The lovely Joe Cosentino is here today, is ensconced in my comfiest chair, and willing to answer questions about the 14th Nicky and Noah mystery/comedy/romance novel, Drama Oz, published a few days ago.
Dear Joe, welcome on the release of the fourteenth novel in your award-winning and popular Nicky and Noah gay cozy comedy mystery series.
Thank you. I’m feeling very gay and cozy.
Why Drama Oz as the fourteenth novel in the series?
A young woman leaves her Kansas farm with her trusted dog and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime through a colorful new world inhabited by a good witch, wicked witch, scarecrow, tinman, lion, and a wonderful wizard. There’s no better and more universal tale than the The Wizard of Oz. That’s why it is still the most enjoyed children’s story of all time. Most people have watched the renowned MGM movie starring gay icon Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley Jr., and Bert Lahr. The original books by L. Frank Baum are still best-sellers. The first book chronicles Dorothy Gale’s visit to Oz. Subsequent books continue Dorothy’s fantastical adventures in the magical world. Reading them is like accompanying Dorothy on her wonderful quest. I adored those books as a kid, and I still love them! They are like a treasure chest full of joy. So it isn’t a surprise that for my fourteenth Nicky and Noah mystery novel, I decided the Treemeadow College theatre group would take a trip to a Wizard of Oz theme park to stage an original musical adaptation of the much-loved classic entitled, Friends of Dorothy.
Why is the novel set on Key West?
Key West, Florida is one of my favorite places! If you haven’t been to Key West, it’s a peninsula with white sandy beaches laden with foamy waves tickling jagged rocks under an azure sky dotted with marshmallow clouds. Gorgeous white seagulls and towering lighthouses herald gorgeous pink, violet, and gold sunrises and sunsets. Quant guesthouses, theatres, and restaurants inhabited by people open and affirming to all line the shore. It’s the perfect place for a Wizard of Oz theme park.
It sounds wonderful! Tell us a bit about the plot—no spoilers.
A killer is loose in the Wizard of Oz theme park theatre. The young actress cast as Dorothy is quite the diva. The young actors cast as Toto, the Munchkin Leader, and the Winged Monkey Leader fully inhabit their roles and their G-string, chaps, and loincloth respectively. Of course Nicky and his crew use their drama skills, including playing wacky characters in investigative role-plays with the suspects, to catch the killer before the witch’s fireball sends them up in smoke.
I always wanted a winged monkey… but putting that aside, it’s great to see our favorite characters back!
Nicky Abbondanza, our foot-long wonder and gay and hunky Sherlock Holmes, is the wizard onstage and off, doing double duty as show director and playing the Wizard. As Nicky says, “It takes a wiz!” Nicky’s gorgeous and devoted husband, Noah Oliver, is cast as the Scarecrow sitting on a long pole (pun intended). Their teenage son, Taavi, plays the role of the Tinman with a large can of lube, and his best friend, Ty, counters as the Lion with a playful tail. Nicky’s best friends, older couple Martin and Ruben, join the cast playing Aunt Em and Uncle Henry “going down on the farm.” They also double as Glinda who does it good and the Wicked Witch of the wild West.
Who are the new characters/suspects/victims for book fourteen?
Adorable actor Pip Manning plays Toto in the show. His affections waver between handsome Mormon Drew Gateway the stage manager and bodybuilder Detective Rick Boulder. Gymnast with a secret Topper Tucker, who plays the Winged Monkey Leader, has his wings set on stocky Taz Zaman, who plays the Munchkin Leader. A crew of woman technicians and the diva starring as Dorothy have more baggage than an airport.
Why do you think there aren’t many other gay cozy mystery series out there?
Most MM novels are erotica, young adult, dark thrillers, or supernatural. While that’s fine, I think we’re missing a whole spectrum of fiction. In the case of the Nicky and Noah mysteries, they include romance, humor, mystery, adventure, and quaint and loveable characters in uncanny situations. The settings are warm and cozy with lots of hot cocoa by the fireplace. The clues and red herrings are there for the perfect whodunit. So are the plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning over faster (as Nicky would say) “than a priest chasing a new altar boy around the choir loft.” No matter what is thrown in their path, Nicky and Noah always end up on top. At least Nicky ends up on top, which is just fine with Noah.
You and your spouse have travelled to Alaska, Hawaii, and Scotland, just like Nicky and Noah. Did those trips inform those novels in the series?
Since my spouse and I have travelled extensively to gorgeous locations, those situations often pop up in my books. I hear other things pop up as well when the readers read Nicky and Noah’s love scenes. (smile)
When you wrote Drama Queen, did you envision this as a series?
Totally. Though each book has its own complete story and ending, I wrote the first three books together. When they were so popular, I kept writing.
