An interview with Jana Lane and Simon Huckby of CHINA DOLL

I am excited to interview America’s most famous ex-child star and current movie and now Broadway star, Jana Lane, and her agent since childhood, Simon Huckby. You are truly a legend, Jana.

Jana: In my own mind.

Simon: My baby doll was the top grossing child star ever. Nobody could out act her. Remember my baby girl as The Adorable Orphan, Jungle Girl, Pink Ballerina—

I’m not old enough to remember most of them.

Simon: Then you should get the videos and watch them. No better movies were ever made nor will ever be made, except for my baby doll’s two recent films His Obsession and Madame Senator—for which she won a well-deserved Academy Award!

Jana: Spoken like a true agent.

Simon: Who adores you, baby doll.

Jana: And adores your 10%.

Jana, you are still gorgeous at forty-one with your petite figure, layered blonde hair, crystal blue eyes, and porcelain skin. Do you have a beauty regime?

Jana: I work out in my home gym each day—

Simon: In her gorgeous Hyde Park, New York estate.

Jana: –to music like “Maniac,” “What a Feeling,” “Gloria,” and “Cover Me.”

Simon: And her clothes are in perfect 1984 fashion with chic business suits and dresses, shoulder pads, lace gloves, leggings, and scrunchies.

Can you tell us about your mystery series, Jana?

Simon: Like my baby doll, the Jana Lane mysteries are perfection. They star my girly girl who I discovered at five years old starring opposite her father on Broadway in Sweet Nothings. I brought her to LA, and she starred in her first film, Daddy’s Girl, at six years old!

Jana: That’s all ancient history, Simon.

Simon: Like me.

How old are you, Simon?

Simon: Somewhere between sixty and Heaven.

Jana: Simon has always been a father figure for me.

Simon: Though I probably look more like a mother figure in my chartreuse jumpsuit and tangelo scarf. But the readers don’t want to hear about me. Let’s talk about my baby doll’s mysteries. 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. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, my baby doll 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. I always said she shouldn’t have married someone not in show business. It’s like marrying an alien species.

Jana: Simon, I’m happily married to Brian.

Simon: And Elizabeth Taylor was happily married to Richard Burton—twice!

Jana: In PORCELAIN DOLL (The Wild Rose Press), I make a comeback film and uncover who is being murdered on the set and why.

Simon: Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, America’s heartthrob Jason Apollo. Again, another opportunity missed!

Jana: The other suspects include my James Dean type young co-star, my older John Wayne type co-star, my 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 pushy agent.

Simon: I hate those! In SATIN DOLL (The Wild Rose Press), Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where my girly girl 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 romantic flirtation with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. Jana rubs elbows with senators on both sides of the aisle, a lobbyist, and a Washington reporter.

Jana: And Brian goes through a personal crisis.

Simon: When doesn’t he? Brian should have been in show business. Anyway, the novels are full of mystery, insider show business mayhem, plot twists and turns, revealed secrets, and a shocking ending. Of course there is also romance for many characters, including for me! As they say, love is much better the second time around.

How have the reviews been for the series so far?

Simon: Amazing. How else could they be with Jane Lane as the star?

Tell us about the current release, CHINA DOLL.

Simon: I arrange for Jana to star in a Broadway play. So in CHINA DOLL (The Wild Rose Press), Jana heads to New York City to star in the Broadway mystery, where my baby girl is enchanted by her gorgeous co-star Peter Stevens—another actor, and faced with murder on stage and off. It is old home week and nepotism in action as the play is produced and written by the same producer (Stanley Rothman) and author (Katrina Wright) who produced and wrote Jana’s first Broadway play when she was five years old, Sweet Nothings—where I discovered her! My baby doll’s co-star from Sweet Nothings, the aging but still gorgeous and mysterious Savannah Stevens, is co-starring in China Doll, along with Savannah’s incredibly handsome and muscular son, Peter Stevens, in his Broadway debut.

Jana: Rounding out the cast are Rothman’s granddaughter Bella, my nephew Brad, and my youngest son B.J.

Simon: A star is born. That boy takes after his mother—and his mother’s agent.

Jana: And the play is directed by Katrina’s new husband.

Simon: The young studly Tony Cuccioli.

Jana: Also in the cast are Sally Chen a recent Tony Award winning actress, and Tate Moonglow a transplant from Off-Broadway.

