Interview with author Joe Cosentino and his leading character Jana Lane in
SATIN DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery, published by The Wild Rose Press
Joe, welcome back! You were here last month for the release of Porcelain Doll, a Jana Lane mystery, and you are back again for the release of Satin Doll, a Jana Lane mystery. You are certainly prolific.
Joe: My mother said, “Don’t you have anything better to do than write books?” Hm, I wonder if Shakespeare’s said that.” Hah. Actually, my mother, sister, and niece love the Jana Lane mystery series, and they adore Jana Lane, who is with me here today.
Welcome, Jana. I’m honored to have the (fictitious) most famous ex-child star in America with us. For our readers, what do you look like?
Jana: I’m an average forty-one-year-old woman living in 1983.
Joe: Jana has porcelain skin, sky-blue eyes, a button nose, deep dimples, ruby red lips, velvety strawberry-blonde hair, and a terrific petite figure.
Jana, what’s it like to be middle aged in 1983?
Jana: I believe women are like wine. We get better with age. 1983 is a wonderful time to be in my prime with layered hair, shoulder pads, off the shoulder blouses, blue eye shadow, bold colors, lace gloves, parachute pants and music like Flashdance’s “Maniac.” It’s also the year of 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.
What’s it like living in a five-acre estate in Hyde Park, New York, with twinkling Hudson River and stoic mountain views?
Jana: My husband, three children, and I love our home. Though I lived in Hollywood for most of my childhood, New York will always be home.
Joe: Jana was America’s highest grossing child star from the time she was six years old to eighteen years old in hit movies like Daddy’s Girl, The Cowgirl and the Bandit, Jungle Girl, Young Mermaid, Pink Ballerina, Surfer Girl, Girl Astronaut, and the Sweet Candy Striper.
What was it like being America’s sweetheart, Jana?
Jana: I felt like God’s special child. Every move I made mattered to someone. What I ate or didn’t eat. What time I went to bed. What I wore. The length of my hair. A lot of people’s livelihoods depended on me. I worked hard. And my personal life was well, I didn’t have a personal life. I couldn’t date. I couldn’t go out alone. I couldn’t talk to a reporter without someone from the studio with me.
What was fun about it?
Learning how to do things like steer a motorboat, swim for hours at a time, ride my horse Ginger. It was also fun to be recognized — and it still is! People I would meet on the street expressed an unwavering devotion to me. They really believed that I was the girl in the movies who could outsmart the villains, perform acts of bravery, and save those she loved from every evil fate.
What was it like going to movie premieres?
Once we arrived at the movie theater in the limousine, a red carpet led us inside. Camera flashes went off in all directions. Hundreds of people screamed and cried out my name, as I smiled and waved. Once inside the theater, I saw my face on that screen as large as a billboard. I was not only the central character in my own life, but in everybody’s life in that audience. I felt so loved and protected, until it all went away when I was eighteen.
Why did you leave the business?
I was attacked at the studio. I didn’t discover the identity of my attacker until twenty years later.
Joe: You can read all about it in PAPER DOLL.
Next in PORCELAIN DOLL you made a comeback film, His Obsession.
Jana: With my husband, Brian, away on business, and my boys at summer camp, it was the perfect time to do a film. I was thrilled when my longtime agent, Simon Huckby, told me the film was packaged by mega-agent Mryna Buller, and will be directed by the top director of thrillers, Jack Capello. What made me jump for joy was when Simon told me the film would be shot at my home!
Joe: Jana 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. I want to play Simon, Jana’s agent, in the TV series, the Jana Lane Mysteries.
Is there a TV series in the works?
Joe: I’m floating the idea. Hear that, TV producers!
Tell me about Simon.
Jana: Simon is somewhere between sixty and a hundred years old. He discovered me in a play on Broadway when I was five years old. Ever since he has been my watchdog and my greatest fan. He and his partner, Cornelius Chamberlain, live in Rhinebeck, the next town, to watch over me.
Joe: Simon is incredibly funny, old world Hollywood, and like me, he is devoted to Jana.
How were the reviews for PAPER DOLL and PORCELAIN DOLL?
Joe: Amazing. Here’s an example for each novel:
“Beautifully written and intensely detailed, Porcelain Doll is one not to be missed. Flirtatiously decadent with a strong moral undertone, set in a decade of extraordinary social change this is a story of its period that is as poignant today as it was then. Joe Cosentino controlled the emotions that the book encouraged with a deft but delicate touch. Suspenseful and mysterious, Porcelain Doll is a masterful creation, one that was impossible not to be affected by.” Carol Fenton, BooksLaidBare Reviews
“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 have them in spades!” Fresh Fiction
Jana: They like me. They really like me.
Joe: Jana was nominated for an Oscar for His Obsession.
Congratulations. Now what happens in the current release, SATIN DOLL?
Joe: 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.
Is Senator Cassie Castle, the Democrat senator touted to run for Vice President, based on Hillary Clinton?
Jana: Cassie 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. She is also quite charismatic. So in some ways she’s very much like Hillary. In many ways she is different.
In which ways?
Jana: Cassie seems to wear her heart on her sleeve. Don’t forget she’s dating the Republican majority leader of the Senate!
