April 2002's Author! Author!

Tim Ritter
(Chosen by author and reviewer Vickie Adkins )

 
Accolades for Tim
By Vickie Adkins, MyShelf.Com

Tim Ritter is an acclaimed writer, filmmaker, and author. I was impressed when I first read that he began writing and directing feature films when he was 17 years old. His first novel, "The Hammer Will Fall" was published in 2001 by PublishAmerica, Inc., and covers a topic ripped straight from today's newspapers - school violence.

I began corresponding with Tim last Fall after visiting his web page. His approachability is refreshing in this day and age where it's so difficult to pin writers down for an interview. Even with his nonstop work schedule, he's always willing to answer my never-ending questions.

His web page is: www.timritter.com

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An Interview with Tim
By Vickie Adkins

VA: Tim, I noticed on your website that you began writing and directing feature films at 17 years of age. How did you get your start?

TR: Writing is something that I've done since I was a little kid. When I first started reading, well, I was inspired and wanted to create my own stories as well! All throughout my school years, I wrote out scripts and filmed them with friends on super-8 film. I also wrote for the high school newspaper, persuading them to let me do a fictional "cliffhanger" piece that lasted a few issues. When I was a senior in high school, I saw how the new videotape market was a great way to get a small movie seen by potentially thousands of people, so I purchased a bunch of books on formatting screenplays and did the best I could. The result was a script called "Critical Madness," which became the movie "Truth Or Dare?" I was lucky enough to sell the script about six months after graduating high school...also getting the opportunity to direct it. It was a trial by fire, so to speak, jumping into something that big so fast. I learned a lot making that movie, though. It was a crash course in film-making, better than any school experience that I could imagine! To learn so much on a project that I myself initiated...was incredible. Not many people get that opportunity, especially these days. It was a case of being at the right place, at the right time.

 

VA: Your new book "The Hammer Will Fall" is a suspense/horror story about an ex-cop teacher who takes matters into his own hands when a school gang attacks his family. Why did you write about this particular subject?

TR: It's actually a story I've been working on since 1985. It started as a script and sort of grew and grew over the years as I tinkered with it. My father is a retired shop teacher, and some of the "kids being bad" scenarios in the book came from his real-life experiences. And violence in schools, particularly in recent years, seems to be escalating and always in the news headlines, so the more I thought about it, the more I thought it might make an interesting and challenging book project. To make it a movie, and do it right, it would need a larger budget than I've had in the past. I had also always wanted to write a novel, and basically had to work my way up the writing ladder, so to speak, to finally complete one. I started with short stories and scripts, then longer and longer scripts, then lots of magazine articles on film-making, and finally I felt that I had enough inside to tackle a novel. Plus, I got computer literate in 1999, which really helped. Every time I'd previously started a novel, I'd get so frustrated reading things back, having to use whiteout to try and correct things, and writing on a computer makes it so easy to add, subtract, reword, or change things entirely. Copy, cut, and paste are truly miracles!

 

VA: Did you change anything in your book after the rash of school shootings?

TR: No, although I did mention a few real situations in the book. Even though my idea reflects bad kids choosing to do bad things, I deliberately avoided them handling guns from the beginning. First of all, it's already been done so many times in many books and movies, so we've seen it before. Plus, everything I write or create always takes place in its own world with very different sets of rules than reality, so I just didn't have the bad kids think about using guns. If they had, the story probably would have been over real quick, with everyone just shooting everyone! Also, the characters are smart enough NOT to use guns---they like to get away with their crimes, and guns are easily traceable these days and if you get caught with one, it's taken very seriously and you'd be instantly compromised. Although the book has topics that are relevant today, it was written mainly for escapism and entertainment. Everything is exaggerated, and it's basically just a fun, cathartic revenge thriller, in the best traditions of something like "Death Wish." Plus there's a hero you can root for, which is always fun.

 

VA: What message would you like your readers to go away with?

TR: If there's any message, I guess it would be to choose the right path in life. No matter what your circumstances, there is a choice, and you can rise above whatever is stacked against you. You don't have to be a bad person just because you had a bad childhood or whatever. I think that's very clear in the book, because when each character finally meets their demise, they regret maybe not at least trying to do the right things with their lives when they had the chance.

 

VA: If someone asked you why they should read this book, what would you say?