For anyone unfortunate enough not to have read them, tell us the titles of the series.
Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie, Drama Runway, Drama Christmas, Drama Pan, Drama TV, Drama Oz.
They are all available as e-books and paperbacks. Are they all also available as audiobooks?
Many of the novels are available now as audiobooks. The others should be joining them soon—if the audiobook gods agree.
How can your readers get their hands on Drama Oz and how can they contact you?
The purchase links are below, as are my contact links, including my website. I love to hear from readers! So do Nicky and Noah. I tell them everything!
Thank you, Joe, for coming along today. It’s always a delight to see you here.
It was my pleasure. As a past professional actor and current college theatre professor/department chair, I know first-hand the hysterically funny antics, sweet romance, and captivating mystery in the worlds of theatre and academia. The Nicky and Noah mysteries are full of them! I know you’ll laugh, cry, feel romantic, and love delving into this crackling new mystery with more plot twists and turns (as Nicky would say) than a QAnon member hearing real news. I’m more excited than (as Nicky would say) a Catholic adoption agency discriminating against gay families to share this fourteenth novel in the series with you. So follow the yellow brick road to a girl with a dog who is one hot bitch, a wicked witch who would kill for a new pair of shoes, a sexy Wizard who wants to bang the Scarecrow’s brains out, a Tinman and Lion embarking on a mixed marriage, plenty of monkey business, and murder!
And I love to hear from readers. So drop me a line. I’ll share it with Nicky and Noah! http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Links to DRAMA OZ (the 14th Nicky and Noah mystery):
a comedy/mystery/romance novel
Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes and Noble | Kobo
About the Book
The Treemeadow College theatre crew stage an original musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, entitled Friends of Dorothy, at a summer theme park in Key West. Quickly cast and crew members melt away like a witch submerged in water. Nicky, as the Wizard on stage and off, must save the show and figure out whodunit. Once again, our favorite thespians will need to use their drama skills to catch the killer before a witch’s fireball sends them up in smoke. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining fourteenth novel in this delightful series. It’s a scorcher! So follow the yellow brick road. The stage lights are coming up in Oz on a girl with a dog who is one hot bitch, a wicked witch who would kill for a new pair of shoes, a sexy Wizard, a Scarecrow sitting on a big pole, a Tinman with a giant can of lube, a Lion with a long tail between his legs, plenty of monkey business, and murder!
E-book and Paperback: 215 pages
Genre: MM, contemporary, mystery, comedy, romance, theatre, musical theater, Wizard of Oz, theme parks, Key West
Heat Level: 2
Cover Art: Jesús Da Silva
Release date: June 1, 2022
A rooster’s crow heralds the start of a new morning on a farm in Kansas. A small elderly woman wearing a housedress matching the gray bun on her head comes out of the farmhouse. At the sight of her overflowing bucket, penned pigs, goats, cows, and horses come to attention for their morning meal. A tall, thin, aging man in black overalls sticks his pitchfork into a pile of hay as gray hair covers his forehead. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry share a, “Good morning.” Lively country western music plays, and they belt out a hand-clapping song, “Goin’ Down on the Farm,” which leads to bump and grind choreography between the couple and the animals. When a horse rubs against her, Aunt Em hollers, “Who do I look like, Catherine the Great?”
“You’re way older than the eighteenth-century Russian empress, my love,” Uncle Henry retorts.
Hello Nicky-and-Noah fans, it’s me, your favorite armchair (or rather play director’s chair) sleuth, Nicky Abbondanza, PhD, which in my case stands for Pretty Hot Detective. I’m not a real detective. I actually solve all of my cases. This one’s number fourteen. But who’s counting? Me! I’ve directed plays, musicals, a runway show, bodybuilding competition, movies, and even a television pilot at Treemeadow College in picturesque Vermont, where I am a Professor of Play Directing in the Theatre Department. However, I’m not in Treemeadow now. Where am I? Here’s the story. My handsome, loyal, and wonderful husband, Noah Oliver, Associate Professor of Acting, and I planned a lavish summer vacation cruising (no pun intended) the Mediterranean with our teenage son, relentless thespian and co-sleuth Taavi Kapule Oliver Abbondanza. Reality and a migraine struck when Noah and I remembered our salaries as college professors. So recalling our free trips to Alaska (for staging a murder mystery dinner show on a cruise) and Hawaii (for directing a luau show), Noah and I discreetly let theatre producers know we might be available for summer stock. In other words, we begged for a job. We turned down offers from Arab and African nations where being gay is a crime punishable by death. We’re funny that way. Instead, we took a (slightly) less risky job in a blue dot in the red state of Florida: the new Wizard of Oz Theme Park in Florida’s Key West. The park features beloved costumed characters chased around the yellow brick road by screaming children wielding the Wicked Witch of the West’s crystal ball, Dorothy’s slippers, and the Tinman’s oil can purchased at exorbitant prices from the Emerald City gift shop. Park activities include Throw a Fireball at the Scarecrow, Drop a House on the Wicked Witch of the East, Burst Glinda’s Bubble, and Munch with a Munchkin. The themed restaurant features Green Witch Warts, Flying Monkey Droppings, and Uncle Henry’s Jellyroll with Aunt Em’s Bread Box. The thrilling ride attractions enable visitors to spin in a tornado and land on a Munchkin, dive into Toto’s basket, and ride in a hot air balloon with a Wizard full of hot air. But I digress. Back to the only thing that really matters—the theatre!
