Hey there everyone.
I have another amazing Australian writer guest for you in the Author Interview Series.
May I present author Pat Ritter, as he talks to us about his historical fiction books, along with his other interesting forays into Non-fiction too.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the show.
Hi there Pat, so good of you to join us here today to discuss your writing and your books.
My pleasure David.
Let’s start with your fiction books “The Shearer”, “Click Goes The Shears” and “The Drover”. These works are focused on the Australian outback and contain action, adventure, romance and suspense. Tell us more about the background behind these tales, the motivations, goals and character arcs of the protagonists and the challenges that they face throughout the course of their historical journeys.
‘The Drover’ is a story of my late father-in-law whose occupation was a ‘drover’. His stories fascinated me when we sat around the campfire after droving sheep through the day. I wrote this book thinking of him at all times, his bush craft, character, honesty, plus his ability to read others. This has been my best seller since I wrote and published the book.
‘The Shearer’ began from a family tragedy. My grandmother (mother’s mother) was not only my grandmother but close friend during my early days of growing from childhood to adulthood. She shared her life telling me stories of her father Joe Ryan who lead shearers in the ‘The Great Shearers Strike of 1891’ in Cunnamulla. Her stories glued in my mind.
One of her stories when she was ten years old, her mother died giving birth to her youngest sister Nellie. Joe couldn’t raise four children particularly from the age of birth to ten years. His decision to give them away to the town folk in Cunnamulla ‘like a litter of pups’ had a profound effect on my grandmother. She never had contact with her youngest sister Nellie ever again.
I wrote my grandmother’s story ‘Life and Times of Hannah Frances Langley’ as a tribute to her life. Posted her story onto my website www.patritter.com.au under stories. Out of the blue one morning I received an e-mail from a lady who told me she’s Nellie’s eldest daughter had been searching for her family for the past forty years. She read my story. Made contact.
This lady sent me evidence of Joe Ryan’s birth certificate plus much more information she gathered over forty years. At that moment I decided to write ‘The Shearer’ which is a fictional account of events in the period of 1890’s in Cunnamulla.
My grandmother also shared with me how her name became Gibson. During ‘The Great Shearers Strike of 1891’my great grandfather Joe Ryan couldn’t work as a shearer. Only those shearers who possessed a ticket of non-union were employed to shear sheep by the pastoralists. According to my grandmother Joe took the ticket to shear from another shearer named Joe Gibson. From that day onward went by the name of ‘Gibson’ instead of Ryan.
‘Click Go The Shears’ is the follow on from ‘The Shearer’ when Joe Gibson takes the place of Joe Ryan to serve three and a half years in St Helen Island Prison on charges of ‘Rioting’. Joe Ryan whose taken on the identity of Joe Gibson returns to shearing until both Joe’s meet at Barcaldine (the original town where the shearers strike happened) to return to their own identity.
In the follow on from ‘Click Go The Shears’, next month I’ll publish ‘Tilbaroo Station’. This story continues with Joe Gibson marries Hannah Young. Her father gifted them ‘Tilbaroo Station’. Without giving away the plot you’ll need to wait for the book which will be advertised on my website www.patritter.com.au. Great story continued.
Another book amongst your many published works that I wanted to specifically highlight is “The Proposition (A Bundy Quicksilver Mystery)”. This is a pairing of an old-fashioned detective and a modern day detective, as they both work together to find a missing child. What was your inspiration behind writing this particular novel and what challenges do our detectives face as they try to solve the mystery behind the missing child?
Before I wrote this book I received a retirement medal from The Commissioner of Police. When this medal arrived in the mail the postmistress wanted me to open it. She’d seen the envelope marked The Commissioner of Police. I did. My eyes almost popped from my head. Absolutely beautiful.
After I returned home I wrote a letter to The Commissioner (who I’d known since 1970) to thank him for this wonderful gift. The following day I received a telephone call from one of his staff who I knew from serving in the Queensland Police for twenty years. His words ‘you are the only person who thanked The Commissioner for sending out the medal’
Honestly, I don’t know what happened. Something exploded in my brain. Obviously something because next my mind went into overdrive to write a book giving back to the force different skills I learnt over the years. ‘The Proposition’ is that book.
This story came about through the disappearance of a thirteen year old boy. I blended this story with the re-creation of Bundy Quicksilver, me, on the course to find this young person after ten years since he disappeared. At the time I retired from the police technology of computers were in its infancy. Together with a young detective (female). You’ll need to read the book. A great story.
