AN INTERVIEW WITH JOE COSENTINO
ON THE RELEASE OF THE FIRST NOEL,
BOBBY AND PAOLO HOLIDAY STORIES BOOK 3,
AND THE BOBBY AND PAOLO HOLIDAY STORIES ANTHOLOGY
PUBLISHED BY DREAMSPINNER PRESS
Welcome to my blog, Joe. Thanks so much for dropping by to answer a few questions and tell us more about your new releases!
Thank you, Sarah. It’s incredibly literate and romantic in here. (smile)
When did you start writing?
My first recollection of storytelling is when my older sister and cousin wrapped a sheet around me in my cousin’s garage, placed me in a garbage can full of yellow paper strips, and we performed a Nativity scene for unsuspecting family members and friends. When I realized that I was the star, the theatre bug bit me. That led to full theatrical musical productions in a neighbor’s garage. To this day when I enter a garage, I start singing and dancing. Ultimately, I majored in theatre at college, and 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). Moving on to playwriting and ultimately writing novels came next. Along the way, I received two master’s degrees and became a college professor/department head, though like Bobby’s mother in my short story, my mother keeps asking me when I’m going to get “a real job” and make as much money as my sister the accountant.
What are the rules for writing a good romance story? And what is your writing process?
If you want readers to fall in love with your characters, you need to fall in love with them first. That includes the settings. Let them be as romantic as possible. Also, a little humor and mystery never hurt any story. I generally wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea. The next day, if I can read the notes on my night table, I write a brief outline and biography for each character. Next, as in my acting days, I ask myself questions about each character and their journey. What are they thinking and feeling? What do they want? What is standing in the way of them getting what they want? Then I get them talking to one another in my head. It’s lots of fun when they take off. Sometimes they talk faster than I can type, and I type ninety words per minute. My spouse reads my second draft and gives me some feedback. After we argue, I write my third draft, which goes to the publisher.
As a college professor/department head, where do you find the time to write so many books?
I write nights and summers. As my mother would say, I’ve always had a strong imagination. So it’s not difficult for me to connect to my inner muse and let the characters out. It isn’t unusual for me to laugh, cry, feel romantic, and be surprised as I write these stories.
For those unfortunate enough not to have discovered your books yet, tell everyone about them. 🙂
My Nicky and Noah comedy mystery series features Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary novel of 2015), Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, and Drama Castle. In each novel, dead bodies drop like hammy actors at a curtain call as college theatre professors and lovers Nicky and Noah use their theatre skills, including impersonating others, in hysterically funny antics to figure out whodunit and why.
The Jana Lane mystery series (The Wild Rose Press) includes Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, and Rag Doll. Set in the 1980’s, ex-child star and current comeback actress Jana Lane solves mysteries on her movie, television, and stage sets with the help of her gay best friend and gay agent while fundraising for her AIDS foundation.
The Cozzi Cove beach series (NineStar Press) is set in a gay resort on the New Jersey shore owned by ex-football player, handsome Cal Cozzi. Each novel provides an entryway into Cal’s life and the lives of the various residents staying in Cal’s bungalows each summer. They include Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention/TBR Pile Favorite Book of the Month), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings. Nothing is what it seems in Cozzi Cove, and romance is always in the sea air.
Last but not least are my Dreamspinner Press stories. In My Heart: An Infatuation and A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) are loosely based on my high school and college years. I still receive messages from readers telling me how much those two stories changed their lives. The Tales from Fairyland: The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Open Skye Book Reviews Favorite Audiobook of the Month) and Holiday Tales from Fairyland are my riotously funny gay takes on my favorite fairytales.
You forgot The Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories (Dreamspinner Press)!
I was saving the cherry on top of last. A Home for the Holidays is a holiday novella loosely based on my trip to the magical and gorgeous island of Capri. Bobby, a young, Italian American law student from Philadelphia travels to Capri, during the winter holidays to meet his eccentric Italian relatives, and falls in love with his handsome, muscular, sexy Italian distant cousin, Paolo. Since A Home for the Holidays left open the future of Bobby’s and Paolo’s relationship; Joel Leslie (the incredibly talented voice over artist), readers, reviewers, and Dreamspinner Press staff suggested I write more Bobby and Paolo holiday stories. So I wrote The Perfect Gift, a two-part story that takes place over the next two Christmases, where Bobby and Paolo move to Philadelphia, and overcome numerous obstacles for the perfect wedding (December Grooms), and to adopt a seven-year-old son (An Unexpected Present).
And the current release is The First Noel, Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories Book 3.
