Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Joe Cosentino – Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote Drama Queen and Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah mysteries (Lethe Press), An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (Nine Star Press), Paper Doll (Whiskey Creek Press) and Porcelain Doll (Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries, and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Satin Doll and China Doll Jana Lane mysteries (Wild Rose Press), and Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (Nine Star Press)..
Thanks so much, Joe, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
Joe Cosentino: As for genre, I’ve written MM romance (AN INFATUATION, A SHOOTING STAR, and A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS from Dreamspinner Press), gay fairytales (THE NAKED PRINCE AN OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND on preorder now releasing from Dreamspinner Press on January 27), and the acclaimed gay comedy mystery series (DRAMA QUEEN and DRAMA MUSCLE Nicky and Noah mysteries from Lethe Press). I’ve been told my books read like plays or screenplays. This doesn’t surprise me since I began as an actor working with stars like Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Jason Robards, Charles Keating, and Holland Taylor. So I guess my style is quite theatrical—like me. My whole family is dramatic. As a teenager, when I told my mother I wanted to be an actor, she said, “Take this knife and stick it through my heart!”
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
JC: I still remember getting the email from Dreamspinner Press with the good news that they were publishing my first novella, AN INFATUATION. My spouse and I jumped up and down. It began as a one-act play, which I expanded and morphed into a novella. The story is personal and important to me, so I wanted to get everything just right. Happily gay married Harold goes to his ten-year high school reunion and finds his high school studly infatuation, Mario, is no longer in the closet. The story spans twenty years. It includes flashbacks, flashes to the future, humor, romance, drama, a tearful section, and an ultimately happy ending for Harold. Readers told me that novella changed their lives. They begged for another In My Heart novella. Since AN INFATUATION was loosely based on my high school years, I wrote an In My Heart novella loosely based on my college years as a theatre major: A SHOOTING STAR. They did so well as e-books that Dreamspinner Press is publishing them together as a paperback releasing March 21.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
JC: I approach my writing in the same way as acting. I start by writing character biographies and ask questions about each character. Who do they love, hate, fear? What do they want? What is standing in the way of them getting what they want? What was their history? As I did as an actor, I get them talking to one another and the magic happens. They say the most amazing things! I write an outline, but I deviate from it constantly. My spouse reads my second draft then I write my third draft, which goes to the publisher.
JSC: How do you get your ideas?
JC: I go to sleep at night with a pad and pencil on my night table. When I wake up in the morning, my head is full of ideas. Since I was an actor, playwright, and director, it’s not a surprise that many of my ideas are theatrical in nature. As a college professor/department head, it also isn’t too surprising that many of my plots have to do with the wacky world of academia. Since I come from a funny Italian family, humor constantly makes its way into my books. As for writing, I have a terrific home study with a window seat, fireplace with a cherry wood mantel (like Martin Anderson in the first Nicky and Noah mysteries), a huge cherry wood desk, and cherry wood bookshelves. I’ve always had quite an imagination, so writing THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND was great fun. My mother said, “You always made up wild stories. It’s nice that other people have to hear them now too!”
JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
JC: I co-starred with Holland Taylor in an ABC-TV movie in 1982 called MY MOTHER WAS NEVER A KID that we shot in Toronto. I played a teen who drove around in a hotrod
JSC: What was the first speculative fiction book (sci fi, paranormal, fantasy, horror) that you ever read? How did it influence you?
JC: I read fairytales constantly as a kid, and I still do. That explains a lot. Hah. So I wrote my own take on a number of famous fairytales (Cinderella, Pinocchio, Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, and the Snow Queen) in my THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND releasing by Dreamspinner Press as an e-book on January 27 and currently available for preorder. The stories are funny, romantic, touching, adventurous, and definitely gay.
JSC: If you were stuck on a desert island all alone with only three things, what would they be?
JC: My spouse who always takes care of me, Martha Stewart to plant food/cook/make nice things, and Zeb Atlas to look at.
JSC: Which of your own characters would you Kill? Fuck? Marry? And why?
