Friday, 4 July 2014

Author Interview ~ Joseph M. Rinaldo.





Tell us about yourself and your books:

The actual impetus for me to begin writing came while I was reading Three Weeks With My Brother by Nicholas Sparks. When I got to the part where he received a million-dollar advance, I thought, “Holy cow! He’s a good writer, but I know I can do this, too.” I’ve been writing since that day in 2004. At that time in 2004 I was unemployed. To facilitate my writing career my wife agreed to be the major bread winner, and I taught college classes part-time. I thought this was odd at first, but I taught accounting, math, and businesses courses, yet my books are fiction having nothing to do with any of those disciplines. The more people I meet who are creative writers, the more people I find with similar business skill sets. Currently, I’m back to working full-time and trying to market Valerie’s Retreat, which keeps me from writing. We, my wife and I, have published four books, and we have another four ready to be published.

I have four books published that are available on Amazon. In Valerie's Retreat the forty-one-year-old protagonist meets a wonderful man sixteen years her junior. Even though they seem to have nothing in common since she is a Head Teller at a bank and he's studying for a doctorate in Archaeology, the pair clicks. A Spy Home is a memoir of a former spy who near the end of his career comes to the realization that his life's work of promoting rebellion in third-world counties for American interests was a waste. Out of bitterness, he steals over nine million dollars on his last mission. The money was meant for a pro-American rebel group in an impoverished country. His retirement is spent learning what he missed at home with his family and wondering if the CIA will figure out he has their money. Hazardous Choices describes the difficulty a young man has trying to fit in during his first year of college. In Chicago he served as a gangbanger for the vicious Neptune Knights, and in a small Kentucky town where he received a scholarship to play division two football he tries to fit in with the other students. His understanding of the world doesn't make much sense in this environment. A Mormon Massacre tells about a young man in his early twenties who had been raised hating the Mormon church. To fight what he believes is a cult, Jeremiah goes undercover as a convert to rescue women from abusive plural marriages.


What was your inspiration behind writing Valerie’s Retreat?

The way Cougars are portrayed on Realty TV shows. My wife is sixteen years older than me. We met long before anyone heard the term Cougar. She’s not the sex hungry predator searching for another younger man trophy like you see on reality television. Valerie’s character germinated from the idea that I had to show a likeable Cougar that other women would relate to. She has her inner demons that she hides from the world. I believe all of us do. In Valerie’s case the demons remain from an abusive childhood that left her without the tools to handle life’s emotional ups and downs. Valerie’s a Cougar who deserves some sympathy and compassion, but the reader is left to decide in what dosage.


The characters in Valerie’s Retreat are a little out there – are they based on anyone you know?

I’d love to tell you they’re all fiction, but bits and pieces of a character might come from a dozen people I know. For me the important part of a character is that her behavior makes sense with what the reader knows about her. Yes, a little dab of my wife worked its way into Valerie’s character, but my wife would never commit a felony. Valerie on the other hand, believably commits a felony.


How did your writing process go with Valerie’s Retreat? Are there things you’d change about it now?

I don’t remember how much I outlined, but it would have been some. Once I sit down to write, the story usually flows very easily. Certainly nothing close to writer’s block with Valerie’s Retreat. A few years after finishing Valerie’s Retreat, we decided to publish it. The professional editor we hired, David Pudlewitts [shameless plug: Great editor! He’ll make your book better!]. David STRONGLY suggested I change the ending with excellent reasoning as to why my ending failed to meet the high standards of the story. I rewrote the ending, and the new ending is very good.

As for changing something – the process I used was fine. The word choice, the plot, the dialog, the way the scenes are set up, how long the scenes go on, and a thousand other things run through my head. Should I have written this? Should Valerie have done that? Lingering questions after a story is complete is the curse of being a writer. Something unknown would have made it the best story ever. Read the Look-Inside on Amazon. If the first few pages resonate with you, you’ll be glad you got the book. Please, after you read it, I welcome your thoughts on Valerie’s story.


Are all your books standalones? Have you ever considered writing a series?

Writing a series sounds like Dantes’ second circle of hell to me. The same characters doing something slightly different, and the protagonist is guaranteed to survive. I like realistic endings. The main character has finished the story with some things going right and some things wrong. No strict climax rules – like life.


What do you find the most challenging thing about self-publishing your novels?

Editing! Going over every word and deciding if that is the right word or another should’ve been used. Should other plot twists happen? Should they happen here? I mentioned the curse of being a writer earlier. Editing is that curse.


What is the most rewarding thing about being an author?

The biggest compliment to date has come from a couple of reviewers who read A Spy At Home. Before posting their reviews, they said the story was vivid and real and they had to be sure it was fiction. Talk about suspension of disbelief! What greater compliment could a novelist receive?


Having released four novels, is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known at the beginning?

Good heavens, yes! Let’s put two!! DON’T hire a public relations firm! DON’T pay for ad space on webpages! Those were expensive mistakes I won’t soon forget.


Which of your books, if any, do you think would make the best film and why?

Hmm, if you could only keep one of your two dogs, or if you could only shower half of your body which would you choose? I like to think that my writing style enables the readers to see the movie playing in their minds while they read it. But only one??? I’d go with Valerie’s Retreat. A Spy At Home would be great with Tim Robbins playing the lead; Valerie’s Retreat offers something special when the bank-robbing Cougar goes on the run. Her boyfriend’s love of archaeology leads them to a ruggedly handsome country (you’ll have to read the story to find out which one). The hazardous scenery in Valerie’s Retreat combined with Valerie and Franco’s fear would give that movie an award-winning quality.


Who are some of your favourite authors to read?

I admire the way Stephen King makes supernatural events believable. Gillian Flynn crafts characters that you have to keep reading about. Even if Sharp Objects had been forty thousand pages, I’d still be reading it.


Do you prefer print books or ebooks?

Ebooks – the Kindle is easier to hold while I’m half-asleep in bed.


Anything you’d like to add?

I understand people are hesitant to give independent authors a chance. If any of the books I've mentioned interest you, please go to the free "Click to Look Inside" on Amazon and sample the first chapter. If a book grabs you that quick, you'll probably be glad you got it. Also, if you are in a book club that reads one of my books, I'd be honored to join your discussion. Feel free to contact me through Facebook or my website, www.josephmrinaldo.com.

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