Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Interview with Author Ritter Ames

Good morning, Ritter and welcome to Vision and Verse, the place for art and authors. Can you tell us a little about what you've written?
I have two books in my Bodies of Art Mysteries series (Counterfeit Conspiracies and Marked Masters) and a third (Abstract Aliases) will be released in October. I also have two books in the Organized Mysteries and a third in that series will be out later this year. I also have short stories with characters and the settings for both series that have been published in several anthologies.

What's your favorite genre to write?
I pretty much stick to mystery. Even when I try writing anything else there’s always some kind of mystery or crime that evolves in the story.

Favorite food?
My favorite kind of food is Japanese, but my personal weakness is that I love cookies—practically all kinds.

Coffee or tea?
I like to buy coffee when I’m out for breakfast or with friends, but when I’m in my home office writing I chiefly stick with tea—flavored green and black teas.

Pizza or ice cream?
I love pizza (especially mushroom), but my heart belongs to ice cream.

Oh, me, too, Ritter. Pizza and ice cream is the ultimate party food for me. Beer or wine?
I’ll drink a glass of wine—in particular, I like champagne and prosecco—but I’m not a beer drinker at all because of the aftertaste. Sorry.

Prosecco? Peach Bellinis? I love them. I'm not much of a beer drinker, either. Where would you like to visit?
I’d love to spend a year in Italy and take my time touring the country.

Oh, you must! Do it now. Italy is fabulous. Venice, Lake Maggiore, Lucca, Rome. Oh, the Isle of Capri is gorgeous. Back to work. Do you listen to music when you write? What?
I’m one of those people who can write anywhere, and I don’t need silence to write—though quiet is good too. I’m flexible. For example, I wrote 3000 words tonight on my latest WIP (work-in-progress) while the James Bond movie Skyfall was on television. I write while listening to music all the time, and if I had to just choose one musical artist it would have to be James Taylor. But I love so many wonderful entertainers and their songs. I keep the volume low and while it’s still something I can hear clearly the music doesn’t interfere with my writing. I usually have a playlist set up for each series, and I listen to a lot of different types of music. I have a number of classical works by Mozart, but I also listen to contemporary songs by people like Colbie Caillat to Michael Buble, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Buffett, Enya, Gloria Estefan, and l love listening to soundtracks while I work. I especially like listening to soundtracks of the Oceans movies and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. while I’m writing Bodies of Art Mysteries books.

What makes Ritter Ames laugh?
I’m a pretty easy laugher. I love everything from complex satire to puns. And I adore inside jokes, where you have to pay attention to get the laugh—and then it’s a personal decision whether to share it with the person beside you who asks, “why is everyone laughing?”

What's your favorite piece of art?
Oh, wow, that’s tough. I love something by everyone, especially the Renaissance artists like Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Oh, and reading the stories behind the paintings of Caravaggio always makes me chuckle—the man had a way of getting one over on the Church so often. And I absolutely adore the Impressionists. But if I could ever have my own museum and fill it with one artist’s work, I’d probably choose Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. I love all of Corot’s work, want to step into every landscape, but my personal favorites would have to be any of the ones he did of Ville d’Avray.

At what age did you start writing?
I began writing my first “real” story at around age 10—something with a beginning, middle, and end—after I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and realized I could grow up to be a writer. I made my own books, drew all the pictures, everything. Then I sewed the pages together because I’d found that was how many quality hardbacks are put together, and I felt my books deserved this method—plus, my mother wouldn’t let me have any glue stronger than a glue stick.

