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.
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
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,
“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
“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
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
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
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
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
Oh, my. It sounds
beautiful! With such surroundings, do you encounter challenges with finding
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
What’s your next
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
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
Jason placed his hand on the side
of her face. “You’re amazing.”
“You’re not so bad yourself,
“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.
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery
(Whiskey Creek Press), Porcelain Doll
the second Jana Lane mystery (The Wild Rose Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press) (winner
Best Mystery of 2015 Divine Magazine), 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 (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. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were
performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational
film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the
Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married.
His upcoming novels are Satin Doll
the third Jana Lane mystery (The Wild Rose Press), China Doll the fourth Jana Lane mystery (The Wild Rose Press), Drama
Cruise the third Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), and Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (NineStar Press).
Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine
Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015.