Interview with mystery author Joanne Lessner

Today’s guest is mystery author Joanne Lessner. She’s here to talk to us about a couple of her novels that she’s currently touring: The Temporary Detective and Bad Publicity.

Joanne will be giving
away one e-book copy of her novel Pandora’s
, inspired by the world’s most expensive bottle of wine at each stop to a lucky commentor. And there’s also a grand
prize of a $25 Amazon gift card to be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during
the tour. So, to be entered for a chance to win either or both of these prizes, make sure to leave an e-mail with your comment below so Joanne can get in touch with you. And for more chances to win, visit other tour stops and leave comments there.

Joanne Sydney
Lessner is the author of BloodWrites award-winner and Awesome Indies Mystery
Pick The Temporary Detective, which
introduces Isobel Spice, aspiring actress and resourceful office temp turned
amateur sleuth. Isobel’s adventures continue in Bad Publicity

Joanne’s debut novel, Pandora’s Bottle (Flint Mine Press), which was inspired by the true
story of the world’s most expensive bottle of wine, was named one of the top
five books of 2010 by Paperback Dolls. 

No stranger to the theatrical world,
Joanne enjoys an active performing career, and with her husband,
composer/conductor Joshua Rosenblum, has co-authored several musicals,
including the cult hit Fermat’s Last
 and Einstein’s Dreams,
based on the celebrated novel by Alan Lightman. Her play, Critical Mass, received its Off Broadway premiere in October 2010
as the winner of the 2009 Heiress Productions Playwriting Competition.
Welcome, Joanne. Please tell us about
your current release.
The Temporary Detective is the first installment in a series
featuring Isobel Spice, aspiring actress/office temp turned amateur sleuth.
Isobel’s adventures continue in Bad
, which just came out in April. The series follows Isobel from job
to job, solving murders along the way, but it will also trace her attempts to
break into show business. Isobel is aided in her various quests by her temp
agent, James Cooke, who is struggling with his own career as he tries to stay
sober; two new actor friends, Delphi and Sunil; and her precocious younger
brother, Percival, who is about to matriculate at Columbia at the ripe young
age of sixteen.
What inspired you to write this book?
Isobel, I arrived in New York fresh out of college and prepared to take
Broadway by storm. I did get there, but it took six years! In the meantime, I
built my resume, and, of course, I temped. I got fired from my first assignment
by an obnoxious secretary who complained that I yakked on the phone too much. (Guilty
as charged!) So I decided then and there to kill my nemesis on the page. But I
didn’t do it right away—I waited almost twenty years. I think the experiences
I’ve had and the stories I’ve collected in that time give me a perspective I
lacked when I was still in the middle of that part of my life. Plus, I’m a
better writer now.
“I wouldn’t go back if I thought there were an insane
murderer on the loose,” Isobel said. “On the contrary, whoever did this was
very sane. Let me tell you, I wanted to kill that woman after three hours.”
Delphi looked askance at Isobel. “You…didn’t, right?”
For some reason, Delphi asking her point-blank bothered her
less than James’s confused hinting. “Of course I didn’t. But I don’t blame you
for asking. You hardly know me.”
“It sounds like whoever did it also wanted to humiliate
her,” Sunil mused. “I mean, think about it. Captured for all eternity on the
“Could it have been somebody from outside who came in,
waylaid her in the bathroom, pulled the emergency bell and left?” Delphi asked.
Isobel shook her head. “She was such an unpleasant person
that it just doesn’t seem random.”
“Then you definitely should not go back there, paycheck or
no paycheck,” Delphi said.
Sunil nodded. “Delphi’s right.”
“You’re sweet to be so concerned, but I’ll be fine.” Isobel
smiled. “It was really nice meeting you both. Good luck with everything.”
“I think you need it more than we do,” Sunil said.
As Isobel rode south on the subway, sardined between a bike
messenger in need of deodorant and a young mother juggling twin toddlers, she
wondered whether to take her new friends’ advice. No job was worth risking her
life. But what about the other people at the bank? They were all continuing to
show up for work, weren’t they? They had no choice. They all had jobs to do.
Well, so did she. She needed the money. James didn’t have
anything else for her, and even if he did, he might not send her out again. She
still hadn’t proven herself, not really.
And that was what she had come to New York to do. Prove
What exciting story are you working on
Now that Bad Publicity is out (whew!), I’m hot on
the third Isobel book, And Justice For
. This one will be a little different in that the murder doesn’t happen
at Isobel’s place of employment. However, her current assignment, working for a
lawyer in solo practice, enables her to research the case. She and Delphi
witness the murder of a prominent judge and are implicated in his death at
first. But, Isobel being Isobel, she can’t let it drop even after they’ve been
When did you first consider yourself a
I’ve always
written. When I was in fourth grade, I wrote a murder mystery play. I recently
found it when my parents were cleaning out their basement, and my eleven
year-old daughter and I read it aloud in British accents. It was pretty awful!
I think I started calling myself a writer during my junior year in high school.
My dad brought his electric typewriter home from the office so I could type a
term paper. I was having so much fun hitting the keys (clearly, I didn’t get
out enough) that I rolled in another sheet and kept writing. Out came my first
novel. That turned up in my parents’ basement too, but I’m too chicken to read
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I don’t
write full-time, and the truth is I don’t think I’d want to. I have a short
attention span and multiple interests. It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally
come to terms with the fact that doing a bit of everything is what makes me
happy. So I jump in and out of writing, performing (I just gave a solo voice
recital and recorded two one-act operas), being a mom (that’s the full-time job!) and my day job, which is in public
relations. So it’s all a big juggling act, and I steal writing time whenever I
can, like now! But I’m fairly efficient, so somehow it all gets done.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
My husband
and I have written five musicals together, two of which have had full
productions in the U.S. and in Portugal (we’re very big in Lisbon). I write the
book, he writes the music, and we collaborate on the lyrics. This is what we do
for fun in my house.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
An actress!
Can’t you tell?
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
I’ve never solved a mystery (I always wanted to) or found a dead body (I never
wanted to), I have drawn on many of my own experiences from my early days in
New York. I hope readers will embrace the hybrid nature of the books, because
opening a window into the day-to-day life of a working actor is as important to
me as crafting a satisfying puzzle. As one friend said, “At last someone will
tell it like it is.” Any audition anecdote you read is pretty much certain to
have happened either to me or to someone I know. I have a never-ending supply
of hilarious and humiliating stories. That well isn’t going to run dry anytime
Bad Publicity Buy
Paperback | Kindle | Nook | Kobo
The Temporary
Detective Buy Links:
Paperback | Kindle | Nook | Kobo

Thanks, Joanne. And Readers, don’t forget: Joanne will be giving away one e-book copy of her novel Pandora’s Bottle, inspired by the world’s most expensive bottle of wine at each stop to a lucky commentor. And there’s also a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card to be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. So, to be entered for a chance to win either or both of these prizes, make sure to leave an e-mail with your comment below so Joanne can get in touch with you. And for more chances to win, visit other tour stops and leave comments there.

6 thoughts on “Interview with mystery author Joanne Lessner

  1. Mary Preston says:

    I am looking forward to following Isobel Spice, great name, around as she does her thing. It's a clever idea for a series.


  2. Joanne Lessner says:

    Thanks for hosting me today! I enjoyed the questions. And, for the record, if anyone questions Percival starting Columbia at 16, my son, who was the inspiration for Percival, started taking Computer Science classes at Columbia at 16 🙂

  3. Andra Lyn says:

    I love that you do a bit of everything. SOunds like a life I'd like to lead even if it's a bit out of the norm!

    andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *