Harley Jane Kozak is an actress whose screen credits include Parenthood, The Favor, and Arachnophobia. If that isn’t enough to keep her busy, she ventured into novel writing a few years ago, creating the most engaging female protagonist in the person of Wollie Shelley. Wollie designs greeting cards but spends most of her time trying to stay out of trouble. The four novels featuring Wollie are laugh-out-loud funny. Harley recently spoke at the Orange Branch of the
Writers Club about her acting and writing career. Later we chatted about her interesting life. California
JF: Before you became a novelist you had a successful movie and television career. How did that come about?
HK: The usual way: practice, practice, practice! I started acting at the age of five (in North Dakota), continued through high school (in Nebraska), graduated from NYU School of the Arts, waited tables, did five years on the soaps, moved to L.A., and just kept working. I’ve done about 50 plays, and dozens of films, TV series, and commercials.
JF: When did you decide to write your first book, Dating Dead Men? Did you realize how funny it would be?
HK: I started in the mid-90’s while on a movie set and no, I didn’t know it would be funny. I was trying for literary fiction. Something profound. And then a dead body showed up, and, well. . .
JF: When I first met Wollie, I thought, move over Stephanie Plum, there’s a new girl on the scene. Wollie’s such a lovable character. You’ve been compared to Janet Evanovich. What is that like?
HK: It is VERY flattering. I’ve loved Janet E. since One for the Money. I got to interview her for a feature article and she was fascinating. And funny. And generous. Years later she was kind enough to blurb one of my books. I had to stop reading her early on, though, because I'm an inadvertent mimic and I didn’t want to unconsciously steal from her.
JF: Your readers will learn a lot about the movie and television industry through your books. Is it really quite as difficult as it seems?
HK: Far more difficult, but with less murder. But really, if it were easy, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?
JF: Do your future plans include more novels about Wollie, more movies/TV, or both?
HK: No novels about Wollie are in the near future, although I do know what happens to her after Book Four and could, if you twisted my arm, write more about her; and yes, after a 15-year hiatus to raise my three kids (now teenagers) I’m acting again. It’s a lot more fun and less stressful, now that I’ve outgrown the leading lady category. I’m also writing my sixth novel, when I’m not driving someone to soccer practice or cross-country. My fifth novel was a paranormal romance, which was quite a departure from Wollie, who never had to deal with elves or spells or teleportation. So yes, I am that person who is trying to Have It All.
For more information about Harley’s latest adventures visit her website at: