PW: Wollie, the tall blonde sleuth of Dating Is Murder, has dated a lot of men while solving crimes. Now she appears on a reality TV dating show, Biological Clock. What's next, The Bachelor or Survivor?
Harley Jane Kozak: You know, I think that we all have only one reality show in us, and Wollie's was Biological Clock. Of course, that's just a theory.
PW: Have you ever considered auditioning for one?
HJK: Oh, sure. Ditch my husband and kids and go eat live rats on a desert island? When they have a reality show for married vegetarians who are complete physical cowards, I suppose I might.
PW: Isn't Wollie a lot like you?
HJK: I think every character is some reflection of the writer. Wollie lives a lot in her head, but she's forced out into the world. I'm an adventurous person only under duress. I wrote most of the first book [Dating Dead Men] when I was single and really looking for true love. I still have a very romantic view of life and Wollie maintains that view, even in a gritty neighborhood under gritty circumstances. That's definitely me, although [laughing] I'm certainly not as tall, blonde or voluptuous.
PW: Why is Wollie a greeting card designer?
HJK: I like the relationship between the day job and the sort of dream life that comes out in her greeting cards. I also like the fact that being a graphic artist gives you no obvious qualification to solve crimes. I wanted her not to be an action adventure star, just an ordinary person in an extraordinary adventure.
PW: Why is the disappearance of Annika [a German au pair/production assistant] the primary puzzle in Dating Is Murder?
HJK: It took 10 years to write my first book. When Doubleday said they wanted the next one in 12 months, I knew I couldn't do the same meandering research; I would have to cut to the chase and I looked around at my house, surrounded by children—the oldest now five and twins, almost three—and a German au pair, and I thought that could be interesting.
PW: Did Martha Stewart inspire Maizie, the suburban übermom who employs Annika?
HJK: When I started the second book, I was amused at myself for trying to cook soup from scratch and realized there's this sort of demonic Martha Stewart inside me, so Maizie is also me. Here I was trying to be the perfect host mom to my au pair, then Martha got into her troubles and then I began to feel bad. It's a parody of her, but I'm such a fan.
PW: What's next?
HJK: There's a third book in my head and a book I have on the shelf [for another series]. There's been film interest but no studio financing yet. I'm working with someone to develop it as a TV series. Things move very slowly in Hollywood. I've been around it as an actress for so long, I'm not really daunted by it; however, if I wasn't too old to join the FBI, I'm sure I'd join—just for research!
PW: How does the acting discipline inform your writing?
HJK: You have to show up as often as possible. I have to go on a lot of auditons to get a job and I have to do a lot of drafts before I come up with something that I feel like showing to someone. Both acting and writing show a reverence for the written word.