Joseph M. Rinaldo, Author of “A Morman Massacre”

What is your book A Mormon Massacre about?

This modern-day novel is informed by the actual massacre of 150 innocent Americans allegedly by Mormon zealots in the Utah Territory in September of 1857. This reigned as the largest mass slaughter of Americans by Americans until the Oklahoma City bombing, excluding the Civil War. In present-day Nashville, Tennessee, Jeremiah Cameron grows up with a prejudice against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the murders in 1857. Many Camerons died at the hands of Mormon assassins at Mountain Meadows.

Jeremiah’s hatred multiplies when his father, Luke, informs him that his mother suffered abuse at the hands of her Mormon husband after being forced into marriage at twelve years old. Due to his father’s association with the Mormon Victim’s Action Committee, Jeremiah gets an opportunity to go undercover in hopes of exposing Mormons as abusers. With his father’s encouragement and the knowledge of his mother’s horrific experience, Jeremiah accepts M-VAC’s offer to train and insert him into an LDS community.

Jeremiah’s objective broadens when he sees more than he expected. Now he wants to expose the entire Church as a violent and dangerous fraud.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

My stories have characters that are believable. You might see part of yourself in a character or know someone similar to one of the characters. For instance, in A Mormon Massacre, Jeremiah, the protagonist has a strong sense to justice that drives him to work undercover and save women from abusive, plural marriages. Something all of us would like to do.

Did you do any research for the book?

For me research falls into two categories: intentional and inadvertent. Inadvertent happens when you stumble across something that becomes part of a book you write. Such as, a family member might hate people who talk about religion too much. Too much might be defined by this person as any talk about religion. Intentional research is obvious. With the Internet a writer of fiction has no excuse for not including enough facts to be believable.

What about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

People are fascinated with Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A Mormon Massacre includes enough factual historical events to make the story come to life. The fiction in the book stems from actual history, and the two become intertwined.

At what age did you discover writing?

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 until 2004.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

Relate-ability. Everyone loves Harry Potter, because we’ve all been the outcast. The plot and setting can be anything or anywhere if the characters have something about them that relates to your life.

Have you written any other books?

I currently have three books available on Amazon: A Mormon Massacre, A Spy At Home, and Hazardous Choices. Five more are waiting until I can get them edited and out on the market. Editing is not something I enjoy, and it takes a long time, or at least it feels like a long time as I re-evaluate each book looking for flaws.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

The names of central characters can be very difficult. Jeremiah is the name of the main character in A Mormon Massacre because I wanted him to sound biblical and formal. The only person who calls him anything else is his best friend. With Jeremiah’s strong internal sense of justice, I didn’t want him to be Jeremy or any other common name because he’s unique.

What genre are your books?

I am proud to say that my books do NOT fall in 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, or somewhere in between.

Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

Always! I knew when I started writing A Mormon Massacre that Jeremiah would be going undercover. I didn’t know if he would panic or remain in control. You’ll have to read the book to see how he does.

If you could have lunch with one person, real or fictitious, who would it be?

Tina Turner; she has seen so much from abuse to racism and always comes out on top. She has a positive spirit that can’t be stopped. I consider her to be the most underappreciated American icon.

Where can people learn more about your books?

You can always go to Amazon to read the author biography, visit my website at, or simply contact me via Facebook or from my website. I always enjoy talking about writing.