Joanne M. Reinbold is at Messy Business this festive New Year’s Eve. She’s a lovely person with a dark mind. The ending to her novella, Missing, still plays on my stomach and spine, usually when I’m not expecting it.

Hello, Joanne.

A friend of mine doesn’t read fiction, paraphrasing Frank Skinner about it all being made-up and he has no time for any of that (???). What words do you have for such a philistine?

My mom and dad used to say that frequently. Not something their fiction reading and writing kid wanted to hear. This is what I told them: Just because non-fiction is supposedly factual, doesn’t mean someone didn’t make up those facts. Every day, we find out that something we believed to be fact is no more than an individual’s or a group of people’s interpretations of a thing, person, or event, or even completely made up. Our understanding of those things changes when new information comes to light or the misinformation is revealed. Also, non-fiction often keeps readers at a comfortable emotional distance, while fiction can bring life, emotion, feeling, and perspective to people, places, and events in a way that most non-fiction can’t, and that makes some people uncomfortable. It’s always good to get out of your comfort zone now and then, so don’t be a wimp, put on your big kid pants, and give that “fiction” a try.

What must a protagonist have to make you read on?

For me to keep reading, a protagonist needs to be remarkable or fascinating in some way (preferably many ways) and they need to be involved and engaged in a thought-provoking story—I like to learn new things and I like it when a story can change my opinion, thinking, outlook—that engages me both intellectually and emotionally.

Do you need a likeable protagonist?

No, definitely not. I’m a sucker for the “unlikeable” protagonist when they’re done well. Sherlock Holmes is a good example. He’s quite off-putting in many ways: arrogant, superior, dismissive, rude at times, but he’s also active, brilliant, mysterious, unpredictable, and in some instances, even heroic.

Name a great antagonist, novel or movie, and what they do for you.

I’ll name two, both created by Thomas Harris. Francis Dolarhyde from Red Dragon and Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs. Harris pulls no punches with his antagonists, Dolarhyde and Lecter are completely believable, and as a result, absolutely terrifying. Once they’ve been introduced, the reader doesn’t even need to experience them committing a crime, just the knowledge of their presence infuses those stories with incredible tension. It’s quite amazing.

What makes you throw a book out the window?

A story that has no point, no heart, no authenticity. A story that feels like the author doesn’t care or is copying someone else badly.

Do you grit your teeth all the way to the end of a dodgy novel?

I have done a time or two, but I would say in those cases the novels weren’t so much dodgy as ambitious and difficult. Also, in both cases, I had great respect and admiration for the authors. If it’s just poorly done, no, certainly not. That’s an exercise that leads to pain and frustration, sometimes anger.

What gets you writing? A great novel, maybe. Something you saw on the street or on TV? Something else?

All of the above. I’m a very curious person, and like Sherlock Holmes, I maintain a large compendium of unusual, strange, odd, baffling, and weird things and occurrences which I discover in various ways and catalogue for future reference.

What did you learn about writing from the last book you wrote?

My first book was a novelette. I was able to keep everything, all the details, organized in my mind. Learning to do that was very helpful, but my second book is a much longer story and I’m finding I need to keep notebooks, make timelines, write chapter synopses, and create “trails” through the chapters in order to keep track of everything. I enjoy it, but it’s a lot of work.

What’s your next book, in 30 words or less?

Investigating a brutal murder, my detectives discover scams targeting the elderly, cybercrime, a rural crime ring, and immigration issues which make sorting out the murder quite difficult.

Where can readers connect with you?

On Facebook at:
– and my website:
– and on Twitter:

You can buy Joanne’s work at Amazons US and UK.

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