Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hey there! I’m Kristina Rienzi. My age in my head is 30. In reality, I’m 44.
Fiona: Where are you from?
The Jersey Shore. Not to be associated with the show of the same name, but with the lovely Monmouth County, New Jersey.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Professionally, besides being a new adult thriller author, I’ve been in a Human Resources leadership position for almost twenty years. I have significant expertise in employee relations, performance management, communications, coaching, and leadership development. I’m also a Certified Professional Coach and the former President of Sisters in Crime-Central Jersey.
My educational background is in psychology. I earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in psychology and sociology/anthropology from West Virginia University; a Master of Arts degree in psychological counseling from Monmouth University; a Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI); a SHRM-SCP certification from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM); and the Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and Energy Leadership Index-Master Practitioner (ELI_MP) designations from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC).
Personally, I live at the Jersey Shore with my husband, two dogs, and our baby girl. I’m also an INFJ, Meyers-Briggs’ rarest personality type defined as a walking contradiction – introverted and people-oriented.Besides writing, I love wine, spoiling my baby girl (and my two fur-babies), dissecting true crime stories, singing (and dancing) to Yacht Rock Radio, and rooting for the WVU Mountaineers. I believe in all things paranormal, a closet full of designer bags, regular trips to the nail salon, the Law of Attraction, aliens, angels, and the value of a graduate degree in psychology.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
It’s all about the audiobook world! My debut audiobook, Among Us, was featured on Audible’s ACX University 2018 and is an Audible Editors Select pick in the thriller category for 2019. Among Us is about a Jersey Shore blogger who gets mixed up in a deadly government conspiracy far more dangerous than she ever imagined.
My second audiobook, coming out in October, is Winter Road. This story follows a successful New York City real estate agent’s rural-home-for-the-holidays-horror as her ex-fiancé unleashes his deadly intentions on her entire family.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing short stories as an only child for my entertainment. I loved reading, and it naturally developed into a passion for language. I loved to create alternate realities where characters triumphed over adversity. Writing about what piqued my curiosity and what terrified me is an element I continue in my stories today.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Great question! Sadly, it wasn’t until a publisher picked up my debut novel, Choosing Evil, in 2014. Years later, I realized I’ve been a writer all of my life.No accomplishment or accolade needed to define it for me.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Call it a little birdie, a voice in my head, inspiration from the other side, I’m not sure. But one day I remember thinking, I need to write a book. I hadn’t written fiction in years, although writing had always been a part of my life. So I joined a local writers group, and short stories began to emerge. Through those stories, focusing primarily on craft, I got the idea for my novel, Choosing Evil. I’m drawn to the paranormal and decided to write a story that asked, ‘What does evil mean to you?’
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Choosing Evil was pretty straight-forward given the plot—the main character is faced with choosing the very evil she’s destined to become.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I consider my writing style conversational. I try to create a picture in my readers’ minds, but doing it casually as if I was telling a story to a friend. It’s not always easy to do because the left-brained, Type A, clinical side of me often begs to comes out, but I work at it. That is my challenge, as well. Craft aside, another challenge is having a driven author mindset. It’s easy to fall prey to negativity, lose your creativity, and want to give up. I battle this side of me and know I have stories inside of me that need to be told.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Choosing Evil is only realistic in theory. There are evil people in the world. They could be your neighbors. Friends. Family. You never really know what darkness lurks inside of a person. None, however, are based on real people or life events. It’s all fantasy.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t have to travel, but would love to! I write primarily about the Jersey Shore because it’s where I was raised and still live today. However, I have a love for West Virginia (my alma mater), Hawaii (my husband’s family’s home and our wedding location), and Italy (our heritage), all of which I’d love to travel back to for the sake of a story…and vacation!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My covers were designed by Kari March Designs, except for Among Us, which was designed by The Killion Group, Inc.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Embrace the Unknown (my tagline) is a theme central to each of my stories. I write about concepts that terrify me. Through my stories, I challenge readers to embrace the unknown, overcome their fears, and triumph over whatever is holding them back in life. It’s my story mantra: face your fears and embrace the unknown in life.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Newer to me in the last few years, I’ve loved reading Ania Ahlborn. She writes horror but does it in a modern way that is genuinely intriguing.