At the center of the park is an enormous enclosed theatre that would make any tax-exempt billionaire televangelist green (pun intended) with envy. So, the park management hired me to direct an original musical production of the much-loved classic based on the original books by L. Frank Baum. The stories where Dorothy’s slippers are chic silver, and her post-adventure comeback line is simply, “I’m so glad to be home again.”
My first decision was to cast the most charismatic and talented actor I know as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz—the wonderful me. At forty-six with the body and maturity of a twenty-one-year-old (both courtesy of the gym at Treemeadow College) and hailing originally from Kansas, I was a perfect fit for the Wizard—unlike my costume. With my olive skin, dark hair, and over six-feet tall status, I admit I looked quite dapper in the Wizard’s three-piece Victorian suit which matched my emerald eyes. My tapered trousers were trim in the waist, hips, and inseam. Hence the big problem—or the big asset depending on the situation. You see, my nearly foot-long penis—unaroused—though Noah’s treasure, has been a costumer’s nightmare. So while our costume designer, Gabriela Boada, and her daughter and assistant, Ava, took out my slack’s inseam (causing it to be an outseam), I wore my contemporary dress slacks.
My thirty-nine-year-old youthful (grr!) husband’s milk-and-honey face turned to scarlet until I cast him as the Scarecrow (and the cast’s acting coach). Actually, Noah, having grown up in a Wisconsin dairy farm, was perfectly cast as Dorothy’s first friend in Oz. Our seventeen-year-old son, Taavi, threatened to put a curse on me from his native Hawaii until I offered him an oilcan and the role of the Tinman, Dorothy’s second cohort in Oz.
My best friend, department chair, and mentor, Martin Anderson, filled out a pink slip (no pun intended) with my name on it until I asked him to write the new musical, which he appropriately titled, Friends of Dorothy. I cast Martin’s husband, Ruben Markinson, in the dual roles of Uncle Henry and the Wicked Witch of the West. This prompted Martin to strap me into his chairlift and use his diaper as a slingshot to lob his C-PAP machine at me until I cast Martin as Aunt ‘Em and Glinda the Good Witch of the North. Their sixteen-year-old son, Ty Wilde Anderson Markinson, strangled me with Martin’s compression stockings until I cowardly gave him the role of the Lion. And we were off to see the Wizard.
So here I sit, front row center at the technical dress rehearsal of our extravaganza as the evening hours drift by like piercing arrows to my brain. Everything is coming together as smoothly as a QAnon member storming the Capitol under orders of a past Republican president.
Martin pointed to the dancer playing the horse. The young man’s bare torso and full brown jockstrap gave “hung like a horse” a new meaning. “That horse is even more hung than you, Nicky. And a whole lot friskier!”
I typed on my electronic tablet, “Why didn’t the twister cart off Aunt Em?”
Praise for the Nicky and Noah mysteries
“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his 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
“Every entry of the Nicky and Noah mystery series is rife with intrigue, calamity, and hilarity…Cosentino keeps us guessing – and laughing – until the end, as well as leaving us breathlessly anticipating the next Nicky and Noah thriller.” 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
Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite MM Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery novel. He is also the author of the remaining Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie, Drama Runway, Drama Christmas, Drama Pan, Drama TV, Drama Oz; the Player Piano Mysteries: The Player and The Player’s Encore; the Jana Lane Mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll; the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Moving Forward, Stepping Out, New Beginnings, Happy Endings; the In My Heart Anthology: An Infatuation & A Shooting Star; the Tales from Fairyland Anthology: The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland and Holiday Tales from Fairyland; the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories Anthology: A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, The First Noel; and the Found At Last Anthology: Finding Giorgio and Finding Armando.
His books have won numerous Book of the Month awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions.
As an actor, Joe appeared in principal roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Jason Robards, and Holland Taylor. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Goddard College, Master’s degree from SUNY New Paltz, and is currently a happily married college theatre professor/department chair residing in New York State.
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com