When and why did you begin writing?
My mother says I told lots of tall tales as a kid, so she’s not surprised I’m a writer today. Actually, I have always been a storyteller. I remember starring in a Nativity play in my cousin’s garage with my sister and older cousin wrapping sheets around us and charging neighbors a nickel. I was the star! That morphed into full-scale musicals including lavish costumes in a neighbor’s garage. Thankfully my parents and teachers indulged me (rather than committed me-hah). After college, I became an actor in film, television, and theater, working opposite stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. It occurred to me that acting is storytelling in the same way that writing is storytelling, so I decided to write plays and later novels and novellas.
What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre that they need to know?
When writing a mystery, you don’t start at the beginning. You start at the end. Generally, I’ll leap up from bed at three am with a great idea for a twist ending. If I can read the notes on my night table the next day, I begin writing an outline, character biography, clues, and red herrings. Also, getting there is most of the fun, so the novel needs to be entertaining and exciting all the way through. My novels are quick-paced, with fascinating characters, plot twists and turns, humor, romance, and a shocking but justified ending.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer and how does that affect your writing?
Like Martin Anderson in my Nicky and Noah comedy mystery series, I’m a college department head/professor of theater. Also like Martin, I have a beautiful cherry wood study with a fireplace, huge desk, bookcases, and window seat. My faculty colleagues and students kid me that if they tick me off, I’ll kill them in one of my books. I write at night. Being a bit tired loosens my creative juices and away I go. 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? Hah.
What have you written so far?
I created the Jana Lane mysteries (The Wild Rose Press) featuring a heroine who was the biggest child star ever making a career and personal comeback. In PAPER DOLL, Jana at thirty-eight lives with her family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Her flashbacks from a past attack become murder attempts in her future. Jana ventures back to Hollywood and uncovers 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 sexy 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.
My Nicky and Noah comedy mysteries (Lethe Press) are loaded with wacky humor and romance in a fast-paced whodunit. In DRAMA QUEEN (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Mystery of 2015), theater college professors are dropping like stage curtains. It’s up to Directing professor Nicky Abbondanza, and Acting professor Noah Oliver to use their theater skills (including playing other people) to solve the murders, while Nicky directs a murder mystery onstage. In DRAMA MUSCLE (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Nicky and Noah have to use their theater 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, Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska and discover why college theater professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theater show onboard ship. DRAMA LUAU will be released in June, and DRAMA DETECTIVE will be released in December.
My MM romance novellas (Dreamspinner Press) are Rainbow Award Honorable Mention: IN MY HEART (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, Rainbow Award Honorable Mention: COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK, COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD, and COZZI COVE: STEPPING OUT taking place in a resort at the New Jersey Shore (NineStar Press). COZZI COVE: NEW BEGINNINGS will be released on March 27.
Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
In my current release, RAG DOLL, the fifth Jana Lane mystery (The Wild Rose Press), 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.
If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast?
I’d cast Brooke Shields as Jana, Joe Manganiello as Bove, Emma Stone as Christa, and me as Simon!
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Besides Jana who cares so deeply for others, Jana’s agent, Simon, is my favorite character because he is amazingly resilient, old world Hollywood, incredibly funny, and amazingly loyal to Jana. I also 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. And the ending still shocks me!
If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?
Like Jana, I’d like people to realize that religious freedom means you have the freedom to practice your religion, not to force others to live the way you want them to live.
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