How it started

The Back Room was born during the Covid-19 pandemic. As in-person events shut down across the country, online author events began popping up.

But as Hank and Karen began attending and participating in these events, they found they were missing one critical element: interaction with the audience.

Hank and Karen dreamed up a format that featured Zoom breakout rooms so that authors weren’t simply presenting a talk to a silent audience and taking questions from the chat, but were able to chat directly with their readers in relaxed, informal conversation.

On September 27, 2020 the first Back Room event was launched and authors and readers loved it!

Since that time, over 250 authors have visited the Back Room, and our unique format continues to draw a loyal and enthusiastic following from around the world.

Praised for its professional format, the Back Room remains the only online event that allows authors and readers to chat face-to-face!

“I just have to give a shout out to Hank Phillippi Ryan and Karen Dionne. They have really hit on something very special with this Back Room idea. This concept is brilliant and so much fun. I can’t think of an event that was this much fun since the pandemic began . . . give this concept a try; I think you will be pleasantly surprised. It’s so well-run and just a total blast.”

– Kristopher Zgorski, Bolo Books

Meet Your Host | Karen Dionne

Karen Dionne is the USA Today and #1 internationally bestselling author of two psychological suspense novels set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wilderness, The Marsh King’s Daughter and The Wicked Sister, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the U.S. and in 28 other languages.

Praised by The New York Times Book Review as “subtle, brilliant, and mature,” The Marsh King’s Daughter was named one of the best books of 2017 by iBooks and many other booksellers and reviewers, won the Barry and Crimson Scribe awards, and was released by Lionsgate in 2023 as a major motion picture starring Daisy Ridley and Ben Mendelsohn.

Karen enjoys nature photography and lives with her husband on a small lake surrounded by forest in the middle of Michigan, where she also hosts the Muskrat Lodge Writers Retreats. 

Wicked Sister

Named a Publisher’s Weekly best book of 2020, Karen’s newest novel is The Wicked Sister. “The Wicked Sister is massively thrilling and altogether unputdownable. Dionne is proving to be one of the finest suspense writers working today.” — Karin Slaughter, New York Times and internationally bestselling author

Meet Your hosts | Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of 15 psychological thrillers, winning the genre’s most prestigious awards: five Agathas, five Anthonys, and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. She’s also investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, winning 37 EMMYs for her groundbreaking journalism. National book reviewers call her “a superb and gifted storyteller.”

Hank is the co-host of The Back Room and First Chapter Fun, as well as host of her CRIME TIME interview show on A Mighty Blaze. She lives with her husband, a criminal defense and civil rights attorney, in Boston.

One Wrong Word final jacket
Her newest is the page-turning standalone ONE WRONG WORD – taut and tense psychological drama exploring gossip, rumor, greed and revenge. Two smart women face off in a high-stakes psychological cat and mouse game to prove their truth about a devastating betrayal​—but which woman is the cat, and which woman is the mouse? Publishers Weekly says “Ryan is a master of suspense!”