Joseph M. Rinaldo [readermark]
How and why did you begin to be creative?
I think I've always been creative in my work life, but it's only since 2003 that I've been creative in another way: writing novels. I was briefly unemployed and did a lot of reading, and I came across Nicholas Sparks' book, Three Weeks With My Brother. The book was okay, but what really impressed me was the fact that he received a million-dollar advance for it! When I read that, I thought, "Wow, he's a good writer, but I know I can do that, too!" I've been writing novels ever since!
Your mind is your work tool. How do you take care of it?
Many successful writers (among Stephen King, whom I admire for the sheer volume of his work) say, "If you want to be a writer, you have to read, read, read." I have always been a reader, and since I've begun writing novels, I've found that these words ring truer than ever. Only by reading what other people have written can you judge your own work.
How do you avoid repeating yourself, or falling into formula? How do you stay fresh?
Wow, I haven't really had that problem. All nine of the novels I've completed are extremely different from each other. Just like every day of my life is a brand-new day, every book I write is a brand-new book.
Do you have a ritual like retiring to a lonely place from time to time to cleanse your mind?
No, for that I watch sports on TV.
"To give birth to ideas." Is this only an expression, or are there really parallels between giving birth and creativity?
I assume both are painful, but since I've never given birth, I have no measure of comparison.
The armchair psychologist: Is creativity an act of rebellion for you?
I think so. At least a little bit. You see, I'm a numbers guy. I work in credit, and being creative with words is so totally different from what I do for a living that it lets me break out of the mold a little and explore areas of my mind that were not well-exercised before.
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I've always read for pleasure, except when I was in college, when there was no time to do so. From the beginning, I enjoyed a variety of genres, both fiction and nonfiction, and I still do.
I began to write during a period of unemployment. I had been reading Nicholas Sparks' "Three Weeks With My Brother", and when I read about the million-dollar advance he received for the book, I thought, "Wow! He's a good writer, but I believe I can do as well!" That was the beginning. Since then I've written nine novels.
My first reader was my wife. She helped me edit and revise my first novel in preparation for sending it to agents and publishers. She has a real gift when it comes to proofreading.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
A genre is a box someone puts a book in, and in a lot of cases, that book is trapped in that box, never to be read by someone who might otherwise find that book fascinating. I would prefer never to classify my books in a particular genre, but the publishing world insists, so I make the classification as broad and general as possible. The only two "genres" that should exist are "fiction" and "nonfiction", in my opinion.
You can find synopses of my books on my website, www.josephmrinaldo.com and on Amazon, where both my currently available ebooks, A SPY AT HOME and HAZARDOUS CHOICES, are listed. In addition, both books are listed on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4564292.Joseph_Rinaldo.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
It's very difficult for me to define my creative process. The only thing I can liken it to is this:
The voices in my head begin talking, both to me and to each other, and tell me what the book will be about. From then on, it's a lot like taking dictation. I just write what the voices in my head tell me to write.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
I don't know that any type of reading really inspires me to write, but I do enjoy reading a variety of books while I'm in the process of writing my own. It keeps me entertained during "down time", and it gives me an opportunity to see how other authors work with their craft.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
That's difficult to say. Of course, you have the main story, the main character, and the things that happen to him/her. Then you craft the rest of the story around that core. The dialogue is critical; it must sound authentic, which is difficult if you are writing about someone who is of the opposite sex. Action is important, and I prefer not to write books (or, in fact, read books) that have page after page of descriptions of settings or the way people are dressed, etc. It's important to "snag" the reader's interest right away, and talking about the architecture of the character's house is not the way to do it.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I think I'm most comfortable writing in first person, as I did in my first book, A Spy At Home, but I'm most comfortable reading in third person. Sometimes, though, if a book has many characters, it's difficult to keep track of the "he" and "she" sentences, especially in dialogue.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Gillian Flynn, for writing Sharp Objects, a near-perfect book, and one that I recommend to everyone. Alexandre Dumas, for The Count of Monte Cristo. Dan Brown, because he made a fortune off a book that my wife couldn't even finish! Seriously, I admire any writer who makes a lot of money off a book, especially one I didn't like, because I can't figure out how they do it!
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
I think you have to put a lot of yourself and those you are close to into characters to make them believable. This is particularly important in dialogue. It's very difficult to write dialogue for someone who is absolutely unlike you.
