Sunday, 11 October 2015
INTERVIEW: WITH LGBT MURDER MYSTERY AUTHOR JOE COSENTINO
INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JOE COSENTINO
Conducted by Sandra Scholes
It is so great to have Joe Cosentino with us today to discuss his latest novel, Drama Queen. Joe is the award winning author of several novels including An Infatuation, A Shooting Star and Paper Doll. His novels are well-known due to his characters, writing and eye-catching cover art. Please take a walk with me while I uncover the many mysteries of Joe's new novel.
JapanReviewer: You have written fiction for Lethe Press, Whiskey Creek Press, Dreamspinner Press and Wild Rose Press, so how did you get into writing gay crime fiction?
I’ve always been a huge mystery buff. 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. I wrote the Jana Lane mysteries, romantic mysteries about an ex-child star making a comeback as she solves murders (including who is trying to kill her). PAPER DOLL was released this year by Whiskey Creek Press. PORCELAIN DOLL will be released by Wild Rose Press in 2016. SATIN DOLL and CHINA DOLL will follow. So I was thinking that you don’t see too many cozy gay mysteries out there. As a college theatre professor, I realized theatre departments are ripe with mystery, secrets, romance, humor, and surprises. So I decided to create a new mystery comedy series, the Nicky and Noah mysteries. In the series Nicky and Noah, college theatre professors, live and work in the fictitious, quaint college town of Treemeadow, named after its original founders, gay couple Tree and Meadow. Since Nicky and Noah use their theatrical skills to find the clues and solve the murders (five per novel!), the novel is chock full of wacky characters, comic antics, and witty dialogue as in an Armistead Maupin novel. Like an Agatha Christie, the mystery is the central focus with clues, plot twists and turns, red herrings, and inversions leading to a shocking but justifiable and satisfying conclusion. Along the way, Nicky and Noah fall in love, as I hope the readers will fall in love with them. In this first novel in the series, DRAMA QUEEN, Nicky and Noah have to uncover why college theatre professors are falling like stage curtains as Nicky directs the college production—a murder mystery. In DRAMA MUSCLE (releasing in 2016), Nicky and Noah have to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In DRAMA CRUISE (following), Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship. DRAMA QUEEN is available as an ebook, paperback, or audiobook hysterically performed by Michael Gilboe who performs all twenty-four characters. Gay and straight people love DRAMA QUEEN. It reached #18 in its category on Amazon Kindle’s Bestseller List.
JapanReviewer: The reason I asked the above question is that you have had a great stint as an actor who has starred opposite such actors as Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O'Donnell and Jason Robards. Could you give us more of an idea of what films you were in, and how was it starring alongside such Hollywood stars?
Sure. I acted onstage in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM with Bruce Willis. I don’t think many people realize Bruce started as a fine stage actor. I did THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAIN on stage with Nathan Lane, who I remember as being hysterically witty. Rosie O’Donnell and I acted in an At&T Industrial. I played her henpecked husband. She was creative and kind. I appeared with Jason Robards in a Commercial Credit Computer commercial. He was an amazing actor who was very generous with stories about theatre and film. I also appeared as Ted Davis in the ABC-TV movie, MY MOTHER WAS NEVER A KID, with Holland Taylor. It was great fun to shoot that television film since it took place in the 1940’s, so all the locations, clothing, cars, and music were from that era. Finally I played Charles Keating’s snitch on NBC-TV’s ANOTHER WORLD.
JapanReviewer: As you are the Head of the Department/Professor at a college in New York, did you use your first hand experience to write theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza in Drama Queen: A Nicky and Noah Mystery?
Nicky comes from a very funny Italian American family and directs plays at his college. In that way we are alike, however, unlike me, Nicky is tall, muscular, and handsome. 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 uses his theatre skills, including playing other people, to get clues. Most of all, Nicky uses his smarts, always a fine asset in an amateur detective. Since there haven’t been (thankfully!) any murders at my college, I haven’t had to do that. 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 colleagues ask me if any of the other characters are based on them. I’ll never tell. They also ask me if they tick me off, will I kill them in the series. Hah. To be honest, I like my colleagues and students too much to murder them in my books.
JapanReviewer: In Drama Queen, what was it like to create a whole new fictional town of Treemeadow, Vermont?
I patterned Treemeadow College somewhat after Oxford. It has Edwardian stone buildings, bronze statues, cherry wood furnishings, and a fireplace in every room. Unlike Oxford it is surrounded by lakes and mountains. The town of Treemeadow is full of Victorian houses, quaint shops, and church steeples as many little towns in Vermont.
JapanReviewer: I like how you set the scene for the end of the performance in Drama Queen as your description of the "beautiful man" with the "six-pack abs" leaves plenty to the imagination. As far as the whole theatre set up is concerned you clearly are a man who knows what he is talking about, but was it hard working the characters out in your mind as to who would be the sexiest?
I definitely use my background in theatre for the series. As you mentioned, since the setting is the theatre department, I made quite a number of the characters good looking. The character description you are quoting is about Paul Amour, the star theatre student and star of the play Nicky is directing. Paul is incredibly handsome and muscular, and he uses his assets to manipulate the other students. He is one of the many suspects in the book.
JapanReviewer: What is the weirdest short story/novel you have ever written?
Harold, the leading character in AN INFATUATION from Dreamspinner Press, is loosely based on me, and Stuart (his spouse) is based on my spouse. It’s a funny and touching story about Harold and his childhood crush Mario meeting up at their ten-year high school reunion. I thought it might be a bit quirky, however, it is selling very well. Readers have said reading that novella changed their lives.
JapanReviewer: What books are you in the process of writing for 2016?
Interested parties need to know.
In addition to DRAMA MUSCLE (the second Nicky and Noah mystery from Lethe Press) and PORCELAIN DOLL (the second Jana Lane mystery from Wild Rose Press), Dreamspinner Press is releasing my new romance novella, A SHOOTING STAR, which also takes place on a college campus, this one in Colorado. In December Dreamspinner Press is publishing my holiday romance novella, A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, which takes place in one of my favorite places, Capri, Italy. In February they are publishing THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND, my gay fairytales. I just finished a new romance novel that could be a series called COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK, which takes place at the Jersey Shore.
JapanReviewer: What do you do to relax when you aren't writing or working at college?
I love to travel and have seen most of the US (including Alaska and Hawaii) and six countries in Europe. I also like doing interviews like this. Thank you so much for having me.