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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Interview with and Excerpt from Joe Cosentino, author of the Nicky and Noah series

Joe Cosentino kindly joins us today with a Q&A and excerpt from his recently released mystery/comedy/romance, Drama Queen, featuring sleuths Nicky and Noah.   In addition to being an author, Joe is a talented actor and theater professor.  Drama Queen takes advantage of his experience and gives us a funny and entertaining peek into the theater world. Thanks for stopping in, Joe!!

Hello, Joe. Thank you for interviewing with us today.

My pleasure.

When did you start writing?

I’ve always been a storyteller. As a kid I was the star of the plays in my friend’s garage. We forced our poor, unsuspecting parents to watch every one—including the lavish musicals! After college I became a professional actor, working in film, television, and theatre opposite stars like Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Bruce Willis, Charles Keating, Jason Robards, and Holland Taylor. Moving on to playwriting and ultimately writing novels seemed like an obvious next step.

How was it 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 did an AT&T Industrial with Rose O’Donnell, A Midsummer Night’s Dream onstage with Bruce Willis, Roar of the Greasepaint onstage with Nathan Lane, a Commercial Credit Computer commercial with Jason Robards, NBC’s Another World with Charles Keating, and ABC’s My Mother Was Never a Kid with Holland Taylor.

Is Drama Queen your first novel?

I wrote a mystery/romance series about an ex-child star, the Jana Lane mysteries. Paper Doll is out now. Porcelain Doll and Satin Doll should follow soon. I also wrote the well-received An Infatuation, an MM romance novella published by Dreamspinner Press.

How did Lethe Press come to publish Drama Queen?

I noticed Lethe Press publishes many humorous, theatrically-styled gay books, and the company has been successful for fourteen years. After I submitted the manuscript, Steve Berman offered to publish it, saying he had great fun reading it. I think like all my writing, DramaQueen has amazing crossover appeal and will be enjoyed by gay and straight people alike. A good story is a good story. Funny is funny. A great mystery is a great mystery.

How many books have your written so far in this series?

Three: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, and Drama Cruise. In Drama Queen, Nicky and Noah have to uncover why college theatre professors are dropping like stage curtains while Nicky directs the college play production—a murder mystery. In Drama Muscle, 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, 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. In the fourth novel (not written yet), Drama Luau, Nicky and Noah will go to Hawaii to direct a luau show, where muscular hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts.

Why did you write a mystery/comedy/romance series?

Can’t we all use a good laugh, a challenging brain twister, and a bit of romance? Drama Queen is the kind of book I like reading. It is funny, theatrical, sexy, wild, and wacky with a solid mystery full of plot twists and turns at its center.

How do you think up all the clues, red herrings, and surprises in the novel?

I’ve read every Agatha Christie novel and play many times. She is a genius at outlining when and where to give the reader what information. I love the inversion in her books, where she uses sleight of hand to lay out all the information, but not in a straight forward manner. The reader becomes the sleuth to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I tried to do the same in this series.

Since you are a college theatre professor, is the series based on you, your colleagues, and students?

Do you mean 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.

Who was your favorite character to write in Drama Queen?

Nicky has such amazing wit, perseverance in the face of adversity, and smarts. I love his sense of determination in not only nabbing the murderer, but also getting his man—Noah. Nicky knows that he wants and how to get it. He is genuinely concerned for others, and he wants to help them. He also has no problem taking on the role of hero. Finally, he is a one-man man, and Nicky is proud to admit that man is Noah Oliver.

Which character was the hardest to write?

Loptu Lee, the Playwriting professor is a scream. She has two different personalities, either of which come out at the most inopportune times and places.

What are the rules for writing a good mystery?

Here are my rules. Give the clues early. There’s nothing worse than reading a mystery and not getting any clues until the end. That’s cheating. Camouflage your clues and put in a number of red herrings. A mystery should have more than mystery. Like any novel, it should have interesting characters, a strong plot with lots of twists and turns, and a satisfying ending. In my case, it also needs a heavy dose of wacky humor.

Is Drama Queen available as an ebook and paperbook?