You also have a variety of Non-fiction works published, the most prominent being a biography of George Burtenshaw, who moved to Australia when he was 16 years old. George served in the Second World War, was himself a Prisoner of War and spent many years as a pineapple farmer and subsequently a councilman for many years. Please elaborate about why you decided to write about the life and times of George and why he is such a personal hero of yours.
This book ‘His Life Worth Living’ to date is the most difficult book I’ve ever written. George’s story is LIFE! How any person could survive what he went through, live to one hundred and two and a half years is remarkable. His story took me a total of seven years to write and publish. A keen lesson NEVER GIVE UP!
Finally, regarding other books you have published, you have a Short Stories series called “One Minute Reads”. These are collections of Flash Fiction pieces that you have dubbed as quick reads, due to their brevity and conciseness of how they tell their stories. What sort of pieces will we find within these collections? What genres have you covered and what themes do you explore in them?
I’m a member of Pomona Writers Group which meet Tuesday of each week. I love being a member of this group. The facilitator provides us with a topic for ‘homework’ each week. During the week we write five hundred words about the topic to read our stories to the members. At the end of each year I publish these stories as OMR (One Minute Reads). They are FREE to download from my website.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
Writing is a lonely lifestyle. Daily I need to write, either extending my present book, stories or whatever needs to be written. Self-discipline, getting the job done! I write and publish one novel per year plus a book of stories I’ve written at Pomona Writers Group. These are my constant goals for the year.
Easiest is feedback from readers. Facebook serves me as a feedback machine with my readers. For instance, this morning my daughter who is presently studying a diploma in ‘Alcohol & Drugs’ asked for a couple of my books: Confessions of an Alcoholic plus my other books to help parents with identifying drugs in society. A great feeling of satisfaction to help not only my daughter but her fellow students.
Who are some of the authors and historical figures that inspire you?
I have a picture frame sitting on a shelf above my head. In this frame are words written by Bryce Courtney one of Australia’s leading authors. His words filter through my mind each time I read them. ‘Writing a book is never easy – it takes guts, patience and a huge amount of self-discipline to succeed’. Now about to publish book number 19 I totally understand his words.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
Plenty. Research is the name of the game. If your research is not right someone will tell you. This has happened with me. Now I write in the genre ‘Historical Fiction’. Research is more important than ever before. For instance, when I wrote ‘Click Go The Shears’ I needed all the information I could find on St Helena Island Prison. Luck favoured the brave when I discovered a book written by one of the prisoners from ‘The Great Shearers Strike of 1891’which gave me sufficient evidence to show what happened at the time. Research is pinnacle to write the correct knowledge.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
I absolutely love to write. I write daily. At fourteen years old my English Teacher, Mr Imoff after reading a composition I’d written told me ‘you have a gift for writing. You write the way you speak which is unique’. These profound words from an English Teacher gave me a direction to my life.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
Sorry. I don’t believe in Writers Block. I’m spoilt. My office overlooks bush. I live in the bush without any interruptions only the sound of birds. My mind wonders often. Before I write a passage, I look from my window out into a bush setting. Images form in my mind of the scene I’m about to write. Characters chatter words in my ear. Then I write, write and write until the end.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Believe in yourself and your ability.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Travel mainly. Australia is a huge country. Visited most of the places still have more to visit.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
About to publish book number 19 ‘Tilbaroo Station’. This epic tale discovers ‘The Great Artisan Water Basin’ in 1897 which history shows saved our country from the greatest Australian drought from 1897 to 1903.
Building of Cunnamulla Railway Station with the railway line extended from Charleville to Cunnamulla completed in 1898. Establishing Aboriginal Reserves on the outskirts of Cunnamulla in 1897 providing aboriginal protection.
After this book is published and alive next book will include Boer War, Federation of Australia, First Prime Minister. Can’t wait to start this one.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
NEVER GIVE UP! Writing takes guts, patience, self-discipline.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for your time Pat, you’ve been great.
Thank you David.
Pat Ritter is an Australian author. He has written and published eighteen books to date.
Served as a police officer for twenty years in Queensland Police Service. Fifteen years as a detective. Established Crimestoppers for Queensland Police.
After retirement from police, worked as an alcohol and drug counsellor for Queensland Health. Retired when his wife of thirty-one years passed away from cancer in 2003.
His life goal to write, publish and sell more books.
You can connect with Pat on the following Social Media channels:-
You can buy Pat’s books here:-
Also, you can find his books at Smashwords here:- Buy Pat Ritter’s books at Smashwords
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.
Finally, if you are fan of poetry then stay tuned for my next installment for NanPoBlano coming up later. In the meantime, thank you gain for reading and have a great evening 🙂