Interview with mystery author Joseph M. Rinaldo

Author Joseph M. Rinaldo is here today! He’s
telling us a bit about his newest novel, the romantic thriller, Valerie’s Retreat.
Welcome, Joe. Please tell us a little
bit about yourself.
I live in
Nashville, Tennessee with my wife and daughter. We like to go boating as a
family, and I jog to stay fit. My daughter has Down syndrome and competes in
Special Olympics powerlifting, bowling, and basketball. I’m an assistant
basketball coach and helper “coach” for powerlifting. My arms are so
tiny they make Barney Fife look strong.
Please tell us about your current
release, Valerie’s Retreat.
The reason
you’ll enjoy this book is r
elate-ability – Valerie’s a very likeable
woman. The reader will be on her side. However, as Valerie makes more choices,
the reader will have to decide the strength of their allegiance. Gone Girl also encouraged readers to
reevaluate their allegiances to the characters. 
Gone Girl and Valerie’s Retreat keep the reader on
edge by bringing in surprises just as the reader thinks they have the story
figured out. Gone Girl’s remaining
plot seems so obvious in one chapter, only to be completely turned upside down
in the next. Valerie’s Retreat
follows this recipe to keep the reader guessing.
Valerie’s Retreat puts Valerie’s crisis management skills on display.
You’ll get to know her pretty average life. Her job as the head teller at a
bank, her one bedroom apartment, and her exceptionally lazy cat give the
impression that she could be anyone you meet in your daily life. However, when
things start to get rough, her first reaction is to run. An abusive childhood
you learn about as the story proceeds left her with shaky decision-making
skills. Franco, her boyfriend, doesn’t know what the right answer is either.
Between them they commit a little felony and leave the country.


What inspired you to write this book?
My background
has a teeny influence on Valerie’s
Retreat
. Valerie meets a man sixteen years her junior at a local church
dance. My wife and I have the same age difference and met at the same kind of
place. We still smile at each other when we drive by that dance hall/community
center even after fourteen years of marriage. Dang, we’re cute! Seriously, like
my wife, Valerie is NOT a cougar on the prowl. We met long before anyone heard
that term. Valerie wasn’t searching for any kind of specific man, she just
happened to find Franco. He happened to be younger, and neither of them cared.


Valerie’s
Retreat
Excerpt:
Valerie
walked into her modest, nicely kept, one-bedroom apartment; a ten-minute drive
from where she worked. Caesar immediately greeted her just inside the
door.  She hoisted him up. “You’re
the fattest kitty in the whole world.” The tiger striped tabby cat came
from the Animal Shelter and resembled anything but a kitten. “You’re also
the best kitty in the whole world.”
She
began to change her clothes and pulled her cell phone out of her purse. The
blinking red light indicated a message.
“Hey,
Val! It’s Janet. You promised to come to the singles dance at Saint John the
Baptist tonight. I’ll be by to pick you up at six-thirty unless you want to get
a bite to eat before we go? I get home a little after five, so call me at home
after five-fifteen or call me at work before five or on my cell phone between
five and five-fif-” Valerie smiled, wondering when Janet would learn that
the voicemail would, in fact, cut her off, regardless of the topic. Janet Knead
pulled double-duty as Valerie’s best friend and Social Director.
She
deleted the first message, and the second one played. “That cranky little
mailbox of yours cut me off! I think you probably got the message of when and
where to call me, so I’m going to hang up before your mailbox cuts me off
again, and I have to call back to show that little spoiled piece of electronic
whodads just who’s boss. Call me.”
Valerie
looked at Caesar, who had laid across her right foot while she listened to the
messages.  “I’d rather stay home
with you, but I promised I’d go.” She reached down to rub his head.  As her fingertips approached, he rolled onto
his back and stretched, exposing his belly. 
“That’s my cute cuddly fat kitty.”
Still
only halfway out of the dress she wore to work, she grabbed the phone and went
to her bedroom. She hit speed dial as she unzipped the back of the dress.  Janet answered on the first ring.
They
exchanged greetings, and then Valerie asked, “Would you be disappointed if
I didn’t go to that dance with you tonight?”
“I
definitely would be disappointed! You need to get out of the apartment and do
something fun,” Janet chided.
“I
know, but I had a really bad day at work, and I just don’t feel like it.”
“What
time is it?” Janet asked rhetorically, checking the digital clock on her
office phone.
“Four
twenty, you sure do keep banker’s hours.”
Valerie
laughed. “Yeah, working from ten till eight almost every day, including
Saturdays, I might add, not to mention working one to five most Sundays, those
are great hours.  Seriously, this working
at an in-store branch is getting old.”
“It’s
great for the customers though. I get my banking and grocery shopping done all
in one stop. Maybe I should write commercials for Community First National
Bank!?” In her best radio voice Janet said, “Community First, where
service and convenience aren’t in our name, but they’re in our heart.”
“Wow!
You should keep your day job,” Valerie suggested.
“I
will,” Janet sighed. “Being an administrative assistant is my life.
Well, anyway, I’ll pick you up for dinner, and we can discuss whether we’ll go
to the dance or not.”
Valerie
laughed again. “If you’re driving, I know where we’ll end up.”
“I’ll
be there at five-thirty or six or abo-“
“Or
whenever you get here,” Valerie interjected for her unpunctual friend.
“Be
dressed appropriately.”
“Tight
jeans with a shape-showing top?”
“That’s
my plan!”
“Janet,
that’s what you wear to work, to dance, to workout-“
“Yeah,
yeah, yeah, just be ready when I get there.”
What exciting story are you working on
next?
Life After Life; right now I love that title but it
might change. This is about man who thinks he’s crazy because he knows he’s
reincarnated. In his previous life he served as man-servant to Alexander the
First, the Tsar of Russia. The Tsar’s death is surrounded by mystery and
suspicion. This man knows the truth.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
The actual
impetus for me to begin writing came while I was reading Three Weeks With My Brother by Nicholas Sparks. When I got to the
part where he received a million-dollar advance, 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.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I work full-time
as Financial Manager of an air conditioning distributor, so finding time to
write is very hard. I mainly write on rainy weekends when I can’t get outside.
At the time I wrote Valerie’s Retreat,
I worked part-time and my wife was the major bread winner. Back then I wrote a
book in about four months.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I really
haven’t experienced writer’s block. Oh, I may write something that I realize
later doesn’t work. That’s why God gave us the delete key. Normally I sit down
and start typing without any real hiccups until I reread it.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
A financial
counselor helping people manage their money. As I grew up I realized two
things: one, poor people who need help managing money doesn’t have any to pay
the counselor; two, rich people only trust other rich people to handle their
empires. I didn’t think either avenue was a fit for me.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
I understand
people are hesitant to give independent authors a chance. If any of the books
I’ve mentioned interest you, please go to the free “Click to Look
Inside” spot on Amazon and sample the first chapter. If a book grabs you
that quick, you’ll probably be glad you got it. Also, if you are in a book club
that reads one of my books. I’d be honored to join your discussion. Feel free
to contact me.
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