Writing the fifth Jana Lane mystery, RAG DOLL by Joe Cosentino + Excerpt
I leap out of bed at 3am with an idea for a shocking ending nobody will guess, not even the mystery mavens. After fumbling for the pencil and pad on my night table, I jot down a few notes then fall back to sleep. The next day I can read my notes, so I thank the mystery gods. I take the notepad to my study, where I begin the process of writing a plot outline (including where I will place the clues and red herrings), a character breakdown, and a character biography for each character. Next, I listen to the voices in my head (without being locked in a rubber room) and laugh, screech, and cry as I write the first draft of the novel. After my spouse reads it and gives me notes, I write the second draft. I write the third draft after notes from my terrific editor Melanie at The Wild Rose Press. Another Jana Lane mystery is born.
Why did I write a mystery series about an ex-child star making a career comeback and solving murder 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.
Why is Jana making a career comeback in her forties? So I can use my knowledge of show business in the novels, having acted in film, television, and theatre opposite stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards.
Why a mystery series? As an avid mystery reader, it was clear to me that my novels would be page-turning mysteries with clever plot twists, engaging characters, romance, and lots of clues leading to a surprising conclusion.
Why do the novels include some humorous characters like Jana’s old world agent, Simon Huckby? Since coming from a funny Italian-American family, I also knew humor would play a role in my novels.
Why did I set the novels in the 1980’s? Because it’s my favorite time period. I have great fun with the hairstyles, clothing, makeup, music, films, television shows, plays, and social events of the time period. And I’ve even been able to include some fascinating historical events.
If you haven’t been reading the Jana Lane mysteries, and you should, here’s a quick recap of each of the first four novels. 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 flirtation 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 is tempted by Chris Bruno, the ex-football player 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.
Now in RAG DOLL with Miami Vice and Murder She Wrote being all the rage of television, Jana stars in a new television mystery 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 use her knowledge from her days as America’s most famous child star and save the day before the lights fade to black. The suspects include Jason, the young prop man with a secret; bit players Karen and makeup girl Cindi who have their eyes on Christa’s guest starring role; two couples in supporting roles who have a conflict with Christa and Christa’s husband/manager, the domineering Andrew Bianca; Christa’s calculating agent Stu, and her Uncle Nick, trying to stay in show business on Christa’s coattails. 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. Though Jana and Brian are happily married, you can’t blame Jana for being attracted to handsome, muscular, smart, food-addict Bove, starring opposite her in The Detective’s Wife. After what they’ve gone through together in SATIN DOLL, they can be totally honest with each other. Their banter is very funny but also warm and precious. I think they put their sexual frustration into solving the case.
So settle back on the sofa, get the remote and popcorn, and turn on the television for the next Jana Lane mystery! BTW, I want to play Simon Huckby in the TV series!
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Murder, romance, and scandal on and off the set of Jana Lane’s new murder mystery television show. America’s most famous ex-child star Jana Lane is starring in The Detective’s Wife, a murder mystery television show in 1985. Guest starring on the show is Christa Bianca, a rags-to-riches ingénue who has flooded the entertainment press. Life imitates television as cast members are murdered, and once again it’s up to Jana, along with sexy ex-detective Chris Bove, to save the day before the lights fade to black.
EXCERPT: 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.”
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