Interview with Nicky Abbondanza, the leading character in Drama Faerie, the 9th Nicky and Noah mystery/comedy/romance novel by Joe Cosentino
Hi, Nicky! Congratulations on the release of the ninth novel in your award-winning and popular Nicky and Noah gay cozy mystery series.
Gee, thanks. I’m happier than an anti-gay politician in the back room of a gay bar during a power outage.
The novels in the series have been called “laugh out loud funny,” “sexy shenanigans,” “brilliant brain teasers,” “sweet romances,” and “a combination of Murder She Wrote, The Hardy Boys, Hart to Hart, and a British farce.”
Stop, I’m getting a big head. Well, if you read the series, you know I’ve already got one (pun intended). Actually, I share the success of our series with the love of my life, my husband and theatre professor colleague, Noah Oliver. Also, our son Taavi, our parents, and our best friends Martin and Ruben. And of course, all the readers—who we absolutely adore!
Why are your books called gay cozy mysteries?
Because readers get cozy with Noah and me. And we like it! Our books include romance, humor, mystery, adventure, and quaint and loveable characters in uncanny situations. The settings are warm and cozy with lots of hot cocoa by the fireplace. The clues and red herrings are there for the perfect whodunit. So are the plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning faster than a priest chasing an altar boy with a malfunctioning robe. No matter what is thrown in our path, Noah and I always end up on top. At least I end up on top, which is just fine with Noah. Many of the novels take place in Vermont, a cozy state with green pastures, white church steeples, glowing lakes, and friendly and accepting people. Treemeadow College (named after its gay founders, couple Tree and Meadow) is the perfect setting for a cozy mystery with its white Edwardian buildings, low white stone fences, lake and mountain views, and cherry wood offices with tall leather chairs and fireplaces.
For anyone unfortunate enough not to have read them, tell us a bit about the first eight novels in the series. (Nicky and Noah fans can skip to the next question.)
In Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of the Year) college theatre professors are dropping like stage curtains at Treemeadow College, and college theatre professors Noah and I have to use our theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit while I direct the school play. In Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) Noah and I don our gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out why bodybuilding students and professors at Treemeadow are dropping faster than barbells in my bodybuilding competition. In Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back. Noah and I must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as I direct a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from across the US. Complicating matters are our both sets of wacky parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with us. In Drama Luau, I am directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort, and Noah and I need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Our department head/best friend and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. In Drama Detective (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), I’m directing and ultimately co-starring with my husband Noah as Holmes and Watson in a new musical Sherlock Holmes play at Treemeadow College prior to Broadway. Martin and Ruben, their sassy office assistant Shayla, my brother Tony, and our son Taavi are also in the cast. Of course dead bodies begin falling over like hammy actors at a curtain call. Once again Noah and I use our drama skills to figure out who is lowering the street lamps on the actors before we get half-baked on Baker Street. In Drama Fraternity, I’m directing Tight End Scream Queen, a slasher movie filmed at Treemeadow College’s football fraternity house, co-starring Noah, our son Taavi, Martin, and Shayla. Rounding out the cast are members of Treemeadow’s Christian football players’ fraternity along with two hunky screen stars. When the quarterback, jammer, wide receiver, and more begin fading out with their scenes, Noah and I once again need to use our drama skills to figure out who is sending young hunky actors to the cutting room floor before we hit the final reel. In Drama Castle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), I’m directing a historical film co-starring Noah and Taavi at Conall Castle in Scotland: When the Wind Blows Up Your Kilt It’s Time for A Scotch. Rounding out the cast are members of the mysterious Conall family who own the castle. When hunky men in kilts topple off the drawbridge and into the mote, it’s up to Noah and me to use our acting skills to figure out whodunit before we land in the dungeon. In Drama Dance (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), during rehearsals of The Nutcracker ballet at Treemeadow, muscular dance students and faculty cause more things to rise than the Christmas tree. When cast members drop faster than Christmas balls, Noah and I once again use our drama skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out who is trying to crack the Nutcracker’s nuts, trap the Mouse King, and be cavalier with the Cavalier before we end up in the Christmas pudding.
Which brings us to your current release, Drama Faerie.
Now in Drama Faerie, it’s summer at Treemeadow College’s new Globe Theatre, where we are doing a musical production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream called It Takes a Fairy for Love in the End? With an all-male, skimpily dressed cast and a love potion gone wild, romance is in the starry night air. When hunky students and faculty in the production drop faster than their tunics and tights, Noah and I need to use our drama skills to figure out who is taking fencing to the extreme before we end up foiled in the forest.
