Interrogations & Other Press

FIVE STARS "...a tangled web of deceit...a writer
with skill and verve...handles her male protagonist
with panache."
        --- Midwest Book Review

"...really delivers!"
        --- Roundtable Reviews

"Five Daggers"
(Winner of the Bloody Dagger Award 2004)
        --- All About Murder

In her breakout novel, Beginner's Luck, Cheryl Ritzel has created
a strong foundation for her proposed series starring Paul Grey.
With a twist on the usual detective mysteries..."
        --- Maggie Harding, and
Online Interview With Author:

1.  Tell us about yourself.  Where were you born,
raised, live now?  Family?
I was born in Missouri, but I've lived all over.  My father was in the army.  Currently, I live
outside of Atlanta, GA with my husband of ten years and my daughter. I am a Middle School
Social Studies teacher, but I have taught Preschool and High School as well.

2.  Tell us about your writing background.  How did you
get started and why mystery?
I have always wanted to be a writer.  I know a lot of people say that, but I was "writing" books
when  I was in kindergarten.  Of course, none of those books were any good!  I was also
inspired by a friend of my grandmother's who was a ghost writer for The Bobbsey Twins series.  
From that and reading other good mysteries, I became interested in the genre.  At one point I
even considered becoming a detective or working for the FBI, CIA, or Secret Service, but
instead I took a "safer" job as teacher.  As such I feel I do all the duties of those others
sometimes -- finding lost items, playing confidant, handing out discipline, and so on.  Mostly I
just live vicariously through my characters and hope others will do the same.

3. What are your strengths as a writer?
I have been told my plot and dialogue are good/humorous by my readers.  My research is
thorough so I feel my description of places, events, and characters are a strength.  I try to
include a lot of details so the reader can really "see" it.

4.  What do you like most about writing?  Least?
MOST -- I love to write.  I always write on paper first. I have notebooks and notebooks filled with
writing.  Then I type.  I find writing on paper to be a great release.  I can write all my emotions or
feelings.  I can have characters do things I'd love to do or say, but would never dare.  LEAST --
After I work on a book and write and revise and write and revise about 7 or 8 times I get tired of
my own stories and it becomes more like work in the final stages.

5.  Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Keep a notebook for ideas with you at all times.  You never know when two ideas will come
together to make a great plot idea or character.  Practice writing often.  Read a lot.  Go to
conferences and workshops.  You know that part of your story you just love and couldn't bear
to cut? It probably needs to be cut.  Go to critique groups and listen to what they say.

6.  What inspired you to write this story?
I was working as an aide to GA House of Representative John Lupton at the capital.  I had also
helped him with his re-election campaign.  My political background and work gave me some of
the ideas for the political backdrop of the mystery -- a Senator's murder, a scandal, the
protagonist's wife is running for political office.

7.  Who is your biggest supporter?
My husband, who has helped me every step of the way.  The rest of my family has been very
supportive as well.

8.  How much time do you devote to writing?  Do you have
a daily routine?
No routine.  I have a two year old!  I write whenever and however I can find time.  Before
children, I would write at night, almost every night.  After children, whenever I can keep  my
eyes open!  Since Beginner's Luck has come out I spend a lot of time on promotion.

9.  Do you have a favorite place to write?  What does
your desk look like?
I like to write with pen and paper, or in the later stages to type on my laptop, either on the sofa
or in bed. I like the top of my desk to be spotless.  I am a neat-freak.  I have that in common with
my detective Paul Grey.  He also is a neat-freak.  As for the rest of my house -- it's a mess.  I
have a two year old AKA Tornado, need I say more?

10.  Who is the most memorable person you have ever met?
I remember many people (I use them for my characters), but if you mean "famous" memorable, it
would have to be Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman.  I met them on the set of "Rainman" when
they were filming the casino scene in Las Vegas -- you know, "counting cards, counting cards."  
They took a break for lunch and my friend and I got their autographs.

11.  Who would you like to meet?
From the past, I would like to meet Abraham Lincoln. Current day, I would like to meet Sue
Grafton, the famous mystery writer, and Jimmy Carter.  I admire all the work he's done for peace
and with Habitat for Humanity.

12.  Do you have a mentor?  Do you mentor or teach
I can't say that I have a mentor. A lot of people have helped me along the way. I had some really
great teachers in Middle School that encouraged me to write. I don't mentor anyone, but I have
taught Language Arts and Descriptive Writing to my students.

13.  Where do you get your ideas for characters, plot,
or places featured in your books?
I take many things from real life. I mix them up though. I may take a character trait of one
person, throw in some made-up traits, or something from another person I know, and add looks
from a third. I try to use real places since the novel takes place in Atlanta, GA, but of course I
have to add some fictional elements to those as well. The best way to create characters and
places is to observe everyone and everywhere you go. Some of the best "characters" are to be
found in our everyday places.

14.  What are you working on now?
Just finished a short story, available FREE on this website. I also have a second book in the
series finished and a third and fourth in the works. I work on things here and there for books
that are unrelated to the series as well.