Guest posts

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Author interview with Joseph Rinaldo about his book A Spy at Home

An interview with author Joseph Rinaldo - about his book A Spy at Home

A retired CIA operative comes to believe he wasted his professional life not only promoting questionable American policies, but missing life with his family. To ease the pain he diverts millions that the CIA expected him to use funding a coup attempt that would establish a pro-American government in an African country.  Seeing the coup would fail, Garrison decides to save the money for himself. You, the reader, can decide if he's a villain with evil intent, a hero with altruistic motives, or a regular guy sick of working for peanuts in a dangerous environment.

Back at home he and his wife look forward to their golden years being luxuriously comfortable and opulently relaxed. Unfortunately, after his wife dies in a tragic accident, he must learn all that she knew about caring for Noah, their mentally retarded son. After a life of planning for contingencies, the former spy must deal with the possibility that he may die before his son. Who will care for the son when the dad spent a life out of the 
country and now has no one to lean on?


By day I work as Credit and Financial Manager for a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning distributor. 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 isn’t the get-rich-quick 
scheme I thought it was before being published. It’s been a lot of work.

When did you first know that you wanted to write a book?
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.
Eight years prior to reading about the million-dollar advance, I had only considered writing once in my life. Living alone, I hand wrote a page that I later read to my girlfriend, who is now my wife. She said the characters didn’t really tell the story, and that she heard me reciting rather than the voice of the main character. I wadded up the sheet of paper and threw it away. I never forgot what she said and believe I have corrected those mistakes in A Spy At Home.

What made you finally decide to start the actual writing process?
The first book was the hardest to actually begin typing. I kept asking my wife, “Is this a good idea for a book?”  Picture Dan Brown asking you, “An albino man goes around the world for conservative Catholics defending their beliefs as he tortures himself. Is that a good idea?” My point is, one sentence to describe a book that hasn’t been written probably won’t sound all that interesting no matter how many millions of copies the novel eventually sells. After I started writing, I found it hard to quit. Now I’ve written nine books.

 Have you taken any formal training in writing?

Nope, never.  Sometimes I think a reader can tell when someone has had formal training. The plots come across like a mathematical equation. The protagonist mentions three times that he hates listening to the Rolling Stones and later finds himself stuck in a car between two kidnappers with “Brown Sugar” playing repeatedly on a CD player. You usually see that coming when it has been overly set up by the author. The stories that keep you guessing have red herrings that fit with the main storyline. Those are the kind of plots I like to follow. The reader might have to work a little more by paying close attention, but I think it’s worth it.

What do you bring from your life that adds to your writing?
A Spy At Home recounts the life of a CIA operative, which means I cannot answer any questions about a career as a spy that I may or may not have had. Generally, I think of the characters in my books as being completely separate people. The characters don’t interact with me, let alone stem from me. At least that’s how it is in my mind. None of my characters are based on a person I know. They are combinations of traits from many people, and some imaginary traits are thrown in to keep my friends from recognizing themselves. Just kidding; the characters live in my head, and I write down what they say and do. Hopefully this doesn’t sound too bizarre.

Do you use external supports in writing? such as a writing program or an ongoing editor?
I am the world’s worst speller! Without the F7 key in Word, none of my books would have an error-free sentence. Releasing books on Amazon has forced me to use a professional editor. This can be quite expensive, so we (my wife and I) shopped around a long time before settling on someone. Also, paying a portion up front is only fair to the editor, but paying anything to someone you don’t know can be scary for the writer. Anyone wishing to know who I used can email me through my website. I’ll have to check with him before providing his name. Using an editor has REALLY helped me grow as a writer. He shed a whole new light on my soon-to-be-released Hazardous Choices. Writing a book, you know what you mean, but the English language leaves plenty of room for a variety of interpretations. A professional editor will help focus the words on what you actually mean without detracting from your creativity. Editing is not an easy job.

 Is there a theme that runs through your writing?
Good heavens, I hope not! All of my books having the same theme sounds horrifically boring to me. A few of my books involve characters looking for a better life, but another has a man who thinks he’s crazy because his dreams seem so real, and another has a young man who infiltrates a Mormon sect looking for child predators. Having one theme isn’t me. I don’t think I could write a sequel. Well, maybe if my main character was a boy named Harry Potter.

 are your favorite authors?
This might seem odd, but I can’t remember who wrote which books. Grissom’s and Clancy’s books usually stick with me because each of their books has the same theme. Sharp Objects was a book I read and loved; however, my wife has to remind me who wrote it every time I mention it. I like to read. The stories stick with me, but the names of the authors don’t.

How has your writing evolved over time?
I feel like my characters have more personality, and my plots have improved a great deal. Having one section flow into the next has taken a great of work.  Making the sections flow is an editing process item for me.  When I am writing a book, I don’t worry a whole lot about that; maybe I should.  
The endings of my books have gotten better over time. A Spy At Home is the latest book I’ve written, and I am very pleased with the ending.

 How do you promote your books?
We use the internet almost exclusively; my wife spends a great deal of time posting information and blurbs on Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites such as Goodreads, Bookspy, Authors Den, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Library Thing, Shelfari, Orkut, Tumblr, Twitter, StumbleUpon,  on my blog, my website, and any other sites that will allow us to put the word out there about A SPY AT HOME.

How do you promote your web site or blog?
We put links to them on all the sites listed above, and I try to add a new post to my blog at least once a week. I find that the more controversial the post, the better response I get from it. I have links to both my website and my blog everywhere on social networking sites.

1 comment:

  1. I think many social networking sites in the search engine but some most important site available like facebook, twitter, digg, stumble upon, Google buzz, linked in, delicious, etc. Socialkik.