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 Todd Ritter 
 TODD RITTER

New author, Todd Ritter recently released his debut mystery novel, Death Notice. A suspenseful and gory tale about a small town police chief who teams up with a state police detective to stop a serial killer who is sending the local obituary writer death notices of his victims -- before they're killed.

Ritter was born in rural Pennsylvania and has been a journalist for more than 15 years. He began his career as a film critic while attending Penn State University. He currently works at The Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest daily newspaper. He has interviewed celebrities, covered police standoffs and also written and edited obituaries.

B2M presents our exclusive interview with Todd Ritter.

Welcome to Books2Mention Magazine. Thanks for the opportunity to feature you.

B2M: Please tell our reading audience, what was the motivation behind you writing this intriguing mystery novel?

TODD: I work at a newspaper, which is a great place to get inspired. There’s always something happening. And DEATH NOTICE was inspired by two workplace incidents that occurred within days of each other.

The first was a report we got about a coffin sitting on the side of the road. Apparently it had fallen off a flatbed truck and the driver didn’t realize it. Everyone pretty much assumed it was empty, but a cop still had to go to the scene to open it up and make sure. It struck me as a great way to begin a mystery, only in the fictional version the coffin would be occupied. This is how DEATH NOTICE begins.

One of my former newsroom duties was to proofread the obituaries every night. The second bit of inspiration happened when I found a typo in an obit I was reading. Whoever typed it had mistakenly listed the deceased’s date of death as being the next day. Again, I started thinking: What if a killer alerted people to his intentions by sending the obituaries of his victims before they died? That became the main plot of DEATH NOTICE.

B2M: When exactly did you discover your interest in journalism?

TODD: It was a process so gradual that I didn’t even know it was happening. Basically, I was a film studies major at Penn State. I eventually became the film critic for the university’s student newspaper, which has a huge daily circulation. That led to writing interviews and articles about a wide variety of topics, which led to me getting into editing, page design and a whole host of stories that weren’t film or entertainment related. After a year there, I realized I had become a newspaper guy. And I still am.

B2M: You began your career as a film critic; do you remember the title of the first film you critiqued?

TODD: It was John Singleton’s HIGHER LEARNING. I remember because I gave it a fairly bad review and someone wrote a long, rambling letter to the editor about how wrong I was.

B2M: You have stated that Walt Disney and Alfred Hitchcock are your two biggest influences. Please tell us why?

TODD: They were consummate storytellers who knew how to elicit big emotions. In their own unique ways, both of them seemed hard-wired into the human psyche. They knew what made people tick. They also knew what people wanted, and gave it to them in spades. Another thing I like about both men is that they were grand entertainers. They never pretended to be artists, although both of them were. Instead, they were populist creators, inviting the public to sit back and enjoy. There’s something rather refreshing about that.

B2M: What do you enjoy most about writing?

TODD: One of the joys of writing is when you create a character you really, truly connect with. It becomes fun to spend time with this person you’ve created out of thin air, like being a kid with an imaginary friend. With writing mysteries, there’s also a bit of playing mind games with your future readers. It’s an insane amount of fun setting up little tricks and traps that you hope the reader will fall for.

B2M: What do you feel is the most important ingredient necessary when creating a story that readers can relate to?

TODD:
Without a doubt, it’s the characters. You can have the coolest, most inventive plot ever devised, but if the characters within that plot are flat and lifeless, it just won’t work. Readers need to have characters that are real and believable. Only then will they relate to the characters and start to care about them.

B2M: Do you think that you will continue to pen mystery novels, or will you explore other genres as well?

TODD: I don’t want to say that I’ll never try another genre, but at the moment I love writing mysteries. In the future, I might try to tackle more of a straight-up thriller that doesn’t have any mystery elements to it. But I suspect everything I write will always contain some form of murder and mayhem. It’s just my morbid nature, I’m afraid.

B2M: Outside of writing what are your other interests?

TODD: Photography is a big hobby of mine. I’m still the most amateur of amateurs, but now and then it’s fun to work with images instead of words. I’m also a major foodie. I love cooking. I love dining out. I’m a pretty good cook, but a better eater.

B2M: What do you aspire your legacy to be as a writer?

TODD: I look at myself as an entertainer. I liken myself to Hitchcock and Disney in that regard, although I’ll be the first to admit I’m not nearly as talented as they were. I want to be remembered as someone who told a good yarn and let readers forget their cares for just a little bit.

B2M: You are currently working on your next mystery novel entitled, Bad Moon, can you provide our readers with a sneak preview?

TODD: My editor is reading it now, so I can’t say too much about it. But it definitely involves Kat Campbell, the police chief at the center of DEATH NOTICE. She gets wrangled into investigating the case of a boy who vanished on July 20, 1969, which is the night man first walked on the moon.

B2M: Todd we encourage you to continue writing great books with interesting characters and entertaining plots.

Thanks for interviewing with Books2Mention Magazine. Please be sure to come back again and keep readers informed about all of your future endeavors.

Much Success To You!
The Staff @ Books2Mention Magazine

You are welcome to visit the website of Todd Ritter at www.ToddRitteronline.com.

Books by Todd Ritter include:
Death Notice 
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