Interview with Joseph M Rinaldo

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? While reading Three Weeks with My Brother by Nicholas Sparks, I learned he received a million-dollar advance. I thought, "He's good, but I can do this." That was in 2004, and I've been writing ever since. The confidence to do this came from my English teacher in my freshman year of high school. For the short story we had to write, she told the class that I was one of five people who wrote so well she could help them with their stories. She was a tough teacher and never dispensed any compliments unless they were true. At that moment I knew I could write, but never thought much about it again until 2004.

What genre do you write and why? I am proud to say that my books do NOT fall into a genre! When you read one of my books, I refuse to guarantee a happy ending like you know is coming in a Romance novel. The conclusion might be to your expectation or not; however, I hope it's unexpected.

Tell us about your latest book. 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.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? We try everything we can think of, and we perpetually try new approaches. We've paid for advertising and hired a marketing firm - both expensive and a complete waste of money. We hit Facebook hard and consistently, but I'm convinced that people who use Facebook never read anything longer than two sentences. FB is only helpful in that it might help you find outlets and contacts for promoting your book, but you won't sell more than two or three copies advertising on Facebook alone.

What formats is the book available in? The novel is available in Word, html, epub, mobi, and pdf formats as an ebook and in paperback format.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? 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.

Who are your favorite authors? 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 Remorseby Tom Clancy was pretty good. I read that so long ago. Recently I devoured all three of the Hunger Gamesnovels. 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.

What advice do you have for other writers? The road to getting a book on the market is a long one. You better have thick skin, or you're going to get crushed. Also, you have to find someone who is willing to tell you the truth about your writing. Sounds easy; I promise you it is NOT. People generally do not want to hurt someone else's feelings, or worse, they know you'll get mad or defensive, so they won't bother pointing out any negatives. The right person is tough to find.

What's your favorite quote about writing/for writers? I don't really have a quote that I use for inspiration or that motivated me to become an author. For me being a writer is about the story. Jeremiah's journey from lackluster college student to going undercover in the Mormon Church came into my head, and that's what motivated me. I guess what I'm trying to say is that writing is about bringing to life all the voices in your head.

What's the best thing about being a writer? The thrill of having a set of facts mold themselves into a story. After learning that the slaughter of 150 people at Mountain Meadows stood as the largest killing of Americans by Americans outside of the Civil War until the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, I wondered how someone alive today who lost an ancestor at Mountain Meadows might feel about Mormons. That thought kept rolling around in my head until it gelled in A Mormon Massacre.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? All three of my published books - A Spy At HomeHazardous Choices, and A Mormon Massacre - are for sale only on Amazon, each in both ebook and paperback formats. My Amazon author page can be found at I also have my own website:

Anything else you'd like to add? A Mormon Massacre will feed your curiosity about religion and specifically Mormons. One part of the book that I would like to note here as fact: In 1999 Utah Governor Mike Leavitt did order the bones accidentally dug up with a backhoe at Mountain Meadows reburied. He is allegedly a direct descendant of one of the killers at Mountain Meadows in 1857. If your family records are anything like mine, you might doubt that someone would know that. However, for Mormons, family lineage is of vital importance to their sense of self-worth and they keep detailed records. This is something a Mormon would know.



I love to hear from you. So feel free to comment, but keep in mind the basics of blog etiquette — no spam, no profanity, no slander, etc.

Thanks for being an active part of the Writers and Authors community.