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Local novelist meets book club members

By Staff | Jun 17, 2015

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary Amanda Emig, Hughesville and Emmie DeWald, Muncy, with novelist Alan Finn as he signs his latest book release, "Things Half in Shadow" at the Hughesville Library.

HUGHESVILLE – “As a youngster, I wanted to know why mom was always reading and when I learned on my own, found it fun, informative and pleasurable,” said author Alan Finn during a book signing for his latest book release at the Hughesville Area Public Library on May 21.

The mom he credits is Linda Day Ritter of the Washingtonville area near Danville who said, “I read to both my children until they could do it on their own. We’re very proud of our son Todd Alan Ritter who uses Alan Finn as a pen name.” Explaining the name, the son said, “I chose Alan because it’s my middle name and Finn as Huck Finn was probably the most famous pen name of all.”

Ritter’s books, “Death Notice,” “Devil’s Night” and Bad Moon” were penned under his real name. The new publisher suggested the name change.

Ritter traces the honing of his writing skills back to the days when he was a student at Danville High School and also at Penn State University where he penned a play. His craft took him on to become editor of a New Jersey newspaper. Losing his job may have been a good thing as he deeply enjoys what he currently does. Through his writing, Ritter said, “I found it very therapeutic, when in nine weeks, I was able to kill off the three persons responsible for my layoff.”

Much research goes into his books which are based on mystery and the spirit median. “I noted spikes in spiritualism often followed tragedies such as the Civil War and WWI. By the 1930’s, people were more enlightened and began to say, oh come on.”

Questions were asked by several of the more than 30 persons attending his book signing. Answering why he’d chosen Philadelphia as the backdrop for his latest book, the novelist replied, “I believe Philly is often glossed over and really deserves attention. I’m familiar with such places as the Eastern State Penitentiary, the Fairmont Waterworks, its cemeteries and streets.”

To the question “Where do you get your ideas?” he answered, “I must always have a variation going on. Ideas are fickle and pop in my head all the time; only those that remain dominant win out.”

The novelist aims to write a thousand words a day. His latest work is over 143,000 words. “It didn’t happen overnight. To write, you must plug away at it,” he said.

Emmie DeWald represented one of several members from ‘The Book Lovers Delight Club’ that meets at the Muncy Presbyterian Church. DeWald said, “I like to read a variety of styles but mostly prefer light reading.” The Muncian recalled receiving her first book from her grandfather and she too has perpetuated reading by gifting books to nieces and nephews. “When I had a day care, we went to the library every other Wednesday,” DeWald said.

Another ardent reader is Amanda Emig of Hughesville, who also prefers light reading. “I enjoyed Ritter’s latest novel as it combines history with spirit medians. When I find books referencing locations anywhere in Pennsylvania I’m hooked.” Emig was one of several members of PTA moms who met under the name of “The Moms Book Club” (MBC), or as one quipped, “Depending on the day it may mean, ‘Moms before children.’ ” This group gathers in the home of the member who selects the upcoming read.

Attendees were delighted to hear that, yes, there will be a sequel, which Ritter has nearly completed at his home in Princeton, New Jersey.