Please help me welcome Joe Cosentino. He is sharing an interview about his new release, the fourth installment of the Jana Lane Mystery series:
Interviewer: What inspired you to become a mystery romance writer?
Joe: I have always been a mystery fanatic. As a child I read three mystery novels a week, watched The Alfred Hitchcock mysteries on television, and saw every mystery movie possible. This passion continued throughout my teen and young adult years. Eventually I became an actor in film, television, and theatre, working opposite stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. One of my jobs was playing Ross (I mean Ross not Hercule) Poirot in a murder mystery dinner theatre show. Since a great deal of that show was improvisation, it occurred to me that acting is storytelling in the same way that writing is storytelling, so I decided to give writing a try. 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 a la Agatha Christie. Since coming from a funny Italian-American family, I also knew humor would play a role in my novels.
Interviewer: Can you tell us readers a little bit about creating the Jana Lane mystery series?
Joe: 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. Through the course of the books, Jana not only solves the mysteries, but also reclaims the courage and fortitude she had as a child. This is an important message for all of us. As one reviewer wrote, she starts out as a wounded bird, and ends as tiger.
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. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, 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.
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 a murder and corruption at the senate chamber. She also embarks on a romance 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.
Interviewer: How have the reviews been for the series so far?
Joe: Amazing. Here are a few examples:
“A book that will captivate any reader! A page turner that won’t let you go! This is one author you can always depend on to publish a good read!!” Stormy Nights Reviewing
“Joe Cosentino is a brilliant mastermind when creating the perfect mystery series. In each novel in this intriguing series of his, Jana Lane Mysteries, readers are blown away by his writing. The instant readers jump into Joe Cosentino’s fictional world, the danger feels real, the suspense is killing, and the plot moves so fast. Action, lights, camera!” “A fast-paced murder mystery that readers will easily fall in love with…and one they can’t live without. Overall, I highly recommend this new title in the Jana Lane Mysteries and look forward to the next best adventure from Joe Cosentino.” Danielle Urban, Universal Creativity Inc.
“Beautifully written and intensely detailed, Porcelain Doll is one not to be missed. Flirtatiously decadent with a strong moral undertone, set in a decade of extraordinary social change this is a story of its period that is as poignant today as it was then. Joe Cosentino controlled the emotions that the book encouraged with a deft but delicate touch. Suspenseful and mysterious, Porcelain Doll is a masterful creation, one that was impossible not to be affected by.” Carol Fenton, BooksLaidBare Reviews
“Paper Doll is a superbly crafted mystery with an eclectic cast of characters that will engage you and elicit some very emotional responses as you are completely caught up in the events that unfold in these pages. Everyone has secrets and the people in Paper Doll have them in spades!” Fresh Fiction
“Mr. Cosentino has produced a masterpiece of mystery (Paper Doll)” “The story gripped me from the start and there were enough twists and turns, with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure, to keep hold of me until the end of the book.” “Great book, can’t wait for book 2.” Readers’ Favorite
Interviewer: Tell us about the current release, CHINA DOLL.
Joe: In CHINA DOLL (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. It is old home week and nepotism in action as the play is produced and written by the same producer (Stanley Rothman) and author (Katrina Wright) who produced and wrote Jana’s first Broadway play when she was five years old, Sweet Nothings. Jana’s co-star from Sweet Nothings, the aging but still gorgeous and mysterious Savannah Stevens, is co-starring in China Doll, along with Savannah’s incredibly handsome and muscular son, Peter Stevens, in his Broadway debut. Rounding out the cast are Rothman’s granddaughter Bella, Jana’s nephew Brad, and Jana’s youngest son B.J. And the play is directed by Katrina’s new and much younger husband, the studly Tony Cuccioli. Also in the cast are Sally Chen a recent Tony Award winning actress, and Tate Moonglow a transplant from Off-Broadway.
During rehearsals, attractions come to the surface between Tony and Sally, Brad and Bella, Tate and Gary (B.J.’s new nanny), and even Jana and Peter.
Art imitates life as members of the production team of China Doll are murdered, personal secrets are revealed, and Jana once again uses the skills she learned as a child star to solve the crime.
Also, Jana and her husband go through a personal crisis, however, her son B.J. is bitten by the acting bug and has the time of his life.
Interviewer: Who is your favorite character in CHINA DOLL? And why?
