Interview with Joseph Rinaldo

Today, we're meeting with Joseph Rinaldo. He's here to talk with us about his fast-paced thrillers.

ATW: Tell us a little about yourself.

Joseph: My name is Joseph Rinaldo; I am married and father to a wonderful 39-year-old daughter with Down syndrome. I work as a Credit/Finance Manager for an HVAC distributor, and I write novels! I have written nine, of which three are currently available as both ebooks and paperbacks on Amazon. I enjoy spending time with my family, fishing, boating, and serving as a volunteer coach for Special Olympics sports in which my daughter participates (i.e., basketball and powerlifting). Born in Danville, Illinois, I spent most of my growing-up and young adult years in Owensboro, Kentucky, attended The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!), then went to Western Kentucky University for my MBA. My dream is to write full-time.

ATW: When did you begin writing?

Joseph: Several years ago during a period of unemployment. I had read a book by Nicholas Sparks, and when I discovered that he had received a million-dollar advance for writing it, I thought, "Oh, my God! He's good, but I know I can do that!" I've been writing ever since. The process of writing is very enjoyable, but the process of editing, rewriting, re-editing, etc., is horrible. It's like Dante's Seventh Circle of Hell! (No, really!)

ATW: I understand you’ve published three books. Which book was your first?

Joseph: The first book I published was A Spy At Home. That was a true Learning Experience. What I mostly learned from that was the incredible value of a professional editor and a professional cover illustrator. I also learned that the hardest part about writing a book is the marketing part. I have learned so much about that part of the writing process from fellow authors, who have been incredibly generous with their advice, cautions, support and encouragement.

ATW: Tell us about your most recent publication.

Joseph: My most recent publication, A Mormon Massacre, was released in late 2012. I had read a book by Sally Denton about the massacre of 150 Arkansan emigrants at Mountain Meadows, ostensibly by a group of Mormon militia under the direction of Brigham Young. There has been some debate about whether or not Mormons really committed these heinous acts; the Mormon Church blames Paiute Indians who were living in the area at the time. I was fascinated by the story, so I dug a little deeper into the Mormon faith and its peculiarities, which I found extremely complex, puzzling, and interesting. This led me to wonder what it might be like if a young man with a personal vendetta against the LDS went undercover with the idea that he could expose abuses in the Church. Thus, A Mormon Massacre was born. It has been quite surprising to see the reactions I've received from those who are not Mormons, those who are Mormons, and those who WERE Mormons.

ATW: For those readers out there who might be wondering which book to read first, what is your recommendation?

Joseph: That would depend on what they are looking for in a good read. A Spy At Home is the heart-wrenching story of a former CIA agent who steals nine million dollars from the CIA, loses his wife to a tragedy of his own making, and learns that his disabled son is slipping away from him with Alzheimer's Disease.

Hazardous Choices is the story of a young gangbanger from Chicago who flees to a small Kentucky college on a football scholarship with dreams of forever leaving gang life behind him. His past catches up with him with deadly consequences.

A Mormon Massacre has been described briefly above.

ATW: Can you see any (or all) of your books as movies? If so, which actors would you choose to portray your main characters?

Joseph: I actually can see them all as movies, and curiously enough, that is sort of how they come to me. The stories play out in my head like movies, complete with special effects, exotic locations, and characters that come to life and speak to me. Sometimes I feel as though I'm just taking dictation, writing down what the characters in the stories tell me to write. As for which actors I would choose, that is a tougher question. In my opinion, Hollywood writes scripts around stars instead of trying to find actors who truly embody the spirit of the characters. I would try to find actors who "fit" the roles, not just stars who could make the movie Big Box Office (though, of course, I want them to be big hits!).

ATW: How did you get the ideas for your novels?

Joseph: Sometimes it is from something I've read or seen, but many times it just comes to me like someone is whispering in my ear. I listen very carefully to the voices in my head. 

ATW: Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

Joseph: I think probably Garrison, the protagonist in A Spy At Home, because he is torn between his duty to his country, his duty to his family, greed, love, and guilt. In other words, just like real people, he has flaws, and his flaws ultimately undo him. This certainly seems realistic to me.

ATW: Which authors have inspired your writing?

Joseph: I don't answer that question because I fear that if I say I was inspired by, for example, Tom Clancy, people will expect my writing to be like his. I can tell you that I have read some wonderful books that have made me say, "Damn! I wish I'd written that!" (I won't reveal what they are, though.)

ATW: What projects are you currently working on?

Joseph: I am currently editing my next release, and as I said before, this is the most painful part of the writing process. I don't have a predicted release date yet for this one, and there is another book inside my head that is screaming to be written. I'm trying really hard to ignore that voice for now.

ATW: Do you have any special skills, education, or hobbies that enhance your writing abilities?

Joseph: Other than being a voracious reader, no. I read everything, including history, nonfiction, novels, how-to books, etc. My interests are eclectic, and I have even found some "chick lit" that I have enjoyed reading. I do not enjoy books that have a happy, tidy, all-wrapped-up ending. That is unrealistic and often annoying.

ATW: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Joseph: Read, read, read, write, write, write, edit, edit, edit. Uh…..oh, yeah, and don't get discouraged. That's the toughest part. I would also recommend that new or aspiring authors surround themselves (either physically or online) with a good support network. There are many awesome groups on Facebook whose members help each other by exchanging Twitter posts, Facebook posts, and other support; they are also a great resource for authors who have questions about writing, editing, book covers, indie publishing, and marketing. I guess the most important thing is spend the money to get a professional editor for your books; everyone thinks they can edit their own books and do just a good a job as a professional, but trust me, you can't. It's worth the expense to have someone tell you the truth about what works and what doesn't in your book, not just where to put the commas. You want to publish the best book you can, and the professionals who help you will support that effort.

ATW: Joseph, thanks so much for stopping by to talk to us about your work. For those readers out there who are interested in learning more about Joseph Rinaldo's work, please visit the following links:

Authors Website
Twitter handle is @jmrinaldo
Facebook page

Blurb from A Mormon Massacre:

A Mormon Massacre, a modern-day novel, is informed by the actual massacre of 150 innocent Americans allegedly by Mormon zealots in the Utah Territory in September of 1857. This reigned as the largest mass slaughter of Americans by Americans until the Oklahoma City bombing, excluding the Civil War. In present-day Nashville, Tennessee, Jeremiah Cameron grows up with a prejudice against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the murders in 1857. Many Camerons died at the hands of Mormon assassins at Mountain Meadows.

Jeremiah’s hatred multiplies when his father, Luke, informs him that his mother suffered abuse at the hands of her Mormon husband after being forced into marriage at twelve years old. Due to his father’s association with the Mormon Victim’s Action Committee, Jeremiah gets an opportunity to go undercover in hopes of exposing Mormons as abusers. With his father’s encouragement and the knowledge of his mother’s horrific experience, Jeremiah accepts M-VAC’s offer to train and insert him into an LDS community.

Jeremiah’s objective broadens when he sees more than he expected. Now he wants to expose the entire Church as a violent and dangerous fraud.