Joe, who is a regular guest here at the blog, has the fifteenth Nicky and Noah mystery out now. As ever, I am awed by Joe’s productivity and imagination. Writing mysteries is a real talent, and he proves he has it in spades. And yes, I am envious. Why do you ask?
Welcome, Joe, and over to you to tell us about writing the Nicky and Noah series!
Writing the Nicky and Noah Mysteries : Drama Prince, book 15
by Joe Cosentino
Don’t you love theme park musical shows? What better way to tell a story than with performers on enormous stages in colorful costumes engaging in heightened dialogue, melodious tunes, and creative dancing in front of elaborate sets for huge crowds enjoying their vacations? The canned orchestra swells with catchy tunes. The energy between the actors onstage and the audience in the theatre house eating their snacks is electrifying. There is nothing better than “another opening, another show!”
My other passion is cozy mysteries! I love the quaint settings, humorous situations, eccentric characters, clues, red herrings, and trying to guess who done it!
So for the fifteenth novel in my Nicky and Noah mysteries series, Nicky, Noah, and Treemeadow College theatre crew venture to a gay fairytale theme park in San Francisco (where else?), where they stage an original musical adaptation of Cinderella entitled, Let’s Ball. Nicky, in addition to being the director, plays King Charming, the king with a long scepter. Noah plays Nicky’s Queen—onstage and off. Their best friends, Martin and Ruben, are along for the wild ride as the Stepmother/Fairy Godmother and the Duke (who wants to grab his brother the King by the crown) respectively—but not respectfully. The two couples’ sons, Taavi and Ty, are cast as Gro and Tesque, the stepbrothers demanding full service from Cinder. Things heat up pretty quickly between the actors playing Cinder and Prince Charming as well as the young men cast as the Footman and the Coachman. However, they may get a royal screw as four local detectives drop around them like a priest’s robe at altar boy training. Once again, our favorite thespians use their drama skills to catch the killer before an explosive pumpkin threatens to make the show a bomb.
For those of you who haven’t yet ventured to the land of Nicky and Noah (and you should!), it’s a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, and there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning (as Nicky would say) “faster than a Mormon seeking a fifth wife.” At the center is the touching relationship between Professor of Play Directing Nicky Abbondanza and Associate Professor of Acting Noah Oliver. We watch them go from courting to marrying to adopting a child, all the while head over heels in love with each other (as we fall in love with them). Reviewers called the series “hysterically funny farce,” “Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys,” and “captivating whodunits.” One reviewer wrote they are the funniest books she’s ever read! Another said I’m “a master storyteller.” Who am I to argue?
The premiere novel, Drama Queen, was voted Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of the Year! Subsequent novels won many Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions and Favorite Book of the Month awards: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie, Drama Runway, Drama Christmas, Drama Pan, Drama TV, and Drama Oz.
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 than (as Nicky would say) “an altar boy being chased up the bell tower by a priest.”
I’m more excited (as Nicky would say) “than a Republican legislator banning books to share this fifteenth novel in the series with you. So wave your Fairy Godmother’s wand, ride coach, and head to the palace for a ball with a charming prince who has a slipper fetish! I promise you a happy ending!
So drop me a line. I’ll share it with Nicky and Noah! http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
About DRAMA PRINCE (the 15th Nicky and Noah mystery)
a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO
At a gay fairytale theme park in San Francisco, the Treemeadow College theatre crew stage an original musical adaptation of Cinderella entitled, Let’s Ball. The adorable actors playing Cinder and Prince Charming fear they may not get a happy ending as local detectives drop around them like a royal flush. Once again, our favorite thespians will need to use their drama skills to catch the killer before an explosive pumpkin threatens to make the show a bomb. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining fifteenth novel in this delightful series. It’s a blast! So hurry to your seat. The stage lights are coming up in the royal kingdom of Fabulous on a king with a long scepter, a queen who is a real queen, a fairy godmother with a roving wand, a stepmother who grabs them by the crown, a servant left alone to stimulate himself, two stepbrothers demanding full service, a prince with a slipper fetish who is seeking a royal screw, and murder!
