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Get to Know Author Joseph Rinaldo

Please welcome author Joseph Rinaldo to the blog today. Why don't you check out his website, and come back and let me know what you found interesting.


1. Please tell readers about your current book.

My one and only ebook available for sale at this point is A Spy At Home.
When Dad becomes the lone caregiver for a dependent adult son, Dad has to answer the terrifying question: What happens if I die first?
Toward the end of his career in the CIA, Garrison sees his work as a foreign field agent as a deadly and foolish game that wastes money for no good reason. The CIA trained Garrison to go into third-world countries and promote rebellion. Ideally, the rebels would take control and further American interests in the area. Having spent his entire professional life working for the CIA, Garrison no longer believes the agency helps America by overthrowing governments in impoverished countries. On his last assignment, this disenchanted spy diverts most of the money intended for the rebels. The sum, a moderate amount for a small war-torn country, ensures Garrison and his family a comfortable life.
Now retired, Garrison experiences the pain he inflicted on his family during his life abroad. Noah, Garrison’s adult son with Down syndrome, a form of mental retardation, doesn’t trust his dad any more. Experience has taught Noah that his dad always leaves again. Over time, and with much effort on Garrison’s part, they grow closer, finding mutual interests in fishing and weight-lifting.
Louisa, Garrison’s wife, gradually accepts her husband back despite her feelings about his theft. When Noah’s congenital heart problem worsens and requires surgery, her rage at having had to raise Noah by herself boils back to the surface. She lashes out at her husband, constantly reminding him about his lack of knowledge regarding Noah’s heart condition. Accepting Garrison as her husband and trusting him with her child present two separate obstacles.
Garrison throws himself into Noah’s recovery. Physical training is something Garrison understands, and he uses that knowledge to help Noah return to Special Olympics weight-lifting and basketball. As Noah improves, Louisa begins to see Garrison as an ally, not an intrusion.
Tragedy strikes, and Louisa dies. Once again, Garrison’s good intentions prove costly. When drugged-out thieves break in to his house one night, and Garrison reacts as his CIA training dictates, he eliminates the threat. Unfortunately, a stray bullet causes collateral damage when it terminates Louisa. Now Noah has to trust his dad.
Noah develops Alzheimer’s disease, a common occurrence for aging adults with Down syndrome. The ravages of this disease tear at Garrison’s heart. Noah ceases to be in the present moment and relives a life his dad knew nothing about because he just wasn’t there. For this single father, the value of the money he stole shrinks with every revelation of the home life he missed.

2. Who or what inspires your writing?
Like Garrison, I have a child with Down syndrome. People with Down are living much longer than ever before, which means my daughter might outlive my wife and me. Who would take care of her as well as we do? This question haunts every parent with a dependent child. My wife wrote a short story based on this concern. I blatantly stole her idea and added a spy, stolen millions, a beach house on a Caribbean island.

3. When did you know you would be 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.
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 of a would-be book 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 the story 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.

4. How long did it take you to write your first novel?
A Spy At Home took a few months to write. My wife supported the family while I wrote books.

5. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Like Garrison, I have a child with Down syndrome. People with Down are living much longer than ever before, which means my daughter might outlive my wife and me. Who would take care of her as well as we do? This question haunts every parent with a dependent child. As mentioned above, my wife addressed this concern in her short story. The worst part of writing this book was thinking, what if my wife and I are in a car wreck where we both die? Our daughter’s waiting at home, and we never return. What would she do? Who would she call? Will she remember how to use the pre-programed numbers in her cell phone? Those kinds of thoughts made this a difficult book to write.

6. Do you have any writing rituals?
When I first started writing, I had to have the house quiet. Now that doesn’t matter. As for having a scented peppermint candle burning or having a picture of Amelia Earhart facing east, no, I don’t have any rituals like that.

7. Have you written anything else?
Another book, Hazardous Choices, has been professionally edited and will be released in the near future. We’re waiting to release it until we’ve promoted A Spy At Home as fully as we can. I have seven more books waiting to be professionally edited and released. As we save the money for more editing, we’ll get the others done, too. At present I have three books floating around in my head but can’t find the time to write them. Hopefully, A Spy At Home will be made into a movie, and I’ll have Garrison’s boat where I can write all day long!

8. Any advice to aspiring writers?
Write what you know! That is almost as stupid as “everything in moderation” (which I’ve been trying to convince people since I was twelve, is a joke; recently I learned it was said by Roman comic dramatist Terence poking fun at Aristotle’s philosophy).
Quick, write something you don’t know. Impossible. Write what sounds believable and entertaining. If you read Stephen King’s The Shining, you’re really convinced the hotel was haunted. Because ghosts don’t actually exist, no one can “know” them. Yet, Mr. King gave life to the imagined.

9. Who are your favorite Authors?
I’m an avid reader oddball. I don’t read everything by any author. To me reading is about individual books. To make myself even more of a freak, I rarely read more than the first sentence of a book jacket before checking out a library book. I want the whole book to be a surprise.

10. What are your favorite books, or which book has impacted you the most?
Sharp Objects for fiction and The Children’s Blizzard for non-fiction are two excellent books. Honestly, I can’t remember who wrote them. Sharp Objects seemed so real! My skin crawled just reading that book! The title might conjure up a wide range of images, so here’s one hint about the book: it’s not a slasher/horror read. The sharpest points cut the emotions. The Children’s Blizzard describes a horrible snow storm on the US plains in the 1800s. The author details the events so well you’ll feel like you’re watching the events more than reading about them. This snow storm terrorized everyone in its path. This story will stick with you long after you finish it.

11. What are you currently reading?
An H. G. Wells book written before World War I. In this book Germany attacks the United States with a fleet of high-tech dirigibles. My wife downloaded this to our Kindle, and I started reading without knowing anything about it. I’d recommend it because, technology aside, the protagonist must come to terms with the romanticized vision he had of war not being accurate when he sees the carnage.

12. How do readers find out more about you?
My website is at www.josephmrinaldo.com, I have a blog site at http://wwwjosephmrinaldocom.blogspot.com, and the buy URL for A Spy At Home is at http://www.amazon.com/A-SPY-AT-HOME-ebook/dp/B0033WSVVC. Readers can find reviews for my book on the Amazon page, as well as an excerpt from the book. I am also on Facebook and Twitter (@jmrinaldo), and a member of Goodreads, Book Blogs, LinkedIn, Shelfari, and Writers & Readers of Distinctive Fiction.


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?

Kindle Edition: 285 KB
ASIN: B0033WSVVC
Purchase at Amazon HERE

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