Hi, ya’ll! Are you ready to go on a tour? Hope on the bus, and let’s go! Today’s visit is with one of my favorite M/M award—winning authors…Joe Cosentino!
Hello, Joe. Thank you for stopping by to chat with us today.
My pleasure. I love answering your questions!
Great. Here’s the first. When did you start writing?
My mother says I was telling stories in the womb. Actually, she tells me I took forever to come out (of her womb)—and she says it still hurts! As kids my sister, neighborhood friends, and I created full theatrical, costumed and choreographed musical productions in the garage. After majoring in theatre in college I became 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). Moving on to playwriting and ultimately writing novels came next. Along the way, I received two master’s degrees and became a college professor/department head (like Martin Anderson in the Nicky and Noah mystery series).
Wow! What was it like acting with all those celebrities?
In each case, I worked with them before they became famous, and in each case they were gracious, hard-working, kind, and very funny. I can see Rosie O’Donnell playing Noah’s mother in a TV version of Drama Muscle!
First things first. How did Lethe Press come to publish the Nicky and Noah mystery series?
I noticed Lethe Press publishes many humorous, theatrically-styled gay books, and the company has been successful for fifteen years. After I submitted the manuscripts, Steve Berman offered to publish them, saying he had great fun reading them.
Any plans for them to become a television series?
I have plenty of plans. I need a TV network to have them too. Can’t you see Matt Bomer as Nicky, Neil Patrick Harris as Noah, and me as Martin Anderson? Come on, TV producers, make your offers!
I definitely can see that and would love to watch it! Why did you write a gay mystery/comedy/romance series?
The Nicky and Noah mysteries are the kind of books I like reading: funny, theatrical, sexy, wild, and wacky with a solid mystery full of plot twists and turns at its center—and a surprise ending!
What does the term, cozy mystery, mean?
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. It is a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending 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. Along the way, Nicky and Noah fall in love, as I’ve heard the readers fall in love with them. For most of my life I’ve read cozy mystery novels. Though full of murder and mayhem, they always made me smile, challenged my brain, and relaxed me. What could be better than a brain-teasing puzzle taking place in a comfortable environment with lots of gay people? Like an Agatha Christie novel, the mystery is the central focus with red herrings and inversions leading to a satisfying conclusion. As in an Armistead Maupin novel, the characters are wacky, surprising, and endearing. In the first novel, it is winter, so white snow, cherry wood mantels surrounding blazing fireplaces, and hot chocolate are in abundance. In the second book, it is fall, so gorgeous leaves of amber, violet, and scarlet blanket the campus. The third book (Drama Cruise not yet published) takes us on cruise to Alaska for sights of glaciers and whales while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship.
Why did you set the series in a college university?
As a college professor/department head, I have always been aware that colleges are rife with mystery, romance, and humor. In each book Nicky and Noah eavesdrop, seduce, role play, and finally trap the murderer, as pandemonium, hilarity, and true love ensue for a happily ever after ending—until the next book.
Was Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery, well received?
Reviewers called RDrama Queen hysterically funny farce, Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys, and a captivating whodunit with a surprise ending. Who am I to argue? Drama Queen also won four Divine Magazine Reader Poll Awards for favorite books of 2015: Best Mystery, Best Crime, Best Humorous, and Best Contemporary. 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 eighteen on 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 Les Mis after the Tony Awards, it was time for another Nicky and Noah mystery.
What is the storyline of Drama Muscle, the current Nicky and Noah mystery?
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.
Why did you set the second novel in the Bodybuilding Department?
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 I work out every day (yet see very little results!) and am enamored of the real bodybuilders who are so big they don’t even need to iron their shirts, Drama Muscle holds a special place in my heart.
Since you are a college theatre professor, is the series based on you, your colleagues, and students?
My colleagues kid me that if anybody at my college ticks me off, I kill him/her in the series? Hah. To be honest, I like my colleagues and students too much to murder them in my books. Martin Anderson, Nicky and Noah’s department head, is based on me. He’s a loyal, hardworking department head and professor who fully supports his faculty colleagues, office assistant, and the students in his department. Like me, he is also a little bit, well quite a bit, of a gossip. My knowledge of theatre is also very evident in the series. The other characters and the location came from my head. As my mother says, “How do you think up all these crazy things? Well, you always were a bit crazy as a kid.”
Nicky is described as having an enormous manhood. Does that help him solve the murders?