Amazon | Smashwords | B&N | Kobo
E-book and Paperback: 213 pages
Genre: MM, contemporary, mystery, comedy, romance, theatre, musical theater, Cinderella, theme parks, San Francisco
Heat Level: 2
Cover Art: Jesús Da Silva
Release date: December 1, 2022
Ragged, hungry, unemployed, and overtaxed villagers stand in the Fabulous Kingdom square singing the lament, “Things Aren’t So Fabulous in Fabulous Kingdom.”
In a small stone cottage at the edge of the kingdom, a handsome young man in rags sits on a three-legged wooden stool next to an anemic kitchen fire. His dark hair, dark eyes, and olive-colored cheeks and hands are smudged with cinders: the product of pouring coal into the sitting room and bedroom fireplaces for his stepmother and two stepbrothers. Cinder, muscular from doing so many chores, and lonely from his life of solitude, sings the touching ballad, “Stimulating Myself.” A voice is heard saying, “Doesn’t that have a double meaning?”
“Stop!” Hello Nicky and Noah fans. We’re back! Just like a recurring case of herpes. It’s Nicky Abbondanza, director of plays, musicals, bodybuilding competition, murder mystery show, luau show, films, modeling runway, ballet, and television. Not to mention top thespian sleuth (and I do mean top), having solved fourteen mass murder mystery cases. Here I am sitting in another theatre à la Abe Lincoln waiting for my execution. However, unlike Abe in his toxic box seat, I’m front row center holding the play director’s survival kit: an electronic tablet and cyanide pills. For you Nicky and Noah newbies, or our loyal fans having a senior moment, I’m Professor of Play Directing at Treemeadow College (founded by wealthy gay couple Tree and Meadow) in Treemeadow Vermont, where everything is cozy—including the fifty murders that occurred there. The top line of the college application asks, “Burial or cremation?” But I’m not at Treemeadow now. Our last summer’s foray into theme park theatre was such a success, a lucrative offer came my way from another theme park this summer: the newly constructed Fairies’ Tails Theme Park appropriately in a suburb of San Francisco. The city of steep hills, crowded cable cars, and painted ladies—including the drag queens. The newly built theme park offers walk-around characters like a wolf chasing a twink in a red hoodie, a guy named Tom with a roving thumb, three S&M pigs, a snow queen, a wooden hunk with a pointy nose and growing appendage, and the Catholic priests’ favorite—little boy blue who blows his horn. Rides include swinging on a long vine and sitting on a giant’s lap. Attraction highlights are visiting the home of a golden-haired youth surrounded by three bears, and the abode of a young hunk with a snow-white complexion and seven devoted little daddies. Where does this daddy fit in? No pun intended. My task is to create and present an original musical of Cinderella in the theme park’s new Fairies’ Tails Theatre. My department chair and best friend, Martin Anderson, eyeing the plum role of the Fairy Godmother for himself, offered me his script entitled, Every Boy Needs a Fairy with a Big Wand. Thankfully an up-and-coming gay playwright from San Francisco, Kirk Castle, had heard about the new theme park and submitted his superior musical version, Let’s Ball, and we were off. Casting the play was the next order of business. Although I am forty-seven, I look thirty (if I squint at a mirror in a darkened room). My maturity, tallness, dark hair and long dark sideburns (thanks to the men’s hair coloring rinse that doesn’t look like shoe polish) make me the perfect queen to play the king with a long scepter. And BTW my real scepter is nearly a foot long—flaccid! The recipient of all that royalty is my forty-year-old, handsome, sweet, adoring and adorable husband Noah Oliver, Associate Professor of Acting, who is playing the queen to my king (onstage and off). Before my friend Martin could attack me with his defibrillator, I cast Martin in the dual roles of Stepmother and Fairy Godmother. This caused Martin’s long-suffering husband, Ruben Markinson, to create a slingshot with his hernia belt and wallop me with his dentures until I agreed to cast Ruben as the duke, the king’s brother. How old