JC: In the Nicky and Noah comedy mystery series, there are five murders per book. My colleagues at my college kid me that if they say something I don’t like I will murder them in a book. So I’ve killed lots of characters in the Nicky and Noah series and in the Jana Lane mystery series too. They always say your first is your favorite. So I think my favorite character to kill was the first victim in DRAMA QUEEN. You’ll see why if you read it or listen to the audiobook performed by the amazing Michael Gilboe.
Sex! Yikes! Okay, Mario in AN INFATUATION, David in A SHOOTING STAR, and Paolo in A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (my Capri romance novella) are handsome, muscular, masculine guys with a tortured secret. Brian, Jana’s husband, in the Jana Lane mystery series is a hunky landscaper. And of course Nicky, the college theatre professor who uses his theatre skills to solve murders in the Nicky and Noah mysteries. Nicky has a certain special attribute. If you read DRAMA QUEEN and DRAMA MUSCLE, you’ll find out!
For marriage, Harold’s husband Stuart in AN INFATUATION and Jonathan’s scene partner Barry in A SHOOTING STAR are both patterned after my spouse. They are sweet, extremely organized, witty, and totally devoted. Everyone loves those characters. So do I. They come from the heart!
JSC: Do you have any strange writing habits or superstitions?
JC: Since I’m a college professor/department head, I write in the evenings. Being a little tired helps loosen my creative energies and flow. I never censor myself. Plus my spouse has gone to bed, so the house is quiet.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
JC: I am much more loose when I write romance or fairytales. My outlines are quite short, and I let the characters take me where they want to go. For the mysteries, I start at the end with the shocking ending and work backwards in the outline to place the clues, red herrings, plot twists and turns, reversals, etc. Those outlines are pretty complete.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
JC: The response to DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery, from Lethe Press has been amazing. Readers love the wacky humor and being kept guessing until the end. They seem to be falling in love with Nicky and Noah as the two college theatre professors fall in love with one another. People also like the quaint, cozy, Edwardian, New England college campus, originally owned by Tree and Meadow, a gay couple. They also like that it is available as an ebook, paperback, and audiobook by the very talented Michael Gilboe who does all twenty-four voices beautifully. So I wrote two more books in that series for release in 2016. In DRAMA QUEEN (released in 2015), Nicky and Noah had to uncover why college theatre professors were dropping like stage curtains while Nicky directed the college play production—a murder mystery. In DRAMA MUSCLE (released January 2), Nicky and Noah have to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition (need I say more!). In DRAMA CRUISE (releasing in six months), Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship. I have an idea for a fourth, DRAMA ALOHA.
As a child I loved child stars like Shirley Temple, Hayley Mills, and Patty Duke, seeing their movies over and over. So I created a heroine who was the biggest child star ever until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. In PAPER DOLL (Whiskey Creek Press), Jana at thirty-eight lives with her family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Her flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in her future. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. She also embarks on a romance with the devilishly handsome son of her old producer, Rocco Cavoto. Based on the good reviews, I wrote three more Jana Lane mystery novels, which have been contracted by The Wild Rose Press as ebooks and paperbacks for release in 2016. In PORCELAIN DOLL (releasing March 15) Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, America’s heartthrob Jason Apollo. The other suspects include Jana’s James Dean type young co-star, her older John Wayne type co-star, her children’s Eve Harrington type nanny, the film’s gossipy makeup and hair artist, a local reverend trying to stop the film’s production, and Jason’s agent. In SATIN DOLL (not yet released) Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana plays a US senator in a new film, and becomes embroiled in a murder and corruption at the senate chamber. She also embarks on a romance with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. In CHINA DOLL (not yet released), Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, enchanted by her gorgeous co-star Peter Stevens, and faced with murder on stage and off. Since the series takes place in the 1980’s, and Jana’s best friend and Jana’s agent are gay, issues around AIDS play an important role in the series. I want to play Jana’s agent in the movie!
I am currently writing a new series that takes place in a gay resort at the New Jersey Shore, COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK and COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD, both releasing from The Nine Star Press in 2016.
I love to hear from readers. Please contact me via my web site at http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
And now for Joe’s new book: Drama Muscle:
It could be lights out for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodybuilders popping up on campus, Nicky, and his favorite colleague/life partner Noah Oliver, must use their drama skills to figure out who is taking down pumped up musclemen in the Physical Education building before it is curtain down for Nicky and Noah.
