Actress-author Carolyn Hennesy dishes on her two new books, daytime and primetime TV roles

Most writers only dream of one day hitting the New York Times best-seller list, let alone writing a book that will debut at number 10. Author-actress Carolyn Hennesy hit that particular milestone this month with her “General Hospital” tie-in tome, “The Secret Life of Damian Spinelli.” The only problem? The New York Times incorrectly listed her “GH” mob lawyer doppelganger Diane Miller as the book’s author. But thanks to her more than 27,000 followers on Twitter (who immediately began tweeting about it ) and one well-placed phone call to the Times, Hennesy is now officially listed as the book’s author.
Before her recent appearance on “The Mo’Nique Show” here in Atlanta, Hennesy relaxed over a cup of tea in The Living Room at the W in Midtown to dish with Intel on the book’s origins, down to the Atlanta restaurant-inspired cheese grits references in the book.
Last year, Hennesy was tapped by ABC to create “The Secret Life of Damian Spinelli.” In her spare time away from verbally sparring with the book’s geeky computer hacker namesake and defending Port Charles mob kingpin Sonny Corinthos on the soap, you see, Hennesy is the also the best-selling author behind the “Pandora” young adult series (Her fifth book in the series, “Pandora Gets Angry” hit store shelves earlier this year).
As Diane and Damian acted scenes this spring that would bring their bullet-riddled upstate New York town to life in “Secret Life,” Hennesy corrected a few discrepancies between what she wrote and the lines Diane was creating on-screen.
“At one point I stopped and said, ‘I didn’t write that.’ In the book, I wrote ‘cheesy grits,”” Hennesy recalled laughing. “Believe me, there’s a difference. I’ve eaten my way through Georgia on book tours here, so yes, it was important to get that correct. We write what we know. Thank you, Atlanta! Because I am a published author, it was a tiny stroke of genius to have the actress playing the character write the book too. For months, I walked up to my ‘General Hospital’ co-workers in the make up room and whispered, ‘You know, I’m writing a chapter about you in the book.’ I actually walked up to Jane Elliott [who plays wealthy Tracy Quartermaine] and said, ‘Would you mind acting out a scene for me as Tracy in an opium den?’ She loved it!””
At Hennesy’s book-signings, soap fans with kids are arriving at the author table with both “Secret Life” and “Pandora Gets Angry.” “I’ve always loved mythology in any and all of its forms,” Hennesy explained of the fifth book in the popular young adult series. “But I also love the tales of the Arabian Nights and wanted to incorporate that element into this book without plagiarizing, of course. I realized that the time line could match up with Pandy and her friends. I knew my characters had to see and visit these places in the new book.”
Hennesy is hard at work completing the “vexing” sixth book in the series due out next year, including a new goddess who materializes. “I’ve hit on something really fun,” she previews. “Let’s just say ‘Pandora’ readers might be seeing double next year!” For the tween girls (and more than a few boys) who obsess over each new “Pandora” book, there are lots of surprises along the way to satisfy long-time readers.
And while plenty of prime time actors are chewing their cuticles over this month’s network 2011/2012 TV season announcements,  “Cougartown” fans can rest easy. The ABC sitcom, complete with Hennesy as head cougar Barb, has already been renewed for next season.
“What’s not to love with Barb?” Hennesy said. “She comes into a scene, drops a comedy A-bomb and then she very Monty Python-esquely runs away!” Between scenes, Hennesy has created a colorful backstory in her head for the sexpot realtor. “Barb was either raised by the Amish or by circus folk. I’m still deciding which!”