Welcome back to Ink Drop Interviews where I shine a humble spotlight on one author each Wednesday. My hope is to introduce you to work you might not otherwise happen across, a talent who has not yet become a household name. This week, I am delighted to introduce to you, Joseph Rinaldo, author of 9 novels.
IDI – It’s been said that we ‘become’ the people we create. We have to feel all of their emotions and think what they think to make them believable. What are your thoughts on this?
JR – I don’t ‘become’ them; I consider them separate entities. Maybe the rest of the world can’t see them, but they’re real to me. This may not make me a well-adjusted member of society, but it makes for great stories.
IDI – Where do most of your ideas begin?
JR – I haven’t the slightest idea. The characters appear in my head, I write down what they say and do. Usually, I feel like I’m not even involved. The scenes play out in my mind. I don’t sit on the couch with my eyes closed and fists clenched demanding the next plot twist appear. It just happens. I’ve been lucky, I haven’t experienced writers block. In fact, I wish I could type faster and had more time to devote to writing.
IDI – When did it occur to you that you had it in you to write?
JR – I was reading ‘Three Weeks with My Brother’ by Nicholas Sparks. At the point where he told of getting a one million dollar advance, I knew I had to try this writing game. That’s an excellent book, but I knew I could write that well.
IDI – What are you the most passionate about within your writing? What keeps the fire burning?
JR – I hope this doesn’t come across as too capitalistic, but the hope of getting money keeps me writing. I wouldn’t put all this time and effort in to it without the possibility of a payday (actual money, not the candy bar). Many people will tell you that you must have passion to be a good writer. That’s true and I am passionate about writing when I’m writing a book. I just wouldn’t keep doing it without the opportunity to make a living at it.
IDI – Are your stories plot or character driven?
JR – Character! My twist is that I try to keep the main character from being the conquering hero, or the despicable villain. My protagonists fall into a grey area where the reader decides if the characters are good or bad. The plot will hopefully keep the reader guessing as to the next event. However, plots are always secondary. No one reads a book for a sequence of events. No matter the events, humans read to see how the characters react to those events. I can write about a volcanic eruption, but if no one was there, was it interestingly dramatic?
IDI – Do you have a favorite author?
JR – This will probably sound strange, but I don’t have a favorite author. I read books, not books written by certain people. One time, I read too many books in a row written by men. I switched to a female author for the next book, but I didn’t do it with a specific person in mind.
IDI – There are arguments for each side, but when writing, do you outline or sketch the entire book before you feel comfortable enough to begin your draft, or are you a pantser?
JR – I do a hybrid. I outline some to start, and then write. As the book progress, I outline more. I’ve written nine books and all but one followed this method. One book came to me in an instant. I wrote nine handwritten pages of outline without stopping.
IDI – How much of you will a reader find in one of your novels?
JR – That’s hard to answer. In my mind the characters are separate people, so I’m not trying to think for them. I really hope the characters are so deep and interesting that a reader can’t see me specifically. Garrison in ‘A Spy At Home’ lives a life as a foreign agent for the CIA that I would never consider doing. He also ‘steal’ nine point five million dollars which I wouldn’t have the guts to try. (It’s ‘steal’ since the reader really needs to decide for him/herself if this was wrong.)
IDI – The demands on our time can seem endless when we’re trying to write. How do you handle them?
JR – My wife supported our family responsibilities of family while I wrote the majority of my nine books. I worked as an adjunct professor and my daughter, an adult with Down syndrome worked outside the home during the day. This really saved me from most of the familial distractions. My biggest problem was keeping myself parked with the computer in my lap. I’d type a page or two and get up and walk around. Some day were better than others and eventually, books got written.
IDI – What is your all-time favorite book?
JR – ‘Sharp Objects’ by Gillian Flynn – this book has it all! The main character struggled with her inner issues. Those issues become another character because they’re ever-present. The events of the town keep you wondering what’s going on with these people. I can’t be more specific because I think the book has more IMPACT if you read it without knowing anything about it. Don’t read the book jacket, or a synopsis! Pick it up and see where you go.
