Joe’s a regular visitor here at the blog, and I’m delighted to welcome him back again on the release of his new Nicky and Noah mystery, Drama Dance. This time, as well as telling us about the new book, which is the 8th in the series, I’ve interrogated Joe asked Joe a few pertinent questions about his writing. You can use the handy-dandy menu here to skip around the post.
Interview with author Joe Cosentino
Hello, Joe! It’s great to interview you in cyberspace.
Thank you. May the force be with us. (smile)
You’ve written over twenty-five books in five years. Are you a sorcerer?
No, and I’m not on the sauce either (smile). Another author once gave me great advice. It’s all about priorities. If writing is important to you, you’ll write. Since I’m a college theatre professor/department head (like Martin Anderson in my Nicky and Noah mystery series), I work during the daytime. So, I write at night after my spouse is asleep and the house is quiet—except for the owls in the woods outside our house. They seem to know when I’m writing and hoot up a storm in encouragement.
Why did you write a gay cozy comedy mystery series?
I come from a long line of funny Italian Americans who are great storytellers. There’s a rumor that my grandmother as a girl left her small town in Sicily to shotgun explosions. I guess some of the villagers didn’t like the stories she was telling about them. My family’s motto has always been, if someone doesn’t tell you about themselves, that’s license to make up a good story about them. (smile) I carried the storytelling gene by majoring in theatre at college. Then I went on to act opposite stars like Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T industrial), Nathan Lane (Roar of the Greasepaint musical 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). Finally, I began writing plays and ultimately writing novels. Since I’m a cozy mystery reading fanatic, and there are so few gay cozy mystery series out there, I was happy to fill the bill—or in this new novel, the dance belt.
Are the Nicky and Noah Mysteries set in the theatre department of a college because you are a college theatre professor/department head?
They say write what you know about. Besides, there isn’t anywhere with more humor, drama, mystery, and romance than a college theatre department.
Is Treemeadow College like your college?
Treemeadow (named after its founders, gay couple Tree and Meadow) is the place we’d all love to live and work (except for the murders there). It’s the perfect setting for a cozy mystery with its white Edwardian buildings, low white stone fences, lake and mountain views, and cherry wood offices with tall leather chairs and fireplaces. Vermont is a cozy state with its green pastures, white church steeples, glowing lakes, and friendly and accepting people.
Why did you pick The Nutcracker Ballet as Nicky and Noah’s college production in Drama Dance?
It’s my favorite ballet. Every December I sit at the edge of my seat in the theatre as Uncle Drosselmeyer (definitely a gay uncle since he gives the best presents) gives Clara the nutcracker. I cringe as her (clearly straight) brother Fritz breaks the nutcracker, and I sigh when Clara mends him. As the party is over, and the Christmas tree grows, I fall asleep with Clara and wake to her handsome Nutcracker in a red jacket and white (bulging) tights. After his duel with the Mouse King, Clara saves her Nutcracker and they take me with them to The Land of the Sweets (definitely a metaphor for Provincetown). Once the international sweets (visiting gays) are finished entertaining them, the Sugar Plum Fairy (need I say more) and her gorgeous Cavalier (again with bulging white tights), send Clara, the Nutcracker, and me off on a golden sleigh to wonderland. Who could ask for a better winter holiday treat?
Where do you write?
My home study is very much like Martin Anderson’s office at Treemeadow College, including a fireplace with a cherry wood mantel and a cherry wood desk and bookcase. I also have a window seat beneath a large window/gateway to the woods.
Do you write an outline before each book?
For a mystery, an outline is important to plot out all the clues and surprise reveals. I generally wake up at about 3am with a great idea and jot down some notes on the pad at my night table. It drives my husband nuts. If I can read the notes the next day, I draft the outline. Since I was an actor, I also write a long character biography for each character. Then I close my eyes and let the magic happen. As I see the scenes in front of me like a movie, and the characters start talking to each other in my head, I hit the computer. My spouse reads my second draft. After we argue, I write my third draft. The fourth draft is after notes from my editor, which I complain about bitterly but always make my work better.
Why do you write gay fiction?
As James Franco once said in an interview about his indie films, LGBT people have many interesting untold stories. Speaking of films, go to a mall and look at the row of big studio movie posters without any LGBT characters in them. Visit a bookstore and see cover after cover of only opposite sex love stories. Take a look at so many of our political and so-called religious leaders who raise money and gain power by demonizing LGBT people and trying (and often succeeding lately) to take away civil rights. I mourn for the young gay kids who consider suicide. So, I support organizations like the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Alliance, and I write stories that include LGBT people and themes. However, just as my Jana Lane Mysteries series with its straight leading characters and gay supporting characters has huge crossover appeal for gay people, my Nicky and Noah Mysteries series with its LGBT leading characters and straight supporting characters has a tremendous amount of crossover appeal for straight people. Most people like a clever mystery, sweet romance, quirky and endearing characters, plot twists and turns, and a shocking yet justifiable ending, regardless of the sexuality of the characters.
