(a Nicky and Noah mystery)
Hello, Joe. It’s great to have you back again.
I’m a fan. And I love answering your questions!
Thanks! You started out as an actor. What was it like to work with so many big celebrities?
The other day my mother said to me, “I remember when I saw you in a play with Bruce Willis. How come he’s a big star and you aren’t?” Thanks, Mom. I am a big star. A legend in my own mind. Hah. 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). 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 and Bruce Willis playing Noah’s parents in a TV version of Drama Muscle!
Are there plans for a television series?
Sure. I have many, many plans. Now I just 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!
What do you mean when you say you write theatrically?
I write a great deal of dialogue, and my novels are quite cinematic. Hear that film and television producers? Hint. Hint.
Why did you write a gay mystery/comedy/romance series?
Somebody had to do it. Hah. Actually, 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! And of course some gay romance. It’s a true cozy mystery.
What does that term, cosy mystery, mean to you?
The setting is warm and cosy. There is a happy ending (after the murderer is uncovered). And there are lots of laughs and romance along the way. 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. In the first novel, it is winter, so white snow, cherry wood mantels surrounding blazing fireplaces, and hot chocolate are in abundance. In this 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 a cruise to Alaska for sights of glaciers and whales while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship. 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.
Was Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery, well received?
Thankfully, yes! Readers told me they fell in love with Nicky and Noah as they fell in love with one another. Reviewers called Drama Queen hysterically funny farce, Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys, and a captivating whodunit with a surprise ending. One reviewer said it was the funniest book of the year! Who am I to argue? 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 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.
And in 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.
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 and, believe it or not to look at me, bodybuilding are 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.”
Your Dreamspinner Press novellas (An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, and the upcoming (Jan. 27) The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland) were well reviewed. What do you say to people who loved them and might be surprised that the Nicky and Noah mysteries are quite different?
I love broccoli quiche but I also love spinach quiche. 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.
How do you find the time to be a college professor/department head and do all this writing?
I write in the evenings. Being a little tired helps loosen my creative energies and flow. Plus my spouse has gone to bed, so the house is quiet. The voices are free to roam in my head—and they do!
Where do you write?
I have a cosy (no pun intended) home study with a window seat, fireplace with a cherry wood mantel (like Martin Anderson in the Nicky and Noah mysteries), a huge cherry wood desk, and cherry wood bookshelves.
Who was your favorite character to write in Drama Muscle?
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 what 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. However, my favorite character in book two is Noah’s mother who is devoted to her son—almost as much as she’s devoted to her camera!
Noah’s father is pretty hilarious too.
I love how Noah’s father is an amateur sleuth like Nicky. As they say, men marries their fathers. That comes out even more in book three.
Will Nicky’s parents visit too?
We meet Nicky’s parents in book three, Drama Cruise. They are equally hysterical.
Which character do you like the least?
Professor of Bodybuilding Van Granite may have muscles and a chin like granite, but he appears to be after Noah, definitely a no-no.
Which character was the hardest to write?
The Kim twins bodybuilding students can read each other’s minds. So their dialogue is always in answer to something the other has thought. While this is really funny to read, it was difficult to write.
Is it hard to write comedy?
I’ve always had a funny mind. I can hear almost anything and see the humor in it. I think I get this from my mother. For example, for Christmas one year my parents bought me a sweater and my sister a house. When I asked my mother if I was an orphan, she replied, “Orphans don’t have sweaters. Appreciate what you have.”
You have another mystery series. Tell us about your 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 (releasing from The Wild Rose Press March 15), 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.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Nine Star Press is publishing my two novels that take place at a gay summer resort on the Jersey Shore: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back and Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward. I love to hear from readers at http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com. So let’s all read Drama Muscle, and pump up!
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 their drama 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!
After a sip of her milk, Bonnie said, “Thank you both for letting us come visit.”
“We’re thrilled to have you, Mom,” Noah replied.
“You two boys have a beautiful home,” she said.
“Thanks, Mom,” said Noah.
“How long have you two guys been living here?” asked Scott with his mouth full.
“Nine months,” I replied.
“Did you buy the baby bassinet yet?” asked Scott with a wink at his son.
We all laughed, though I noticed Noah’s laugh was forced.
“Oh, that reminds me!” Bonnie pulled her iPad out of her purse. “I want to take a picture of all of us to show Judy back in Wisconsin.” After we all posed together, Bonnie aimed and pressed the iPad, then emailed the picture to her friend. “Noah, you know Judy and Jack at the next farm from us.”
“Sure,” Noah replied.
Bonnie looked at her iPad screen and laughed. “Judy said she was worried that since Noah is a big college professor, dinner might be something French, but she says it looks delicious.” Bonnie continued reading. “Judy likes the kitchen curtains too.” After more staring at the screen, she added, “And Judy says that Nicky and Noah make a nice couple.”
I kissed Noah’s cheek, and he squirmed like a kid out on a date with his parents driving.
Bonnie said, “Judy also said you need to go on a diet, Dad.”
Scott laughed and helped himself to another omelet. “Take a picture of this for her,” said Scott, and Bonnie obliged.
Trying to follow the Oliver family logic, I asked, “What does a baby bassinet have to do with Judy and Jack in Wisconsin? Did they just have a baby?”
“Ah!” said Bonnie nearly choking on a green pepper. “At their age! Noah, do you remember their son, Timmy?”