IDI – When reading another author, do you find yourself taking in what you read or are you prone to critique as you go? And if you critique, what is the one thing you see the most often?
JR – I always analyze what I’m reading. Could that have been done better? How would I have done that? Is that dialogue out-of-character for the protagonist’s best friend? I study the books I read to get better at writing. It’s a constant in my life since I began to write. The biggest mistake I notice is when characters saw something out of the time period. A character in the 80’s would never say cell phone. We had car phones and we’re barely learning the concept of dropped calls when changing cells or towers.
IDI – Define a great book.
JR – A great book is one that you keep thinking about long after you’ve finished it. Also, its’ one where you don’t skip any of it. I’ve had people recommend a book to me. After reading it myself I ask him-her about it and they say, ‘I skipped that part’. That baffles me.
IDI – As a writer, what is the one thing you would most like people to know about you?
JR – I am Joe Rinaldo and I’ve written nine novels, one of which, ‘A Spy At Home’, is available on Amazon. By day I work as a Credit and Financial Manager for a heating, ventilating and air conditioning distributor; we sell to the guys that come to your house. When I first started writing, I thought being a numbers guy would make me an oddity as an author. That’s proved to be wrong. The more people I meet in this industry, the more I run across accountants and CFOs. Apparently, creativity infects a variety of people. Of course, I have the same dream as other writers. I hope my book sells a million copies and becomes a smash hit movie. Selling ebooks for about a buck isn’t the get-rich-quick scheme I thought it was before being published. It’s been a lot of work.
IDI – What do you do enjoy when you’re not writing?
JR – As mentioned, I got that pesky full-time job, but for fun we love to go boating during the summer. I jog four miles every other day. My daughter is a Special Olympics athlete, so I volunteer as a basketball and weightlifting coach. If you saw me as the weightlifting coach, it’s comical. My biceps wouldn’t scare a second grader. As for weightlifting knowledge, I’m in charge of pre-competition stretching; the same job I have for basketball games. Fortunately for the teams, the head coaches know what they’re doing.
IDI – We covered your writing life and your interests. Paint us a picture of an ordinary day in the life of Joseph Rinaldo.
JR – I’ve touched on my job, but more specifically, at work I analyze things. I track the financial stability of the hvac distributor I work for and gauge the creditworthiness of our customers. That might well sound terrifically boring but I put this in here to show that all artists (yes, writers are artists) dont’ have purple hair and rail against the establishment. When I come home sometimes it’s my turn to fix dinner. I live in Tennessee and we fix dinner. During the evening, I try to find time to work on a book.
IDI – Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
JR – I was at a writer’s conference and a woman was telling me about her historical novel. She found the menu for the heads of states dinner that actually happened and she was using it in her novel. While she said this, I kept thinking, that has got to be the most boring book ever if you’re telling the reader what they had to eat. Research can be good and bad. Research can make the book come alive and seem real. It can also come across as if the writer is bragging about all he/she knows. If your reader wanted to read a textbook, she/he would’ve bought one. For writing novels, the most important thing is being believable, not scientifically accurate.
Thank you, Joseph. I ask a lot of the same questions each week because everyone has varying opinions on the subject of writing and I found many of your answers to be quite unique. Something else I truly believe is what an interview tells a reader. I always say, ‘If you give a boring interview, the reader will be inclined to think you would bore them equally within your writing’. Your interview expressed different views and I am led to believe that your books would speak in a voice of their own also.
I wish you the best of luck on your newest project, ‘Hazardous Choices’
Interviews are conducted by Kathy Reinhart, author of 3 novels, most recently ‘Lily White Lies’.
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If you would be interested in participating in an Ink Drop Interview, please contact me at ladybuggerly at hotmail. I would love to have you! Next week’s interview – Jim Ingarham
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