Do you and Noah take on roles in the play?
I direct and co-star (as Oberon, the Faerie King) opposite my husband Noah (as Titania, the Queen of the Faeries), son Taavi (Oberon’s mischievous servant Puck), and best friend and department head Martin (Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazon). Since it is Treemeadow College after all, there are lots of comical hijinks, particularly among the theatre students cast in the show—with their muscles rippling out their tunics, and bulges expanding their tights. Gender role reversals and comical musical numbers add to the hilarity. Oh, and of course there are more murders than conservative politicians owned by the NRA. Once again Noah and I use our theatrical skills to trap the murderer in a shocking climax—no pun intended.
Can you give us a run down on some of the other characters?
Old beloved cast members are back, including my best friends the comically cantankerous Martin and Ruben, Martin’s sassy office assistant Shayla, my droll nemesis Detective Manuello, and our both sets of riotous parents. New characters include hunky theatre majors Ray Zhang (Demetrius), Elliot Hinton (Lysander), and graduate assistant Yates Aldrich (Lysander’s understudy). True to the play, the three guys are all hot for raven-haired Braedon Walsh (Hermia) to the chagrin of Braedon’s best friend Enoch Grayson (Helena). Rounding out the cast are punk rocker Talvin Moore (Demetrius’ understudy) who has caught the attention of Ganesh Ghosh (Titania’s boy). Add to the mix a clumsy prop girl who can’t keep the swords (or the actors) straight. Not to mention Detective Manuello (Bottom/Pyramus) may have an admirer in Associate Professor of Fencing Hank Brickman (Flute/Thisby). With Congressman Christian Evangelica determined to close down the show for including faeries and bottoms, havoc certainly ensues.
How would Noah describe you?
Noah would say I’m handsome with dark hair and long sideburns, emerald eyes, a Roman nose, muscular, smart, and charming. And my enormous manhood doesn’t hurt (or maybe it does). He’d say I have a never give up attitude and sense of humor in the face of adversity. And that I am genuinely concerned for others. Finally, I’ll do anything to solve a murder mystery. Oh, he’d also say I’m a one-man man, and I’m proud to admit that man is Noah Oliver.
Noah is gorgeous, blond, blue-eyed, lean, handsome, smart, and devoted to his family and friends. He makes the perfect Watson to my Holmes. (I always thought Holmes and Watson were a gay couple.) Noah also has a large heart and soft spot (no pun intended) for others. Finally, Noah is quite gifted at improvisation, and he creates wild and wonderful characters for our role plays to catch the murderer. He’s also a terrific father to Taavi.
It’s nice to see an older couple in the series.
Martin Anderson (our department head and best friend) is loyal and supportive of Noah and me. His one up-man-ship with his office assistant Shayla is a riot. I’ll admit that Martin is a bit of a gossip. It’s great when Ruben keeps Martin’s theatricality in line with hysterical barbs. The older couple stay sharp by engaging in their verbal warfare, but it’s all done in deep admiration and respect. Finally, it’s wonderful to see an elderly couple so much in love, and how they can read each other like a book—no pun intended. I hope Noah and I age to become just like them.
Do you like Noah’s parents as much as we’re led to believe in the books?
Yes! They’re absolutely hilarious. I love Noah’s mother’s fixation with taking pictures of everything, and his father’s fascination with seeing movies. I also love how Noah’s father is an amateur sleuth like me. As they say, men marry their fathers. My parents’ goal to feed everyone and protect their children is heartwarming too. Both sets of parents fully embrace their sons and their sons’ family, which is refreshing.
Who was your favorite new character in Drama Faerie?
Sharon Delwab, our props girl, told me the most hysterically funny “horror” stories about doing props gone wild for past shows.
Which new character do you like the least in book nine?
I started out not liking Ganesh Ghosh, a young visitor from Noah’s hometown in Wisconsin. The young man definitely grew on me as I cast him in the play and helped him come out to his father. It was also great to see Ganesh fall in love with someone in the cast.
Which new character in book nine was the sexiest?
Probably sweet raven-haired Braedon Walsh (Hermia). Hunky Ray Zhang (Demetrius), Elliot Hinton (Lysander), and Yates Aldrich (Lysander understudy) couldn’t help fighting over him.
Tell us about Joe’s Jana Lane mysteries published by The Wild Rose Press.