Again, my characters start out as voices in my head, and they tell me what to write and what they want to say. Really!
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Not really. I tend to give too much background and too many details. My wife frequently tells me, "Cut to the chase." I also tend to go off on tangents from time to time and forget what the original story was.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Like every other writer, I write for myself. They may not admit it, but I believe it's true. If you don't satisfy yourself with your writing, why should you expect it to satisfy someone else?
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
I hadn't really thought of it that way, but I guess it is a form of personal therapy. If I am struggling with something, it tends to come out in my book. Not necessarily the exact same thing, but something very similar.
Does reader feed-back help you?
It really does. Not, of course, for the book that's already out there, but for future books I write, and especially when I'm editing and revising.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
I do. My wife. She has a gift for grammar and catching mistakes in spelling, usage, etc. She is always my partner for the initial revision process, and has often offered creative suggestions on how I can make the story better.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I think I have found my "voice", except the voices in my head keep drowning it out! No, seriously, I have a unique style, as does every writer, and I'm proud of it.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
As far as the writing goes, I don't impose any discipline on myself. I don't have to. The story insists on being written, and I am its scribe. When it comes to revision and editing, I usually set a goal of so many pages a day. I can't always keep to that goal - life interferes! - but I try.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
I don't really need anything but my laptop and quiet. Sometimes, but not often, I'll put music on, but only rarely.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write on my laptop, I edit on my laptop, and I only print when I'm ready to show my work to my wife, so that she can work on it while I continue writing and editing. She prefers to do her reading and editing on paper, and that's helpful for me when she finishes, because then I have hard copy to work with.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
There are many, but the ones I prefer are Author Central on Facebook and Twitter.
What has been your experience with publishers?
I attempted to go the "traditional" publishing route, but found publishers and agents less than receptive to a new author. I sent out hundreds of query letters, excerpts, chapter summaries, etc., to no avail. Then I discovered the wonderful world of self-publishing! I published my first ebook, A Spy At Home, on Amazon through their KDP program in January of 2010, and I've just released my second ebook, Hazardous Choices, on Amazon. I'm very proud of the hard work that went into both books, and one major lesson I've learned from going the self-publishing road is "hire a professional editor"! It makes all the difference in the world in how readers and especially readers respond to your work.
What are you working on now?
Seeking pre-release reviewers for my new novel on Amazon, A MORMON MASSACRE. Please message me. Here is a blurb about the book:
This modern-day novel is based on the actual massacre of innocent Americans by Mormon zealots in the Utah Territory in September of 1857. In present-day Nashville, Tennessee, Jeremiah grows up with a prejudice against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the murders in 1857 of his ancestors at Mountain Meadows. Until the 1995 Oklahoma City attack, this was the most deadly act of terrorism against US citizens.
Jeremiahís hatred multiplies when his father, Luke, informs him that his mother suffered abuse at the hands of her Mormon husband in a previous marriage. Due to his fatherís association with the Mormon Victimís Action Committee, Jeremiah gets an opportunity to expose the current wide-spread and Church-accepted practice of abusing women. With his fatherís encouragement and the knowledge of his motherís horrific experience, Jeremiah accepts M-VACís offer to train and insert him into an LDS community in hopes of collecting evidence to prosecute the abusers.
Jeremiahís objective broadens when he sees all the atrocities committed by Mormon zealots. Now he wants to expose the entire Church as a violent and dangerous fraud.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Drag them out into the light, read them, and if you think they can be saved, rework them and send them out. If you think they can't be saved, do yourself a favor and get rid of them. No point in holding on to work you can't show.
What is your blog address? What subjects do you deal with?
My blog address is http://wwwjosephmrinaldocom.blogspot.com. I have an eclectic blog; I deal with all types of things. I use the blog as a vehicle to promote my books, but I also express my own, sometimes controversial, opinions on subjects as diverse as television commercials and evolution. Check it out!
Have you created relationships with other bloggers or readers of your blog?
I have, and it has been a rich resource, particularly when I need reviewers for my books. Other bloggers are very generous with their time and talent, and I try to reciprocate when I can.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to begin a blog?
Dive in. Just let your mind roam free. It's fun, and it can also be great therapy.
Joseph M. Rinaldo
Whites Creek-United States