I have many favorite writers, but one that stands out to me is Jodi Picoult. I met her in person last year, and she was such a sweetheart. Her work strikes me because she’s always walking the tightrope on moral and ethical issues, and she does it with such brilliance and class. Her stories are page-turners, but I always walk away, knowing more about a subject than I did when I opened her book. And, more importantly, having a sincere appreciation for the diverse opinions of others.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Sisters in Crime-Central Jersey. They’re so supportive of their members and are always looking for ways to promote them and their work. I’m so grateful to have been their past president and have their support in my writing career.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I’m in it for the long haul!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
The only thing I might change is making it longer and adding a bit to the ending. Many think there should be a sequel to Among Us. I agree. Especially the way it ends, it leaves the door open for another book. I better get on that, huh?
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I’m a better writer than I was when I started writing Among Us. I focused a reasonable amount of time on craft with this novel, hiring a writing coach to take me to the next level. Work is a critical key to success, as much as a positive attitude and perseverance are, which I also exercised during the writing of Among Us. I’m focused on learning and doing whatever it takes to grow in my writing, and as a person. There’s always more to learn, and I’m committed to learning with each book I write.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’d love to see an actress like Jennifer Lawrence play my protagonist, Marci Simon. She’s classy and fierce all in one, which would be perfect for the role.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
A positive mindset is everything. Persevering through downturns—be it a negative review or a rejection of any other stripe—is critical. If being a professional author is your dream, show up for it, and never give up on it. Believe in yourself, know anything is possible, and do whatever it takes. Dreams do come true!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Never give up on your dreams. You have the power to choose whatever you want in this life…be it a success, happiness…anything. Believe in yourself and KNOW anything is possible!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Fifth Trimester (non-fiction). It’s helping me transition from my maternity leave into a working mom smoothly, successfully, and (most importantly) happily!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yes! I just ordered it for my daughter. It’s a Little Golden Book called, The Monster at the End of the This Book. I guess that’s where my love of suspense came from, now that I think about it!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My husband makes me laugh. He has such a natural comedic style, and I’m so blessed to have laughter in my daily life because of him. I feel other people’s pain so deeply (I’ve been called an empath ) that crying comes too quickly sometimes. Abuse, neglect, and injustice break my heart.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Stephen King. He fascinates me and seems like a cool dude. Of course, he’s a beyond brilliant writer, an inspiration. I’d love to use my psychology (and writer’s mind) to pick his dark brain!
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I’ve never been a hobby person. I’m pretty simple. I’m either working or relaxing at the moment with whomever I’m with.Unless you count drinking wine and binging Netflix!
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Any true crime shows or documentaries come first. I love my Lifetime and Hallmark movies, too. I’m also a B-Horror movie junkie. Basically, my taste runs the gamete!
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Simple here on my faves: Italian. Purple. Yacht Rock.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Yikes. That would stink! Well, then, I’d have to pursue my love of inspiration…finding it, and sharing it. I’d become a motivational speaker. Maybe I still will, even though I can also write!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Daughter. Wife. Mom. She lived and loved with all of her heart.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I do! I can be found at my home on the web, https://www.kristinarienzi.com and Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Exclusive updates and special offers can be accessed via my monthly VIP newsletter (https://www.kristinarienzi.com/signup) and my private reader group athttps://www.facebook.com/groups/RienziRebels.
Amazon Authors Page USA https://www.amazon.com/Kristina-Rienzi/e/B00Q5FPECS/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Armen Pogharian said:
While I suspected that Sisters in Crime was a writing affiliated group – rather than a poorly named group of female gangsters, hey you’re in NJ – I’m glad that they provided you with great support. Sometimes that’s what a writer needs. I wish you the best of luck.