It doesn’t hurt. Well, maybe it does. Hah. Nicky has to flirt his way into some places to get certain information, so his handsome face, muscular body, and huge penis are definitely assets. Even more, however, Nicky and Noah use their theatre skills, including playing other people, to get clues. Most of all, Nicky uses his smarts, always a fine asset in an amateur detective.
Nicky is of Italian-American decent, like you. Is that a coincidence?
Not at all. I come from a very funny Italian family. I use that in a great deal of my writing, though my mother swears nothing I write about actually ever happened.
Noah is eight years younger than Nicky. Does that present a conflict in their relationship?
People who say age is only a number are lying. Age always comes up. Thankfully, Nicky and Noah handle it, like everything else, with great humor, style, and love.
Your Dreamspinner Press novellas (An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland) were so well received. What do you say to people who loved them and might be surprised that the Nicky and Noah mysteries are quite different?
I love salmon but I also love chicken. It’s the same thing. I’d ask them to give Drama Queen and Drama Muscle a try. Like I found eating pea soup as a kid, they may acquire a different taste.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Nine Star Press is publishing my two novels that place at a gay summer resort on the Jersey Shore: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back and Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward.
Tell us about your other mystery series, the Jana Lane mystery series.
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. In Porcelain Doll (The Wild Rose Press), 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.
Thank you for stopping by and Congratulations for winning Best Contemporary Novel, Best Mystery Novel, Best Crime Novel, and Best Humorous Novel of 2015 for DRAMAQUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery published by Lethe Press, in the Divine Magazine Readers’ Poll Awards! http://www.lethepressbooks.com/store/p303/Drama_Queen%3A_A_Nicky_and_Noah_Mystery.html
Laugh the winter weather away this January! DRAMA MUSCLE, the second Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino, published by Lethe Press is available Now!
DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery made today’s list of Favorite LGBT Books of 2015 on Elisa Rainbow’s blog (thank you, Lorraine Lesar!).
DRAMA MUSCLE (a Nicky and Noah mystery)
a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO from Lethe Press
Paperback: 60,000 words
Publisher: Lethe Press
Cover Design: Denny Minonne
Release date: January, 2, 2016
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 theirdrama 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!
You can buy it at:
5 meows 3 purrs (moderate sexual content)
This is book two in the Nicky and Noah mysteries but stands alone quite well.
In Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah are helping to make the bodybuilding competition more creative. Nicky is the producer and Noah helping with each one’s posing. They have chosen a Greek gods theme. Then the students and supervisors start dying one after another. Nicky begins investigating to help find the murder.
Once again Joe Cosentino delivers an intriguing story with lots of fun characters. I never tire of Joe’s stories. He has such a clean yet humorous style and though the mystery seems a bit predictable at first it twists and turns. I admit I suspected the killer but never could figure out a motive so I was unsure of what the outcome would be.
I love Nicky and Noah. They are quirky, very much in love and also sexy. I like the way the sex is handled in the store. It’s hot, sensual and yet tasteful. The descriptions add a lot to the story. I could visualize their Victorian home as if I was there.
There was another storyline as well as the murders that really had me worried. Noahs parent comes to visit and keep pressing marriage. Nick keeps bringing it up, but Noah seems to brush him off, and then he begins cozies up to one of the bodybuilding teachers. What’s the outcome here? It was another surprise!
If you like a fast-paced, humorous mystery with some quirky characters, lots of twists and the hot, sensual, man-sex, this is definitely for you.
I promise you a laugh a minute!
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *
Here is a little more Drama Muscle
As Mack drank, Jimmy Saline, a theatre major working as a student aide in the gym, said hello to me, then approached Mack shyly. At about a hundred pounds, Jimmy’s whole body could have fit into one of Mack’s muscular legs.
“Excuse me?” said Jimmy hoarsely.
Mack looked at Jimmy like a fly buzzing around his head. “Yeah?”
Jimmy swallowed hard. After clearing his throat, he wiped the perspiration off his freckled forehead, and croaked out, “You looked really up there good.” Jimmy’s face turned the shade of his fire-engine-red hair. “I mean you looked good up there. You should win.”
Mack smiled. “Thanks.”
I pretended to focus and refocus some lighting equipment near them as Jimmy handed Mack a fluffy white towel, then started to walk away.
Mack wiped the sweat off his handsome face. “What’s your name?”
