Monday, May 2, 2016

Interview With Author, Joe Cosentino

An Interview with Joe Cosentino, author of SATIN DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery, published by The Wild Rose Press

What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
Since most of my cousins are lawyers, it was as a teenager telling my parents I wanted to be an actor. My mother was cutting vegetables for dinner at the time. She turned to me and said, “Take this knife and stick it through my heart.” Ah, Italian moms. They eventually grew accustomed to it, and couldn’t be more proud when after college, I acted in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, Charles Keating, and Jason Robards. My 1982 ABC-TV movie, My Mother Was Never a Kid, with Holland Taylor is still an internet favorite, and NBC’s Another Word still reruns in some places.
What adventure would you like to have that you haven’t done yet if money and skill were no problem?
I want to play Simon Huckby, Jana Lane’s agent, in The Jana Lane Mysteries television series. Simon is amazingly resilient, old world Hollywood, incredibly funny, and loyal to Jana. Hear that, television producers!

Who are some of your favorite authors?  What commonality do you see in them?
I’ve been compared to Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha Christie, and Armistead Maupin. Not shabby company! I like Clark’s fast-pace and seamless blend of mystery and romance. Christie’s plot twists and turns, hidden clues, and surprise endings are great fun. Maupin’s quirky characters and out of the box plots are wild.

I believe color says something about a person’s personality.  What’s your favorite color?
Red, because it reminds me of my favorite holiday, Christmas. One December my mother said to me, “Tell me exactly what you want for Christmas, because I’m tired of you returning everything I buy for you.” I replied, “I’d like a red shirt.” She answered, “I don’t like red. I’ll get you a blue one.”

If you could have a do-over life, what one thing would you do differently?  What would you do again?
My Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery comedy from Lethe Press, won Best Mystery Novel of 2015 and Best Humorous Novel of 2015 in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Poll. I was busy finishing a novel and my semester at the college where I teach and am department head. If I could do that over, I’d have a big party. I travelled to the gorgeous and magical island of Capri for my holiday romance novella, A Home for the Holidays. I’d love to do that again and again and again.

What is your writing process from conception to finished MS?

I generally get a great idea at about 3am, leap out of bed, and jot notes on the pad on my night table. If I can read them in the morning, I write a plot summary. Since I was an actor, I write a long biography for each character. The outline is next, which I deviate from constantly when writing the first draft. I show the second draft to my spouse for his notes. The third draft goes to the publisher.

Are you a planner, panster or both?
Definitely a planner. When writing a mystery you start with the shocking ending and work backwards. So you have to plan out the clues and red herrings.

How did you research for your book?
As one reviewer said, I use my first-hand knowledge of show business to devilish ends in the Jana Lane mysteries. 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. Now at forty, Jana solves various murder mysteries and dabbles in a few romances as she makes two comeback films, stars in a Broadway play, and heads the cast of a television series. Since I was a professional actor, I know exactly what goes on backstage, on a movie set, and on the set of television series. So the scenes in the books are quite authentic and captivating.
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 (The Wild Rose Press), 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 (current release from The Wild Rose Press), 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.
In CHINA DOLL (coming soon from The Wild Rose Press), 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.
I am currently writing RAGDOLL, where Jana stars in a television mystery series and once again life imitates art.
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.

What is your all-time favorite movie?  TV show?
Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap, hence my love for child stars.

How important do you feel writing workshops are to a writer?
I have a B.A., M.A., and M.F.A., so I am a strong believer in education. Good thing since I’m a college professor.

If you could learn one new skill, fear and money no deterrent, what would it be?
How to raise a huge amount of money so I could produce television versions of my books.

If you had a million dollars to donate to any one charity, what would it be?
Don’t worry, I won’t say the Joe Cosentino Television Production Company. I’m a big contributor to AIDS research. Since the Jana Lane mysteries take place in the 1980’s, the AIDS crisis plays a minor role in the books. There are many wonderfully fun things about the 1980’s too. I had great fun writing about the hairstyles, clothing, makeup, music, movies, plays, and decadence of that amazing era.

What advice would you like to give to an aspiring writer?
I love reading and writing stories with engaging characters who I want to spend time with. Just as I did improvisation as an actor, I recommend letting your characters talk to one another and seeing what happens! 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. Finally, don’t forget the humor and romance!

Did anyone mentor you or help you along the way?  Please tell us about your mentor and what you feel he or she contributed to your writing career.
I’ve had many teachers and mentors as I am a teacher and mentor to others now. I’ll always be thankful to the mentor who told me, “It’s never too late to start. Write for two hours a day (or as in my case at night). We all have stories to tell. I’d like to read yours.”

What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
The best advice I received was from a successful writer and teacher, “Tell your story your own way. Don’t try to emulate other writers, and don’t be stifled by the naysayers. They’ll always be there, but so will the fans.”

If you could live anywhere in the world you wanted to, where would it be? (Language is no barrier)
Romantic and beautiful Italy.

Where do you write?
Since I am a college professor/department head, I write at night. I have a beautiful cherry wood study with a fireplace, huge desk, bookcases, and window seat. 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?
How much time do you devote to writing each week?  Do you have a day every week that you take off?
I write for two hours every night after my spouse has gone to sleep and the house is quiet. It generally takes me three months to write a novel.

What is a genre that you have not attempted that you would like to try?
I just did that recently by writing my take on my fairytales with The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland from Dreamspinner Press.

Is there anything you would like readers to know about you?
I hope you enjoy SATIN DOLL and all the Jana Lane mysteries. I love to hear from readers. Please contact me via my web site at

Satin Doll by Joe Cosentino 

SATIN DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery by Joe Cosentino
published by The Wild Rose Press

Logline: America’s most famous ex-child star Jana Lane is playing a US Senator in a 1983 film, where she is caught in the web of intrigue, political scandal, and murder.

Blurb: 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 Lane, America’s most famous ex-child star, ran down a dark hallway in the north wing of the Capitol, causing the row of senators’ office to become a blur of brown. Sweat soaked through her beige business suit as her heart pounded in her ears. She turned a corner and Jana’s heels skidded to a halt on the marble floor as she screamed at the sight of—
After a gasp, Jana looked up at her husband’s handsome face. Thank God it was just a dream.
Brian leaned his muscular back on the gold circular headboard under the ruby-red satin canopy bedcover. “It must have been one heck of a nightmare.”
Jana noticed her beige satin nightgown was soaking wet. She pushed off the silver satin sheets. After walking past the circular fireplace without looking into the floor-length oval mirror, she headed into her walk-in closet and changed into a pink silk replacement.
“Care to tell your husband about it?”
She sat at her pink crushed velvet trimmed vanity, looked in the mirror, and brushed her long strawberry-blonde hair. “I don’t want to tell you.”
“Why not?”
“I know what you’ll say.”
“Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?”
Jana placed the gold brush back on the vanity. “I was being chased by someone at the Capitol.”
“The Capitol Theatre?”
“No, the Capitol…in Washington, DC.”
Brain ran a strong hand through his thick, chestnut hair, and said like a television announcer, “Courtesy of Jana Lane’s next film, Madam Senator.”

Joe Cosentino at a book signing 

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.

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Sarah J. McNeal said...

It's such a joy to interview you, Joe. Nice picture of your book signing. I wish you every success in all you do.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

By the way, Joe, I loved the story of the red shirt and your mother. Your clever, somewhat subtle wit, just snuck up on me. I reread your interview several times and found something I missed each time.
I just got my copy of In D'Tale Magazine and saw you were a featured author. Congratulations, Joe!