Please welcome today’s guest, Joe Cosentino. He’s sharing an interview about his new release:
You were an actor playing opposite some very big stars. How did that lead to writing?
After college I became an actor in film, television, and theatre, working opposite stars like Bruce Willis (Midsummer Night’s Dream onstage), Nathan Lane (A Roar of the Greasepaint onstage), Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T Industrials), Holland Taylor (ABC-TV movie My Mother Was Never a Kid), Charles Keating (NBC-TV’s Another World), and Jason Robards (Commercial Credit computer commercial). It occurred to me that acting is storytelling in the same way that writing is storytelling, so I decided to give writing a try.
Why did you create the Jana Lane mystery series?
After writing some plays, I knew my novels would include show business in some way, since show business has always been such a huge part of my life. As an avid mystery reader, it was clear to me that my novels would also be page-turning mysteries with clever plot twists, engaging characters, romance, and lots of clues leading to a surprising conclusion. Since coming from a funny Italian-American family, I also knew humor would play a role in my novels.
Your leading character Jana Lane is the most famous ex-child star in US history making a comeback personally and professionally, and she solves murder mysteries. How did you come up with that idea?
As a child I loved child stars like Shirley Temple, Hayley Mills, and Patty Duke, seeing their movies over and over. So I created a heroine who was the biggest child star ever until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. In PAPER DOLL Jana at thirty-eight lives with her family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Her flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in her future. Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. She also embarks on a romance with the devilishly handsome son of her old producer, Rocco Cavoto.
In PORCELAIN DOLL (The Wild Rose Press), Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, America’s heartthrob Jason Apollo. The other suspects include Jana’s James Dean type young co-star, her older John Wayne type co-star, her children’s Eve Harrington type nanny, the film’s gossipy makeup and hair artist, a local reverend trying to stop the film’s production, and Jason’s agent.
The reviews were amazing for PAPER DOLL and PORCELAIN DOLL, calling each novel a “mystery masterpiece,” “edge of your seat thriller with sweet romance,” “page-turner with plot twists and turns.”
And your current release is SATIN DOLL.
In SATIN DOLL (The Wild Rose Press) Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana plays a US senator in a new film, and becomes embroiled in murder and corruption at the senate chamber. She also embarks on a flirtation with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. Jana rubs elbows with senators on both sides of the aisle, a lobbyist, and a Washington reporter. Her husband also goes through a personal crisis.
Have you always been interested in politics?
I’ve always found politicians fascinating. How they can speak to someone and make him/her feel as if he/she is the only person in the room. I also marvel at the desire to serve others and to make the world a better place. After reading about political scandals and corruption charges in the news, visiting Washington, DC, and speaking with a few politicians, I became aware of what often goes on behind the scenes in DC. I am clearly on the liberal bent. However, I believe all the political characters in the book are treated equally in showing their good points and bad.
Who is your favorite character in SATIN DOLL? And why?
Jana’s agent, Simon, is my favorite character for five reasons. He is amazingly resilient, old world Hollywood, incredibly funny, loyal to Jana, and most importantly, I want to play him in the movie version!
Which one of your characters was the hardest one to write? And why?
Senator Maxmillion, the Republican majority leader of the Senate, and Benjamin Topower, Maxmillion’s wealthy super pack contributor. I’m not a top one-percenter, so I found it hard to relate to them. However, I found their drive and sense of entitlement fascinating.
Is Senator Cassie Castle, the Democrat senator touted to run for Vice President, based on Hillary Clinton?
Cassie is a smart, strong woman who is deeply involved in protecting the environment, women’s rights, gay rights, education, and creating jobs, like her father before her. She is also quite charismatic. So in some ways she’s very much like Hillary. In many ways she is different. Cassie seems to wear her heart on her sleeve. And she’s dating the Republican majority leader of the Senate!
And then there is the studly Senator Sancho Ramirez from New York.
Like all of the characters, Sancho is a man of many secrets that all come to light.
In the novel Jana is interviewed on the radio by a Christian host for Jana’s upcoming AIDS benefit. Do you think Christians would be offended by that character?
I sure hope not. Jana is a Christian who prays and goes to church on Sundays. She seems like a true Christian to me since she tries to love her neighbor as herself, not judge others, and help the downtrodden and outcasts. The radio hosts who interview Jana use their wealth, power, media chops, and religious affiliations to demean others and try to take away their rights.
As in the first two Jana Lane mysteries, Jana is tempted by a gorgeous man, this time Detective Chris Bove.
Detective Bove was great fun to write given his amazing looks, past as a professional football player, and addiction to good food. I don’t blame Jana for being captivated by him.
And Jana’s husband goes through a major personal event.
I love that part of the story. It still brings tears to my eyes when I read it.
And Jana is reconnected with her best friend, Jackson.
Yes, Jackson is a Democratic congressman now. I love his sense of humor, and interplay with Jana.
Jana uses the skills she learned as a child star to solve the crime. How do you remember all of those movie titles and storylines?
I keep really good notes on Jana’s old movies, and on each room in her Hyde Park, New York mansion.
Since the book takes place in 1983, you included a great deal of history, music, and fashion from the era.
Yes, Flashdance, “Maniac,” layered hair, parachute pants, shoulder pads, lace gloves. It’s all there. I loved that period! I was also able to include Karen Carpenter’s death, the still new AIDS epidemic and the devastation it caused when ignored by our political representatives, and dangerous proposed legislation by conservatives like the Protect the Children Act, which was a disguise to try to make gay people second class citizens.
Which part of the novel did you enjoy writing the most? And why?
I loved writing Jana’s banter with Bove, and Brian’s banter with Adam.
Did you use your background as an actor to write SATIN DOLL?
I used my background in each of the Jana Lane novels, since I know the ins and outs on a movie set. Thankfully nobody was murdered on my sets. However, in SATIN DOLL Jana is in DC to research her upcoming role for Madam Senator. So I was able to include many famous Washington, DC historic settings like the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Memorial, Smithsonian Museum, Capitol, and the Ford Theatre.
Everyone in SATIN DOLL seems to have a secret.
Readers get a complete mystery with each novel, full of revealed secrets. The ending still makes my heart race when I read it—and I’m still surprised!
Will there be another Jana Lane mystery?
I received many comments from readers begging for the next one, which I really appreciate! In CHINA DOLL (releasing late May from The Wild Rose Press), Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, enchanted by her gorgeous co-star Peter Stevens, and faced with murder on stage and off.
And after that?
I’m writing RAGDOLL now, where Jana stars in a TV murder mystery series, and once again life imitates art.
Do you have another mystery series besides the Jana Lane mysteries?
Yes, the Nicky and Noah comedy mysteries published by Lethe Press. The series takes place at an Edwardian style New England college. In DRAMA QUEEN (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Mystery, Best Crime, Best Humorous, Best Contemporary novel of 2015) theatre college professors are dropping like stage curtains. With the inept local detectives, it is up to Directing professor, Nicky Abbondanza to use his theatre skills (including playing other people) to solve the murders, while he directs a murder mystery onstage. Complicating matters is Nicky’s intense crush on Assistant Professor of Acting, handsome Noah Oliver, the prime suspect in the murder. In DRAMA MUSCLE Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In DRAMA CRUISE (not released yet), Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship.
Have you written other books besides mysteries?
My MM romance novellas are published by Dreamspinner Press. They are AN INFATUATION (Divine Magazine Readers’ Choice Award 2nd Place for Best MM Romance), A SHOOTING STAR, A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, and THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND.
I also have an MM series COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK and COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD taking place on the Jersey Shore and published by NineStar Press. I’m writing COZZI COVE: STEPPING OUT now.
As a college professor/department head, how do you have the time to write all these books?
I write at night after my spouse has gone to bed. I have a beautiful cherry wood study with a fireplace, huge desk, bookcases, and window seat. My mother asked me, “Don’t you have anything better to do than write at night?” I wonder if Shakespeare’s mother asked him that? Hah.
How long does it generally take you to write a book?
About three months working evenings and weekends. When I complain about my time, my mother says, “Just think how hard you’d have to work if you had a real job like your sister’s” (the accountant).
What is your writing process?
I write a plot summary, biography for each character, and an outline. The draft is mine alone. I show the second draft to my spouse for his notes. The third draft goes to my editor at the publishing house for her notes.
Who is your ideal reader of your books?
My ideal reader is a lover of mystery, romance, and Hollywood. Someone who craves being swept away by a story and becoming part of the novel. My reader loves clues, suspects, and plotlines that zigzag with numerous surprises leading to a shocking yet totally justified conclusion. Finally, my reader relishes in beautiful, lush locations and captivating characters as she/he enters the portal of my book.
How can your readers contact you?
I love hearing from readers. They can contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Murder, corruption, and scandals rock Washington, D.C.… America’s most famous ex-child star, Jana Lane, is playing a US Senator in a 1983 film. Just as she and her family arrive in DC, two Washington power players are murdered, and Jana is caught in the web of intrigue and political scandal. Jana falls under the spell of the breathtakingly handsome detective assigned to the case, ex-professional football player and food aficionado, Chris Bove. Will Jana and Bove uncover the murderer’s identity and shocking secrets before Jana and her family become the Capitol’s next victims?
Jana felt goosebumps as she looked over at the dias for the presiding officer—a rotating senator elected by the majority/Republican party. Her eyes spanned the one hundred desks in a semicircle, where senators sat by order of seniority with the majority leader (Josiah Maxmillion noticeably absent) and minority leader (Ben Stevens present) sitting front and center on each side.
The meeting resumed. Jana stood in awe and listened as senators took to the floor, yielding and accepting time to and from one another, making their case for or against the vast expense of taxpayers’ dollars.
After ten minutes had gone by, Jana realized she had left her notepad in Cassie’s office. Wanting to write copious notes about her meeting with Max and about the senate debate, Jana hurried through hallways and around corridors. Again flashbacks from her nightmare rendered her unable to move, but she commanded her legs to obey and miraculously found her way back.
Upon entering Cassie’s office, Jana noticed Cassie’s secretary and Lenore were not at their desks. Probably on their lunch breaks. Since Cassie’s office door was open, Jana peeked her head inside and gasped at the sight of Tamaya Stormcloud, lying motionless on the Persian rug, surrounded by a pool of blood.
Bestselling author/Divine Magazine’s favorite mystery writer of 2015 Joe Cosentino wrote the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, and Satin Doll (The Wild Rose Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen and Drama Muscle (Lethe Press); In My Heart (An Infatuation & A Shooting Star), A Home for the Holidays, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press); Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back & Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (NineStar Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are China Doll the fourth Jana Lane mystery (The Wild Rose Press) and Drama Cruise the third Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press).
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
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