Saturday, January 4, 2014

Author Interview Joseph M. Rinaldo

AW: Tell us about yourself… 
I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife and daughter. We like to go boating as a family, and I jog to stay fit. My daughter has Down syndrome and competes in Special Olympics powerlifting, bowling, and basketball. I'm an assistant basketball coach and helper "coach" for powerlifting. My arms are so tiny they make Barney Fife look strong. 

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.

As for my writing career, I have published three other books that are available on Amazon. A Spy At 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 countries 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 was a gangbanger with 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.

 AW: What genera do you write and why? 
This book falls into the Romantic Thriller genre, but I hope it's more dynamic than is described by those two words. Hopefully readers will finish a scene where something goes wrong for Valerie and think about how they might handle the same situation. At one point Valerie and Franco feel like they just don't have any good options. That leads them to make extreme choices. What would have to happen in your life for you to commit a felony? How bad would things have to be? That breaking point is the driving focus of Valerie's Retreat
Displaying V.R. book cover for Kindle.jpg

AW: Tell us about your book…. 
Valerie's Retreat puts Valerie's crisis management skills on display. You'll get to know her pretty average life. Her job as the head teller at a bank, her one bedroom apartment, and her exceptionally lazy cat give the impression that she could be anyone you meet in your daily life. However, when things start to get rough, her first reaction is to run. An abusive childhood you learn about as the story proceeds left her with shaky decision-making skills. Franco, her boyfriend, doesn't know what the right answer is either. Between them they commit a little felony and leave the country.

AW: What was your inspiration for this book? 
My background has a teeny influence on Valerie's Retreat. Valerie meets a man sixteen years her junior at a local church dance. My wife and I have the same age difference and met at the same kind of place. We still smile at each other when we drive by that dance hall/community center even after fourteen years of marriage. Dang, we're cute! Seriously, like my wife, Valerie is NOT a cougar on the prowl. We met long before anyone heard that term. Valerie wasn't searching for any kind of specific man, she just happened to find Franco. He happened to be younger, and neither of them cared.

AW: Do you have a favorite character and why that one?
Valerie is very likeable, outgoing, and appears to be a generally happy person. Yet, inside she has vicious demons demeaning her with bouts of insecurity and inadequacy that she hides. This constant internal stress keeps her struggling to determine where she should be and what she should do. Since Valerie is so conflicted, she's my favorite character.

AW: Did you find anything particularly difficult in writing this book?
I especially hate, after I've typed it, going back and doing that first edit. That seems to take forever because that's when I find the most mistakes. Specific to Valerie's Retreat, the ending was difficult. David Pudlewitts, my editor, didn't care for the ending, so he pointed me in the right direction. For that I am very grateful. I think, in large part due to David, you'll find the ending surprising and appropriate.

AW: What project(s) are you currently working on?
Life After Life; right now I love that title, but it might change. This is about man who thinks he's crazy because he knows he's reincarnated. In his previous life he served as the man-servant to Alexander the First, the Tsar of Russia. The Tsar's death is surrounded by mystery and suspicion. This man knows the truth. Note to anyone who may be thinking about stealing this idea and writing it themselves [yes, I mean you, Stephen King and James Patterson]: I've already received confirmation of the copyright from the U.S. Library of Congress.

AW: Do you have any interesting writing quirks you want to tell us about?
You can decide if this is a quirky way to write a book. I usually start with a very brief outline: abusive childhood - works as a head teller - boyfriend 16 yrs younger. I type in Word with the outline a few blank lines down from the line I am currently writing in the book. As I finish a scene in the outline, I delete it. Of course, from time to time I forget to consult the outline, and I throw in a plot twist that requires either the outline be revised or the plot twist discarded. I rarely know how a book will end while I'm writing it [is that normal?], so my outlines often only cover the next chapter or two. Sometimes I finish all the scenes on the outline and finish the rest of the book without one. I always start with some kind of written agenda, but not with a whole lot. I want the characters to go where they go without being handcuffed to the original idea.

AW: Do you have any advice for writers out there? 
You really need to find someone who will tell you if your work stinks. Most people won't. In fact, it's very hard to find someone honest enough to do that.

AW: Where can we find you? 
Displaying Headshot Joe Rinaldo.jpgMy website is
my Twitter profile can be found at
The YouTube book trailer for Valerie's Retreat is at If you are in a book club and plan to discuss one of my books, I'd be glad to join your session. Please give me at least a week's notice.
AW: And of course we have to know, where can we find your book? 
The Amazon link for Valerie's Retreat
the ebook, is
and the link for the paperback of Valerie's Retreat is
I understand people's hesitation to buy an unknown author. All I ask is that you give me a chance by reading the first chapter or so at Amazon's Look-Inside. When the book grabs you in those initial pages, and it will, then buy it.


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