WRITING A FIRST NOVEL IS LIKE GIVING BIRTH
by Joe Cosentino
The experts tell us to write what we know about, so I began my first novel by writing an outline (with actual paper and pencil) for a mystery/romance entitled Paper Doll. Since I watch old movies, my heroine, Jana Lane, is America’s most famous child star of the 1960’s, attacked on a Hollywood studio lot at eighteen years old. Twenty years later, as a thirty-eight-year-old mother of two living in a mansion in Hyde Park, New York, her flashbacks turn into murder attempts.
Given my love for the Hudson Valley, the novel includes locations like the FDR Home, Vassar College, and Hyde Park Elementary School.
In honor of my favorite authors, my novel has numerous suspects and clues with the murderer discovered at the conclusion a la Agatha Christie. As in Armistread Maupin’s Tales of the City books, my characters are quirky but believable and likeable. The suspects include Jana’s down-on-his-luck husband, Jana’s sister and Jana’s male best friend (who both have eyes for Jana’s husband), Jana’s has-been show business father, her deranged loyal fan, and Jana’s young Guy Friday who covets her fame and shares an uncanny resemblance to Jana. Like Mary Higgins Clark’s, my novel is a romantic page-turner. So Jana embarks on a romance with the son of her old studio producer, a handsome filmmaker planning Jana’s comeback professionally and personally.
Given my background as an actor, Jana visits her old Hollywood movie studio to investigate her attacks (past and present) and unmask the murderer. In the process, she uncovers a web of secrets about everyone she loves.
I wrote the outline in a few days, and the first draft in a month. The characters took on a life of their own, as they told me what they wanted to do and say. After I showed the first draft to a trusted reader, my rewriting commenced for months until the book was completed.
Holly McCabe designed a beautiful book cover, and Gerald Fierst and Jeff Walt reviewed the book (both raves) before publication and distribution on Amazon.com. Promoting the book on Facebook and Goodreads brought sales and good customer ratings. Interviews on blogs helped spread the word.
Bitten by the novelist bug, my second book, An Infatuation, (releasing by Dreamspinner Press in February) is a humorous and touching gay romance novella set in my hometown. With my background in children’s theatre, I wrote a children’s book, Nick the Nerd, chronicling a nerdy kid’s transformation into the legendary Santa Klaus. Finally, using my experience in college academia, I am currently writing, Drama Queen, a comedy/mystery/romance novel set in a New England college town.
Writing a novel is a bit like giving birth, incredibly difficult, but amazingly rewarding.
Joe Cosentino has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. He has written and directed many plays, and holds an MFA from Goddard College in Vermont. Currently he is Head of the Department of Performing, Visual Arts, and Communication/Professor of Speech and Theatre at a college upstate New York, where he created many new courses and programs and directed numerous plays. Visit his website at: JoeCosentino.weebly.com