By Mark McNease/Editor
It was inevitable that I’d have more questions for author Joe Cosentino, one of the most prolific writers I know. I still haven’t figured out when he sleeps. I’d asked him ‘6 Questions’ last June, when his first Nicky and Noah mystery, Drama Queen, was published by Lethe Press. Since then Joe has had several more publications, including the recently released Drama Muscle, his second book in the Nicky and Noah series. Joe, welcome back to lgbtSr.
JC: Thank you, Mark. It’s great to be back. You have been such an inspiration and support system to me. I really appreciate it.
MM: The first time we talked, Drama Queen had just come out from Lethe Press. How was it received, and were you expecting the reactions you got?
JC: I had such great fun plotting the clues and surprise ending in Drama Queen. I’ll admit I laughed out loud when writing it, and I fell in love with Nicky and Noah as they fell in love with each other. So I was thrilled when readers embraced Nicky and Noah. Reviewers called Drama Queen “hysterically funny farce,” “Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys,” “and a captivating whodunit with a surprise ending.” One reviewer said it was “the funniest book of the year!” Who am I to argue? As you know, in Drama Queen college theatre professors were dropping like stage curtains and amateur sleuths/college theatre professors Nicky and Noah had to use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit. When the ebook reached the Amazon bestsellers list in its category and the paperback and audiobook (with all twenty-four roles played by Michael Gilboe) sold like tickets to Broadway’s Hamilton, I jumped up and down like a cat on a trampoline.
MM: For readers who may have missed the previous interview or who are new to your books, what was the inspiration for Nicky and Noah?
JC: As a kid I had insomnia and what put me to sleep was reading cozy mysteries. I’ve read hundreds since then and have been surprised that so few have gay leading characters. I also come from a large, very funny Italian family. As you know I started out as an actor, and am currently a college Theatre professor/department head. I put all those things together to create the Nicky and Noah mysteries.
The Nicky and Noah mysteries are set in an Edwardian style university founded originally by a gay couple (Tree and Meadow) whose name the university bears: Treemeadow College. The setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, there are enough plot twists and turns to keep the pages turning, and at the center is a touching gay romance between Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza and Assistant Professor of Acting Noah Oliver. The Nicky and Noah mysteries are the kind of books I like reading: funny, theatrical, sexy, wild, and wacky with a solid mystery at its center. Nicky has such amazing wit, perseverance in the face of adversity, and smarts. I love his sense of determination in not only nabbing the murderer, but also getting his man—Noah. Nicky knows what he wants and how to get it. He is genuinely concerned for others, and he wants to help them. He also has no problem taking on the role of hero. Finally, he is a one-man man, and Nicky is proud to admit that man is Noah Oliver.
My colleagues kid me that if anybody at my college ticks me off, I kill him/her in the series? Hah.
MM: How does the second book, Drama Muscle, connect to and continue from the first? And are you still planning on them taking a Drama Cruise?
JC: In Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out who is murdering musclemen in the Bodybuilding Department. In the novel Nicky is directing bodybuilding students in Treemeadow College’s annual Bodybuilding competition on campus. Bodybuilding students and faculty drop faster than barbells until Nicky figures out the identity of the murderer, as well as Noah’s secret revolving around Van Granite, one of the bodybuilding professors. Noah’s hysterically funny parents visit from Wisconsin and are drawn into the action, and Nicky and Noah reach a milestone by the end of the novel.
I have always been fascinated with bodybuilders. The concept of eating protein every two hours, lifting weights for three hours a day, shaving every body part, spray tanning, and posing in tiny gold trunks is amazing to me. What dedication! I quickly noticed the link between bodybuilding and theatre. So I realized the second Nicky and Noah mystery would take place in the Bodybuilding Department at Treemeadow College. Since the cast is comprised of so many musclemen, there is more sex than in Drama Queen.
In Drama Cruise (releasing in six months), Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show starring Noah onboard a cruise to Alaska. When bodies start dropping like anchors, it’s up to Nicky and Noah to figure out whodunit before they get done in themselves. Both sets of parents join the cruise, which leads to more hilarity.
MM: You’re a prolific author. Fill us in on your other books: the Jana Lane series, your romance novellas …
JC: 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. Jana ventures back to Hollywood to 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. In Porcelain Doll (releasing from The Wild Rose Press on March 16), 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, Jason Apollo. In Satin Doll (not yet released from The Wild Rose Press), 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 from The Wild Rose Press), 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 novels take place in the 1980’s, Jana’s agent and best friend are gay, and Jana is somewhat of a gay activist, the AIDS epidemic is a large part of the novels.