TR: Hopefully it provides escapism from everyday reality and makes your pulse race a bit, with the cat and mouse games and action that are in there. So far, everyone that's read it has really enjoyed it, beyond friends and family. So that's a good sign. The last 50 pages or so I'm still really pleased with, they really deliver the kind of action and suspense that I like to read, and that's what I've done with every kind of project that I've initiated: emulated what I enjoy most as a fan!

 

VA: Having been a screenwriter before author, which do you enjoy most and why?

TR: Both are fun. There's something exciting about seeing your written words come to life, for real, on the screen. And actors bring many surprises to the characters and situations you create, so it's really fun, a great collaboration. On the other hand, when you write a book, the reader gets a "movie in their mind," so to speak, unrestricted by budget, time, and performances, so it's very liberating in that way. The only limitations are with your imagination, and if it's badly done, the author has to take 100% of the blame! But I love to tell stories and write, so it was an awesome experience, writing this first book, especially feeling the novel come alive in my mind in a way that I never thought was possible. It was very wild...and scary...when some of the characters began to say and do things that I didn't expect, when I was least expecting it. I think that's the point when you know that all your heart, passion, and creativity are completely into what you're doing, when everything takes on a life of its own. I've heard other authors talk about this, but experiencing it was incredible!

 

VA: What advice would you give a fledgling author?

TR: Read, read a little of everything. And whatever your passion is, whether it's romance novels, spy thrillers, horror, whatever...write in the genre that you're a fan of. It will be rewarding and you'll do it well. And that old saying is true, "write what you know about and have experienced." It will make your work that much more realistic. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to write, too. Finding the time and energy is sometimes very difficult. I'm always amazed at how...physically draining...writing can sometimes be, even if you're just sitting in front of a keyboard for hours and hours. But your mind and body...are experiencing so much! So be prepared for that, and no matter what, have fun with it. Also, have a good day job to fall back on, one that has good health insurance. A starving, sickly, and unhappy artist trying to break into the business doesn't necessarily do their best work under those circumstances!

VA: Thanks Tim! I look forward to reading your book and wish you much success.


Review Of The Hammer Will Fall

The Hammer Will Fall
By Tim Ritter
Publishamerica, Inc. -
ISBN: 1588517853
Fiction / Contemporary
for mature content

Reviewed by: Vickie Adkins, MyShelf.com
Buy a Copy

With mixed emotions, and at his wife's urging, Al Hammer resigns from a job he loves. After more than a decade on the police force, a close call with a bullet lands him in the hospital and at the mercy of his frightened spouse.

Falling back on his college education, Hammer takes a job teaching woodshop class at Sunnyville High School. Students sport tattoos, earrings on their ears and everywhere else, blue hair, red hair, long hair, and no hair. They are rude, they smoke, break the dress code, and tear the school's brand new video cameras off the walls. Out of control. The first day of school for the students arrived faster than a laser bullet, and that was the only way to describe it. Out of control.

Before he could even get the roll called for his first class, Mr. Al Hammer is breaking up a fight between two girls and then dealing with a boy who thinks spiders are crawling all over him.

Identified as "The Hands of Death," Rudy, Skeeter, Bubba, Krueg, and Darlene are used to controlling the halls as well as the classrooms at Sunnyville High. What they didn't anticipate is the ex-cop now serving as their Shop Class teacher.

What begins as classroom interruptions escalates into a personal vendetta against Hammer and his wife Joyce. After Joyce is viciously attacked, Hammer decides to deal with "The Hands of Death" in his own way. First speaking with their parents with no success, Hammer tries to turn the situation over to the local police force. With no satisfaction, he gives up and decides to take the law into his own hands. Sometimes you have to fight back.

What comes to pass not only forever changes Hammer's life but also the entire faculty and student body of Sunnyville High School. With the support of the faculty, Hammer goes on to teach a much more subdued student body. After a student is caught keying a teacher's Corvette, it's suggested that he be put in shop next semester.

Tim Ritter is an independent filmmaker and heavy metal enthusiast recognized for his writing and directing abilities. Well written, with much imagination, The Hammer Will Fall is his first novel.


Vickie Adkins is the author of Tattered Pages, The Light Blue Ribbon.


Booklist

The Hammer Will Fall (Novel)

Produced motion pictures / screenplays

A Critical Madness (Truth Or Dare?) (1986)
Killing Spree(1990)
Creep (1995)
Endangered Species (1997)
Beyond The Lost World: The Alien Conspiracy (2002)

 

2002's Honorary List

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