Hometown Weekly Reporter
On February 27, authors Hank Phillipe Ryan and Hallie Ephron visited the Walpole Public Library to uncover the mystery behind writing mystery novels.
Ryan, an investigative reporter for Channel 7, and Ephron, a former elementary teacher and college professor, are both self-proclaimed late bloomers in the writing world. Ryan and Ephron began their writing careers at the ages of 55 and 40, respectively, but have seen huge success with their novels.
The author visit, sponsored by the Friends of the Walpole Library, allowed both Ryan and Ephron to discuss the outset of their careers and their inspirations. Library patrons were also encouraged to ask the authors their own questions.
Ephron comes from a family of writers. Although both of her parents were screenwriters and all three of her sisters became writers, Ephron resisted following in the family footsteps for as long as possible.
“Writing is the best therapy,” she said matter-of-factly, after disclosing that both of her parents were alcoholics. “And it’s cheaper.”
Eventually, she tried her hand in writing and soon became a writing instructor, where Ryan was a student.
Ever since she was a little girl, Ryan wanted to write a mystery novel. While it was a longtime dream of hers to write a mystery, it also took a long time for her to develop a concept for one. When the idea finally came to her, Ryan immediately began writing, launching another successful career.
“Our job is to entertain you,” Ryan said. “My goal is to have you be reading ‘Say No More’ on the T and have you miss your stop and just forget to get off because you’re so deeply into the story. That’s what we’re trying to do: to get you to really care about the characters, really care about what’s happening and be unable to put the book down because you have to see what happens next.
“If we’re smart and if we’re good at it,” Ryan continued, “we have the ability to take you to a world that you’ve never been to before and to show you something that you’ve never experienced before, and to put you in someone’s mind where you’ve never looked at something like that before.”
Although Ryan has a seemingly endless well of ideas, thanks to her journalism career, Ephron assured any aspiring writers that anyone could be a mystery novelist.
“When I started writing ‘Never Tell a Lie,’ I had just come from a yard sale,” she said. “So, you don’t have to be a newscaster to have experiences that make you drop a pebble in the water and see ripples.”