are Martin and Ruben? A schizophrenic scribe hearing voices in his head once wrote, “In the beginning…” Martin and Ruben were born before that. Taavi Kapule Oliver Abbondanza, who Noah and I adopted as a little boy from his native Hawaii, threatened to hurl me into an erupting volcano during an earthquake unless I cast the eighteen-year-old as stepbrother Gro. Martin and Ruben’s seventeen-year-old adopted son, Ty Wilde Anderson Markinson, resorted to his street roots by writing on buildings in graffiti, “Nicky Abbondanza is middle-aged,” until I cast him as the second stepbrother, Tesque. That left the remaining roles to be cast with local professional actors: Amador Lorenz as Cinder, Paddy Braden as Prince Charming, Tej Vevi as Mouse/Coachman, Nate Friedman as Mouse/Footman, and Sloan Thomas as Horse. Hiring the ensemble members, designers, and technical crew came last. Since Noah and I (as copied by Taavi and Ty) wear a dress shirt, dress slacks, and a blazer, we enjoy dressing up in our fairytale (no pun intended) costumes. Covering my pumped up (before it all drops down) gym body is a gold tunic and crown with royal blue tights (over a crushing dance belt) and a long cape.
The comment stopping this run-through, like a parent coming between a priest and a new altar boy, was made by Carl Catalango, our playwright’s agent and stepbrother. I turned to the mere twenty-three-year-old sitting down the row to my left. “Yes, Carl, the opening song has a double-meaning. Just like directing a show. You see while putting together a production can be a creative and fulfilling experience, it can also be a total nightmare. For example, in this production, our non-stop technical dress rehearsal just came to a screeching halt—like a voting-for-all law presented by Democrats to Republicans in Congress. Why? Not for the usual reasons like a diva actor causing conflict, or mishaps with the sets, lighting, costumes, or props. This run-through was stopped because the playwright’s agent asked if the opening song has a double-meaning!”
Kirk Castle, sitting next to Carl, adjusted his round glasses and rubbed his dark receding hairline. Gazing at his stepbrother adoringly, the author said, “Carl, the ‘Stimulating Myself’ song uses subtext, which is a great writers’ tool.”
No pun intended.
Kirk explained, “Cinder is poor, exhausted, lonely, and frustrated by the pandemonium around him.”
I can relate.
“In this rare moment of solitude, we get a glimpse at Cinder’s pain.”
Towering over tiny Kirk, Carl Catalango’s strapping muscular body was barely contained by a duke blue dress shirt opened to his pecs and tight dark slacks. “The song seems crass to me.”
Kirk’s round face saddened. Clearly speaking from experience, the single twenty-three-year-old said, “Someone who is lonely will relate to the song.”
Carl shrugged his mountainous shoulders. “This whole theme park thing doesn’t sit right with me, Kirk.” He ran a thick hand through his thick dark locks. “I still think it’s beneath you.”
But not beneath the walloping fee you charged for the script, Carl, adding in your twenty percent agent’s commission.
Kirk wrinkled his small nose. “I’m sorry to go against your advice on this, Carl. I think it’s a good script and an important new theme park.”
“You’re so much better than this, Kirk.”
Their dark eyes met as Kirk replied, “That’s really sweet, Carl, but this is a great opportunity to showcase one of my plays—outside a ninety-nine-seat theatre in a storefront.” Kirk ran his palms down his wrinkled russet sweatshirt and jeans. “It’s a great opportunity for exposure.”
Carl turned on the charm. “You always followed my advice in the past. Why is this time different?”
“Because we have a contract.” I glared at Carl. “Which you both signed. So can we please continue the run-through?”
Carl threw up his hands. “Whatever.” He leaned back in his chair. “Kirk, I’m thirsty.”
Kirk jumped to his feet. “I’ll get you some orange juice.” He practically flew out of the theatre house toward the lobby.
Carl yawned. “I have to take a leak. Nicky, take a break so I don’t miss anything.”
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, Drama Prince; 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