For actress turned full time author Harley Jane Kozak,
August 2007 will be remembered as a bittersweet time.
She is a single mother of three children and is in
the process of getting a divorce from a nine year
marriage. Yet her latest Wollie Shelley dating mystery
series has been recently released to rave reviews by
mainstream literary critics and she has begun a
national tour to promote her book.
In a twist of cruel fate, the title of Harley's new book is
"Dead Ex," a title selected a year before she found out
she was going to be divorced.
Harley's first Wollie Shelley mystery
begins with "Dating Dead Men." Wollie is a Los
Angeles greeting card artist who is dating forty men
in sixty days as part of a social science research
project. When one of Wollie's former dates is
murdered and one of her suspects is her brother, a
paranoid schizophrenic. At six feet tall, busty and
blond, Wollie becomes an endearing heroine with a
mixture of Bridget Jones and Goldie Hawn from "Foul
"Dating is Murder" is Harley's funny follow up
novel. While Wollie is moonlighting on a reality
television show titled "Biological Clock," her
friend Annika disappears. While sleuthing on her own,
Wollie gets entangled with the F.B.I. while trying to
host a Thanksgiving Dinner for her eccentric family.
Another comic highlight "Dating is Murder" features
poor Wollie getting stuck in a bathroom window while
evading the police. While laugh out loud funny, this
sequence features a spunky heroine that most guys
would love to rescue.
While "Dead Ex" is Wollie's 3rd book, it was not the
original project Harley began writing. According to
“My publisher needed to see how the first 2 books were
selling before committing to a 3rd. So while we were
all waiting and watching, I began working on a "Joey" book, Joey being
Wollie's best friend and in some ways more suited to a series.
After 150 pages or so, my publisher asked for 2 more Wollie books, so
I shelved Joey and wrote "Dead Ex." I'm now working on the
Joey is the media prime suspect of "Dead Ex,"
Harley's most ambitious novel to date. While trying
to negotiate her relationship with her boyfriend,
Wollie also must deal with her brother's paranoia
about leaving a mental institution. With her
greeting card business struggling, Wollie takes a part
time gig as a soap opera correspondent. Through
writer's alchemy, "Dead Ex" manages to reveal a
relationship between soap opera cheesiness and the
erudite writings of the Greek Writers before Christ;
Plato, Aristotle and Homer.
It has often been said that good writers write what
they know, Harley Jane Kozak knows a lot of things and
has shared a lot of experiences. The youngest daughter
of eight children, Harley's father, Joseph, passed
away when she was a baby. Her mother, Dorothy, was a
music professor who eventually settled in Nebraska.
Harley grew up in an educational theatrical
environment and was a frequent guest on her mom's
educational television show, "Music with Mrs.
After graduating from New York University's School of
the Arts, Harley worked steadily in a variety of
movies; from low budget slashers like "House on
Sorority Row" and "Dark Planet," soap operas
"Texas," "Santa Barbara** and "The Guiding
Light," to successful mainstream motion pictures; "When Harry
met Sally...," "Parenthood" and "Arachnophobia."
When asked if she would ever consider returning to the
front of the lens, Harley stated;
“No, but I never know what the future holds. If I meet
Frances Ford Coppola at the car wash and he asks me
to do "Godfather 4" with him, am I going to say no?
Yet, it is ironic that her publisher, Doubleday, has
missed a golden marketing opportunity with their
actress turned author. When asked if she was going to
be performing the voice over for her books, Harley
“...that's a whole separate entity and they have a
very nice voice reading it. I'm not sure any of the
know I used to be an actress (and even an audiobook
As older daughter Audrey begins second grade and her
twins Louie and Gia start kindergarten in in September,
Harley will enter a new chapter in her life as a
single mother with more time as a full time author.
Unlike the acting profession where one waits for the
telephone to ring, Harley revealed to me the best
benefit about a writing career;
“One can write at any time and any place.”