Simon: In the mystery play within the mystery novel, Sally plays a young Chinese heiress who dies mysteriously. The suspects are Sally’s impoverished new husband (played by Tate), his ex-girlfriend (played by Bella), and their neighbors (played by Brad and Savannah). Jana plays the neighbor/amateur sleuth who figures out whodunit and why, and Peter takes on the role of the detective who entices her personally and professionally. During rehearsals, attractions come to the surface between Tony and Sally, Brad and Bella, Tate and Gary (B.J.’s new nanny), and even my baby doll and Peter.

Jana: Art imitates life as members of the production team of China Doll are murdered, and personal secrets are revealed.

Sounds like a nice list of suspects.

Jana: Everyone is a suspect, including Simon.

Simon: I’d never kill anyone, unless he tried to take away your top billing!

I’m guessing once again Jana lane uses the skills she learned as a child star to solve the crime.

Simon: From movies like The Girl Detective, School Spy, and The Cutest Scientist.

Who is your favorite character in CHINA DOLL? And why?

Simon: Jana Lane of course.

Jana: I really enjoyed Gary Royale, B.J.’s over anxious new nanny, and of course the Broadway musical buff Detective Douglas was great fun.

Simon: Savannah Stevens is an aging beauty with fond memories from her past on Broadway and as a movie star in Hollywood, yet she carries the burden of an aging actress in a youth-oriented society. I wouldn’t know what it’s like to be headed over the hill.

With her gorgeous violet eyes, is Savannah based on Elizabeth Taylor?

Jana: Savannah is a smart, strong, talented woman like Elizabeth Taylor, however, she doesn’t have anywhere near as many husbands or such a troubled life. What great fun for me to co-star with Savannah in a play when I was five years old then again at forty-one.

Is Katrina Wright the highly successful mystery writer supposed to be Agatha Christie?

Jana: They are both very successful, older female writers, but Agatha Christie wrote many novels and a few plays, Katrina has written many many plays and no novels.

Simon: Also unlike Agatha Christie, Katrina has a young stud husband who just happens to get the job as director of Katrina’s play—to the producer’s (Stanley Rothman’s) chagrin.

David Mamet wrote a play on Broadway in 2015 called CHINA DOLL. Any connection to your novel.

Jana: No. It’s 1984. We can’t see into the future.

Joe Cosentino acted onstage with Bruce Willis in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and Nathan Lane in THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT. Was Joe able to use his theatre background in writing CHINA DOLL?

Jana: Joe wrote, directed, and acted in a number of plays. He used his experiences many times in CHINA DOLL when writing about the role of the playwright, director, stage manager, producer, actors, designers, and technicians. He knows first-hand what it’s like to do a read through, a blocking rehearsal, rehearsals, dress rehearsals, and performances, and the book is better for it. Though thankfully nobody was murdered in any of Joe’s plays.

Simon: Jana and I also gave Joe a great deal of information. We are constantly talking in his head.

How amazing that Jana’s youngest son B.J. takes so well to the stage.

Jana: Like mother like son—and grandfather and uncle.

Simon: And I’m B.J.’s agent!

In the novel Katrina and Stanley use their religious beliefs as a weapon to try to fire one of the cast members. Do you think people of faith will be offended by that?

Jana: I sure hope not. I am a Christian who prays and goes to church on Sundays.

Simon: My baby girl is a true Christian to me since she tries to love her neighbor as herself, not judge others, and help the downtrodden and outcasts. Jana stands up to Katrina and Stanley because she believes any kind of discrimination is wrong, and that freedom of religion is far different from the freedom to discriminate. My baby girl would have defended Katrina or Stanley if someone tried to discriminate against them as well.

As in the first three Jana Lane mysteries, Jana, you are tempted by a gorgeous man, this time the heartthrob younger actor, Peter Stevens. Tell us about your relationship with Peter.

Jana: I can’t imagine anyone not being enticed by Peter Stevens. He is tall, handsome, muscular, charming, and incredibly talented.

Simon: He’s what used to be a called a matinee idol.

And Jana goes through a major personal event.

Simon: I love that part of the story. It still brings tears to my eyes when I read it.

And Jana, you are reconnected with your nephew.

Jana: Who has changed his name and become a hungry for fame actor.

Simon: My baby doll tries to give him advice, but like many young people, he doesn’t take it.

Since the book takes place in 1984, it includes a great deal of history, music, fashion, and locations from the era.

Jana: Though China Doll is a fictitious play, Joe was able to place our theatre between the marquees of real shows playing at the time: Hurlyburly starring William Hurt and Christopher Walken and The Rink starring Chita Rivera and Liza Minelli.

Simon: And New York City is prominently featured in the novel with its luxury hotels, Central Park, Washington Square Park, Little Italy, and of course the theatre district.

