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Q&A with Joe Cosentino Author of Drama Luau

IN THE July 14 ISSUE

FROM THE 2021 Articles,
andMysteryrat's Maze
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by Joe Cosentino

Drama Luau, is the fourth Nicky and Noah mystery, and the audiobook is performed by Griswold Addams.

Welcome, Joe Cosentino. Thank you for chatting with us today about the release of the audiobook of the fourth novel in your popular Nicky and Noah mystery series.

My pleasure. The audiobook is finally out (no pun intended).

Why did you write a cozy mystery comedy gay romance series set on a college campus?
When I was a kid, I had terrible insomnia. Believe it or not, what finally put me to sleep was reading cozy mystery novels before bed. I’ve read every Agatha Christie novel and play over and over again. I love the inversion in her books, where she uses sleight of hand to lay out all the information, but not in a straight (no pun intended) forward manner. The reader becomes the sleuth to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. She also includes quaint characters and romance. Unfortunately, given the times in which she wrote, none of her characters are openly gay.

I come from a very funny Italian-American family, so I’ve always thought funny and loved comedy. As a college theatre professor/department chair, I realized the theatre department on a college campus is rife with mystery, romance, humor, and surprises. The perfect place to set a mystery series. 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! There aren’t a whole lot of books like that out there. The series in ebook and paperback are Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie, Drama Runway, Drama Christmas, Drama Pan, and the upcoming Drama TV, Drama Oz, and Drama Prince.

For anyone who hasn’t listened to the first three audiobooks (Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise), tell us about the Nicky and Noah mysteries.
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. The clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning and, at the center, is a touching gay romance between Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza and Assistant Professor of Acting Noah Oliver. The characters are wacky, surprising, and endearing. In the first novel, Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of 2015), college theatre professors are falling like stage curtains while Nicky directs the college play production, and Nicky and Noah must figure out whodunit and why. In the second book, Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention 2016), Nicky is directing the college’s bodybuilding competition, and bodybuilding students and professors are dropping like barbells. In Drama Cruise, it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back (which my spouse and I also did). Nicky and Noah must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from across the U.S. Complicating matters are their both sets of parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with the handsome couple. In each book, Nicky and Noah eavesdrop, seduce, role play, and finally trap the murderer, as pandemonium, hilarity, and true love ensue for a happily ever after ending—until the next book.

Has the Nicky and Noah mystery series been well received?
Reviewers called the books hysterically funny farce, Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys, and a captivating whodunit with a surprise ending. One reviewer wrote it was the funniest book she had ever read. Who am I to argue?

How did you find Griswold Addams, the audiobook narrator for Drama Luau?
I prefer to call him a performer since he perfectly captured over twenty characters in the audiobook. I listed the audiobook on ACX and heard the auditions. It was clear right away that Griswold had the perfect voice, comic timing, versatility, and emotional commitment for this audiobook. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. He really brings the story to life!

Did you supply Griswold Addams with a character biography before the recording?

Yes, and I still marvel at how well he picked up on every character’s traits and individuality.

Were there any disagreements between you?
None. We were always on the same page (no pun intended).

How was the audiobook edited?
At Griswold’s home studio. He has the finest equipment available.

In addition to Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, and now Drama Luau, which of your other books are currently available as audiobooks?
Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (the first Cozzi Cove novel), A Home for the Holidays (the first Bobby and Paolo Holiday Story), The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (the first Tales from Fairyland anthology), Paper Doll (the first Jana Lane mystery novel), and Porcelain Doll (the second Jana Lane mystery novel). Stay tuned, there are more coming soon, including the audiobook of Drama Detective, the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery!

Besides the Nicky and Noah mystery series, you have other mystery series.
Yes, my five Jana Lane mystery novels and two Player Piano mystery novels. However, all of my books have elements of mystery in them, including my five Cozzi Cove novels, Bobby and Paolo Holiday stories, Tales from Fairyland anthology, and Found At Last and In My Heart novellas.