Right. Readers asked for more. Since I’m easy (no pun intended), I wrote the latest novella for young lawyer Bobby and his young fashion designer husband Paolo. Bobby’s hysterically funny parents and quirky best friend Jared are back. In the story, December has rolled around again. Jared and Jared’s lover, (the second) Noel, have spotted young fashion designer Paolo in a cozy restaurant with a young man named (the first) Noel. Who is the muscular, gorgeous, and charismatic first Noel? Also, due to doctor’s orders, Bobby’s Dad has turned in his Santa suit at his department store. Finally, Geoffrey’s birth mother, funded by an anti-gay organization, has arrived on a mission to take back Bobby and Paolo’s eight-year-old son Geoffrey. Just when everything seems to be going up in flames like a dry wreath too close to the fireplace, Santa appears and rings in a happily ever after ending you won’t want to miss. As was the case with The Perfect Gift, this story is packed with cozy holiday settings including Victorian carolers singing under candy cane-adorned city street lamps, productions of A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker, the Reading Terminal Market Holiday Railroad, and the adorned Christmas tree, market booths, and snowmen at Dilworth Park. The story ends in an exciting and romantic finale at the Delaware River Waterfront fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Humor, romance, adventure, drama, mystery, and a huge touch of holiday magic make these stories the perfect gift for the holiday.
What about The First Noel makes it different from other MM holiday short novellas?
Readers love Bobby, Paolo, and Geoffrey and really root for them as a family. The wonderful winter holiday locations, humor, mystery, and the happily ever after ending make the short story a terrific read. Also, I think everyone can relate to feeling bowled over by holiday-time stress, and yearning for a perfect, romantic holiday.
How did you feel when Dreamspinner Press also published the entire Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories anthology in paperback?
I did the happy dance with the UPS man under the mistletoe. (smile)
Bobby and Paolo are distant cousins. Might that ruffle some feathers?
Actually, this was the case with my great uncle and great aunt who were married for sixty years until their deaths. Distant cousins marrying is not unusual in Italy.
Do you think the Bobby and Paolo holiday stories would make a good movie or television series?
Do I ever! I hear Dave Franco and Zac Efron are looking to work together. I even wrote a little role for myself: Judge Stoll. Come on, producers, make me an offer!
Like Bobby and Paolo in my stories, I hope everyone reading this gets a happy ending this holiday season. Enjoy my special holiday gift to you. Please know that it comes wrapped in a huge ribbon of love. And I love hearing from readers. You can contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
THE FIRST NOEL, Bobby & Paolo’s holiday stories book 3
a short e-book novella by JOE COSENTINO
published by Dreamspinner Press
Each Christmas has marked a milestone in Bobby and Paolo’s love story. But will this year be their last noel? It’s no surprise Bobby isn’t feeling much holiday spirit—not when he suspects his husband, Paolo, might be interested in his new business associate, the incredibly handsome Noel. On top of that, Bobby’s father is hanging up his Santa suit at the department store due to health issues; and worst of all, Geoffrey’s birth mother, funded by antigay extremists, is threatening their family. She’s trying to take away Bobby and Paolo’s adopted son, but she’ll have to face their supportive friends, family, and pastor before she can tear Geoffrey from the only real home he’s ever known.
With so many challenges in their path, the December grooms will need an extra helping of holiday magic this year. Rumor has it Santa’s on his way to spread some holiday cheer.
THE BOBBY AND PAOLO HOLIDAY STORIES
(A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, and The First Noel)
a paperback anthology by JOE COSENTINO
published by Dreamspinner Press
The holidays are a magical time for everyone, but they hold special meaning for young lawyer Bobby McGrath and fashion designer Paolo Mascobello. Their whirlwind romance begins one December on the Isle of Capri, where they meet and fall in love, and each holiday season adds a new building block to their life together. Celebrate with Bobby, Paolo, and their colorful friends and family as they marry and start a family. Happily ever after doesn’t always come easy, but with love and the spirit of the season, miracles can happen and Christmas wishes can come true.
Praise for the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories:
“I adore the character of Bobby…the heartwarming family moments…The vivid and almost lyrical descriptions that Joe Cosentino uses when Bobby is arriving on Capri or sightseeing all over the island with Paolo…the love the author has for Capri and the people there flows off the page in every word he has written…when you finish reading this story, you will want to book your own flight to Italy and boat to Capri.” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
“I was there with Bobby and Paolo, feeling the sun on my face and the warm swell of the sea as I walked barefoot on the sea’s edge, the author’s brilliantly descriptive words took me to that beautiful place where Bobby and Paolo fell in love.” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“Joe Cosentino’s holiday novella, A Home for the Holidays, delivers in every way that a romantic, feel-good story should. Every book I read by this author continuously pulls me in and wraps me up like a warm blanket.” Kathy Mac Reviews
“I’m going to go on record saying that Joe Cosentino pretty much has me at hello. His writing style is incredibly smooth with beautiful details that never feel like too much or too little. Even in this very short story, I felt like I was right there in Capri with Bobby. Both the scenery and Bobby’s emotions are painted with lush, vivid detail…exceptional writing and beautifully gift-wrapped love story.” AM Leibowitz
“I got glimpses of movies like Three Coins in the Fountain and Roman Holiday…Very romantic.” Multitasking Momma Reviews
