Kristina Rienzi is a Jersey Shore-based new adult thriller author, certified professional coach, and the former president of Sisters in Crime-Central Jersey. She has eight books with another in process.
What’s your favorite writing instrument?
While I love taking handwritten notes in notebooks, journals, and even Post-Its, my preferred writing instrument will always be my laptop. There, I can save work to the Cloud, share it with anyone who needs to give feedback, write and edit in any place and do so with speed. I’m a fast typist, so my fingers can keep up with my brain on a computer more effectively than pen to paper.
How did you get the writing bug?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved writing. Even as a young child, I read feverishly and wrote stories at every turn. Stories have always intrigued me as an introvert. It was an easy way to escape to another place and live a million lives all at once. As I grew up, writing became a part of my professional life, and I realized it wasn’t only something I enjoyed but something natural for me.
About 12 years ago, I decided I would get reacquainted with writing for fun, so I joined a writer’s group, took some classes, and began creating short stories. Soon after, completing a novel was a dream that I would realize two years later.
What’s your favorite place and time of day to sit and write?
Writing first thing in the morning, in my quiet home office, with a cup of coffee and all technology turned off, is my bliss. I’m most comfortable in my own environment with no distractions and that critical caffeine!
Where have you travelled in and out of the US and any place that delights you?
Living in New Jersey, I’ve traveled to most of the nearby states and some in the Midwest and West Coast, but (truth be told) I’m more of a homebody.
My favorite places to visit are Hawaii (the island of Oahu, specifically), and outside the U.S., I love Bermuda and Italy. I mean, who wouldn’t, right? The ambiance, the locals, the food, it’s all a little closer to heaven on earth. There are a few of these places in my soul, and I would go back infinite times if possible.
When did you first believe that you were a legitimate author?
I still wonder! The first realization that I may be an author was when I pitched my debut novel, ‘Choosing Evil’, on Twitter that was picked up by a publisher. It hit home that it was really happening after all of my hard work.
The confirmation happened when it became an Amazon bestseller on release day.
What were your biggest doubts and fears and do you still harbor them?
Oh, I still carry all the doubts and fears; let’s be clear! I doubt my ability to write a book, and once it’s written, I doubt it will be good. I’m afraid no one will read it or buy it, and if they do, they’ll hate it. I’m always surprised when my doubts and fears are (mostly) untrue. Part of being human, I suppose. The difference now is that I know it doesn’t matter what I think, only what I do, written the book. I have no control over how it’s received (liked or not liked) and how it performs (sells or flops), but so long as I do my best. Progress!
On your website you have fiction and non-fiction sections, the latter dealing with self-help that was your primary focus in becoming an author, and once attained, you began the fiction line covering everything from science fiction to paranormal and suspense—quite a wide range. How did you decide these were the genres to focus on and have you found one works better for you?
Starting out as an author, I didn’t know where I’d land on the genre. I wrote what appealed to me. I felt the pull to write. As it turned out, even though sub-genres differ, the main genres were always a thriller. Thrillers get my heart racing. They’re so fun to write and read, and they challenge their readers to triumph over obstacles, which is eerily similar to my non-fiction writing goals.
Have your readers accepted the genre span or are they loyal to just one genre?
I can’t speak for my readers, but I think they read my books because no matter the sub-genre, they go on a wild ride and come out on the other side of fear. Facing fears and winning is rewarding on a deep level, and I hope my stories do that for my readers and keep them coming back. Even in my self-help, they address their fears and what’s holding them back in life and come away with tools to better their lives. There is something profound about getting that from simply reading a book.
“Winning on the outside and dying on the inside…” is a line from your bio. A ‘people-pleaser’ which is always difficult to do, especially these days when no one is pleased. How did you come to the realization that your focus needed to change and how did you find the strength to do so?
It was simple: I was unhappy. I did everything I thought was right, but not feed my soul and listen to what I needed. Burnt out and miserable, I decided something had to change. That’s when I enrolled in a yearlong coaching school program that forced me to deal with my issues and learn coping skills to live a better life. It changed the trajectory of my life, shifting me from writing fiction to non-fiction and focusing on continuing my personal development by studying happiness and, now, health and wellness psychology.
Happiness is an inside job, and it’s up to each of us to live the life we want. I wanted a happier life, and it started with identifying what wasn’t working and making a commitment to change. It was the best decision I ever made!
You’re at eight books, a short story and a boxset and counting. Does it get easier to write with each one, or is each book a challenge of its own?
I don’t know that it gets easier, but it gets different. With each book, you learn a little bit more about who you are as a writer and how your process works, perfecting it each time. You challenge yourself to level up on your craft, so even though some things are more manageable, others are more difficult because you’re advancing your expertise in writing. Every book is a challenge of its own, but we become better writers and challenge ourselves.
What’s next for Kristina Rienzi?
I’m planning another non-fiction release this year for one. Notably, I’m currently pursuing my doctoral degree in psychology (PsyD), specializing in health and wellness, which will take up most of my time. This is perfectly aligned with who I am intrinsically, as well as my non-fiction work. I hope to use what I learn to write more self-help books backed in psychological research like 5 Happy Choices: The Simple Way to a Happier Life.
Find Kristina on her website