Joe, last time you were here you mentioned how your acting career, working opposite stars like Nathan Lane, Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards, helped inform the sections of the books where Jana makes movies. Now in SATIN DOLL Jana enters the world of politics. Have you always been interested in politics?
Joe: I’ve always found politicians like Maxmillion and Cassie fascinating. How they can speak to someone and make him/her feel as if he/she is the only person in the room. I also marvel at Cassie’s will to serve others and to make the world a better place. The issues I am concerned with are Cassie’s and Jana’s issues, so I am clearly on the liberal bent. However, I believe all the political characters in the book are treated equally in showing their good points and bad. I was also able to include many famous Washington, DC historic settings in the novel like the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Memorial, Smithsonian Museum, Capitol, and the Ford Theatre.
Which one of your characters was the hardest one to write? And why?
Joe: Senator Maxmillion, the Republican majority leader of the Senate, and Benjamin Topower, Maxmillion’s wealthy super pack contributor. I’m not a top one-percenter, so I found it hard to relate to them. However, I found their drive and sense of entitlement fascinating.
And then there is the studly Senator Sancho Ramirez from New York.
Joe: Like all of the characters, Sancho is a man of many secrets that all come to light by the end of the novel.
Jana: Like all of Joe’s books, SATIN DOLL is a page-turning mystery with clever plot twists, engaging characters, romance, and lots of clues leading to a surprising conclusion.
And as in the first two Jana Lane mysteries, Jana is tempted by a gorgeous man, this time Detective Chris Bove.
Joe: 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. We may see him again in a future Jana Lane mystery.
Jana: I’d like that.
And Jana, your husband goes through a major personal event in SATIN DOLL.
Jana: I love that part of the story. It still brings tears to my eyes.
And Jana is reconnected with her best friend, Jackson.
Joe: Yes, Jackson is a Democratic congressman now. I love his sense of humor, and interplay with Jana.
Jana: Jackson is a riot.
Joe: It was great fun writing the banter between Jana and Bove, Brian and Adam, and Jana and Jackson.
I find it fascinating how Jana uses the skills she learned as a child star to solve the crimes. Joe, how do you remember all of those movie titles and storylines?
Joe: I keep really good notes on Jana’s old movies, and on each room in her Hyde Park, New York mansion.
Many of the men in the series are strapping, muscular, good looking guys. Did you do that intentionally?
Joe: You mean since I’m not? Hah. Many of the women are gorgeous too. I’m enjoying exploring how the other half lives and loves.
Everyone in SATIN DOLL seems to have a secret. Thank you for revealing them by the book’s end. You also play fair in your mysteries, meaning the clues are there, and so are the plot twists and turns, and white knuckle shocking ending.
Jana: Yes, each Jana Lane mystery is it’s own story. Readers get a complete mystery with each novel, as you said, full of revealed secrets.
What’s next for Jana Lane?
Jana: In CHINA DOLL releasing late May I head to New York City to star in a Broadway play, co-starring the gorgeous Peter Stevens, and I’m faced with murder on stage and off.
Joe: It’s a wonder any actor will still work with Jana.
Jana: Very funny, Joe.
And after that?
Jana: RAGDOLL, where I’m offered the leading role in a new television mystery series.
Joe: And again life imitates art.
How does Joe Cosentino think up all these terrific storylines?
Jana: I’m in his head helping him.
Does Joe have another mystery series?
Jana: 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 Joe is 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 Favorite Mystery 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 (not released yet), 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.
Have you written other novels as well, Joe?
Joe: My MM romance novellas are published by Dreamspinner Press. They are AN INFATUATION, A SHOOTING STAR, A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, and THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND. I also have an MM series COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK and COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD taking place on the Jersey Shore and published by Nine Star Press.
How can readers contact you both?
Jana: Through Joe. He loves hearing from readers. It gives him a break from listening to me. They can contact Joe at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
Until next time, thank you both!
SATIN DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery by Joe Cosentino
published by The Wild Rose Press
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?
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.
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Jana felt goosebumps as she looked over at the dias for the presiding officer — a rotating senator elected by the majority/Republican party. Her eyes spanned the one hundred desks in a semicircle, where senators sat by order of seniority with the majority leader (Josiah Maxmillion noticeably absent) and minority leader (Ben Stevens present) sitting front and center on each side.
The meeting resumed. Jana stood in awe and listened as senators took to the floor, yielding and accepting time to and from one another, making their case for or against the vast expense of taxpayers’ dollars.
After ten minutes had gone by, Jana realized she had left her notepad in Cassie’s office. Wanting to write copious notes about her meeting with Max and about the senate debate, Jana hurried through hallways and around corridors. Again flashbacks from her nightmare rendered her unable to move, but she commanded her legs to obey and miraculously found her way back.
Upon entering Cassie’s office, Jana noticed Cassie’s secretary and Lenore were not at their desks. Probably on their lunch breaks. Since Cassie’s office door was open, Jana peeked her head inside and gasped at the sight of Tamaya Stormcloud, lying motionless on the Persian rug, surrounded by a pool of blood.