A New Yorker by birth, Rinaldi was born on August 27, 1934. Tragically, her mother died shortly thereafter, and for a period of time, Rinaldi lived with her doting aunt, uncle, and cousins. Years later her father reclaimed his young daughter, taking her to reside in New Jersey with her four brothers and sisters and a new step-mother. Rinaldi experienced a rough time growing up as she had tendencies toward writing and her father dissuaded them. A newspaper manager himself, her father refused to allow her to attend college and directed her into secretarial work. Rinaldi survived one typing pool and then another before she met her future husband.
His calmness in her crazy world attracted Rinaldi who needed stability after her upbringing. After bringing two children into this world, Rinaldi ventured into a career as a novelist. Four unpublished novels later she decided she needed experience and requested a weekly column for a local newspaper. This success continued as she then acquired two more columns for the Trentonian Daily
. Her columns grew to be syndicated and read all over the state of New Jersey, and Rinaldi ventured into writing feature stories and soft news reports.
Also interested in poetry and fiction while she learned the newspaper business, Rinaldi studiously spent time penning a short story. Upon its completion, Rinaldi realized she could expand it into a young adult novel, which she did before sending it off to a publisher. Term Paper
became Rinaldi's first published book. As her children began exploring the world of Revolutionary War reenactments, Rinaldi gained knowledge and details for many historical fiction books. She penned Time Enough for Drums
and saw rejection after rejection because publishers didn't believe children would read about history. When a publishing house finally took a chance on Rinaldi's writing, the book achieved success and became an ALA Best Book.
Writing at night and working for the Trentonian
during the day, Rinaldi eventually found she could write full-time. Whether she is writing about the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Salem witch trials, slavery, or Native Americans, Rinaldi researches meticulously, giving her stories a richness in detail. Female protagonists often lead the way in Rinaldi's books, thus inspiring young girls to learn more about history. Encouraged by the interest in history she has helped develop, Rinaldi is considering penning a story for boys as well.
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