Noah and I aren’t in them, but they’re still really good. I guess Jana Lane whispers in Joe’s ear too. Joe 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 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. In Porcelain Doll Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. In Satin Doll 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. In China Doll Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, faced with murder on stage and off. In Rag Doll Jana stars in a television mystery series and life imitates art. 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.
Joe’s Dreamspinner Press novellas (In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays/The Perfect Gift/The First Noel, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland/Holiday Tales from Fairyland) were so well received, winning various awards. What would you say to people who loved them and might be surprised that the Nicky and Noah mysteries are quite different?
I’d tell them that my mysteries sell just as well, and I’d ask them to give Noah and me a chance. Just try us, you’ll love us.
And how about Joe’s New Jersey beach series?
Cal Cozzi must whisper in Joe’s ear too. NineStar Press published Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, and Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings. They are about handsome Cal Cozzi’s gay beach resort on a gorgeous cove. The first novel was a Favorite Book of the Month on The TBR Pile site and won a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention. I love the intertwining stories of Cal and his family and the guests as Cozzi Cove, each so full of surprises. Cozzi Cove is a place where nothing is what it seems, anything can happen, and romance is everywhere. Some reviewers have called it a gay Fantasy Island and reminiscent of Armistead Maupin’s Tales books.
How can your readers get their hands on Drama Faerie, and how can they contact you?
The purchase links are below, as are Joe’s contact links, including his web site. Joe tells me everything, so message me through him. I love to hear from readers! So does Noah!
Thank you, Nicky, for interviewing today.
It is my joy and pleasure to share this ninth novel in the series with you. So take your seats. The curtain is going up on faeries, bewitched lovers, an Amazon queen, a hungry Bottom, and of course hilarity, romance, and murder!
DRAMA FAERIE (the 9th Nicky and Noah mystery)
a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO
It’s summer at Treemeadow College’s new Globe Theatre, where theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is directing a musical production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream co-starring his spouse, theatre professor Noah Oliver, their son Taavi, and their best friend and department head, Martin Anderson. With an all-male, skimpily dressed cast and a love potion gone wild, romance is in the starry night air. When hunky students and faculty in the production drop faster than their tunics and tights, Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is taking swordplay to the extreme before Nicky and Noah end up foiled in the forest. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining ninth novel in this delightful series. Take your seats. The curtain is going up on star-crossed young lovers, a faerie queen, an ass who is a great Bottom, and murder!
Praise for the Nicky and Noah mysteries:
“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his use of farce, along with his convoluted plot-lines, will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven’t discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat.” Divine Magazine
“a combination of Laurel and Hardy mixed with Hitchcock and Murder She Wrote…
Loaded with puns and one-liners…Right to the end, you are kept guessing, and the conclusion still has a surprise in store for you.” “the best modern Sherlock and Watson in books today…I highly recommend this book and the entire series, it’s a pure pleasure, full of fun and love, written with talent and brio…fabulous…brilliant” Optimumm Book Reviews
“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet….I can’t find anything not to love about this series….This read had me laughing and falling in love….Nicky and Noah are my favorite gay couple.” Urban Book Reviews
“For fans of Joe Cosentino’s hilarious mysteries, this is another vintage story with more cheeky asides and sub plots right left and centre….The story is fast paced, funny and sassy. The writing is very witty with lots of tongue-in-cheek humour….Highly recommended.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“Every entry of the Nicky and Noah mystery series is rife with intrigue, calamity, and hilarity…Cosentino keeps us guessing – and laughing – until the end, as well as leaving us breathlessly anticipating the next Nicky and Noah thriller.” Edge Media Network
“A laugh and a murder, done in the style we have all come to love….This had me from the first paragraph….Another wonderful story with characters you know and love!” Crystals Many Reviewers
“These two are so entertaining….Their tactics in finding clues and the crazy funny interactions between characters keeps the pages turning. For most of the book if I wasn’t laughing I was grinning.” Jo and Isa Love Books
“Superb fun from start to finish, for me this series gets stronger with every book and that’s saying something because the benchmark was set so very high with book 1.” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“The Nicky and Noah Mysteries series are perfect for fans of the Cozy Mystery sub-genre. They mix tongue-in-cheek humor, over-the-top characters, a wee bit of political commentary, and suspense into a sweet little mystery solved by Nicky and Noah, theatre professors for whom all the world’s a stage.” Prism Book Alliance
“This is one hilarious series with a heart and it just keeps getting better. I highly recommend them all, and please read them in the order they were written for full blown laugh out loud reading pleasure!” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
About the Author:
Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie; the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays/The Perfect Gift/The First Noel, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland with Holiday Tales from Fairyland; the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings (NineStar Press); 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 Chair of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and he is happily married. Joe’s books have received numerous Favorite Book of the Month Awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions.
