Interview: Joseph Rinaldo Talks About Valerie’s Retreat

If Joseph Rinaldo looks familiar to you, it’s because we’ve interviewed him before. He’s back to talk about his latest release.

Enjoy this interview.

Headshot Joe Rinaldo

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?

My background has a teeny influence on Valerie’s Retreat. Valerie meets a man sixteen years her junior at a local church dance. V.R. book cover for KindleMy 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.

Long before writing Valerie’s Retreat 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.

Tell us about your latest book. What do you hope readers take away from it?

Valerie’s Retreat follows the life of a forty-one-year-old woman who happens to fall in love with a man sixteen years younger. My wife is sixteen years older than I am, so that might have helped foster this idea for a book. The jokes Valerie must endure, such as, “Do you have to cut his meat for him?” are actual barbs my wife received during our dating process. Like Valerie, I also worked in a bank. Unlike Valerie, I never considered robbing the bank where I worked.

Valerie doesn’t consider herself a “Cougar”. Franco, her boyfriend, happened to attend the same church singles dance on the same night. They talked, talked some more, went on a date, and presto- they’re boyfriend/girlfriend. That’s how it happened with my wife and me. “Cougar” makes the women dating younger men seem somewhat predatory. That isn’t the case at all with Valerie or my wife. For the record, my wife never considered robbing a bank either. Well, maybe considered, but never planned it out.

As for what people will take away from it, you never know what will touch people. I hope they find something about Valerie that keeps them thinking about her long after they finish the book. I’ve always considered those the best books; the ones that keep you thinking.

Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?

Of course, I’d like for Valerie’s Retreat to help remind women to have their heart health checked regularly. Selling books would be great. But the biggest accomplishment is when someone enjoys a book I wrote. I hope A Spy At Home touches people; Valerie’s Retreat is a fun read that you think about after you put it down – what would I do if my boss sexually harassed me? Hazardous Choices might encourage you to see gang members as people, and A Mormon Massacre shows you how power corrupts and how hard a person must work to correct injustice.

As for setting goals, I don’t do that when it comes to writing because I really have very little control over writing. For instance, I can’t say I want to write a book next year; what if the Muse is cruel and refuses to allow me another creative thought?

Favorite authors?

I really liked Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects and Gone Girl, but I’m not sure she should be a favorite after only two books. Writing a series sounds very boring, but I loved the Hunger Games series.

Any type of writing ritual you have?

Here’s my un-ritualistic method to writing. I usually start with a very brief outline: abusive childhood – works as a head teller – boyfriend 16 years younger. I type in Word with the outline a few blank lines down from the line I am currently writing in the book. As I finish a scene in the outline, I delete it. Of course, from time-to-time I forget to consult the outline and throw in a plot twist that requires either the outline be revised or the plot twist discarded. I rarely know how a book will end [is that normal?], so my outlines often only cover the next chapter or two. Sometimes I finish all the scenes on the outline and finish the rest of the book without one. I always start with some kind of written agenda, but not with a whole lot. I want the characters to go where they go without being handcuffed to the original idea.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

My family and I love boating. We have a little boat that we pull behind the truck and launch into the water every summer weekend we can. I dream of owning a big yacht on the ocean someday. Valerie in my novel Valerie’s Retreat loves to be around the water, too. I can’t give away the ending of the book, but her dream of owning a marina is part of her escape plan after she and her boyfriend rob a bank. She’s likeable, and women will relate to her. Wait until you see who she convinces to rent space at her marina! I’m not saying she gets away with the robbery; you’ll have to find out for yourself.

In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?

For me success is measured by how long a person continues to think about a book I wrote after they finish it. Valerie’s Retreat gives the reader a woman fighting inner demons who must deal with an unfair, sexually harassing boss. While you, the reader, may see some things about her you like, you’ll probably see some things you don’t; the amount of compassion and tolerance you should give her is debatable. Valerie isn’t trying to teach anyone; she’s really there for you to understand what she did and decide if her actions fall in the boundaries of your own morals. That’s the question I hope readers struggle with after finishing Valerie’s Retreat.

Anything else you’d like to add?

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” and sample the first chapter. If a book grabs you that quickly, 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 through Facebook or my website, www.josephmrinaldo.com.

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1 Comment on "Interview: Joseph Rinaldo Talks About Valerie’s Retreat"

  1. Thanks, Joseph; it was interesting to hear about your book Valerie’s Retreat. The upended relationship configuration: older woman, younger man, would have to alter many preconceived conceptions and probably adds to the interest factor. I wish you all the best.

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