About The Author
Where are you from?
I was born in New York City, grew up in Newburgh, New York along the Hudson, and have lived my whole adult life back in the Big Apple.
Tell us your latest news?
I recently took a dive back onto the professional stage after a hiatus to write and raise my kids. I played Rosie in Mamma Mia!at Weston Playhouse in Vermont, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had onstage. At the moment, I'm working on the libretto to a new musical based on the classic play Stage Door by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman, which was commissioned by London’s Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
When and why did you begin writing?
When I was in high school, my dad brought home his electric typewriter from the office so I could type a term paper. I had so much fun using the typewriter that I put in another sheet when I was finished and started writing a novel (unfinished and lost in the mists of time to my parents’ basement.)
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s when I first privately considered myself a writer, but I first called myself a writer when my husband and I wrote our first musical together, an adaptation of Arabian Nights. We did several workshops of it, so that felt legitimate in that people could actually experience my writing.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Offed Stage Left is my fifth published novel. My first book was Pandora’s Bottle, which is not part of the Isobel Spice mystery series but has a really good story behind it. It was inspired by an actual incident that took place during a wine-tasting at the Four Seasons. A bottle of 1787 Chateau Margaux valued at half a million dollars and allegedly once owned by Thomas Jefferson went crashing to the floor. All the assembled oenophiles started licking up the spilled wine off the carpet, which I thought was bizarre and hilarious and got me wondering what kind of people would do that. SoPandora’s Bottleimagines a whole story about the man who loses his investment, the girl he’s trying to impress, the waiter who drops the wine, and the restaurateur who’s exploiting the uncorking as a bid for publicity. It’s about how they all have so much invested in this one event, and when it all goes wrong they have to reexamine their identities as well as their priorities. That makes it sound serious, but the novel is pretty darkly funny.
Do you have a specific writing style?
One of my friends described it as breezy and intellectual. The latter is more applicable to my music journalism than my fiction, but it’s a pretty accurate description of my sensibility.
How did you come up with the title?
For Offed Stage Left, I really struggled, because there are so many theatrical mysteries out there and all the obvious titular puns have been used already. The truth is, I put out a call on Facebook for possible titles and my friend Peter Büchi came up with this one. People have responded very positively to it.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not in Offed Stage Left. It’s meant to be good, old-fashioned escapist fun, which I think we all need now more than ever!
What would you like my readers to know?
I love hearing from and interacting with readers, so if you’ve read any of my books or have any questions, please reach out! My contact information is on my website http://joannesydneylessner.com.