Jana: As is the still new AIDS epidemic and the devastation it caused when ignored by our political representatives, as once again I sponsor a benefit for AIDS research.

Which scene in the novel did you each enjoy the most? And why?

Jana: I loved the only scene I’m not in, the hospital scene. It’s so touching.

Simon: I enjoyed our lunch at New York City’s most famous theatre district restaurant.

Many of the men in the series are strapping, muscular, good looking guys. Did Joe do that intentionally?

Simon: Many of the women are beautiful too. And there are characters like Katrina, Gary, Cornelius, and me who don’t fit that mold. Though in my day, I was quite the looker.

Everyone in CHINA DOLL seems to have a secret. Thank you for revealing them by the book’s end.

Jana: 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.

Jana: 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 relive it.

Do you see the Jana Lane mysteries as a TV show?

Simon: I want to negotiate the deal. Joe wants to play me!

Who do you see playing Jana Lane?

Simon: There’s only one Jana Lane.

Does Joe have another mystery series besides the Jana Lane mysteries?

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 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.

Simon: But my baby doll and I aren’t in that series.

Who is your ideal reader of your books?

Jana: My ideal reader is a lover of mystery, romance, and Hollywood. Someone who craves being swept away by a story and becoming part of the novel. My reader loves clues, suspects, and plotlines that zigzag with numerous surprises leading to a shocking yet totally justified conclusion. Finally, my reader relishes in beautiful, lush locations and captivating characters as she/he enters the portal of a book.

What is your next mystery?

Jana: RAG DOLL, where I am offered the leading role in a TV pilot about an amateur sleuth.

Simon: Of course murder and romance ensue. After all, it’s a Jana Lane mystery!

How can your readers contact you?

Jana: Via Joe. He loves hearing from readers.

Simon: It gives him a break from listening to us.

Jana: They can contact him at:

Thank you Jana and Simon from the Jana Lane mysteries, with your latest release CHINA DOLL by Joe Cosentino, published by The Wild Rose Press.

CHINA DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery, by Joe Cosentino
published by The Wild Rose Press
The Wild Rose Press
Amazon   Omnilit      B&N

Jana Lane is back on Broadway in 1984—starring in a murder mystery. Life imitates art when members of the company are murdered. As Jana investigates, it’s clear she may be the next victim. Complicating matters is Jana’s uncontrollable infatuation with her leading man, gorgeous and muscular Off-Broadway actor Peter Stevens. Will Jana find the murderer before the curtain comes down on her?

Praise for SATIN DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery:

“A book that will captivate any reader! A page turner that won’t let you go! This is one author you can always depend on to publish a good read!!” Stormy Nights Reviewing

“Joe Cosentino is a brilliant mastermind when creating the perfect mystery series. In each novel in this intriguing series of his, Jana Lane Mysteries, readers are blown away by his writing. The instant readers jump into Joe Cosentino’s fictional world, the danger feels real, the suspense is killing, and the plot moves so fast. Action, lights, camera!” “A fast-paced murder mystery that readers will easily fall in love with…and one they can’t live without. Overall, I highly recommend this new title in the Jana Lane Mysteries and look forward to the next best adventure from Joe Cosentino.” Danielle Urban, Universal Creativity Inc.

Praise for PORCELAIN DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery:

“Porcelain Doll is Joe Cosentino at his finest. We are drawn back to the fashions and attitudes of the 1980’s in a character-driven story full of intrigue and passion.” Kirsty Vizard, Divine Magazine

“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

“Murder, mystery, and suspense are high inside of this brilliant masterpiece by Joe Cosentino.” “Every page fills the readers with intrigue.” “Edge of your seat mystery that lures readers instantly.” “Once you read it, you can’t put it down.” Danielle Urban Universal Creativity Inc.

Praises for PAPER DOLL, the first Jana Lane mystery:

“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

“If you like novels that are filled with new and old Hollywood, and a range of sub-plots, you are going to love this!” Saguaro Moon Reviews

“I liked that there was enough evidence for each of the suspects to keep me guessing until the very end.” Molly Lolly Reviews

“Joe Cosentino knows how to keep his readers’ interest with every page.” Universal Creativity Digital Magazine

“Mr. Cosentino has produced a masterpiece of mystery” “The story gripped me from the start and there were enough twists and turns, with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure, to keep hold of me until the end of the book.” “Great book, can’t wait for book 2.” Readers’ Favorite

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, and China Doll and the upcoming Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, and the upcoming Drama Cruise (Lethe Press); the Cozzi Cove beach series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back and Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (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.

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