What a treat today! Joe Cosentino has released a new book, another in his Jana Lane mysteries, and he's consented to return to The Book Corner to tell us about SATIN DOLL.
Welcome Joe. You were with us last month for the release of PORCELAIN DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery, and you are back a month later for the release of SATIN DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery. You certainly are prolific.
Thank you. My mother said, “Don’t you have anything better to do than write books?” I wonder if Stephen King’s mother asked him that? Hah.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I have always been a storyteller. I remember starring in a Nativity play in my cousin’s garage with my sister and older cousin wrapping sheets around us and charging neighbors a nickel. That morphed into full scale musicals including lavish costumes in a neighbor’s garage. Thankfully my parents and teachers indulged me (rather than committed me-hah). 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. So I knew my novels would be set in the world of show business.
What a fabulous experience that all must have been. Can you tell the readers a little bit about creating the Jana Lane mystery series?
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. 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 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.
Now in SATIN DOLL 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.
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!
So...Is there a movie version?
I can hope.
Me, too, Joe. 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.
In which ways?
Cassie seems to wear her heart on her sleeve. Don’t forget she’s dating the Republican majority leader of the Senate!
Hmmm. Interesting mix, show business and politics. Have you always been interested in politics?
I’ve always found politicians like Maxmillion and Cassie 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 Cassie’s will to serve others and to make the world a better place. The issues I am concerned with are Cassie’s and Jana’s issues, so 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.
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.
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 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. I also enjoyed including many famous Washington, DC historic settings like the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Memorial, Smithsonian Museum, Capitol, and the Ford Theatre.
Many of the men in the series are strapping, muscular, good looking guys. Did you do that intentionally?
Many of the women are gorgeous too. I’m enjoying exploring how the other half lives and loves.
Everyone in SATIN DOLL seems to have a secret. Thank you for revealing them by the book’s end.
Yes, each Jana Lane mystery is it’s own story. Readers get a complete mystery with each novel, as you said, full of revealed secrets.
You play fair in your mysteries, meaning the clues are there, and so are the plot twists and turns, and white knuckle shocking ending.
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.
Do you have another mystery series besides the Jana Lane mysteries?
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 (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.
Love the phrase "dropping like stage curtains." I'm looking forward to picking up these back mysteries. I did some acting and directing in college myself and remember the 'drama' with great fondness. 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.
As a college professor/department head, how do you have the time to write?
I write at night after my spouse has gone to bed.
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).
Three months of evenings and weekends? I am in awe! What is your writing process?
I get a great idea at about 3a.m. and write notes on the pad on my night table. The next evening I write a plot summary and biography for each character. Sometimes I write an outline and other times I wing it. I show the second draft to my spouse for his notes. The third draft goes to the publisher.
How do you deal with bad reviews?
Most of my reviews and reader response have been incredibly positive, which fuel my writing. What a gift it is for a reader to post a positive review on Amazon or Goodreads, relating how something I’ve written has moved them, made them laugh, made them cry, think about something new, or changed their life. I can’t think of anything better. As for the few bad reviews, I don’t read them. As my mother always told me, if you don’t have something nice to say about somebody, don’t say anything. I can’t imagine why anyone would continue reading a book after chapter one if he/she doesn’t like it. Just put it down and read something else. Why attack a book someone has poured his/her blood, sweat, and tears into? As another woman popular in the 1980’s said, “Just say no.”
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.
I can hear readers now, shouting, "Me. Me." What are you writing now?
In CHINA DOLL (releasing from Wild Rose Press late May), 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. The next Jana Lane mystery after that is RAGDOLL, where Jana is offered the leading role in a TV pilot about an amateur sleuth. Of course murder and romance ensue.
They both sound terrific! How can readers contact you?
I love hearing from readers. They can contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
SATIN DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery by Joe Cosentino
published by The Wild Rose Press
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 Joe Cosentino wrote Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery, Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (The Wild Rose Press), Satin Doll the third Jana Lane mystery (The Wild Rose Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, & 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). Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015.
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com