Speaking of James Franco, wouldn’t he make a great Nicky Abbondanza?
Totally! I would love to do a TV version of The Nicky and Noah Mysteries. I’ve written a teleplay of the first novel and treatments for the remaining novels. Come on, TV producers, make your offers!
You’ve written MM romance (six for Dreamspinner Press), an MM serial (the Cozzi Cove series for NineStar Press), an MM comedy mystery series (Nicky and Noah Mysteries), and a mainstream mystery series (the Jana Lane Mysteries for The Wild Rose Press). Which genre is the most difficult to write?
Writing a mystery series is like going to war (not that I’ve ever done that, thankfully.) I groan when I read a mystery that presents suspects and then randomly selects whodunit at the conclusion. You need to chart out every clue, red herring, and plot point. It’s important to decide when to release what information, use sleight of hand to camouflage the murderer, and create a totally justifiable conclusion. Also, a good mystery, like any novel, needs captivating and lovable characters, heart-pounding romance, a charming setting, and in our trying times a good dollop of laugh out loud humor.
Is it hard to write comedy?
Not for me. I’ve always thought funny. I remember as an actor when playing a dramatic scene, directors would tell me to stop making my role so funny. I didn’t realize I was doing it. I think I get this from my mother. For example, for Christmas one year my mother said, “Tell me exactly what gift you want, so you won’t return what I buy for you.” I replied, “I’d like a red shirt.” Mom answered, “I don’t like red. I’ll get you a blue one.”
Nicky’s hysterically funny side quips to the reader often include swipes in the political and religious arenas. How do you get away with that?
Readers love it, and I’m able to vent my frustrations in a positive way.
What have you learned about reviews?
I always encourage readers to post a reader rating and review on Amazon, Goodreads, and Audible. That’s how people find out about books. It’s like applauding for an actor at the curtain call. My reviews are generally very good. I don’t read the few negative reviews. If I did, I might stop writing. I believe if you don’t like a book, you should stop reading it after chapter one and read something else, rather than posting a low rating and mean review. Remember folks, karma can be a bitch! What you put out there, you may get right back at you one day. Writers don’t do it for the money. We do it for the love of our books and our readers. We put our hearts out there to be embraced not stamped on. Think about that the next time you post a reader comment.
What advice do you have for unpublished writers?
Don’t listen to naysayers. Get in front of the computer and start writing your unique story. Don’t copy anyone. Find the magic within yourself. Write what you know and feel passionate about. Write every day. Don’t be afraid to take chances. When you have a story you think is perfect, ask someone you trust to read it. Then after writing another draft, email it to a publisher who has an open submissions policy and who publishes the kind of story you’ve written, or publish it yourself.
You work with three publishers for your other series, yet you self-publish the Nicky and Noah Mysteries? Why?
I love working with my three publishers, but the Nicky and Noah Mysteries are so personal to me that I want to publish and promote them my way and in my timeline. It’s worked out well as the novels have sold well and won numerous awards including Divine Magazine Readers’ Poll Favorite MM Mystery of the Year (Drama Queen) and Rainbow Award Honorable Mention in the Best MM Mystery of the Year Category (Drama Muscle).
How can your readers get their hands on Drama Dance, the eighth Nicky and Noah mystery, and how can they contact you?
The blurb and purchase links are below, as are my contact links, including my web site. I love to hear from readers! So after you read the novel, tell me what you think!
Thank you, Joe, for interviewing today.
It is my joy and pleasure to share this eighth novel in the Nicky and Noah Mysteries series with you. So take your seats. The curtain is going up on Clara, the Nutcracker, the Mouse King, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and the Cavalier. And of course hilarity, romance, and murder in Drama Dance!
About Drama Dance
DRAMA DANCE (the eighth Nicky and Noah mystery) by JOE COSENTINO: Buy Links
Theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is back at Treemeadow College directing their Nutcracker Ballet co-starring his spouse, theatre professor Noah Oliver, their son Taavi, and their best friend and department head, Martin Anderson. With muscular dance students and faculty in the cast, the Christmas tree on stage isn’t the only thing rising. When cast members drop faster than their loaded dance belts, Nicky and Noah will once again need to use their drama skills to figure out who is cracking the Nutcracker’s nuts, trapping the Mouse King, and being cavalier with the Cavalier, before Nicky and Noah end up stuck in the Land of the Sweets. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining eighth novel in this delightful series. Take your seats. The curtain is going up on the Fairy—Sugar Plum that is, clumsy mice, malfunctioning toys, and murder!
