Hello, Joe! Welcome back to my blog, and thank you for answering my nosy, I mean discerning, questions!
Being nosey isn’t a bad thing, Sarah. As my character (patterned after me) Martin Anderson says in one of my Nicky and Noah mystery novels, “Gossip is like fertilizer. It should be spread all over as fast as possible so stories can grow.”
Good one. First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write.
I was a real theatre kid in school, counting the minutes until classes ended so I could go to rehearsal for the school play. After majoring in theatre in college, I became an actor in film, television, and theatre, working opposite stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. It occurred to me that acting is storytelling in the same way that writing is storytelling, so I decided to give writing a try. After writing some plays, I moved on to writing novels. My mother’s response was, “Don’t you have anything better to do than write novels?” Hm, I wonder if Stephen King’s mother asked him that? As you can see, I come from a funny Italian-American family, so humor, drama, and romance are prevalent in my books. As an actor, my characters are always well developed, quirky, and captivating (like me-smile). I’ve also been a cozy mystery fanatic since childhood, so my novels contain mystery.
Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?
Given the right-wing takeover of the US right now, I am quite concerned about people who demean and attack the rights and self-worth of others, including those who hide behind their religious beliefs to do so. Religious freedom means freedom to practice your religion, not to discriminate against others. That’s a theme in many of my novels.
What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?
My roots are in New Jersey. After college, I moved to New York City. Now I live upstate New York in a house built (not literally) by my spouse and me. Like Martin Anderson in my Nicky and Noah mysteries, I’m a college theatre professor and department chair. Also like Martin, my home study features a cherry wood fireplace mantel, bookcase, desk, and window seat overlooking the woods. It’s the perfect place for me to create my stories. Finally, like Martin, I’m a bit of a gossip, always curious about everyone. Beware, Sarah, something you say to me may very well end up in one of my books!
Right back at you, Joe. How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?
I’ve been writing plays for forty years (though I’m only thirty years old-smile). I’ve written twenty-three novels in five years (including my new releases scheduled through 2020). You might say I was a late bloomer as an author, but made up for it by writing (as Nicky would say in my Nicky and Noah mysteries) “faster than an anti-gay politician heading for a public men’s room in a blackout.” I’ve won Divine Magazine’s Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novels Awards, Favorite Book of the Month at The TBR Pile, numerous Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions, and Open Skye Book Reviews Favorite Audiobook of the Month. Since everyone tells me my books are quite cinematic, now I’m ready for my Academy Award and EMMY Award. Hear that, movie and TV producers, I’m writing the screenplay and teleplay adaptations as we speak. Make me an offer I can’t refuse!
I love it. You seem like quite a character. How often does your real-life experience figure into your story telling? Do you base characters or stories on your actual experiences?
Yes. It’s all about me (smile). My In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press) are loosely based on my high school and college years respectively. Like Bobby and Paolo in my Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, The First Noel (Dreamspinner Press), I travelled to Capri, Italy and fell in love with that magical, glorious island. The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press) is my gay take on my favorite fairytales like Cinderella, Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, Pinocchio, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Snow Queen. My Nicky and Noah mystery novels (Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity) are farcical, gay, cozy, who-dun-its that take place in fictitious Treemeadow College.
While thankfully none of my colleagues or students have been murdered at my own college, I kid that if any of them annoy me, I’ll kill them in my next book. I use my knowledge of shooting (meaning filming) on film and television sets in my Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (the Wild Rose Press) about an ex-child star making her movie comeback while solving murder mysteries on the sets. My Cozzi Cove series (NineStar Press): Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, and now Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings takes place at Cozzi Cove, a fictitious gay resort on the New Jersey Shore where nothing is what it seems, and romance is always in the sea air. The bungalows on Cozzi Cove are based on my aunt and uncle’s cottage on the New Jersey Shore, which I loved visiting each summer as a child.
With all those books written in only five years, are you a panster or a plotter? Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?
Jumping up awake in the middle of the night with a new book idea, I jot notes on my nightstand. The next day I begin a biography for each character and eventually a plot summary. I write the first draft, then show the second draft to my spouse for his notes. After he nitpicks, the third draft goes to the editor for notes. My outlines for mysteries are more extensive, planning the clues, red herrings, plot twists and turns, and surprise but justifiable endings.
Since you are so prolific, what advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a published author?
Don’t listen to the naysayers! Don’t try to copy anyone else’s style! Discover what’s special about you and your stories and write them without inhibitions. If one publisher isn’t interested, send them to the next, or publish them yourself. Finally, don’t forget the humor—in your books and in your life.
Why did you choose to write M/M stories?
I was shopping at the mall and I came upon the movie theatre wing. Poster after poster featured movies with no gay characters. It was as if LGBT people didn’t exist. I decided then and there to write stories that included all gender identities, sexual orientations, races, ages, and cultures.
Do you read reviews? How do you handle a negative review?