An Infatuation is loosely based on my high school years and attending my high school reunion. A Shooting Star is loosely based on my time as a theatre major in college. Both novellas did so well as e-books that Dreamspinner Press is publishing them together in paperback releasing March 21.
My holiday e-book novella from Dreamspinner Press, A Home for the Holidays, is loosely based on my amazing trip to the gorgeous and magical island of Capri, Italy.
In rereading my favorite fairytales, I asked myself, ‘Why couldn’t a peasant boy fall in love with a prince? Wouldn’t a tired, hungry, homeless blond boy seek refuge in a house with three bears? What was Pinocchio’s growing appendage really trying to tell him? Did Jack enjoy his time with the Giant more than he let on? Could the Snow Queen be a handsome, frigid prince? The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (releasing from Dreamspinner Press on January 27) is my gay take on my favorite fairytales.
Finally, I have a new series of novels set in a fictitious gay beach resort on the New Jersey Shore (where I spent my summers as a kid) called Cozzi Cove. NineStar Press is releasing Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back on March 14, and Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward on April 11.
My reader fans kid me that I write faster than they can read! Hah.
MM: You’ve won and been nominated for quite a few awards. That must be very satisfying. Can you tell us about some of them?
JC: OMG! I cheered and wept at the same time, kind of like Tammy Faye Baker, when I read that Drama Queen won Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for Favorite LGBT Mystery Novel, Crime Novel, Humorous Novel, and Contemporary Novel of 2015; An Infatuation won Second Place for Favorite LGBT Romance Novel of 2015, and I won Second Place for Favorite LGBT Author of 2015. Drama Queen, An Infatuation, and A Shooting Star are currently in the running for other sites’ favorite books of 2015 awards. Getting those nominations and awards, receiving 5-star reviews, and hearing from readers who love my books make all the hours of work worth it. It’s the applause, the manna from heaven, and is truly a gift that I receive in humility, deep appreciation, and with joy. As for people who write scathing reviews, if you don’t like a book, stop reading it and read and review something you like. It’s your karma.
MM: I’ll close with a writer’s question: promotion is something a lot of authors would love to not deal with, but you’ve been very good at it. What advice would you give other writers for getting their work out there, and how critical do you think promotion is to success?
JC: As you know I was a professional actor, working in film, television, and theatre opposite stars like Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T industrial), Nathan Lane (Roar of the Greasepaint onstage), Bruce Willis (A Midsummer Night’s Dream onstage), Charles Keating (NBC’s Another World), Jason Robards (Commercial Credit computer commercial), and Holland Taylor (ABC’s My Mother Was Never a Kid TV movie). I learned as an actor that having talent, a strong work ethic, and a sense of direction are crucial. However, the most talented person in the world won’t get an audience by performing in his or her living room (unless the living room is very big-hah). In order to share your talent, you need to get your work out there. As a college professor/department head who writes in the evenings, I don’t have a great deal of time to do promotion, and I don’t believe in spending money on ads and other forms of publicity. So I try to use the limited time I have well by working with good publishers, getting my work out to reviewers on good sites who post reviews, and mostly do interviews like this, which I really enjoy.
What I would love to see happen next are indie films of my romance novellas, and TV series of The Nicky and Noah Mysteries, The Jana Lane Mysteries, and Cozzi Cove. Can’t you just see Matt Bomer and Neil Patrick Harris as Nicky and Noah? I want to play the department head. Can you make that happen? Hah.
MM: Thanks for another ‘6 Questions’ Joe! You’ve been an inspiration, and your energy is infectious.
JC: Right back at you, Mark. Thank you!
Keep reading for more about Joe and 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!
Congratulations to DRAMA QUEEN for winning Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Mystery, Best Crime, Best Humorous, Best Contemporary novel of 2015!
Praise for DRAMA MUSCLE:
“Joe Cosentino has done it again! He has created another brilliant masterpiece for us all. A cozy sleuth mystery combined with humor and attractive themes.” Danielle Urban, Universal Creativity Inc.
“Book 1, Drama Queen was always going to be a hard act to follow with its belly ache laughter approach but in this “smirkathong” – yes I was smirking throughout the book, my top lip still aches – the author succeeded in delivering another comic classic!” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“A perfect balance of humor and romance into a continuously twisting plot.” “Cosentino will keep you entertained and guessing until the very end.” 3 Chicks After Dark
More About Joe
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 (NineStar 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). Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015.
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com|