Today I’m delighted to welcome Joseph Rinaldo to Me, My Books and I:
The protagonist in Valerie’s Retreat runs off with a man sixteen years her junior. My wife is sixteen years my senior, so many of our triumphs and trials have made their way into this book. Our relationship provided a good foundation for the two main characters’ lives together. The way his and her friends react to their age disparity also derives, at least in part, from my own experience.
For approximately one year I labored as a Head Teller at a bank. This employment history enabled me to create a believable bank robbery. The theft described in Valerie’s Retreat is easy to conceive and execute, but leaves a very clear path to the perpetrator. That is why the characters had to immediately run.
To find out more:
Where did the idea for Valerie’s Retreat come from?
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.
Who designed the cover and why did you go for that particular design?
The word “retreat” has a double meaning in this title. Valerie wants to remove herself from a difficult situation, and she wants to find a place of sanctuary. The pier also symbolizes Valerie searching for herself. Ivan Rattliff helped me find the right message with the cover, and he did all of the design work. Ivan has created all of my book covers and designed our website. If you would like to employ his services, contact me, and I’ll connect you.
Which of your characters would you like to meet in person and why?
I’d love to meet Valerie. She’s so optimistic and likeable (at least on the outside). The way she’s overcome her abusive childhood impresses me. Resiliency is a characteristic I truly admire.
Is any part of Valerie’s Retreat based on your own personal experiences?
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.
What do you hope readers will learn from 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.
Where is your favourite place to write?
In bed, on the couch, anywhere with an abundance of cushions works for me. I write on a laptop, so getting comfortable is pretty easy.
Who are your favourite authors and do you think they have influenced your own writing in any way?
This question is not: Who does your writing style mirror? But people often read the answer and hear, “He likes Dan Brown, so that’s what his books are like.” I read a book by Bob Woodward about the CIA during the Reagan years. Shortly after that I wrote A Spy At Home. Garrison, a CIA operative in A Spy At Home, sees his professional life as a wasted career. The idea germinated while reading Mr. Woodward’s book; however, none of the factual account from his work made it into my novel.
Do you think your writing style has changed since your first book?
Good heavens I hope so! The first time you do something will probably be the worst you do it. That’s almost too true for something as complex as writing a book. My style now is to keep the action moving. Several people have told me they see the movie playing in their minds as they read my books. I consider that a great compliment and want that to be my style.
If you could travel anywhere in the world to do research for a book where would it be?
I have a book rolling around in my head that would require me to spend extended time researching life in the early 1800s on an Indian Reservation and in England. I would love to have the time and money to pull that off.
Paperback or eBook?
Ebooks – I’ll do my part to move us to a paperless society.
Sweet or savoury?
I like sweets. Don’t believe the stereotype that women love chocolate more than men.
Listener or talker?
I prefer to listen because I usually don’t know what to say. That’s why writing is perfect for me; I can control both sides of the conversation.
Laptop, desktop or tablet?
Can’t I have all three? Being an American means I need constant stimulus every waking second.
Snow or sun?
Sun, lots of it with plenty of heat! My family loves boating and being outside, and we always vacation somewhere with a beach.
Any last words for your readers?
I understand people are hesitant to give independent authors a chance. Some of the indie stuff IS really bad. If any of my books: A Spy At Home, Hazardous Choices, A Mormon Massacre, or of course Valerie’s Retreat (all available on Amazon) interest you, please go to the free “Click to Look Inside” 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 through Facebook or my website, http://www.josephmrinaldo.com.
Thank you so much for being here today Joseph, it was a pleasure to have you on my blog. I particularly enjoyed reading about your favourite authors!
Take a look at the book trailer:
Now check out the book:
“Valerie, a 40-ish Head Teller at a bank, has met Franco, 16 years younger and studying for a doctorate in archaeology. He is stunned yet eager to begin a relationship with this attractive “cougar”, and they become lovers.
Their lives begin to unravel when Valerie’s female bisexual boss makes advances (and threats) toward Valerie and Franco is accused of the theft of an Incan artifact from a museum where he has been working part-time. Frustrated, under surveillance by the FBI, and seeing no way out of their dilemma, they decide to steal money from Valerie’s bank and flee the country.
They go to Peru to start a new life, but they find there the same type of corruption and threats. How can they escape their nightmares and make their dreams come true?”