Folks, please give a warm welcome to Joe Cosentino, author of the Jana Lane mysteries, of which Porcelain Doll is Book 2.
If you could be an extra on a dramatic TV show, what would it be?
MURDER SHE WROTE. I know. It went off the air years ago and Angela Lansbury is 90 now, but it still shows up on reruns on channel two thousand or something. I absolutely love it. Watching that show, and reading every Agatha Christie novel again and again, shaped my interest in writing mystery novels. I love the clues, red herrings, plot twists and turns, romantic leading characters and locations, eccentric supporting characters, touch of humor, and shocking ending. I also devoured every Mary Higgins Clark book and enjoyed her fast-paced writing style and elements of romance. I believe I emulate all of those things in the Jana Lane mysteries, which like MURDER SHE WROTE, take place in the 1980s, my favorite time period. I am captivated by the music, hairstyles, clothing, and television shows. 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 solves the mystery of who attacked her then and who is attacking her at thirty-eight. In the process she uncovers secrets about everyone in her life. In PORCELAIN DOLL (just released), Jana does a comeback film and discovers who is killing the people around her and why. In SATIN DOLL (coming soon), Jana researches an upcoming film role as a US senator in Washington, DC and solves murders in the political arena. In CHINA DOLL (coming soon), Jana stars in a Broadway play and discovers who is killing the show’s creative team and why. Of course in each case romance ensues. BTW, a reviewer compared DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery (my other mystery series), to MURDER SHE WROTE and HART TO HART. I was incredibly honored. My Nicky and Noah mystery series takes place at an Edwardian style New England college campus, where theatre professors Nicky and Noah use their theatre skills to figure out who is murdering their colleagues and why. Still to come are DRAMA MUSCLE and DRAMA CRUISE.
Are minions/sidekicks just throwaway devices in a tale? Can they become more? Do they need to become more?
I played a number of minions and sidekicks as a professional actor working opposite stars like Bruce Willis (A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM on stage), Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T Industrial), Nathan Lane (ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT on stage), Charles Keating (NBC’s ANOTHER WORLD), and Jason Robards (Commercial Credit computer commercial). I adore the supporting characters. They are generally incredibly interesting, loyal, hysterically funny, and great fun to watch. Jana’s agent, Simon Huckby, is that character in the Jana Lane mysteries. As a product of old-world Hollywood, Simon is splashy, incredibly funny, and fiercely loyal to Jana. I want to play him in the movie version! I also want to play Martin Anderson, Nicky and Noah’s very proper, gossipy, and also incredibly loyal department head in the Nicky and Noah mysteries.
HART TO HART is another of my favorite mystery television shows from the 1980’s. Again, thanks to the hundreds of television channels available, I am re-experiencing this series as well. I love how the two leads always look terrific, even when falling from mountain tops or dodging explosions. I’ve been told my sense of humor in my Nicky and Noah mysteries emulate the Harts. Again, I’m incredibly flattered. I hear NBC is doing a remake with a gay couple as the Harts. I can’t wait. I would love to write an episode of that.
How does modern pop culture influence your work? Do modern cultural references date a piece or add touchstones for the reader?
I used very few pop culture phrases if any in the Nicky and Noah mysteries since they take place in modern day. In the Jana Lane mystery series I did lots of research, as well as think back to that time, and I included numerous references to the 1980’s in each book. 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, including the AIDS epidemic. Throughout the series, it’s great fun to watch Jana grow from a lamb to a lion inside, but also outside in the sometimes gaudy era. Remember DYNASTY?
Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?
Perhaps it is because I was an actor, but unlike many writers I enjoy doing author talks, book readings, and book signings, and I do them frequently. I also enjoy interviews like this. They always teach me something new about myself. They are also a nice way to connect with readers. Since I am a college professor/department head, I am unfortunately unable to attend most conventions. Also, though I am active on Facebook and Twitter and I have an active web site, I don’t have the time to write blogs. That’s why I appreciate blogs like this one! Speaking of my web site, I love hearing from readers. Please contact me via my web site at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
I played Ted Davis is an ABC-TV movie, MY MOTHER WAS NEVER A KID, with Holland Taylor. It was a wonderful experience working with amazing people. We shot it in Toronto, and I had to drive a 1940’s hotrod with a stick shift, since my scenes took place in the 1940’s. That car and I just didn’t get along. Somehow I made it through. It’s a terrific movie about a girl who travels back in time and spends time with her mother at her age. I played her mother’s creepy boyfriend.
Who are your non-writer influences?
I really like being a college professor and giving back to young people. I believe my students teach me as much as I teach them. You may even read some of the very funny things they say in DRAMA QUEEN. Since college professors are the victims in that novel, my colleagues tease me that if they say something I don’t like, I’ll kill them in a novel. Of course I adore them way too much to do that. An influence for the Jana Lane series was my friend the late Tom Tierney, an amazingly gifted paper doll artist (like Jana’s sister in PAPER DOLL). Also, since as a child I loved child stars like Shirley Temple, Hayley Mills, and Patty Duke, seeing their movies over and over, the Jana Lane series is dedicated to that spirit.
If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?
I saw so much incredible art in Florence and Paris. My favorite was the statue of David. It is breathtaking. I would put it in the entryway of my house to show it off.
As a kid I played make believe constantly. “Let’s put on a show!” was my motto with full scale musicals in the garage starring my sister and me. Thankfully my parents and teachers indulged me (rather than committed me-hah). Eventually I became an actor in film, television, and theatre. Morphing into writing plays and now novels seem like the perfect progression. 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. Since coming from a funny Italian-American family, I also knew humor would play a role in my novels. So it’s no surprise that I created a mystery series about an ex-child star/current actress and a series about a theatre college professor. As one reviewer of PAPER DOLL wrote, I used my knowledge of show business to devilish ends. Actually, I used my background in each of the Jana Lane novels, especially in PORCELAIN DOLL, since I know the ins and outs on a movie set. Obviously as a college theatre professor, I know my way around a college theatre department.
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.
by Joe Cosentino
published by The Wild Rose Press
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?
“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 has them in spades!” Fresh Fiction
“If you like novels that are filled with new and old Hollywood, and a range of sub-plots, you are going to love this!” Saguaro Moon Reviews
“I liked that there was enough evidence for each of the suspects to keep me guessing until the very end.” Molly Lolly Reviews
“Joe Cosentino knows how to keep his readers’ interest with every page.” Universal Creativity Digital Magazine
“The setting, the characterization and the plot keep you turning the pages.” The Book Mistress
“Joe Cosentino has crafted an engaging tale of secrets, lies and deceit set in that crazy, ego driven scene called Hollywood.” Deb Sanders
“Mr. Cosentino has produced a masterpiece of mystery” “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
Amazon 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), An Infatuation & A Shooting Star & A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner 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 Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press novella).
Places to Find Joe
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Purchase Paper Doll
Post a comment about Joe’s interview. The one that tickles the author’s mystery bone the most will win a PDF copy of PAPER DOLL, the first Jana Lane mystery, emailed from the author.