“Sure. We played together as kids,” Noah said.
After a nod and a swallow, Bonnie said, “Timmy went away to college, then to graduate school, then to another graduate school.”
“And now he’s home without a job,” added Scott helping himself to yet another omelet.
Bonnie continued. “Timmy is back, like Dad said, and he brought Tommy with him!”
“Hopefully Tommy has a job,” I interjected to thunderous laughter from Scott.
“You two!” Bonnie said with a scolding look at Scott and me. “Before Dad and I flew here, Judy told me that Timmy and Tommy are getting married next month. They rented that big catering hall on the highway. You know the one, Noah.”
“I hope Jack sells a lot more milk,” said Scott with a wink at me.
Stifling a laugh, I said, “That’s terrific. Are you two going to the wedding?”
“Of course,” replied Bonnie. “Noah, if you were home, you could have come too.”
Noah’s face reddened. “I haven’t seen Timmy in many years, Mom.”
I asked, “Noah, when you and Timmy…played together, were you—?”
“Isn’t that the sweetest thing?” Bonnie said to her son. “Nicky’s jealous!”“Answer the question, Noah,” Scott said as if my attorney.
“They were just children for heaven’s sake,” said Bonnie coming to Noah’s defense.
“We fooled around together,” Noah said. Hearing himself, he added, “We played games together.”
After a nudge from Scott, I said, “What kind of games?”
Noah raised his eyes to the orange curtains. “Timmy and I never did anything. I didn’t even know he was gay.”
Bonnie took another omelet. “Noah, you didn’t know?”
“No. Did you, Mom?” asked Noah in astonishment.
“Of course, honey,” said Bonnie.
“How?” asked Noah.
“Mothers always know. It’s our momdar,” said Bonnie proudly.
Scott explained, “Timmy told Judy when he was ten. And of course Judy told your mother.” Scott smiled at his son. “I always say God makes us how he makes us, and God doesn’t make mistakes.”
“Amen!” said Bonnie as if she was at a revival tent meeting. She swallowed a piece of omelet, savoring the delicious taste, then said, “Judy told me that Timmy and Tommy have already made plans to adopt a baby…from Vietnam! Timmy and Tommy have to go all the way over there to get her! I told Judy that since Timmy and Tommy are making such a long trip, they should get a second one while they are there. I mean the cost of airfare and hotels nowadays is outrageous, even in Vietnam. And who would want to go to Vietnam anyway, except for a war, or to get a child? How many people plan their vacations saying, ‘Let’s go to Vietnam this year?’ Besides, a child should grow up with a sibling.”
“I’m an only child, Mom,” interjected Noah.
“We tried for more, but the first one broke the mold,” said Bonnie with a kiss to her son’s cheek.
Scott winked at me. “We tried and tried and tried.”
“It took us a while to have this one,” Bonnie said, pointing at Noah. “He was a breech baby. We were all so worried. I was in agony…for hours!” She kissed Noah’s forehead. “The pain you caused me! It still hurts on a rainy day.”
“My little breech baby,” I said kissing Noah’s scarlet cheek.
“Do you have a brother or sister, Nicky?” asked Bonnie.
“One brother, “I answered.
“How nice,” said Bonnie.
Noah said, “Nicky told me his brother got the good looks in the family, so I’m very anxious to meet him.”
I squeezed Noah’s knee. “Down, boy. My brother and his wife work in my parents’ bakery in Kansas.”
“Do they sell flambéed vanilla-poached pear crêpes?” asked Scott, pinching his son’s nose.
“They’ll probably have that at Timmy and Tommy’s wedding,” said Bonnie. “Unless the whole menu is Vietnamese in honor of the baby.” She took her son’s hand. “When Judy was going on and on, as only Judy can do, about Timmy’s wedding, and now seeing you and Nicky living here so compatibly, I know it isn’t any of my business, but I can’t help but wonder…and I’m certainly not trying to push anything…and I will totally understand and my feelings won’t be hurt one iota if you say to me, ‘Mom just butt out,’ but I was just—”
“Are you going to make an honest man out of my son, Nicky,” said Scott, cutting to the chase.
“Oh, Dad, that’s not what I meant,” Bonnie said pushing her husband’s shoulder.
Noah said, “Thanks for your support, Mom and Dad.” Sounding like an independent politician running for office, he added, “It means a great deal to both of us. The truth is Nicky and I haven’t talked about marriage and children. But when we do, you two will be the first to know.”
Congratulations to Joe Cosentino for winning Best Contemporary Novel, Best Mystery Novel, Best Crime Novel, and Best Humorous Novel of 2015 for DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery published by Lethe Press, in the Divine Magazine Readers’ Poll Awards!
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.”
“Who-dunits don’t come more whodunnity 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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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
“Joe Cosentino has brilliantly done it again! His latest novel, Drama Queen, is the most fascinating mystery of all time. I loved the laugh out loud moments and the crazy fast-paced plot. Readers will instantly be drawn into Joe Cosentino’s stunning mystery. I recommend this novel to readers worldwide and look forward to reading the next adventure by this talented writer.”
Danielle Urban, Universal Creativity, Inc.
About the Author:
Amazon Bestselling author 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 are Drama 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).
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Publisher: Lethe Press
Cover Art: Denny Minonne
Cover Design: Inkspiral Design
Release date: January, 2, 2016