Describe your perfect evening.
A perfect evening is spent on my front porch with my husband and my dog, with springtime or early fall temperatures, listening to an Audible book on my Kindle Fire. I have a plug in speaker, though the device’s built in speaker works in a pinch. We watch the deer graze at the end of the front yard as the sun goes down, and have to keep our dog—a Labrador—from running out to them and bark. She’s big, but I’m not sure she realizes they’re bigger than her and have hooves.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I am inspired to write the kind of books I love to read. I want to escape to fun as the crime is solved, and I love smart characters. I especially like witty dialogue—maybe even a little snarky—and that’s probably the most fun I have writing. My characters in the Bodies of Art Mysteries are modeled along the lines of old Cary Grant movies, or the early years of the television show Castle, so I have a lot of opportunities to write cheeky dialogue. And in my Organized Mysteries, the sidekick of my viewpoint character is the one who gets the snarky lines and says the things the main character can’t say because my main character hasn’t lived in town long enough to know everyone and feel comfortable saying some of the things the sidekick can.

What do you to when you get writer's block?
I don’t have the luxury of writer’s block—I have contracts with deadlines. I also always repeat to myself “Anything can be improved upon after it’s written—but it must be written first.” I keep pushing through, and I’m always amazed to find that some of the best writing comes out when I have the opportunity to revise the writing from those difficult days. Anything written is better than nothing written.

Wow, Ritter! I love that. That sentence needs to be written in calligraphy over my desk. Give me your thoughts on your favorite book.
Like choosing my favorite artist—picking only one favorite author is incredibly difficult. But again, if I had to choose one I’d say Elizabeth Peters. I have everything she wrote under that name, as well as a couple of nonfiction books she wrote under her real name. I’ve read many of her Barbara Michaels books, too, but I wasn’t as crazy about those as I was the ones she wrote as Elizabeth Peters. A very close runner-up would be Kate Atkinson for her Jackson Brodie series. And favorite book? Oh, oh, oh. I cannot just pick one. I still love rereading The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, Fool on the Hill by Matt Ruff, both of the Dirk Gently books by Douglas Adams, Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts, and practically anything by John Irving.

What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was Cold by John Sweeney. It was an Amazon First book I picked with my Prime membership, a thriller that went from London to Utah to Russia. I like globetrotting as I read, which is probably why I like to globetrot on the page as I write too.

And what would you be doing if you weren't a writer?
If I wasn’t a writer, I would love to either run a nonprofit or a winery. Having raised money writing grants for several years I probably have a better shot at the former, but the latter is something that really sounds appealing.

My dad and husband ran a non-profit winery. What they didn't give away, they drank. It was a short-lived but happy experience. Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
My high school speech teacher was the one who really taught me to think through all arguments. I went to state for speech and debate, and my teacher wisely pushed me out of my comfort zone a lot. But she never challenged me to do anything she didn’t think I could accomplish, and even today I still use the logic lessons she taught me to meet my goals—whether it’s writing a better piece of prose or having the confidence to state my opinions to others, and sway them to my side of an argument.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
My dream conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, would be an evening with Mark Twain. Absolutely would love to listen to the man tell me anything he wanted to say—and for as long as he wanted to talk.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
My advice to an aspiring writer would be to start understanding marketing as early as possible. Honestly, I could produce three times my output if I didn’t have to market the books after they’re released.

Thanks so much for inviting me here to Vision and Verse. I love connecting with readers, and invite anyone to like my FB Author page at http:// www.facebook.com/RitterAmesBooks/ and I usually post daily on Twitter with my username @RitterAmes. I blog regularly at www.ritterames.com, and beyond using it to let fans know a little more about me, I use my blog and FB Author page when I want to run quick contests. I also run exclusive contests for fans on my newsletter. If anyone would like to sign up for my monthly newsletter you can go to http://smarturl.it/RAMNewsletter and fill out the quick form. I also post “first” news about my books on my newsletter, and give away short stories periodically that tie to my series.

My next book in the Bodies of Art Mysteries, Abstract Aliases, will be released in mid-October, but preorders begin on July 18th. This book is the sequel to Marked Masters. Follow my Amazon Author Page at  http://www.amazon.com/Ritter-Ames/e/B00I78AQEW/ and receive an announcement when each of my new books becomes available.

Please come back in October, or maybe July, with more on Abstract Aliases, like cover, book description, maybe a short excerpt, and buy link. It's been a pleasure having you with us this morning, Ritter. We at Vision and Verse wish you continued success in all your writing endeavors.

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