Welcome, today we are talking with award winning, bestselling author Joe Cosentino! I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer a few questions.
It’s my pleasure. I love Coffee Time Romance and More!
First, I think it’s important for readers to get a little insight on an author that they don’t necessarily get from your professional bio. You’d be surprised at what readers connect to, and sometimes the simplest ‘I can relate to that’ grabs their interest where nothing else can. Don’t answer anything you feel uncomfortable with.
My life is an open book (no pun intended).
Can you share a little something about Joe Cosentino that’s not mentioned in your bio on your website?
When I was three years old, my older sister and older male cousin placed me in a garbage can full of newspapers, wrapped blankets around themselves, and we did a Nativity play in my cousin’s garage, charging neighbors a nickel. Though I never saw any of the money, I was happy, since I was the star! That morphed into full scale musicals starring me in that same garage. In a family full of lawyers, when I told my mother I wanted to major in theatre in college, she handed me her cooking knife and said, “Take this and stick it through my heart.” Eventually, my parents got accustomed to the idea and I became a professional actor and later writer.
What is your favorite:
Animal: My nephew’s pit bull, since it doesn’t bite me or make me sneeze.
Food: My spouse’s hummus, or anything I don’t have to cook.
Movie: Cabaret. I want to be the MC (Joel Grey’s role).
TV show: Will and Grace. There’s none funnier.
Actor: Hayley Mills. Her movies got me through childhood.
Singer: Audra McDonald. I’m a Broadway baby.
Author: Tie between Agatha Christie, Armistead Maupin, and Mary Higgins Clark. I swoon when readers compare my books to theirs.
What are your pet peeves?
People who don’t read my books. The novels take many months to write, and they’re terrific. I may be biased, but I think everyone should read them.
Who is your hero?
The readers who message me that my books make them laugh, cry, gasp in surprise, realize something they never knew about themselves, and change their lives. I write for them.
Give us one thing on your bucket list.
I want to play Simon Huckby, Jana’s funny old world agent, in a television series based on my Jana Lane mystery romance novels published by The Wild Rose Press.
What would readers find surprising about you?
As an actor, I starred opposite Bruce Willis (A Midsummer Night’s Dream onstage), Nathan Lane (The Roar of the Greasepaint onstage), Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T Industrial), Holland Taylor (My Mother Was Never a Kid ABC-TV movie), Charles Keating (NBC-TV’s Another World), David Paymer (Ruffles Potato Chips commercial), and Jason Robards (Commercial Credit computer commercial).
If you could go to heaven, who would you visit?
God. I believe in going right to the top.
Any bad habits?
Like Nicky Abbondonza in my Nicky and Noah mystery novels, I’m a vitaminaholic.
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
Also like Nicky, I’m a college theatre professor. The other day, one of my students told me I’m, “well preserved.”
Now that our readers know a little bit more about Joe Cosentino, let’s get down to the business of Rag Doll, the fifth Jana Lane Mystery, which released November 16th and is published by The Wild Rose Press. Congratulations by the way!
Thank you. Releasing each book is like giving birth, so I’ll invite you to the shower (smile).
How long did it take you from beginning to end before your novel was completely finished, and how did you decide on the topic and title?
For the Jana Lane mysteries, I generally leap out of bed at 3am with a terrific shocking ending for a book. The next day, if I can read the notes on my night table, I begin writing the outline including the character biographies, clues, red herrings, and plot twists and turns. Then I listen to the voices in my head and write the first draft. After notes (and arguments) from my spouse, I write the second draft, which goes to my publisher (The Wild Rose Press). After notes from my terrific editor (Melanie Billings), I write the third draft, which goes to the proofreader. I then confer with the amazing cover artist (Debbie Taylor) and press rep (Lisa Dawn). The whole process takes about six months from initial idea to publication in e-book, paperback, and now audiobook for some (performed by the talented actor Charissa Clark Howe).
The Jana Lane mysteries take place in my favorite era, the 1980s. I have great fun with the makeup, fashion, films, television shows, morals, and music of the era. The concept and title for book five come from one of the new characters who, like the old song, was called a “Rag Doll” as a child since her family was so poor and she was so beautiful.
Please tell us a little bit about Rag Doll.
In RAG DOLL, Jana Lane, now in her forties, stars in a new television series, The Detective’s Wife, opposite Chris Bove, the hunky detective who got away in SATIN DOLL. Guest starring on the show is young ingénue Christa Bianca, a rags to riches story who has flooded the press. Life imitates television as Christa’s loved ones are murdered, and Christa and Jana could be next. Once again it’s up to Jana to save the day before the lights fade to black.
What was your hardest challenge writing this book?
At book five, it was a bit of a balancing act including some of the much-loved past characters and also adding some new, captivating characters as suspects and victims. Given the diverse characters in the novel, it was also somewhat of a challenge keeping in mind that race, gender, and sexual orientation issues were quite different in the 1980’s than they are now. We’ve thankfully come a long way.
What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?
Jana and her husband Brian have incredible chemistry as they practically finish each other’s sentences. They’ve been together for quite a while and know each other like (pardon the pun again) a book. While Brian isn’t happy about it, he knows Jana’s career as an actress and amateur sleuth are very important to her, and though they both put her in peril, she needs them to feel complete. Jana would love Brian by her side, but she understands his architecture business must keep him on the road.
Jana and her co-star on the television series, hunky ex-detective Chris Bruno, enjoy their sexy comic banter since they both thrive on crime-solving. The sexual tension between them nearly explodes off the page.
Christa, the guest star on the pilot episode, and Jana’s children’s nanny, Missy, are like Jana’s younger sisters. They, as well as Jana’s children, bring out Jana’s maternal/lioness instincts.
Finally, Jana and her longtime agent, Simon, have a father and daughter relationship that is comical yet endearing.
Other titles in your highly praised series include: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, and China Doll. Is there a sixth in the works?
As a child I loved child stars like Shirley Temple, Hayley Mills, and Patty Duke, seeing their movies over and over. So I created Jana Lane, 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. 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. 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 flirtation with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. In CHINA DOLL, 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. RAG DOLL concludes with a very happy ending for Jana and her extended family. It seems like a good place to end. However, as they say, never say never.
Any other works in progress?
I am still writing my Nicky and Noah comedy mysteries published by Lethe Press. Each novel is loaded with wacky humor and romance in a fast-paced whodunit. 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 at New England’s quaint Treemeadow College. 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 crush on Assistant Professor of Acting, handsome Noah Oliver. In DRAMA MUSCLE (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) Nicky and Noah 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 today!) 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. I am currently finishing DRAMA LUAU, where Nicky directs a luau show in Hawaii, and muscular male hula dancers drop like grass skirts, leaving Nicky and Noah to once again figure out whodunit and why.
I am also still writing novels in my Cozzi Cove beach series published by NineStar Press: COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK (Rainbow Honorable Mention Award), COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD, and COZZI COVE: STEPPING OUT (releasing in January). I am currently finishing COZZI COVE: NEW BEGINNING. The novels feature handsome Cal Cozzi and his family, friends, and guests, as Cal runs a gay summer resort on a gorgeous private cove on the New Jersey Shore.
Finally, my romance novellas are published by Dreamspinner Press: IN MY HEART/ An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, and THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND. We are currently releasing audiobook versions of some of them performed by the gifted actor Joel Leslie.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
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! An outline is simply an outline. Don’t be afraid to deviate from it. 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!
If you like an author’s work, please post a reader review and rating on Amazon and/or Goodreads. That’s the applause for a writer. Please also continue reading other books by that author. Thank you for the interview. As Jana Lane might say, “Fade to black.”