“A Home for the Holidays a delightful, heartwarming journey of discovering one’s roots and the traditions that bring meaning to family. At the same time, it explores how breaking with tradition and becoming the person you were meant to be is also part of that grounding process, that finding home and making it your own is exactly what this holiday season is about. Filled with gentle humor and the lush backdrop of the isle of Capri, the story takes you on a wonderful guided tour of this landscape of the heart and the mind. The descriptions are a feast for the mind’s eye, the supporting characters quintessentially Italian, and the main characters—Bobby and Paolo—are the kind of yin and yang match that captures the imagination and the heart. For a charming seasonal read, A Home for the Holidays will leave you sighing with happiness.” GGR-Reviews
“In The Perfect Gift, Joe Cosentino has, once again, written a story filled with love, laugh out loud humour and a HEA that will leave a smile on your face and seasonal joy in your heart. I loved this delightful novella and highly recommend you add it to your holiday reading list…Joe Cosentino has a way with words that I find enchanting and delightful. His descriptions of characters and settings are colorful and often highly amusing. There’s a magic to the worlds he creates that few other authors can achieve.” Divine Magazine
“Joe Cosentino has a way with his stories with a touch of humor, great descriptions, and he grabs your attention, making you turn the page. If you like sweet romance, holiday stories, Christmas magic and cute kids, you will love this one!” TTC Books and More
“hilarious, contains some excellent observations about human nature, and had me eagerly turning the pages to find out what’s next…if you’re looking for a two-part read that is fun, emotional, suspenseful, and all about finding (and keeping) a family of your own, then you will probably like this novella. I definitely loved it!” Rainbow Book Reviews
“This is a feel good heartwarming holiday story you need to add on your holiday reading list. Or anytime of the year, because I know this will warm your heart. Recommended!” Lelyana’s Book Blog
“The Perfect Gift was funny, sweet, and entertaining…The emotional journey felt so real…For fans of LGBT fiction and romance, this is a must have book. It contains all of these elements shaping it into the wonderful journey that Joe Cosentino made it.” Urban Book Reviews
Joe Cosentino has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, Charles Keating, and Jason Robards. As a bestselling author, Joe was voted 1st Place Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author, and 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Romance Author by the readers of Divine Magazine. He has also won many Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions. For Dreamspinner Press, Joe wrote the heralded In My Heart series: An Infatuation & A Shooting Star; the popular Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, and The First Noel; and the raucous The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland. That was followed by Holiday Tales from Fairyland, Tales from Fairyland Book 2. His famous Nicky and Noah mystery series includes Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, and Drama Fraternity. The scorching Cozzi Cove series (NineStar Press) are Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, which were followed by Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings. Finally, Joe’s mainstream Jana Lane mysteries (The Wild Rose Press) are Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, and Rag Doll. Releasing next year are more Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie, and Drama Runway. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. He loves to hear from readers at:
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Excerpt of The First Noel, Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories Book 3, by Joe Cosentino:
“Geoffrey’s mother has surfaced. Calista and her lawyer came to see me today. She wants Geoffrey back!” I grimaced. “Or rather, I suspect the staff at the local Adam and Eve Forever Organization have convinced her she wants him back.”
Paolo collapsed into his chair. “But we legally adopted Geoffrey.”
“With the information that Geoffrey’s father was dead, and his mother had voluntarily terminated her parental rights then disappeared into a life of drugs and prostitution. Unfortunately, now she’s claiming rehabilitation and a change of heart,” I explained.
“Does she and this organization have a chance of taking Geoffrey from us?”
My throat tightened. “I’m afraid they have a very good chance, especially with a Republican-appointed judge.”
Noel rubbed his square jaw. “The Adam and Eve Forever Organization, huh?”
“Have you heard of them?” I asked.
Noel revealed a row of straight pearl white teeth. “They’ve heard of me. When I was a football player. The group led protests trying to get me fired from my team, and boycotts to take away my endorsements. I’m not surprised they’re after your son. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Thank you, Noel, but Bobby is a lawyer.”
I had an idea. “Noel, would you be willing to come to our apartment for dinner tomorrow at six? It’s not far from here.”
“Paolo, please give Noel our address. See you at home. Thank you, Noel!”
I hurried out of the restaurant. As I ran the few blocks home, the sky enveloped the tall buildings around me in a blanket of peach, burgundy, and marigold. White cottony snowflakes landed on my face like manna of hope. No longer feeling panic and fear, like a bear protecting its cub, I resolved to protect our son from The Adam and Eve Forever Organization.
I entered the apartment to find Geoffrey sitting on the living room sofa, next to Jared. Looking like auditioners for the musical Wicked, their faces were green. I hung up my coat and joined them, trying to act as if my world hadn’t been blown apart.
“Hi, Dad.” Geoffrey came to me for a kiss.
I opted for a hug. “What’s going on?”
Geoffrey explained, “It’s never too early to start masking. Otherwise, your skin will be as dry as a Republican woman’s—”
“Sense of humor,” Jared said quickly.
“Did you do your nebulizer?” I asked Geoffrey.
Jared winced. “It nearly ruined his facial. Is that thing really necessary?”
“Yes. It keeps Geoffrey healthy.”
“What good is health without beauty?”
I offered Jared a stern glance. “I’ll fix dinner.”
“Make my favorite. Chicken, spinach, and oyster mushroom brown rice risotto.” Jared blew me a kiss.
“And lemon squares for dessert!” Geoffrey blew me an identical kiss.