Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dwight Ritter Interview

How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear "call?" Or have you just loved writing all your life?

Forever. Actually I remember clearly that I wrote my first novel when I was ten years old. It was just two pages long. The final line was, "Though hell should bar the way." My fifth grade teacher sent me home for using foul language. Mom sent me to my room.

When I first read Hemingway-around 16 or 17- I was struck with his "honesty," a word used by artists to describe a sense of clear reality. His short, choppy sentences and his realistic dialogue drew me to a typewriter.

I read William Goldman's Temple of Gold while still in college, and was hooked on a style of story telling and a "voice" so close to the one lodged in my head. So I began practicing it.

The first thing I ever wrote in the style that I wanted was a PBS documentary on the Amish. It was called "Being Amish" and it ran for twenty years. Twice I attended Sol Stein's writing workshop searching for a voice that might be acceptable to the mass trade markets. But I was in the advertising business supporting a family, so I wrote ads, tv commercials, jingles. I wrote several books about retail banking because many of my clients were banks. Those books were dry and factual (just what the publisher wanted). I experimented with children's books and El-hi curricula, publishing several titles. . .all without an agent. But I was NOT writing what I wanted to write. I still preferred "though hell should bar the way" even with the consequences.

What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?

My style of writing is known as "literary narrative fiction or non-fiction." It is a vocal style incorporating vivid imagery and emotions; often written in the first person. I write what I see and feel. My favorite author is Toni Morrison. She says it the way I like to hear it. Annie Proulx, too. I also love a book by Carlos Eire called Waiting for Snow in Havana. There are others that exemplify literary narrative. Those are my favorites.

How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?

I have the annoying habit of waking up at 5:00 A.M. I read for about two hours then I set out to write no less than 500 words. When I'm working on a book, I might write 1,000 or 2,000 words a day. I also spend a lot of time doing research (mostly through the internet), but I still get on an airplane to confront reality.

What is the spiritual message in your latest book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?

First off, I am not a "Christian Writer". I am a writer who is an active Christian. My only attempt at toeing the line as a Christian writer is my latest book, Emerson The Magnificent. The spiritual message is Faith. . .having it, losing it and finding it.

You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?

Emerson is the story of an old man and his struggle to believe in a silent, invisible God. His faith journey is guided by a talking bicycle. I illustrated the book, as well. So now you might be thinking that this book is a children's book. Well it isn't. . .not necessarily. It's an allegory (A symbolic expression of a deeper meaning through a story acted out by humans or animals. . .even bicycles!) Many people consider allegories to be like a parable. As we all know Jesus spoke in parables to enhance the retention of certain key messages.

Where do you get ideas? Character names? Do you find your characters similar to you in any way?

I get ideas everywhere. My wife, JoAnn, and I travel in a large house trailer and I keep a running log as we go. My latest log is on my blog site
JoAnn is a painter with galleries in Boston, Naples and Cape Cod. She won a national award in 2004 and her paintings are collected internationally by corporations and individuals. Her website is She gets ideas from my writing and I get ideas from her paintings.

Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don't understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you've gone through? Who's inspired you the most?

I have felt like giving up on many occasions. When you write books, it is easy to spend a year writing and re-writing. Then you send this work of art (which represents your entire being). . .you send this out to publishers who either never reply or tell you they do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Writing "for money" is truly a frustrating, lonely profession. . .unless you happen to have a best seller.

Would you roughly explain how you "chose" (or was chosen) a publisher? Do you just go "inny, minny, miny, moe?" Grin. Now, that you're published, can you sit back and relax from the success you've experienced?

One doesn't "choose" a publisher; not any more. Publisher's choose writers. That is 99.999% of the time. Further complicating the issue, publishers choose writers through literary agents. I met Jon Bauman at a party in Santa Fe. He had just published Santa Fe Passage. I asked him how he got his book published. He said it was "fairly easy." He met an editor of St. Martins Press at a cocktail party, sent him his manuscript and bango. That happens every once in a million years! The rest of us send out query letters till we're blue in the face. We finagle for a contact at a publishing house. We cry over our rejections.. . but for some strange reason we keep on trying.

Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could? Etc.

My wife and I love to travel. Annually we leave our home on Cape Cod and head west (my daughter lives in Colorado). We've met the most wonderful people on the road. . .great Christians, and great people who would make great Christians. For about eight years I traveled weekly to Europe, Central America and South America. Often JoAnn came with me.

My hobbies? I build hot rods. What more can I say? Those gleaming, lowered, loud concoctions of cars from the thirties. I have a 36 Ford that is on my web site and a 40 Ford pickup housed at my daughter's barn in Colorado.

I also am an avid fly fisherman.

Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you'd like to share? Promotional information?

I have pretty much done that, but let me do it again so people can contact me.

Personal website:

Emerson The Magnificent website:
Personal blog:
JoAnn's website:

Thank you, Dwight for being on my blog today. We wish you success with this book!



dougvarrieur said...

Nice interview Dwight, it's good to get to know you. My Mom and Dad live in W.Dennis and I spent every summer on the cape growing up. My wife and I also RV in a 40' Alfa with a small Semi to haul it. Best of luck with the new title!

Jeanette Levellie said...

Wow, I'm so glad you didn't give up, Dwight!

I can see you sitting at a table with C.S. Lewis, comparing notes. He wouldn't rebuke you for using "hell" to get your point across!
Audience of ONE

Diana said...

Dwight- great peek inside of you and what makes you 'tick'!
I encourage you to check out Emerson The Magnificent!. The Illustrations are so cool and Dwight's small title is reminiscent of The Giving Tree.

Loree Lough said...

LOVED this!

What a great opportunity to get to know you better!

Eyes on Him,

milliens said...

What an interesting interview! Makes me want to meet Dwight (maybe at a writers conf sometime?!). Also makes me want to get his Emerson book right now! Thanks for what you shared. . . :-)

shelba Nivens said...

Interesting interview, Dwight and Carole. Sounds like you have an interesting and nice life, Dwight.
Shelba Nivens

Caroline said...

Thank you, all, for the comments! I bought Dwight's book & love it!

Dwight said...

Many thanks for the opportunity to get to know some followers and to plug my book.

Break Time!

In Case Anyone is Wondering What's Going on with few posts lately-- I'm taking a short hiatus. Deciding where I want to...