Yes, this gives the reader an option to read it on a Kindle, Nook, computer, or with book in hand on the beach or in bed. The audiobook should be out in about a month.

Do you see this as a TV series?

Yes! And I want to play Martin Anderson. Couldn’t you see Matt Bomer as Nicky and Neil Patrick Harris as Noah? This will give The Hardy Boys a run for their money.

How can your readers get their hands on Drama Queen, and how can they contact you?

The purchase links for Drama Queen are below, as are my contact links, including my web site. I love to hear from readers!!!

About Drama Queen
It could be curtains for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodies popping up all over campus, Nicky must use his drama skills to figure out who is playing the role of murderer before it is lights out for Nicky and his colleagues. Complicating matters is Nicky’s huge crush on Noah Oliver, a gorgeous assistant professor in his department, who may or may not be involved with a cocky graduate assistant...and is also the top suspect for the murders! You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat, delightfully entertaining novel. Curtain up!

Purchase the paperback from Lethe Press or Amazon 
Purchase the ebook from Smashwords
Purchase the Kindle edition from Amazon

Excerpt from Drama Queen

With the student actors and technicians sitting in the front of the theatre (obliviously texting on their phones), my student stage manager, SuCho, screamed for everyone’s attention, and for me to come to the front of the theatre house to give them my notes. This thankfully sent David off to his office in a huff.

After I had given my first few notes, I noticed Noah Oliver standing in the back of the theatre. Noah is tall and lean with curly blond hair, blue eyes, and the sweetest smile I have ever wanted to kiss in an Assistant Professor. While I teach Theatre History and Play Directing, Noah is our department’s specialist in Acting, and for good reason. Noah is a terrific actor, a creative and passionate teacher, and a wonderful colleague. More importantly, I have had a crush on him since the moment he made his entrance into our humble campus three years ago. Noah is single, gay, and seems to really like me. Why don’t I ask him out? Noah is twenty-eight years young. As a junior professor in my department in need of my vote for tenure this year, if I make a pass at him it could be considered attempted coercion on my part.

It was difficult for me to concentrate on giving my notes to the students since Scotty Bruno, my graduate assistant and Assistant Director of the play, was talking, laughing, and obviously flirting with Noah in the rear of the theatre. I had reason to be concerned. Scotty has bleached blond hair, contact lens turquoise eyes, ultra-white bonded teeth, and muscles as if sculpted by Michelangelo, housed in multi-colored, stuffed shorts and tank top (in winter) that were not unnoticed by Noah. Unless I was becoming nearsighted, I could have sworn that Scotty whispered something into Noah’s ear then handed Noah a box. What the heck is in it? Love letters? Condoms? My heart on a silver platter?

“Any notes for me, professor?” Paul Amour, my leading man, sat front row center and winked at me. Identifying as bisexual, Paul uses his charms with men and women alike to get their attention. Tall with shiny, wavy black hair climbing down his neck, chiseled features, and a body like a Greek god, getting attention wasn’t too difficult for Paul.

“You were like terrific tonight, Paul. I really believed you were like the murderer!” Ricky Gonzalez, Paul’s co-star and last onstage murder victim, sat next to Paul like an art dealer admiring the Mona Lisa. Ricky is shorter and darker than Paul with a smaller but equally cut physique. After he graduates from college and gets over his crush on Paul, Ricky will no doubt make some guy a wonderful husband.

“Thanks, Ricky.” Paul squeezed one of Ricky’s abdominal muscles.

Ricky beamed like a floodlight.

Kayla Calloway and Jan Annondale, who play murder victims one and two in the play, sat on the other side of Paul to reward their peripheral visions. Zaftig, giggly, and insecure, they hung on Paul’s every word, wishing they could hang on Paul.

“Your fight scenes were totally awesome tonight, Paul,” said Kayla.

Jan added, “And you really like aced your cool monologue at the end of the play.”

Before Paul could sign autographs, I said, “I have five more pages of notes tonight, people. Can I have everyone’s attention?” 

About the Author

Joe Cosentino is the author of Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), An Infatuation (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), 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 are Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press novella), A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella), and Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery.

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