Cover Art: Jesús Da Silva
Excerpt from Drama Dance
Noah kissed my neck. “Being back at Treemeadow and in a show again has been great for Taavi.”
“And for us.” I kissed his forehead.
Always thoughtful and kind, Noah said, “I grew up in Wisconsin with my extended family nearby, as you did in Kansas. I can tell Taavi misses our parents, our brothers and their husbands, and their kids.”
“But Taavi has us. And his fairy godparents, Martin and Ruben.”
“And his theatre family.” A line appeared across Noah’s porcelain-like forehead. “Interesting how Taavi picked up on all the bickering at rehearsals.”
“He’s a perceptive kid. Besides, Martin and Ruben have been bickering since the turn of the century. It’s their way of showing affection for each other.” I ran my sideburn against his cheek. “Every family bickers a bit.”
“Especially the Lamas siblings. You’d think they were playing the Borgias instead of Clara and the Nutcracker’s understudy.”
The gossip in me was awoken. “It seems Piero told their conservative parents that Caterina is a stripper. And Caterina told them Piero is gay.”
“You think they’re each vying for a higher spot in the parents’ will?”
“Or at least in their parents’ hearts.”
I squeezed Noah closer into my chest. “And did you notice how Liz turned into Eve Harrington when Caterina was hit by the tree?”
“All understudies yearn to take over their roles.”
“But Liz was practically salivating on my neck.”
“While she gave her lecture about abstinence until heterosexual marriage.”
I laughed. “Our heterosexually-married choreographer didn’t seem to notice. Otto was too busy trying to get into Piero’s dance belt.”
“Totally inappropriate. And not only because Otto is married. Piero is his student!”
Noah’s crystal blue eyes shimmered. “But, Nicky?”
“I’m not your student.”
I grinned. “But you are married.”
“And I’d have it no other way.”
Praise for the Nicky and Noah mysteries
“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his use of farce, along with his convoluted plot-lines, will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven’t discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat.” Divine Magazine
“a combination of Laurel and Hardy mixed with Hitchcock and Murder She Wrote…
Loaded with puns and one-liners…Right to the end, you are kept guessing, and the conclusion still has a surprise in store for you.” “the best modern Sherlock and Watson in books today…I highly recommend this book and the entire series, it’s a pure pleasure, full of fun and love, written with talent and brio…fabulous…brilliant” Optimumm Book Reviews
“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet….I can’t find anything not to love about this series….This read had me laughing and falling in love….Nicky and Noah are my favorite gay couple.” Urban Book Reviews
“For fans of Joe Cosentino’s hilarious mysteries, this is another vintage story with more cheeky asides and sub plots right left and centre….The story is fast paced, funny and sassy. The writing is very witty with lots of tongue-in-cheek humour….Highly recommended.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“This delightfully sudsy, colorful cast of characters would rival that of any daytime soap opera, and the character exchanges are rife with sass, wit and cagey sarcasm….As the pages turn quickly, the author keeps us hanging until the startling end.” Edge Media Network
“A laugh and a murder, done in the style we have all come to love….This had me from the first paragraph….Another wonderful story with characters you know and love!” Crystals Many Reviewers
“These two are so entertaining….Their tactics in finding clues and the crazy funny interactions between characters keeps the pages turning. For most of the book if I wasn’t laughing I was grinning.” Jo and Isa Love Books
“Superb fun from start to finish, for me this series gets stronger with every book and that’s saying something because the benchmark was set so very high with book 1.” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“The Nicky and Noah Mysteries series are perfect for fans of the Cozy Mystery sub-genre. They mix tongue-in-cheek humor, over-the-top characters, a wee bit of political commentary, and suspense into a sweet little mystery solved by Nicky and Noah, theatre professors for whom all the world’s a stage.” Prism Book Alliance
“This is one hilarious series with a heart and it just keeps getting better. I highly recommend them all, and please read them in the order they were written for full blown laugh out loud reading pleasure!” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance; the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays/The Perfect Gift/The First Noel, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland with Holiday Tales from Fairyland; the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings (NineStar Press); and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). 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. Joe is currently Chair of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and he is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards, and his books have received numerous Favorite Book of the Month Awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions.
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com