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Paperback: 227 pages
Genre: MM, contemporary, mystery, comedy, romance, Shakespeare, college
Cover Art: Jesús Da Silva
Excerpt of Drama Faerie, the ninth Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino:
After we showered (together), we rested under our white satin sheets with our heads on our hypoallergenic pillows. Noah wrapped his legs around mine. “How do you think tech week is going so far?”
I sighed. “The same as usual. Like a mental institution during a three-alarm fire at the site of an earthquake during a world war.”
“We’re lucky to have the new theatre.”
“Thank Martin and Ruben. And the Chinese.”
He placed his head on my chest, and I ran my fingers through his hair. “You look so sexy in your Oberon costume, Nicky.”
“Right back at you as Titania.”
“And Taavi is the perfect Puck.”
“Martin and Ruben are having a blast as Hippolyta and Theseus.”
“I know! Their arguments have been even more robust than usual.”
“Don’t say the word ‘bust.’” I chuckled. “I’ll never forget the sight of Martin’s lopsided bosoms. He looked like a woman who had burned only half her bra.”
Noah smiled. “I still can’t believe Manuello is understudying Egeus and Bottom/Pyramus.”
“Neither can Manuello.”
“Dante is doing a fine job in the role, despite not knowing what his character is talking about.”
“They can probably hear him in Stratford. And he sure fills the costume.”
“Dante’s a good colleague.” Noah sat up and rested his back on the oak headboard. “Why did he leave his college in Pittsburgh?”
My ego surfaced—as usual. “It must have been to work in one of my productions.”
“At the party for the cast in the dorm last weekend, Dante had a bit too much to drink. When you were talking to a group of students, he sat beside me on a loveseat, telling me how helpful I was to him his first year at Treemeadow. And how much he likes me.”
My spine stiffened. “Did he come on to you?”
I joined Noah at the headboard. “What does that mean?”
“He asked if he could somehow help me in return.”
“Did you tell him you have a husband for that?”
“I sure did.”
“Good.” I kissed his cheek. “Did he take the hint?”
Noah nodded. “But there’s something mysterious about him, as if he’s hiding some kind of secret.”
“Most people have secrets.”
“He was nice enough to offer Enoch Grayson his office hour to talk.”
I felt like a gossip columnist on daytime television. “It seems that plain Enoch is interested in hunky Elliot Hinton and our studly grad assistant Yates Aldrich.”
“I saw the three of them at that dorm party. Our Demetrius, Ray Zang, was with them too. Elliot, Yates, and Ray all seemed interested in Enoch.”
“But according to Enoch, their ‘interest’ ended after the party.”
“I wonder why?”
“Enoch said Elliot gave him a pity lay, Ray didn’t want Elliot showing him up, and Yates saw Enoch as the closest thing he could get to his real target—Braedon Walsh.”
“College can be a rough place.”
“Nicky, aren’t Enoch and Braedon best friends since grade school?”
I nodded. “But it’s a sticky situation.” No pun intended. “It appears Elliot and Yates, and probably Ray, are fighting over cute little Braedon.”
“Which one does Braedon prefer?”
“None of them from what he told Enoch.”
“Do you think Braedon is trying to spare Enoch’s feelings?”
“Could be. Braedon’s a good friend to Enoch. He seemed really upset that Enoch was hurting, and he offered to help.”
“Did Enoch take him up on it?”
I shook my head. “Enoch threw Braedon’s popularity in his handsome face.”
Noah rubbed his forehead. “Nicky, I just realized something. Our cast member’s lives are like their characters in the play at the start of the show. Elliot and Yates who play Lysander, and Ray who is Demetrius, desire Braedon who is cast as Hermia. And nobody desires Braedon’s best friend, Enoch, who plays Hermia’s best friend Helena.”
“But the difference here is that Braedon isn’t interested in Elliot, Yates, or Ray. At least he says he’s not interested.”
“Nicky, a professor with a mysterious past, a college student enamored of three other students who all have eyes for the student’s best friend.” Noah rested his knees against his chest. “Secrets, unrequited love, jealousy. They’re all motives for murder.”
I pulled Noah down, and spooned him into my chest. “I hope that doesn’t happen.”
“Me too. Good night, Nicky.”
“Good night, Noah.”
As we lay together drifting off to sleep, I wondered who in our cast or crew would turn out to be a murderer.