Larry Enright

Larry Enright

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Author Spotlight - Libby Fischer Hellmann

I'd like to spotlight today a very accomplished and highly acclaimed author, Libby Fischer Hellman.
Her most recent work, Set the Night on Fire has been described by Foreword Magazine as “a brilliantly-paced thriller, transitioning seamlessly from modern-day Chicago to the late '60s. First-rate characterization...Best to start early in the day, as it is easy to stay up all night reading it."

Libby is a transplant from Washington, D.C., where, she says, "When you're sitting around the dinner table gossiping about the neighbors, you're talking politics." Armed with a Masters Degree in Film Production from New York University, and a BA in history from the University of Pennsylvania, she started her career in broadcast news. She began as an assistant film editor at NBC News in New York, but moved back to DC where she worked with Robin McNeil and Jim Lehrer at N-PACT, the public affairs production arm of PBS. When Watergate broke, she was re-trained as an assistant director and helped produce PBS's night-time broadcasts of the hearings.

In 1978, she moved to Chicago (which would later be the backdrop of her novels) in order to work at Burson-Marsteller, the large public relations firm, staying until 1985 when she founded Fischer Hellmann Communications. Currently, when not writing, she conducts speaker training programs in platform speaking, presentation skills, media training, and crisis communications. Additionally, Libby also writes and produces videos.

With the release of Set the Night on Fire, Libby will have published seven novels by the end of 2010. About her fifth novel, Easy Innocence, the Chicago Tribune said, "There's a new no-nonsense detective in town... Tough and smart enough to give even the legendary V.I. Warshawski a run for her money." They were referring to Georgia Davis, Libby Hellmann's PI protagonist in the thriller. Davis returned, paired with amateur sleuth Ellie Foreman, in Hellmann's sixth crime fiction thriller, Doubleback (2009), which was selected as a Great Lakes Booksellers' Association "2009 Great Read."

The Georgia Davis series was a spin-off of Hellmann's Ellie Foreman series, which debuted in 2002 with An Eye For Murder. Publishers Weekly called it a "masterful blend of politics, history, and suspense," and it was nominated for several awards. There are four books in the Ellie Foreman series, which Libby says is a cross between "'Desperate Housewives' and '24.'"

Libby also edited a highly acclaimed crime fiction anthology, Chicago Blues (October, 2007). In May 2010, she published an e-collection of her own short stories called Nice Girl Does Noir. Set the Night on Fire, in December 2010, is a standalone thriller that goes back, in part, to the late Sixties in Chicago.

In 2005-2006 she was the National President of Sisters in Crime, a 3,400-plus member organization committed to strengthening the voice of female mystery writers. She also blogs with "The Outfit Collective" at

Twitter @libbyfh

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