TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Ann Rinaldi

Ann Rinaldi

Ann Rinaldi was born in New York City on August 27, 1934 to Michael and Marcella (Dumarest) Feis. Marcella died soon after Ann was born, so, Ann went to live with her aunt and uncle in Brooklyn. She recalls the time spent in their home with her doting teenage cousins as "the only happy part of my childhood." But it was short lived. For, as Ann explains, her father "abruptly" came and took her to live in New Jersey with him, her four siblings and a stepmother.

Though Ann's father was a newspaper manager, she states he "did everything he could to prevent me from becoming a writer." Her father would not allow Ann to attend college, and her previous school years were discouraging. She says, "at school they attempted to take out of me what spirit had eluded my stepmother." So, as Ann explains, following graduation from high school, she went into the business world and became a secretary.

In 1960, Ann married Ron Rinaldi. She explains, "Ron was middle-class and sane. I wanted sanity after my crazy upbringing." After marrying, Ann left the business world and, after having two children, decided she wanted to be a novelist. Ann wrote four novels; however, she quickly determined that were "terrible." But, in 1969, she asked for and was given a weekly column in the Somerset Messenger Gazette. She exults, "I earned seven dollars a week, but I was writing!" Then, in 1970, Ann was hired to write two columns a week for the Trentonian daily. She explains, "Within a couple of years I was writing features and soft news as well as columns, and learning the newspaper business."

In 1979, Ann finally finished a short story she had been laboring over for years. She explains, "My experience in the newspaper business and as a parent gave me so much more to bring to my fiction." That short story, entitled Term Paper became her first published novel. Term Paper. Ann explains that she did not write her story for young adults and that only after finishing it did she realize that what she had written could be marketed as a young adult novel. Term Paper was bought by the first publisher who read it and was soon followed by its sequel, Promises are for Keeping.

The rest is history. Ann was drawn into the study of American history when her son, Ron, became involved in Revolutionary War reenactments while he was in high school. After visiting historical sites, participating in reenactments, and ". . .see[ing] the history. . .as it was, from the bottom up, hands on, instead of out of a history book," Ann was addicted. In October 1981, when covering for the Trentonian the reenactment of the day Trenton learned of the Yorktown victory, "I realized I was going to write a young adult novel on the American Revolution. A good one. Not one utilizing all the myths and the famous figures." That realization quickly became reality. Within a year's time the research for and the writing of Time Enough for Drums was completed. However, it had to pass through the hands often publishers before one agreed to publish this historical novel for young adults.

A year after Time Enough for Drums was published, Ann declared, "Time Enough for Drums is close to my heart, my favorite -- the one everyone told me not to write! I went against the grain of what everybody told me, but then, that's what I did in my lifetime, too." Maybe that is why young adults find her work so easy to identify with.

Ann explains, "These people [the founding fathers of the United States] helped form [my son, Ron's] foundation for life which, when tested, held strong. It is for this reason that I write historical fiction for young people. If I can 'turn them on' to our country's past, and seize their imaginations as Ron's was seized, then I may succeed in doing something really worthwhile."

 

ON HER WRITING

Award winning writer, Ann Rinaldi, most known for her historical fiction, has authored over a dozen young adult novels. Ann first became interested in studying American history when her son became active in Revolutionary War re-enactments when he was in high school. Writing historical fiction has since then become a passion for Ann Rinaldi. She spends a great deal of time researching the historical periods in which her novels take place to insure the accuracy of the settings and draws from her own life experiences to develop the realism of her characters. The conflicts which her protagonists face reflect concerns common to young adults, past and present.

Website: http://www.annrinaldi.net/home.htm

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