Sunday, February 21, 2010

Who, Me?


And I'm in a hotel in Stony Brook LI, feet on the coffee table, typing on a cranky laptop, having just finished a terrific booksigning at the fabulous Best Bargain Books in Centereach--and seeing some stalwart pals who were lovely enough to give up a sunny Saturday to attend! Reed Coleman and Roseanne, Ellen Meister and Emma, Kathleen Ryan, Edie Embler and her dear husband--you are truly good friends, and I'm very grateful. So wonderful to see you! And to all thoswe who came to chat--thank you so much!

So, I wave a fond goodbye to my reign as GM on CM--it's been truly hilarious. (The next GM is gonna be so thrilled to get all the secret stuff, and see all the secret photos. More I cannot say.)
Thank you so much for inviting me.

And time for one last question--from the charming Gabriella: (Oh, will I see you at Malice? Did I tell you I was nominated for two AG..--oh, I guess I did mention that...)

As a reporter, credibility is the coin of the realm in getting sources to share what they know but I imagine it's not always quite enough. What is the most creative, crafty, sneaky thing you've ever had Charlotte McNally do to get a source to spill? Is there anything in her repertoire she hasn't had to pull out yet? Anything you really wanted to try as a reporter that Charlotte is freer to employ?

HANK: Gabriella--Crafty? Sneaky?Reporters? Puh-leeze. Just like a good detective, we'll use psychology, negotiating skills, bluff, perseverance, tenacity, bluster, pleading, browbeating and power plays to try to get the most info we can.

It's an interesting balance. When you're working on a big story, that's the ONLY thing you care about. Every moment of the day, every cell in your brain is working on the story. How to get it, how to do the research, how to shoot it, how to write it, how to produce it.

Think of it--it's exactly like making a little documentary.

But the relationship with sources is -complicated. Because a reporter is so focused on the story, they may talk with a source many times a day. Getting info, checking facts, looking for documents, tracking down leads, making sure you're heading the right direction.

Sometimes the source has been wanting to talk for months, weeks--and finally finally, someone is listenining to them. ANd they can get very dependent on you--this is attention they've wanted for a long time, and often they are doing something very important, and certainly life-changing for them, as well as others.

All good.

But then the story is on the air, and over, and suddenly the reporter isn't calling anymore. Right? And suddenly, this source, who is used to talking with you every day--may feel--abandoned. And thats why the reporter has to be really careful to keep a strong line,a careful distance, so the source remembers you're not their friend, you're a professional doing a job. It's very very difficult.

So a crafty, and probably not-too-profesional reporter--not Charlie, of course, and not me--can pretend to be a friend. ANd that's--terrible. I would never have Charlie do it. A not-too-professional reporter would--promise something they can't deliver. Say a source could okay a script--when that woud never happen. Give a list of questions in advance. No way. Become a personal friend. No. Very dangerous.

The iffy part comes in undercover work. If I have a source who tells me someone is--say, fixing tickets at city hall. I need to find out if that's really happening. If I walk up to the ticket window as ME, and see if I can get someone to fix my ticket, that ain't gonna fly, right?

And since if it's not on video, it didn't happen, I've got to get it on tape. So pretending to be someone you're not is standard practice for an investigative rpoerter. ANd even that's a thin line. I'm not going to pretend I'm someone I'm not--I wouldn't say I'm--the inspector from the water company. Or your son's math teacher.

But in an undercover situation, I don't have to say I'm HPR, reporter from Channel 7. If I'm sitting next to you on the subway, I don't have to announce I'm a reporter.

And what Charlie does undercover, in AIR TIME and in DRIVE TIME is absolutely authentic and genuine. (And it's pretty much been-there-done-that. Except for the big shoot out in the end.)

Hey, guys! This has been a wonderful week! You are all absolutely stellar, and I've had a great time. Thank you for the eclairs and the brandy, really, beyond the call of duty! Any time you ever need anything, please call on me...and I'm wishing you all the best.
**************The last contest! A signed copy of the Agatha-nominated (can't resist) AIR TIME and QUARRY, the anthology the inclues the Agatha-nominated (!) short story "On the House." The week's winners all in the comments today!


Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed reading all your posts this week, Hank. It was a treat. Take care.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Thanks, Kay! It's a terrific group..delighted to be here.

Gabi said...

Hank, I've come to two conclusions this week -- being a source in an undercover story is a lot like dating without video (most of the time) and you are an absolute blast! Thanks for taking your time with us this week and I will see you at Malice with my books waiting for your signature as Agatha winner.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Aw, Gabi. You are wonderful. Thank you. (And we first met at a Malice, right?)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Of DRIVE TIME: PK and Marlyn
Of DRIVE TIME and High Noon:Kay
Of TIME book of your choice and AUDITION: Terry
OF QUARRY and Boston Noir: Mary Cunningham
Of AIR TIME and QUARRY: Janice Gable Bashman and Jennifer Gates
Of AIR TIME and Tshirt: Michele Emrath
Of AIR TIME and QUARRY: Peggy Blann Phifer

Just email me directly at hryan at whdh dot com and send me your address! Or go to my webstie
and click on contact.

Thanks for inviting me, you all! What an absolutely wonderful group..and I'm delighted to meet so many new pals. Keep in touch!

Kelli Stanley said...

Hank, thanks so much for wearing the GM tiara this week and regaling us with your wonderful posts!!!

You are an absolute treasure, and btw--TWO AGATHA NOMINATIONS!!! You GO!! ;)


Lady_Graeye said...

I have enjoyed your post. I haven't gotten "Drive Time" yet but it is on my list. You are one busy lady, how do you keep up?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Thanks, Lady G! Yes, it's sometimes a challenge. But if I love it all, what can I give up?Sleep, I guess...

Thanks so much for the kind words..keep in touch, okay?

By the way, LG--you're the runner- up for prizes. So if a winner doesn't respond--you're the waiting list name that was drawn!