The Writer's View: Joanne Sydney Lessner

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Joanne will be giving away the following prizes: At each stop, one ebook copy of her novel Pandora's Bottle, inspired by the world's most expensive bottle of wine. A grand prize of a $25 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the banner to see the other stops on the tour.

I Happen to Like New York
By Joanne Sydney Lessner

If you look out my window, you’ll see a fairly typical street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with leafy trees overhanging a row of identical converted brownstones. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to live in New York City. I grew up in Newburgh, New York, a Hudson River town about sixty miles north— close enough for regular visits to my grandparents, but tantalizingly out of reach for the acting classes I was dying to take. We had moved to Newburgh from Westchester when I was eight, and at the time I made my parents promise that our next move would be to the city. They kept their word, but it took them almost forty years to leave that house. By the time they retired here, I’d been a New Yorker for two decades.

Living in New York City has lived up to my expectations—and then some. One thing I never anticipated was the extent to which my early years pounding the pavement as an actress would influence my writing. Isobel Spice, the heroine of my novels The Temporary Detective and Bad Publicity, arrives in the city eager to take Broadway by storm, but she finds it even harder to land a temp job than it is to get an audition. Like Isobel, I showed up in New York fresh out of college with no office experience, and it took all my charm and ingenuity to strong-arm a kind-hearted temp agent into giving me a chance. Unlike Isobel, however, I never stumbled across a dead body on the job—although I have to confess, there have been a few co-workers I was tempted to bump off over the years. But since I never relished the idea of doing time, I decided it was safer to kill them in fiction. So far I’ve dispatched an impossible-to-please client and the secretary who got me fired from my first temp job for talking on the phone too much. I’m like Ko-Ko in The Mikado: I’ve got a little list.

The Temporary Detective series follows Isobel as she goes from job to job solving mysteries. As fun as it is to devise whodunits, however, my favorite thing about writing the books is drawing on my life in New York. Although many things have changed since I first moved here, there are certain constants in the life of any aspiring artist: finding affordable housing—often with strangers; juggling work that pays the rent with work that feeds the soul; and making a community for yourself. I’ve lived in the city for almost twenty-five years now and am raising my kids here. They love being born and bred New Yorkers, although neither of them is inclining toward the theatrical. That’s fine with me. It’s a difficult life. But I can’t help thinking that their experiences living in this propulsive, compulsive, never-sleeping city will inform whatever it is they choose to do, just as it has for me.

About the Author:
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 Tango 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.

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Phones, light typing...and murder.

Think breaking into show business is hard? Try landing a temp job without office skills. That's the challenge facing aspiring actress Isobel Spice when she arrives in New York City, fresh out of college and deficient in PowerPoint. After being rejected by seven temp agencies for her lack of experience, Isobel sweet-talks recruiter James Cooke into letting her cover a last-minute vacancy at a bank. New to his own job, and recently sober, James takes a chance on Isobel, despite his suspicion that she's a trouble-magnet. His misgivings are borne out by lunchtime, when she stumbles across a dead secretary in a bathroom stall. With her fingerprints on the murder weapon, Isobel sets out to prove her innocence by investigating the crime herself. While learning to juggle phone lines and auditions, she discovers an untapped talent for detective work--a qualification few other office temps, let alone actresses, can claim.

Buy The Temporary Detective
                Paperback                    Kindle                 Nook                      Kobo

Buy Bad Publicity
                Paperback                    Kindle                   Nook                         Kobo


Mary Preston said…
I'd love to visit New York City. It's on my travel wish list. I expect it to be very exciting. I'm glad you got to live there as you wanted.

Thank you for hosting
Joanne Lessner said…
Thanks for hosting, and for posing such an interesting prompt! Your topic gave me much food for reflection.
Ingeborg said…
I love the post on New York, thank you.

MomJane said…
This sounds like such a fun book, and then series. I love New York too.
Andra Lyn said…
I love New York. There's just this energy there that really exists nowhere else.

andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com