Joe: I really enjoyed writing the comically neurotic Gary Royale, B.J.’s (Jana’s youngest son) new nanny, and of course the Broadway musical buff Detective Douglas was great fun.
Interviewer: Which one of your characters was the hardest one to write? And why?
Joe: Savannah Stevens is an aging beauty with fond memories from her past on Broadway and as a movie star in Hollywood, yet she carries the burden of an aging actress in a youth-oriented society.
Interviewer: With her gorgeous violet eyes, is Savannah based on Elizabeth Taylor?
Joe: Savannah is a smart, strong, talented woman like Elizabeth Taylor, however, she doesn’t have anywhere near as many husbands or such a troubled life.
Interviewer: Is Katrina Wright the highly successful mystery writer supposed to be Agatha Christie?
Joe: They are both very successful, older female writers, but Agatha Christie wrote many novels and a few plays, Katrina has written many many plays and no novels. Also unlike Agatha Christie, Katrina has a young stud husband.
Interviewer: David Mamet wrote a play on Broadway in 2015 called CHINA DOLL. Any connection to your novel.
Joe: None. I think it’s fascinating that there really was a play on Broadway called CHINA DOLL, though Jana wouldn’t know about it since my novel takes place in 1984.
Interviewer: You acted onstage with Bruce Willis in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and Nathan Lane in THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT. Were you able to use your theatre background in writing CHINA DOLL?
Joe: I wrote, directed, and acted in a number of plays. I used my experiences many times in CHINA DOLL when writing about the role of the playwright, director, stage manager, producer, actors, designers, and technicians. I know first-hand what it’s like to do a read through, a blocking rehearsal, rehearsals, dress rehearsals, and performances. Though thankfully nobody was murdered in any of my plays.
Interviewer: How amazing that Jana’s youngest son B.J. takes so well to the stage.
Joe: Like mother like son—and grandfather and uncle.
Interviewer: In the novel Katrina and Stanley use their religious beliefs as a weapon to try to fire one of the cast members. Do you think people of faith will be offended by that?
Joe: 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. Jana stands up to Katrina and Stanley because she believes any kind of discrimination is wrong, and that freedom of religion is far different from the freedom to discriminate. I assume Jana would defend Katrina or Stanley if someone tried to discriminate against them as well.
As in the first three Jana Lane mysteries, Jana is tempted by a gorgeous man, this time the heartthrob younger actor, Peter Stevens.
I can’t imagine anyone not being enticed by Peter Stevens. He’s what used to be a called a matinee idol.
And Jana 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 nephew.
Who has changed his name and become a hungry for fame actor. Jana tries to give him advice, but like many young people. He doesn’t take it.
Interviewer: I find it fascinating how Jana uses the skills she learned as a child star to solve the crime. How do you remember all of Jana Lane’s old movie titles and storylines?
Joe: I keep really good notes on Jana’s old movies, and on each room in her Hyde Park, New York mansion. I also enjoyed writing about Jana’s gorgeous penthouse hotel suite.
Interviewer: Since the book takes place in 1984, you included a great deal of history, music, and fashion from the era.
Joe: Though China Doll is a fictitious play, I was able to place the theatre between the marquees of real shows playing at the time: Hurlyburly starring William Hurt and Christopher Walken and The Rink starring Chita Rivera and Liza Minelli. Since the book takes place in 1984, I included a great deal of history, music, and fashion from my favorite era. Layered hair, parachute pants, shoulder pads, lace gloves, leggings, and scrunchies are all there along with music like Bruce Springstein’s “Cover Me.” New York City is prominently featured in the novel with its luxury hotels, Central Park, Washington Square Park, Little Italy, and of course the theatre district. I was also able to include, the still new AIDS epidemic and the devastation it caused when ignored by our political representatives, as once again Jana sponsors a benefit for AIDS research.
Interviewer: Which scene in the novel did you enjoy writing the most? And why?
Joe: I loved writing the hospital scene the most. It’s so touching.
Interviewer: Many of the men in the series are strapping, muscular, good looking guys. Did you do that intentionally?
Joe: You mean since I’m not? Hah. Many of the women are gorgeous too. I’m enjoying exploring how the other half lives and loves. However, in CHINA DOLL, I have characters like Katrina, Gary, and of course Simon and Cornelius who don’t fit that mold.
Interviewer: Everyone in CHINA DOLL seems to have a secret. Thank you for revealing them by the book’s end.
Joe: Yes, each Jana Lane mystery is its own story. Readers get a complete mystery with each novel, as you said, full of revealed secrets.
Interviewer: You play fair in your mysteries, meaning the clues are there, and so are the plot twists and turns, and white knuckle shocking ending.
Joe: I don’t like mysteries where characters are introduced and the writer arbitrarily picks the murderer at the end. The readers feel cheated. At the end of a mystery, the readers should say, “Of course! How did I not see that?” I agree about the ending. It still makes my heart race when I read it—and I’m still surprised.
Interviewer: Do you see the Jana Lane mysteries as a TV show?
Joe: Totally! I want to play Simon Huckby!
Interviewer: Who do you see as Jana Lane?
Joe: I’m not sure. I hope the readers will send me some ideas!
Interviewer: Do you have another mystery series besides the Jana Lane mysteries?
Joe: Yes, the Nicky and Noah comedy mysteries published by Lethe Press. Each novel is loaded with wacky humor and romance in a fast-paced whodunit. Since I am a college theatre professor/department head, and theatre departments are havens of mystery, secrets, romance, and high humor; the series takes place at an Edwardian style New England college. In DRAMA QUEEN 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.
Interviewer: Have you written other books besides mysteries?
Joe: My MM romance novellas are published by Dreamspinner Press. They are AN INFATUATION, 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 Nine Star Press.
Interviewer: Is writing an MF series different from writing an MM series?
Joe: Not at all. People are people. Love is love. Mystery is mystery. We’re all connected.
Interviewer: As a college professor/department head, how do you have the time to write?
Joe: 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, “How do you think up all those stories?” I told her I had a colorful childhood. Hah.
Interviewer: How long does it generally take you to write a book?
Joe: 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 cousins” (lawyers).
Interviewer: Who is your ideal reader of your books?
Joe: 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.
Interviewer: What are you writing now?
Joe: The next Jana Lane mystery of course: RAG DOLL, where Jana is offered the leading role in a TV pilot about an amateur sleuth. Of course murder and romance ensue.
How can your readers contact you?
I love hearing from readers! They can contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
CHINA DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery
by Joe Cosentino
published by The Wild Rose Press
Jana Lane is back on Broadway in 1984—starring in a murder mystery. Life imitates art when members of the company are murdered. As Jana investigates, it’s clear she may be the next victim. Complicating matters is Jana’s uncontrollable infatuation with her leading man, gorgeous and muscular Off-Broadway actor Peter Stevens. Will Jana find the murderer before the curtain comes down on her?
Excerpt of CHINA DOLL, the fourth Jana Lane mystery, by Joe Cosentino, published by The Wild Rose Press
Tall, muscular, aristocratic-looking with dark hair and blushed cheeks, Peter shook Jana’s hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Lane.”
Feeling the warmth and smoothness of his strong hand, Jana felt like a shut-in at a blind date with Mr America. “It’s Miss Otley…rather Mrs. Lane…Mrs. Otley, but please call me Peter.” Jana turned the color of her avocado dress.
He seemed to enjoy her attraction to him. Amazing dimples emerged as Peter said, “I thought I was Peter.”
Jana giggled in spite of herself. “You are. I’m Nana. I mean…I’m Jana.”
Peter’s peaches and cream complexion complimented his white pants, coral T-shirt, and marigold blazer. He whispered in her ear, and she smelled fresh mint. “I’m nervous too. Everyone’s thinking I got this role because I’m Savannah Stevens’ son. They’re probably right.”
I have to stop gawking at him. “I’m sure you’ll be fine.”
Peter seemed genuinely touched. “That means a lot to me, coming from such a fine actress. I hope you’ll give me a few tips in rehearsals.”
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino won Divine Magazine’s awards for best mystery novel, best humorous novel, and best contemporary novel of 2015. He is the author of the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, and China Doll and the upcoming Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, and the upcoming Drama Cruise (Lethe Press); the Cozzi Cove beach series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back and Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (NineStar Press); and the romance novellas: In My Heart anthology (An Infatuation & A Shooting Star), A Home for the Holidays, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press); and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). As an actor, he has appeared in principal 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. http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com