the book. And then let readers choose their poison
Hank: Cross fingers. I am thrilled for readers to buy it and read it in whatever format they choose. Or all of them! I have books in hardcover AND audio, and certainly in hardcover and e-book. It works nicely so I can read whenever I want! I look at the formats as complementary, not exclusionary.
Edith: Lucy, you are a past Sisters in Crime president (as Roberta Islieb), and Hank, you’re President-Elect. I’m curious about the benefits and drawbacks to the job, and I’ll bet our members are, too.
Hank: Drawbacks? No drawbacks. Only honor and delight. It’s a little intimidating, to follow in the footsteps of such stellar sisters. But as part of the mystery community, Id eager to help continue the mission! Anything you need, anything you care about, anything you want brought front and center, I hope you’ll contact me.
Lucy: I am crazy for Sisters in Crime. I love what the organization stands for, and the friends I’ve made, and the support I’ve gotten and offered. I could never imagine being on this loony journey alone! Acting as president was a great honor—I learned so much. Don’t tell Hank, but it did absorb a lot of writing time.
Edith: What avenues for promotion have you found most fruitful, reaching the most readers?
Lucy: Big sigh. If I had that answer, I’d hang out a shingle and promote for other authors. I have heard the advice that nothing we can do ourselves counts as much as getting the publisher behind the book. If that’s true, writing the best book possible is the path to take.
On the other hand, publishers do expect an author to pitch in on promotion. I do a lot of things—Facebook, Twitter, two different blogs, guest blogs, emails, and some appearances. Though I love talking to readers in person most of all, I think the traditional author book tour is getting less effective and more expensive. My best ever promotional coup was getting an article in Sports Illustrated about the golf lovers’ mysteries. That came from constantly reaching out to people in the golf business until I found someone who was intrigued by the series. Persistence plus luck equals success. Sometimes.
And don’t forget to write first!
Hank: Crossing fingers. Okay, no, really, our community is so engaged and so friendly—and I am always reassured to see how generous everyone is. The balance between social media and one-on-one signings and –hey, writing!–is a tough one. But I don’t think anyone has figured out how to do it perfectly. What I’m learning? Is to focus on what I’m doing, and not on some free-floating fear of what I’m NOT doing. I can’t control the universe, right? I can just do my best and make the best decisions I can. I’d love to hear what others think!
Edith: Finally, what’s next for you?
Hank: Ah! I am about to embark on a crazy and hilarious book tour for the next couple of months—talk about juggling! SO I’ll go to my reporter job as usual, and then visits bookstores and libraries in the evenings…and travel (mostly on weekends) to North Carolina and Arizona and Michigan and Ohio and Texas with much glee and anticipation! (Check my website for the schedule—hope to see you there!)
And I just turned in the first draft of THE WRONG GIRL, which is scheduled to be out in hardcover from Forge next year.
Lucy: This week I’m putting the finishing touches on the third book in the Key West series, TOPPED CHEF. Hayley gets roped into judging a Key West-style reality TV contest, and of course, the bodies start to fall. It comes out in May 2013.
Edith: What exciting news! I can’t wait to read the new books and look forward to the next installments, too. Thanks again for stopping by your local SINC chapter blog. Both of our guests blog and tweet at http://www.JngleRedWriters.com @junglereds
Clinical psychologist Lucy Burdette, aka Roberta Isleib, is the author of ten published mysteries including the latest, DEATH IN FOUR COURSES. Her books and stories have been nominated for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She is a past president of Sisters in Crime. More at www.lucyburdette.com. @lucyburdette on Twitter.
Hank Phillippi Ryan is the on-the-air investigative reporter for 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 28 EMMYs, Hank’s won dozens of other journalism honors. She’s been a radio reporter, a political campaign staffer, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine working with Hunter S. Thompson.
Her first mystery, the best-selling PRIME TIME, won the Agatha for Best First Novel. FACE TIME was a BookSense Notable Book, and AIR TIME and DRIVE TIME were nominated for the AGATHA and ANTHONY Awards. Hank’s short story “On the House” won the AGATHA, ANTHONY and MACAVITY.
Her newest thriller, THE OTHER WOMAN, comes out in hardcover September 4 from Forge. A starred review from Library Journal says “a dizzying labyrinth of twists, turns, and surprises. Readers who crave mystery and political intrigue will be mesmerized by this first installment of her new series.” A starred review from Booklist calls it “The perfect thriller for the election season…”
You can watch a video trailer for THE OTHER WOMAN:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdH02wV_O3M