Sunday, November 27, 2016
Author Joe Cosentino on Mysteries
Good morning, readers! Today, author Joe Cosentino returns to discuss the release of his newest novel, RAG DOLL, and the writing of a genre I particularly love (being a Sherlock Holmes fan), mysteries!
What attracts you to writing mystery novels?
I had terrible insomnia as a kid. Believe it or not, what finally got me to sleep was reading cozy mystery novels. And I've read hundreds of them. So it was clear to me that my novels would also be page-turning mysteries with clever plot twists, engaging characters, romance, enticing locations, and lots of clues leading to a shocking conclusion. Since coming from a funny, emotional Italian-American family, I also knew humor and romance would play a role in my novels.
Who is your favorite mystery author, and why?
Besides me? Hah. Of course Agatha Christie is the queen of murder mysteries. Armistead Maupin has an amazing flair for writing eccentric, loveable characters with engaging and realistic dialogue. Mary Higgins Clark blends mystery and romance so beautifully.
What advice would you give to other mystery writers?
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!
Tell us about the Jana Lane mystery series and your latest novel.
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, 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 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, 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.
Now in RAG DOLL, Jana 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.
You've had lots of contacts in the entertainment world. You worked on television as an actor with 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). Did you use any of those experiences in writing about Jana and company's shooting of The Detective's Wife in RAG DOLL?
Definitely! 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, since I know the ins and outs on a movie set, television set, and theatre stage. Thankfully nobody was murdered on my shows. I've been told the television shooting sequences in RAG DOLL are realistic, exciting, and fun to read. I'm sure that's because I know my way around a real television set, and I tried hard to incorporate that knowledge into those scenes.
Jana uses the skills she learned as a child star to solve the crime. How do you remember all of Jana's old movie titles and storylines?
I keep really good notes on Jana's old movies, and on each room in her Hyde Park, New York mansion.
Was it difficult writing a book that takes place in 1985?
Since I was around back then, and the internet is a wonderful research source, I enjoyed writing about the political and social events, music, movies, television shows, and fashion of that era. Jana is right in line with her hair, makeup, and wardrobe.
Which part of the novel did you enjoy writing the most, and why?
I loved writing Jana's banter with Bove. It still makes me laugh. I also get tears in my eyes when reading the story of Christa's rise from impoverished, mocked child (the other children calling her "Rag Doll") to upcoming star.
Everyone in RAG DOLL seems to have a secret. Thank you for revealing them by the book's end.
Yes, each Jana Lane mystery is its own story. Readers get a complete mystery with each novel, as you said, full of revealed secrets.
You play fair in your mysteries, meaning the clues are there, and so are the plot twists and turns, and white knuckle shocking ending.
I don't like mysteries where characters are introduced and the writer arbitrarily picks the murderer at the end. The readers feel cheated. At the end of a mystery, the readers should say, "Of course! How did I not see that?" I agree about the ending. It still makes my heart race when I read it—and I'm still surprised.
Do you have another mystery series besides the Jana Lane mysteries?
Yes, the Nicky and Noah comedy mysteries published by Lethe Press. Each novel is loaded with wacky humor and romance in a fast-paced whodunit. Since I am a college theatre professor/department head, and theatre departments are havens of mystery, secrets, romance, and high humor; 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 (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) 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 December 1) 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 also have an M/M series with lots of mysterious elements, Rainbow Award Honorable Mention COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK, COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD, and COZZI COVE: STEPPING OUT (releasing in January) taking place on the Jersey Shore and published by NineStar Press.
You're certainly prolific! What are you writing now?
I've taken a break to do interviews like this one, which I really enjoy!
Thanks for joining me today. How can your readers contact you or find your book?
I love hearing from readers. They can contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Find RAG DOLL at:
The Wild Rose Press: http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/4671-rag-doll.html
The Wild Rose Press (Paperback): http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/paperback-books/4753-rag-doll-paperback.html
AllRomance EBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-ragdoll-2126977-367.html
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rag-doll-joe-cosentino/1124742578?ean=2940156928002
About Joe Cosentino
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino won Divine Magazine's awards for best mystery novel, best humorous novel, and best contemporary novel of 2015. He is the author of the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, and the upcoming Drama Cruise and Drama Luau (Lethe Press); the Cozzi Cove beach series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, and the upcoming Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out (NineStar Press); and the romance novellas: In My Heart anthology (An Infatuation & A Shooting Star), A Home for the Holidays, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press); and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). As an actor, he has appeared in principal 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. http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
An excerpt of RAG DOLL by Joe Cosentino, published by The Wild Rose Press:
Jana and Bove did the scene again with a thin piece of gauze over the camera lens aimed at Jana.
Ah, the plight of a middle-aged actress.
Jana felt even better about that take. Their relationship worked, and the energy bounced back and forth between them almost effortlessly. Again Jana wondered what it would be like sharing her days with Bove and kissing Bove in bed before sleep each night.
Herm's call for action brought Jana back to the scene. Bove's close-up was even better than the first two takes. It was as if they had been married for years with an easygoing yet emotional rapport.
"Good job, partner."
Bove smiled at Jana. "Right back at you."
As she started to rise from the bed, Jana spotted Christa in the distance with a look of horror on her face.
The young woman screamed as a lighting screen headed straight for her. Stu Silverman, standing next to Christa, noticed and pushed Christa out of the way in the nick of time. The screen crashed to the floor inches away from Christa's feet. Standing on the other side of her, Andrew Bianca took his wife in his arms, and she wept on his shoulder.
Bove whispered to Jana, "Here we go again."