Ritter was born in small-town Kansas and bounced around America growing up. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and was a reporter at upstate New York newspapers before hiring on as a founding staffer at start-up USA TODAY. He spent 30 years there as an editor and reporter, and was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in investigative reporting. He was the newspaper’s Bay Area-based national correspondent before leaving journalism in 2009 to write fiction. Currently he splits time between the Bay Area and Southeast Asia.