Complicating matters is a visit from Noah’s parents from Wisconsin, and Nicky’s suspicion that Noah may be hiding more than a cut, smooth body. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining second novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and weights up!
As the ethereal sound of horns parted the heavenly clouds, the young gods and goddesses appeared in a ray of white light. Standing as strong as the stone columns behind them, the deities displayed stunning muscles, colossal beauty, and mammoth ambition housed in the smallest and most seductive of white garments. Lightning flashed as they formed a resilient line and each struck their first flawless pose. Zeus was dark-skinned and as powerful as thunder. Ganymede at his side had skin of white porcelain and a clever stare. Hercules and Adonis were the perfect blend of masculine vigor and physical splendor. Athena was a gorgeous, olive-skinned warrior, and Aphrodite a lovely, fair-skinned temptress. Achilles watched them all, vowing to be victorious in the end.
“Good work, everyone!”
That was me, Nicky Abbondanza, Professor of Directing at Treemeadow College, a white-stone Edwardian-style private college in the quaint and picturesque village of Treemeadow in the equally quaint and picturesque state of Vermont. As inscribed on the two bronze statues at the college’s entrance, the college’s name comes from its founders, Harold Tree and Jacob Meadow. Tree and Meadow were madly wealthy, madly generous, and madly in love. The old gents would no doubt be proud to know that Noah Oliver (Professor of Acting) and I have become a current generation couple at Treemeadow College. That’s not to say Noah and I look anything like our college’s founders. We aren’t made of bronze for one. We wear dress shirts, slacks, and blazers in the fall season rather than heavy dark suits. Also, the Treemeadows were small, thin, scholarly types. Noah and I are both tall. I am of the dark hair, long sideburns, Roman nose, pumped body (thanks to the gym on campus) variety. Oh, there’s one other small thing. Well, it’s not really small. To the delight or horror of my past boyfriends, I have a nine-and-a-quarter-inch penis—flaccid. Luckily, Noah is delighted and totally open (pardon the pun) to new adventures. Noah has luxurious curly-blond hair, batting blue eyes, and the warmest heart in New England. His body is firm and smooth, but not toned as he never goes near the gym—until now!
Each year the top students in the Bodybuilding Department compete in a contest to be named the Top Toned Tan Trojan at Treemeadow (Try saying that three times fast). Actually, the real name is Treemeadow’s Annual Bodybuilding Competition. The winner receives an enormous gold cup, and more importantly, the year’s college tuition free. Given the rising cost of tuition at Treemeadow, this is no lightweight matter (pardon the pun again).
Bodybuilding Department Head Professor Brick Strong asked my Theatre Department Head, Martin Anderson, if Noah and I could use our theatrical expertise to add a dramatic flair to this year’s bodybuilding competition. Since I was not directing a play that semester, Martin agreed to give Noah and me release time, thereby changing our mantra from “Let’s put on a show” to “I’m gonna pump you up.” That led to Noah and me hauling lighting, smoke, sound, and set equipment, along with a number of skimpy Greek period costumes, from the Theatre Department building to the Physical Education building. The plan was that I, as a directing professor, would direct the production, and Noah, as an acting professor, would work with the student-athletes on stage presence for their individual poses.
“Okay everyone, Professor Oliver will take it from here.” I stepped aside and leaned against the gym wall.
Noah flicked back his gorgeous blond locks and took my place in front of the students like a new king taking the throne after a revolution. Sounding delectably butch, he said, “Let’s take a little time to discuss each of your characters. The Greek period was a—”
“That’s the period we’ve selected for the competition in terms of characters, set, and costumes,” I said.
Noah smiled in my direction.
I think Noah and I are the perfect couple. “Rodney, we know that your character, Zeus, was the father of gods and men—” Rodney Towers was tall, dark, and massive with muscle. “—which is why your toga has a thunderbolt on it,” I said.
“I’m always happy to help,” I said.
“So I see.”
Lethe Press: Click Here
Amazon: Click Here
Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote Drama Queen and Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah mysteries (Lethe Press), An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (Nine Star Press), Paper Doll (Whiskey Creek Press) and Porcelain Doll (Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries, and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Satin Doll and China Doll Jana Lane mysteries (Wild Rose Press), and Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (Nine Star Press).
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com