We have a special Writers Wednesday treat on this last week in March, an interview with Joe Cosentino whose brand new release PORCELAIN DOLL: A Jana Lane mystery debuts today from The Wild Rose Press. Congratulations, Joe.
Thank you, Barbara. I feel as if we are on the red carpet. Maybe someday!
From your lips to the book Gods’ ears. Since you are new to the blog, tell us a bit about Joe Cosentino.
After college I became an actor in film, television, and theatre, working opposite stars like Bruce Willis (A Midsummer Night’s Dream on stage), Nathan Lane (The Roar of the Greasepaint on stage), Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T Industrial), Holland Taylor (My Mother Was Never a Kid ABC-TV movie), Charles Keating (NBC’s Another World), David Paymer (Ruffles Potato Chips commercial), 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.
What fabulous experience. Did you use your background as an actor to write PORCELAIN DOLL?
Definitely! As one reviewer wrote, I used my knowledge of show business to devilish ends. Actually, I used my background in each of the Jana Lane novels, since I know the ins and outs on a movie set, television set, and stage. Thankfully nobody was murdered on my sets.
Please tell us about the book.
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 the secret behind that attack is exposed. In PORCELAIN DOLL, it is 1982 and Jana is thirty-nine years old, living in a mansion in Hyde Park, New York. 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 (releasing April 29), 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 ex-professional football player detective. In CHINA DOLL (not yet released), 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. 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.
How have the early reviews been?
Amazing. Here are three examples:
“Porcelain Doll is Joe Cosentino at his finest. We are drawn back to the fashions and attitudes of the 1980's in a character-driven story full of intrigue and passion." Kirsty Vizard, Divine Magazine
“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
“Murder, mystery, and suspense are high inside of this brilliant masterpiece by Joe Cosentino.” “Every page fills the readers with intrigue.” “Edge of your seat mystery that lures readers instantly.” “Once you read it, you can't put it down.” Danielle Urban Universal Creativity Inc.
Is this your first series? What others have you published?
This isn’t my first. In addition to the Jana Lane mysteries, I have my Nicky and Noah comedy mysteries published by Lethe Press. In DRAMA QUEEN (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015 winner for Best Mystery, Best Humor, Best Crime, Best Contemporary) 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.
With your background, it’s natural that you’re drawn to the mystery romance genre set in the theatrical world. Did you always intend to use that setting?
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.
What inspired you to set PORCELAIN DOLL in 1982?
I love the music, hair styles, clothing, and decadence of the 1980’s. I had great fun writing about Jana’s mansion, wardrobe, makeup, and hairstyles. I was also able to incorporate some of the music, films, television shows, Broadway shows, and political and social events of the era, briefly including the AIDS epidemic.
Was any character particularly stubborn in cooperating with you during the writing process of the book?
Reverend Charlton, the reverend protesting Jana’s film, was difficult to write. I could never understand why some people use religion to try to attack and demonize others.
I can certainly understand stubborn characters. But it’s obvious many were fun to write. Besides Jana Lane, whom did you enjoy creating most?
Jana’s young co-star, Trevor, was fun since he has such a huge ego and is certainly a rebel without a cause. My favorite though is Jana’s agent, Simon, 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!
If you had to describe PORCELAIN DOLL as a color, what would that color be?
Blonde, since blondes like Jana Lane have more fun.
Nice answer! If you had to describe the book as a taste, what would it be?
Sweet like Jana’s old movie, Sugar and Spice.
Special place you like to write?
I have a beautiful cherry wood study with a fireplace, huge desk, bookcases, and window seat looking out to the woods.
Oh, my. It sounds beautiful! With such surroundings, do you encounter challenges with finding writing time?
Since I am a college professor/department head, I write in the evenings and weekends. 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.
Have you written other books besides mysteries?
Yes. 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 my novels in a beach resort called COZZI COVE. NineStar Press is the publisher of COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK and COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD (releasing April 30).
What’s your next project?
I’m currently writing RAGDOLL the next Jana Lane mystery, where Jana stars in a TV murder mystery series. You guessed it! Life imitates art yet again.
What tips would you offer other mystery writers?
I prefer mystery novels that drop lots of clues leading to the murderer. I also recommend incorporating many other characters with secrets into the story. A writer should create an entire world of suspense above and beyond “who done it.” When a reader finishes a book, he/she should be satisfied that the various parts equaled the whole, rather than the author pulling an ending out of the hat. Finally, don’t forget the humor and romance! And if you are writing a series, for continuity you need to keep a notebook full of information on each character and the various repeat locations—i.e. every room in Jana’s Hyde Park mansion.
Do you do book signings?
Yes, I’m doing an author talk/reading/book signing at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Poughkeepsie, NY on Saturday, April 9 at 1p.m.
How can my readers contact you?
I love to hear from readers via my web site at http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
Thanks so much for being here today. I hope you’ll come back again.
I’d love to—for SATIN DOLL a Jana Lane mystery releasing from The Wild Rose Press on April 29!
Great! We’ll see you then. Meanwhile, the best of luck with PORCELAIN DOLL, A Jana Lane mystery.
Is art imitating life in 1982? Jana Lane, ex-child star, is doing a comeback film about murder. When a crew member is killed on the set, it looks like Jana could be next. Thickening the plot is Jana’s breathtakingly handsome and muscular leading man, Jason Apollo, whose boyish, southern charms have aroused Jana’s interest on screen and off. Will Jana and Jason stop the murderer before the final reel, or end up on the cutting room floor in this fast-paced whodunit with a shocking ending?
As Jana sat waiting for Jack to call for action, she looked up at Jason’s encouraging face. She again was taken aback by his incredible beauty.
Reverend Charlton and Gloria reentered the study.
Jack called for quiet and action. Jana and Jason played the scene, where the detective notifies her of her husband’s death. Jason delivered his lines with warmth, vulnerability, and obvious affection for Jana. In turn, Jana listened then reacted with deep emotions, conveying shock, loss, fear, and hysteria while being comforted by the man she trusted. Jana clutched onto Jason with such force, her fingernail accidently tore a hole in his jacket.
“Cut!” Jack hollered.
While the wardrobe woman repaired Jason’s jacket, Jana noticed Reverend Charlton step out of the study again, this time with Ryan O’Halloran.
After the two men returned, and the jacket was mended, Jack called for slate and action for take two. Jana and Jason did the scene two more times. Each take was more realistic and heart-wrenching than the next, and each appeared as if it were the first time Jana was given the sad news.
After the third take, Jack shouted, “Cut! It’s a wrap. Ryan, let’s move on to the next location.”
Jana wiped the tears from her cheeks.
Jason placed his hand on the side of her face. “You’re amazing.”
“You’re not so bad yourself, partner.”
“You make me better,” he said with adoration in his true-blue eyes.
They shared a smile as again people hurried around the room like ants after a picnic.
Suddenly, Jana heard a loud crash followed by a scream. Leaping from her chair, she followed the horrified gazes of the others in the room to Ryan O’Halloran lying motionless on the floor with a Fresnel tungsten shuttered light next to his head, and blood dripping from his scalp onto the hardwood floor.
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com