Most of my reviews and reader response have been incredibly positive, which fuel my writing. What a gift it is for a reader to post a positive review on Amazon or Goodreads, relating how something I’ve written has moved them, made them think about something new, or changed their life. As for the few bad reviews, I don’t read them. As my mother always told me, “If you don’t have something nice to say about somebody, don’t say anything at all.” I can’t imagine why anyone would continue reading a book after chapter one if he/she doesn’t like it. Just put it down and read something else. Why attack a book someone has poured his/her blood, sweat, and tears into? It’s your karma, honey.
Thank you for interviewing today, Joe.
It was my pleasure. Let’s make a deal, Sarah. You keep writing your great books, and I’ll keep writing mine.
Deal. And speaking of new books, give us the information about your current release!
Everyone grab your Speedos, suntan lotion, and shades and head back to Cozzi Cove for my fifth novel in the series. Cal Cozzi has a bungalow waiting just for you. I hope to see you there! (That’s me on the cover-smile) Here’s the information below followed by a brief excerpt. Oh, and I love hearing from readers! Contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
COZZI COVE: HAPPY ENDINGS
The fifth novel in the Cozzi Cove series
by JOE COSENTINO
It’s summertime, the perfect season for another trip to Cozzi Cove: the magical place where nothing is what it seems and romance is always in the sea air. Welcome back to hunky Cal Cozzi’s seven guest bungalows on the New Jersey Shore. This summer Cal is visited by Kevin Donovan, a handsome man from his past who makes Cal a tempting offer to buy Cozzi Cove and provide financial security to Cal and Michael’s baby. Cal’s Wall Street sister, Taylor, has hopped aboard Kevin’s green wagon. However, Cal’s husband, Michael, and Taylor’s wife, Carla, aren’t convinced, sensing something much deeper in Kevin’s offer than meets the roving eye. Cal’s exhibitionist new houseboy, Carlos, is smitten with Cal’s sweet-faced nanny, Alfred, who carries a shocking secret in his magic Mormon underwear. Middle-aged matchmaker Gilead has matched guests Marine Master Sergeant Matt Pummel and much younger businessman Keone Paoa to the chagrin of cute young lawyer Luis Lui. As skeletons come out of their closets, the bears and cubs search for their true honey. Woodsy guest Nyx Oberon meets a sexy werewolf at the cove and they share a howling moonlit night. Nyx believes his newfound lover could be part of a much larger plan that would change his life and the world forever. Will Cal, his family, and his guests have happy endings? It’s Cozzi Cove after all.
Praise for the COZZI COVE series:
“I loved this story. It carries you through the full range of emotions, from joy to sadness, from happiness to anger. The characters are beautifully written…I look forward to a return visit to the Cove.” TBR Pile Book of the Month
“In true Joe Cosentino style, this book is packed full of drama! This cast of characters will have you laughing out loud one minute before ripping your heart out the next.” Joyfully Jay
“Joe Cosentino has the amazing ability to combine heartwarming, feel good moments with droll, sometimes biting humor, along with insights into the frailties and peccadillos of being human….Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back is the very finest in literary fiction with a romance theme, yet it’s more than just that—it’s about human connections and empathy and finding a way out of the fear and inertia faced by so many. It’s also about courage and strength, about respect and coming to terms with all that life has to offer, and it’s about letting go. I loved this book and look forward to the next in the series. This is a highly recommended read, well-deserving of Five Stars.” GGR Reviews
“Who knew that 7 bungalows set surrounding a beautiful cove, could hold so many secrets, love and intrigue?…The humour, whether subtle or not-so-subtle was superb, the timing delivered with perfection, Joe Cosentino is a natural comedian and another reason why I love reading his books. He is also very clever, he weaved moral messages throughout the entire storyline….Great fun entwined with the Cosentino romantic magic that brings his books alive, I loved it.” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“Oh, Cozzi Cove, you are fast becoming a favorite vacation destination with your action and excitement! Joe Cosentino once again wins his way into your heart and soul with this fun, flirtatious romance. Love, laughter and smoldering intimacy await all who dare to venture to the clear blue waters of the Cove.” 3 Chicks After Dark
“Imagine a beautiful getaway where the hot, sexy, and wealthy gay men go…it’s a place where there’s never a dull moment. Every page of this new title brings readers nothing but excitement, intrigue, and an intensity that will burn away the night’s quiet. Most novels offer readers one journey in which readers travel upon, however, readers are brought not one but several journeys that will leave them breathless and hooked. As with all of Joe Cosentino’s novels, humor comes in abundance and fits in perfectly with all of his stunning characters….Joe sweeps his readers into his characters’ lives by creating realistic characters with real issues. The book automatically captures your heart from page one and forever holds it. After reading the story, readers will be begging for the next grand adventure. Funny, heart melting, and swoon worthy, readers will finish reading this in one sitting. I loved reading this riveting tale, and I highly recommend it to readers everywhere.” Urban Book Reviews
