A Jana Lane Mystery – Book 3
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?
*Interview With Joe Cosentino*
We’re glad to have you with us today, Joe! I’ve got some questions for you.
What inspired you to write Satin Doll?
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. That story is in PAPER DOLL, and Jana’s movie comeback at thirty-nine is in PORCELAIN DOLL. Reviewers praised the novels’ plot twists and turns, rapid pace, humor, strong characters, sweet romance, and white knuckle surprise endings. When readers begged me for more Jana Lane mysteries, I decided to write about my other passion for the third novel: politics. I’ve always been fascinated by how some politicians can speak to someone and make him/her feel as if he/she is the only person in the room. I also marvel at politicians who have devoted their lives to serving others and making the world a better place. Of course there are many other politicians who sell their souls to large corporations due to personal greed to the detriment of their constituents. I marvel at how sexy, media-dependent, and entertaining politics has become. The issues I am concerned with are on the liberal bent. However, I believe all the political characters in SATIN DOLL are treated equally in showing their good points and bad.
In SATIN DOLL Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana is shadowing US Senator Cassie Castle for Jana’s new film, Madam Senator. In the process, Jana becomes embroiled in murder and corruption at the senate chamber. She also embarks on a flirtation with Chris Bruno, the professional ex-football player/muscular detective assigned to the case. Readers will no doubt find it particularly interesting that Cassie, like Hillary Clinton, 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. Unlike Hillary, Cassie wears her heart on her sleeve, and she is dating the Republican majority leader of the Senate, gray fox Senator Maxmillion. Jana is also surrounded by other politicians, lobbyists, and reporters. Once again, Jana uses the skills she learned as a child star to nab the killer and expose everyone’s shocking secrets.
What is your writing process like?
I jump out of bed at 3am with an amazing surprise ending for a new novel. I jot down notes on the pad on my night table. If I can read them in the morning, I write a brief summary for my new idea. That evening, after my spouse has gone to bed and the house is quiet, I begin writing. It takes me approximately three months to finish a book. I have a beautiful cherry wood study with a fireplace, huge desk, bookcases, and window seat, so it’s a pleasure to sit and write in the evenings. 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.
Are you a panster or a plotter?
I don’t care for a mystery where the writer pulls an ending out of his/her hat that hasn’t been set up early on and isn’t justifiable. So I write an outline, including where to place the clues, red herrings, romantic scenes, and lots of hidden and ultimately revealed secrets. Since I was an actor, I write a long character biography for each character. Then I move on to write the first draft. The second draft goes to my spouse for notes. The third draft goes to my editor at the publishing house.
What authors inspire you?
Of course Agatha Christie is the queen of murder mysteries. I love her hidden clues, reversals, and cozy locations. Armistead Maupin has an amazing flair for writing eccentric, loveable characters with engaging and funny dialogue. Mary Higgins Clark blends mystery and romance so beautifully in a break-neck pace. I am always honored when readers compare my books to theirs.
When did you decide 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. 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 be captivating mysteries in gorgeous locations. Since coming from a funny Italian-American family, I also knew humor and romance would play a role in my novels.
What kind of research do you do for your books?
Since the Jana Lane mysteries take place in the 1980’s, I do a great deal of online research to recall those wonderful decadent years. In SATIN DOLL Jana dances to songs like “Flashdance: What a Feeling” and “Maniac.” She wears layered hair, shoulder pads, and lace gloves. Detective Bove dresses in parachute pants, colored T-shirts, and colored blazers. 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. Since so much of SATIN DOLL takes place in Washington, DC, I was able to include many famous historic settings like the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Memorial, Smithsonian Museum, Capitol, and the Ford Theatre.
What kind of genres do you prefer to read?
I’m a huge mystery buff, having read hundreds of cozy mystery romance novels. It shows in my writing. In late May The Wild Rose Press is releasing the next Jana Lane mystery, CHINA DOLL, where 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. RAGDOLL releases six months later, where Jana is offered the leading role in a TV pilot about an amateur sleuth. Of course murder and romance ensue.
I also have my Nicky and Noah comedy mysteries published by Lethe Press. 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 (releasing in six months), 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.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I am a college professor/department head, so my writing time is limited to evenings and weekends. When I complain about my time restraints, my mother says, “Just think how hard you’d be working if you had a real job like your sister’s (an accountant).”
What is your preferred method to write a story? Computer or longhand?
Since the Jana Lane mysteries are a series, I keep a notebook of notes on Jana’s old movies and on each room in her Hyde Park, New York mansion. I also write the outline and character biographies in long hand. However, every word of the manuscript is typed on the computer. I often enjoy taking breaks from writing to chat with readers on Facebook, Twitter, or via my web site. I love hearing from readers. They can contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
What were some of the pros and cons of writing your latest book?
The characters become so real for me that I had a wonderful time writing the more likeable characters, and a bit of a struggle writing the less likeable ones. 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! I’m not a top one-percenter and I care deeply about equality and our environment, so I found it hard to relate to Senator Maxmillion, the Republican majority leader of the Senate, and Benjamin Topower, Maxmillion’s wealthy super pack contributor. However, I found their drive and sense of entitlement fascinating. Young, sexy Senator Sancho Ramirez from New York was difficult to write since he is also quite different from me, but his secret was great fun to keep until it is exposed in the book.
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. I loved writing Jana’s banter with Bove, and Brian’s banter with Adam. But when
Jana’s husband goes through his major personal event, I wrote with a pain in my heart and tears in my eyes clouding the computer screen. However, I was revived when Jana is reconnected with her best friend, Jackson, a Democratic congressman. I love Jackson’s sense of humor and interplay with Jana. As in life, the sweet and comical characters make the journey worth it.
About The Author
Amazon 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, 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 (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 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 Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015.