WHAT WE’RE WRITING: Hank has breaking news, a sneak peek, and an experiment!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: A sneak peek at my new book below! But first, breaking news. First, I have been named Guest of Honor at next year’s Malice Domestic convention. SO AMAZING! (Julia and Rhys were this year’s and the year before, and can you imagine that powerhouse duo at the podium this year? So now, they will be able to tell me the secret handshake.) I am still floating.

Second: My new book THE HOUSE GUEST has a cover! YAY! And it will be revealed on Wednesday. So watch for it! All the Reds shepherded me through the decision, of course, and I am incredibly thrilled. If you want to help me reveal it, just email me at Hank@HankPhillippiRyan.com and I will give you all the deets.

Also: Do NOT buy HER PERFECT LIFE. Seriously. I mean–not yet. It’s going on sale for a pittance on May 10. And you will hear about it, you can be sure. So get ready to click the buy button.

And! THE HOUSE GUEST advance review copies are being printed right now. Yay. (Gilly Macmillan, who read a bound manuscript, just called it “propulsive, smart, twisty, and impossible to predict”” and “A thriller-lover’s treat!” So, again, yay.)

So the whole thing has been a process, and the other day I looked back at several versions of the manuscript for THE HOUSE GUEST. I keep every day's version, maybe that’s silly, but it’s truly instructive. If you compare the versions, you can really see the thought process, the emergence of character, the appearance of theme and motivation.

So here's an experiment.  First, here's the version of page one that existed in May, 2021. Essentially a year ago.

Then, after that, the current version. Which probably won’t change.

What can you tell about the differences? What do you think?

Version from May 2021

Chapter 1

Ailsa swirled the icy olives in her martini, thinking about division. She stared through the chilled glass at the lighted bottles lined up on the shiny aluminum bar shelves in front of her. Division, as in divorce. Not only the obvious division, hers from Bill, but the division of their property. On her side of the ledger, she was supposed get the mortgage-free Weston house (but not the Osterville cottage), the jewelry, two of the important paintings, gym membership for life, and some other stuff. Money, certainly. The lawyers were discussing it, she’d been told. She jiggled the fragments of disappearing ice. Discussing.

What did Bill get? Besides everything else, he got the friends.

All the friends. Ailsa felt her shoulders sag, calculating the parts of her life now grouped on his side of the ledger. She understood, she did, it was difficult when a couple split. Allegiances were tested. Loyalties strained. She jabbed at the closest green olive with the little plastic stick. She’d have thought some of them, some of the friends at least, would’ve stuck with her.

The music from the speakers in each corner of the Vermillion Hotel’s earnestly chic dark-paneled bar floated down over her, some unrecognizable jazz, all piano and promises, muffling conversations and filling the silences. A couple sat at one end of the bar, knee to knee. On vacation, on business, clandestine. Impossible to tell. At the other end, a sport-coated man, tie loosened, used one finger to fish the maraschino cherry out of his brown drink, popped it into his mouth, and licked his fingers before he went back to scrolling the phone in front of him. 

Written January 2022

Chapter 1

Alyssa swirled the icy olives in her martini, thinking about division. She stared through her chilled glass to the mirrored shelves of multi-colored bottles in front of her at the Bill, thinking about what would happen after the lawyers finished. They’d already created a ledger of their lives together, then started the financial division. Which would be followed by the devastating subtraction.

Bill had subtracted her from his life, that was easy math. With a lift of his chin and a slam of the front door and a squeal of Mercedes brakes. She’d asked him why he was leaving her, begged to know, yearned to understand. But Bill always got what he wanted, no explanation offered or obligatory. She had done nothing wrong. Zero. That’s what baffled her. Terrified her.

She jiggled the fragments of disappearing ice. Division. The Weston house. The Osterville cottage. The jewelry. Her jewelry. The first editions. The important paintings. Club membership. The silver. Money. The lawyers, human calculators who cared nothing about her, would discuss and divide and then, Bill Macallen would win. Bill always won.

All she’d done for the past eight years was addition. She’d added to their lives, added to their social sphere, organizing and planning as “Bill’s wife,” fulfilling her job to make him comfortable and enviable and the image of benevolent success. She’d more than accepted it, she’d embraced it, and all that came with it. And then, this.

I need a break, he’d told her that day. She pictured that moment, a month ago now, could almost smell him, a seductive mixture of leathery orange-green aftershave and personal power. Bill talking down to her, literally and figuratively, wearing one of his pale blue shirts, elegant yellow tie all loose and careless, khaki pants and loafers. A break! As if his life with her was a video he could casually put on pause while he did other things. What things?

HANK: So again, Reds and readers, what can you tell about the differences? What do you think?

Don’t forget to email me for the cover reveal! And stand by for the wonderful sale on Her Perfect Life.

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