“Spending a week in the sun with the permanent and transitory residents of Cozzi Cove makes for a superb, unputdownable, read. There are laugh out loud moments, lots of chuckles, some very heartwarming as well as heart wrenching moments, lots of gorgeous men and women, love, lust and even some tears. Joe Cosentino has a brilliantly unique sense of humour, and a masterful way of writing stories containing farce, larger than life men and women, and often over the top characters you’ll fall in love with. For all that his characters come across as completely relatable and realistic. His books are one of a kind and utterly addictive. I have yet to read a Joe Cosentino book that was less than 5 Stars, and this book is no exception. Do yourself a favour and grab this book with both hands. I guarantee you’ll be very glad you did.” Divine Magazine
“There is plenty to feast upon within each sudsy storyline, including intrigue, deception, desire, romance, and sex….As the pages turn quickly and events unfold, the ensuing antics are irresistibly entertaining, but more importantly the characters are likeable and deserve our genuine interest and concern as some of their relationships are put to the test. Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings is clearly just that — the beginning — for Cal and Michael, and this highly engaging, enjoyable novel examines both their past and present history as proof that they were destined to be together.” Edge Media Network
“I adore this series so much. I adore it partly because of the setting, the writing, the romance, but also because each one of the guests at Cozzi Cove has a story beyond their face value….There is so much packed into this book’s short 174 pages and I loved every single one of them!” Alpha Book Club
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino won Divine Magazine’s Readers Poll for Best LGBT Mystery Novel, Best LGBT Humorous Novel, and Best LGBT Contemporary Novel of the Year. He wrote the Cozzi Cove beach series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (TBR Pile Book of the Month/Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Favorite), Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity; the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays and The Perfect Gift, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland; and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). 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. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards! Upcoming novels and novellas are Drama Castle, Drama Dance, and Drama Faerie, Nicky and Noah mysteries; The First Noel, Bobby and Paolo Holiday Story Book 3 (Dreamspinner Press); and Holiday Tales from Fairyland, Tales from Fairyland Book 2.
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Excerpt of Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings, the fifth Cozzi Cove novel, by Joe Cosentino:
Cal placed the luggage on the floor next to the desk. “What do you do?”
“I’m a matchmaker.”
Cal couldn’t help smiling.
“What? Because my name isn’t Dolly or Yente?”
“What is your name?”
“Gilead Shadchan. I’m like the ‘Balm in Gilead,’ the salve to make everything all right.”
“The ‘Balm in Gilead’?”
Gilead sighed. “Nobody reads the Bible anymore, except the people who use it as a weapon to try to take away our rights.”
Cal found Gilead’s name on his computer. “Yes, you purchased four bungalows for the week.”
“They’re not all for me.” Gilead adjusted his tight powder-blue jumpsuit. “I’m not that large.” He chuckled.
There was something likeable about the guy. “Who are they for?”
“My clients. I’m the top-rated matchmaker in the gay community. Haven’t you heard of me?”
“Have you been to Commercial Street in Provincetown, Castro Street in San Francisco, Christopher Street in New York City, and Duval Street in Key West?”
“You notice the sea of gay couples holding hands as they walk down the streets?”
“I did that. And believe me I get a lot of wedding invitations from my clients. I can do the alley cat, tarantella, and Macarena in my sleep.” He sat on the desk. “I also match up guys on the down low and in the up high.”
“The up high?”
“The Vatican.” He said sotto voce, “The priests without altar boys.”
Cal couldn’t help laughing.
Gilead squinted at the tiny American flag on Cal’s shirt. “Interesting flag. Where’s the other colors of the rainbow?”
Though Cal was entertained by Gilead’s antics, he needed to get back to business. “Gilead, I have you in Bungalow Five and your guests in Bungalows Two, Three, and Four.”
He nodded. “Generally, the men I match go out to dinner to meet each other. But these guys bought my special package: a week’s vacation at a gay resort with the man of their dreams.”
“What if one of them isn’t happy with your selection for him?”
“Impossible. I have a ninety-five percent success rate in matchmaking.”
“And the other five percent?”
“They came out as straight.” He raised his eyes to his receding hairline. “For the moment.”
Cal said, “With all the hook-up web sites, I’m surprised a matchmaker still exits.”
“Those web sites are just that.” He said as if eating mud, “Places for hook-ups.” Smiling radiantly, he added, “I match people for life!”
“How do you do it?”
Gilead said with a flourish of his pudgy hand, “I meet with each applicant for three hours, where I ask him a series of questions. Then I type the data into my computer and the magic happens.”
“Hopefully the Republicans won’t work with Russia to hack in.”
Gilead paused, stared at Cal, and then burst out laughing. “I like an innkeeper with a sense of humor.” He crossed one leg over the over. “You looking for somebody?”
Cal smiled. “I’m happily married, thank you.”
“If anything changes.” Gilead handed Cal his card. “I guarantee satisfaction.”
“I don’t think I’ll be needing your services.”
“That’s what they all say.”
Cal couldn’t resist. “Are you single, Gilead?”
“As single as a Republican at a Green Peace rally.” He sighed. “To be honest, Cal, I’ve devoted my life to finding happiness for others. Now at forty-five, I’m ready for a bit of happiness myself.”
“You may find it. This is Cozzi Cove.”