Today’s Author interview is Joseph Rinaldo. He’s part of the Blog-A-Licious Book launch held by Pandora at Peace from Pieces. In my choice of authors to host that contacted me, I was intrigued by the story Joseph had to tell.
Joseph Rinaldo: For me, genre is very difficult to pin down, and I hate to be put in a box labeled “genre”, but I guess if I had to, I’d call it contemporary fiction. Hazardous Choices follows a young man from Chicago, where he is a member of a deadly gang, to a rural Kentucky college, with a football scholarship and a dream to change his life.
Terry C. Simpson: What inspired you to write this particular story?
Joseph Rinaldo: I live near Nashville, Tennessee, and there are many gangs here. It shocks me that so many young men are caught up in that lifestyle; there are so many murders, and there is a great deal of “collateral damage” in the process. I am also a huge football fan, and I started thinking, ‘Could a gangbanger reinvent himself if he could get away from the gang’s influence and succeed at something positive?’
Terry C. Simpson: What writer influenced you the most?
Joseph Rinaldo: I wouldn’t say that any writer “influenced” me, but I do give a lot of credit to Nicholas Sparks, because when I read about his million-dollar advance for The Notebook, 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.
Terry C. Simpson: Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
Joseph Rinaldo: The main character in Hazardous Choices, Darnell Jackson, is my favorite character. His struggle to free himself from his past is difficult and painful. He desperately wants to fit in at the college, but his background makes it nearly impossible. I can’t even imagine the “culture shock” of moving from a violent metropolis like Chicago to a rural, small Kentucky town where there is very little crime.
Terry C. Simpson: How long did it take you to write your book?
Joseph Rinaldo: As a rule, it takes me from nine months to a year to write a book. Then comes the hard part, editing, editing, revising, checking for spelling and grammatical errors, choosing a title, more editing, more revising…it seems to go on forever before I am ready to release the book.
Terry C. Simpson: How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
Joseph Rinaldo: Just the basic framework. I know what I want the main character and the most important secondary characters to do and be, and then I just listen to the voices in my head and write down what they dictate! When I first started writing, I wrote outlines for the story first, and then began the work of writing it; I don’t do that anymore. Too time-consuming. Now I just start with a thought and let it lead me where it wants to go.
Terry C. Simpson: What is your goal for the book, i.e.: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
Joseph Rinaldo: I think my “message”, if there is one, is that sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can’t break away from our past. We carry it with us, and it colors everything in our present and our future.
Terry C. Simpson: What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
Joseph Rinaldo: Finding the time to work on it, and the editing process. It is so difficult to edit your own work, so I hired a professional editor to read it and make suggestions, but before that, I had to re-read the book and make changes/corrections, and then I asked my wife to read it and make suggestions. I believe that now that all those eyes have seen the work, it is the best I can make it, and I am proud to have it listed on Amazon.
Terry C. Simpson: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
Joseph Rinaldo: I really can’t. My schedule and my family’s activities sometimes make it impossible to write any words on a given day; however, for the most part, I write in the evenings after supper and on the weekends.
Terry C. Simpson: What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?
Joseph Rinaldo: I guess for me it was discovering that I could create a whole world out of nothing, people it, and direct the actions of the characters. That is a heady feeling.
Terry C. Simpson: What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Joseph Rinaldo: “Ignore advice from other authors.” Seriously, each writer has his/her own style, and apart from “edit, edit, edit”, there is nothing I could tell an aspiring writer that would help him/her create his/her own story.
Terry C. Simpson: What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?
Joseph Rinaldo: Plan on spending time each day promoting your book. It requires Herculean effort, much time, and making lots and lots of connections with other writers, readers, bloggers, etc., if you want to be successful. One of the most important things I’ve discovered is how supportive and encouraging other authors can be, selflessly promoting my work on their blogs and in other places, doing reviews of my books, and just generally helping me succeed. It’s a great community!
Terry C. Simpson: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
Joseph M Rinaldo: Well, of course, getting reviews is crucial. I also have done many author interviews, and I have stayed connected to the community of writers/bloggers and contributed where I could to their good work. I tried using paid advertising on Facebook and Google, but did not see any sales results from that. Likewise, using bookmarks. Because my books are in ebook format only, it limits what I can do in terms of promotions like book signings and so forth, so my main focus is on the internet. I also hired a website designer, book cover designer, and SEO consultant to make sure my books look good, and to get as much exposure for my books as possible. I belong to a variety of forums and discussion boards, and I try to participate in any online event that will put me and my work before an audience.
Terry C. Simpson: What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?
Joseph Rinaldo: “Breathe.”
Terry C. Simpson: Have you written any other books?
Joseph Rinaldo: Yes, I have seven other books waiting in the “pipeline”. One is in the editing process right now and should be released in early 2012 if not sooner. That book is called Mountain Meadows Aftermath, and there is a blurb about it on the Upcoming Releases page of my website: http://www.josephmrinaldo.com.
Terry C. Simpson: Where can people learn more about your books?
Joseph Rinaldo: Both of my currently-available books: A Spy At Home and Hazardous Choices are listed on Amazon. In addition, I have a web page (see above) and a blog: http://www.josephmrinaldocom.blogspot.com and, of course, I am on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I will be promoting the newest ebook release, Hazardous Choices, on many other websites in the days and weeks to come. I welcome any offers for reviews and comments from readers.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to participate in this interview. I have enjoyed it immensely, and it gave me much food for thought.
Amazon buy link for Hazardous Choices:Hazardous Choices
Amazon buy link for A Spy At Home:Spy At Home
Goodreads: Author Joseph Rinaldo