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Monday, May 20, 2013

Author Interview: Joseph M. Rinaldo

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 67th in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the author, Joseph M. Rinaldo, who has real characters running around inside his head,  and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Joseph:  This idea that authors do the same thing, the same way, as they write or before they start to write is blown way out of proportion. A writer just sits down and starts writing when the story appears in his/her head.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Joseph:  I read all kinds of things. For a brief two-book period, I was reading about people who live aboard boats. I like boats, but that seems kind of odd even for me. Specifically, Without Remorse by Tom Clancy was pretty good. I read that so long ago. Recently I devoured all three of the Hunger Games novels. Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects and Gone Girl were outstanding. Naming a single favorite is like naming the one ice cream cone that was best. Who knows? You just keep going back for more.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Joseph:  Lots of open space. A wave of ideas, plots, characters, and settings rush by, and then quiet, empty serenity returns.

Paul:  In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it?
Joseph:  Do not hire a marketing firm! I did because Mitt Romney, a Mormon, was running for President. The idea was to get me national interviews to discuss Mormonism and my book. Waste of money; unfortunately for me, it was a lot of money, so I won't forget it any time soon.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Joseph:  I really have to make time; carve a period out of a day, because I work full-time.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Joseph:  That fiction writers view the characters inside their heads as REAL people. I know they're not real to other people, but the characters in my head are a part of my reality. Before you ask, no, I am not a well-adjusted member of society. [just kidding].

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Joseph:  Bits and pieces of a plot usually come to me, and I jot those down. For instance, Jeremiah in A Mormon Massacre has a strong sense of justice that leads him to go undercover into the Mormon church. This part of the story popped into my head and became the basic underlying theme. The conversation where Jeremiah told his father about his decision came to me as I wrote it.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Joseph:  For A Mormon Massacre I did a fair bit of research. As part of my promoting this book, I have asked former Mormons to review it. Interestingly, a few have felt I didn't do enough research. When writing fiction, the author probably shouldn't use all of his research material, because fiction is about the story, not a venue to show the world how much you learned. For instance, Mormons have their own vocabulary. "Gentile" in Mormonese refers to a person who is not Mormon. Had I used this one Mormon word, the reader wouldn't be too confused, but to include all the ones I came across would require a glossary at the end of the book. That detracts from the story, so I skipped the whole vocabulary issue.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Joseph:  A Mormon Massacre - A Mormon militia slaughtered a wagon train of 150 Arkansas emigrants in Utah Territory in 1857. This ranked as the largest mass killing of Americans by Americans until the Oklahoma City bombing, excluding the Civil War. When the bodies were accidentally uncovered in 1999, Mike Leavitt, the Governor of Utah and allegedly a direct descendant of an 1857 militiaman/murderer, ordered them re-buried. Jeremiah, in present-day Nashville, decides to go undercover and see what else the Mormons are hiding.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Joseph:  The massacre at Mountain Meadows fascinated me from the moment I learned of it. To really understand the killing of the 150 people at Mountain Meadows, a person must delve into the psyche of a Mormon. The more I learned about the way they think, the more I wanted to know. I guarantee you'll feed your religious curiosity by reading A Mormon Massacre.

Paul:  What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Joseph:  My least favorite and most surprising part has been editing. I hire a professional editor [He's great! Contact me through my webpage, and I'll get you in touch with him - end of commercial]. When he returns his suggestions, I have to face the fact that some of what I wrote is substandard. Not a fun activity.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Joseph:  As a family we enjoy boating. During the summer we spend a lot of time sitting in the boat on a lake doing a whole lot of nothing. I also like to jog, and my wife will join me once in a great while.

Paul:  Thanks, Joseph, that was great. I wish you every success for the future.

About Joseph M. Rinaldo: Growing up in a strict Roman Catholic home where Church doctrine ruled, I failed to challenge those beliefs until adulthood. Now I constantly look for religious hypocrisy and found an interesting example of it in 1857 at Mountain Meadows in the Utah Territory. Mormons, reportedly acting on Brigham Young’s orders, slaughtered approximately 140 Arkansas emigrants. This event, combined with my suspicious approach to organized religion, congealed into A Mormon Massacre.

Joseph's Blog: Joseph M Rinaldo
Joseph on Twitter: @jmrinaldo
Joseph on Facebook: Joseph M Rinaldo
Joseph's latest book: A Mormon Massacre (Amazon)

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