Jimmy looked like a shock victim. “James…Jim…Jimmy.”
“Hi James Jim Jimmy. I’m Mack.” Mack offered his thick hand.
Jimmy’s face lit up like a torch as he stared at Mack’s hand in wonder. Finally his sweaty hand connected with Mack’s.
As they shook hands, Jimmy said, “I didn’t mean to take you away from your rehearsal.”
“You didn’t take me away,” Mack responded. “I’m on a break.”
“I’m glad. I mean, it’s good to have a break once in a while, because you might get tired, and then you’ll need…a break.” Jimmy raised his brown eyes to his mop of red hair. “I’m babbling.”
As Jimmy started to leave, Mack said, “Are you a phys. ed. major?”
Laughing, Jimmy responded, “What gave me away? My skinny arms or skinnier legs?”
Mack put his strong hand on Jimmy’s minuscule shoulder. “Jimmy, you shouldn’t put yourself down.”
“I’ve learned to do it before someone else beats me to it.” Realizing he was still holding Mack’s hand, Jimmy moved away nervously. “I’m a theatre major, working here as a student aide.”
“Why do you want to work in the Phys. Ed. building if you’re a theatre major?”
I’ve been asking myself the same thing.
“You don’t want to know.” Jimmy picked up a broom resting against the gym wall and began sweeping the floor.
Mack held the broom still. “I don’t ask a question unless I want to know the answer.”
Jimmy looked down at his sunken chest. “I took a weightlifting class last semester. Obviously I failed. When I was leaving class one day, I saw you coming into the weight room.”
“That’s why you applied to be a student aide here?” Mack asked in astonishment.
Jimmy nodded. “I hoped I could meet you.”
Jimmy took a step backward. “Please don’t get freaked out.”
Mack raised Jimmy’s chin from his chest. “I’m not freaked out.”
“I’m not a stalker or anything. I know that someone like you would never be friends with someone like me. I just want you to know that I really admire what you’ve accomplished as an athlete. And I’ve watched the way you interact with people, how you listen to them and respect them. I think that’s a really good thing. And I think you’re a really good guy.”
Jillian Flowers tapped Mack’s perfect back, then flicked back her blonde hair. “Mack, you um want to go over our like poses together?” She pressed her strong shoulder against his. “I, you know, promise to go like easy on you.”
Jimmy looked like a squirrel at a demolition site. “I’m sorry I bothered you. Good luck with the competition.” He scurried off to the supply room.
“Wait!” Mack shouted, but Jimmy was gone.
Meet Amazon Bestselling Author Joe Cosentino:
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 areDrama 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).
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Praise for DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press:
“Without doubt, the funniest book I have read this year, maybe ever” “brilliant” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“I cannot stop laughing. Drama Queen is Hardy Boys-meets-Murder She Wrote-meets-Midsummer Murders, with a side of parodic, farcical, satire.” “Whodunits don’t come more whodunnit than this.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“I’m hoping that this is just the start for Nicky and Noah. If Jessica Fletcher could have so many murderers in Cabot Cove, why shouldn’t the same hold true for Treemeadow College?” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Reviews
“This fast-paced, hilariously funny, entertaining novel will have you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out who-dun-it!” Joyfully Jay
“a murder mystery, a comedic romp, an investigative caper, and a love story all rolled up into one nifty little novel” The Novel Approach
“The tangled weave of murder mystery and other mysteries comes to a startling conclusion that is both satisfying and mind-boggling.” MultitaskingMomma
“I am not used to reading books that make me snigger out loud, but in Drama Queen Joe Cosentino has struck a great balance between his use of tongue in cheek humour and a compelling mystery which we want to see solved.” Divine Magazine
“Nicky and Noah are two sexy leading characters who conduct the investigation in this comedic caper with wit and style.” Vance Bastian Reviews
“Cosentino does a wonderful job of writing a mystery that keeps the reader guessing right up until the end.” Barron Owens Reviews
“I love this story, just the right mix, of fun, hilarity and mystery in the mix. The storyline is fresh and well thought out, and the dynamic of the characters is through the roof! Bike Book Reviews
“The author clearly knows of what he speaks on all matters theater, and the kind of authentic details he brings to the table in terms of characters and staging makes this immensely entertaining.” Love’s Last Refuge Reviews
What are you waiting for? go grab a copy and get ready for some fun and laughs!