Is it challenging writing a series?
It’s a joyride! I feel as if I am visiting with old friends. I also enjoy watching the leading characters and their relationships develop. As Nicky and Noah fall more deeply in love with each other in each book, I and the readers fall more deeply in love with them. It’s also great fun developing minor characters from earlier books, like Martin Anderson’s husband Ruben, into major characters in later books. Ruben was especially a blast since we get to see his dry and wonderful sense of humor, devotion to Martin, and mystery solving chops. Finally, I enjoy creating new characters/suspects in each book to relate to the regulars.

Since you are a college theatre professor/department head, are you Martin Anderson, and is the series based on your life?
My faculty 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. His spouse, Ruben, is based on mine. My knowledge of theatre is also very evident in the series. The other characters came from my head. That’s probably why they’re so wacky.

Why did you set the fourth novel in Hawaii?
They call it paradise for a reason. Maui is the most beautiful place on Earth. A few years ago I talked my spouse into taking the thirteen-hour plane ride to a land laden with white sandy beaches, tall and majestic waterfalls, multicolored craters on mosaic mountaintops, palm trees waving in the soft breeze, and laid back and friendly Hawaiians. We marveled at the hidden beaches, took the white-knuckle drive to the gorgeous Seven Sacred Pools, gasped at the sunrise at Haleakala, swam in the clear turquoise water, and flew through the crystal blue sky while parasailing. On our last night in Maui, we went to a luau complete with the boat procession, pig roast, huge and sumptuous buffet of Hawaiian foods, and the hula dancer show. The dancers were amazing! Incredibly muscular Hawaiian men wearing grass skirts, leis, flower headdresses, anklets, and bracelets, gestured with their arms, waved their knees, stomped, and grunted on an outdoor stage masked by a dormant volcano.
So when it came time for Nicky and Noah to go on their honeymoon in the fourth novel, I knew they had to go to Maui. It was great fun including all the things my spouse and I did on our trip into this fast-paced, humorous, spine-tingling.

Tell us about the storyline in Drama Luau. But no spoilers please!
Now in Drama Luau, Nicky is directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort and he and Noah need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Their department head and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. In addition to the sexy hula dancers, we meet a handsome Hawaiian detective, a Bloody Mary type housekeeper, a cigar chomping hotel manager, the hotel owner and his senator wife who give new meaning to the term family values, and a cute young waiter who wants to be a hula dancer more than an anti-gay politician wants a dark backroom in a gay bar. Nicky and Noah have the time of their lives solving this one, and also find their relationship in for quite a change. And the ending is quite a shocker!

Nicky is described as tall, handsome with a Roman nose and dark hair, muscular, and having an enormous manhood. Does that help him solve the murders?
It doesn’t hurt. Well, maybe it hurts Noah. Hah. Nicky has to flirt his way into some places to get certain information, so his handsome face, muscular body, and huge penis are definitely assets. Even more, however, Nicky and Noah use their theatre skills, including playing other people, to get clues. Most of all, Nicky uses his smarts, always a fine asset in an amateur detective. And in the third and fourth novels, he gets some help from Martin and Ruben, joining in with hysterically funny role plays to nab the killer.

Since both you and Nicky are of Italian-American decent, are Nicky’s parents like yours? Are Noah’s parents like your spouse’s parents?

I come from a very funny Italian family. I use that in a great deal of my writing. My husband’s family is pretty funny too but in a very different way. Nicky’s parents and Noah’s parents have many of the traits of my parents. 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 Nicky. As they say, men marry their fathers. Also, both sets of parents accept their son’s spouse as part of their family. Kudos to them.

Who was your favorite character to write in Drama Luau?
Nicky is so adorable. I love his never say die attitude, wit, smarts, and perseverance in the face of adversity. He is genuinely concerned for others, and will do anything to solve a murder mystery. Finally, he is a one-man man, and Nicky is proud to admit that man is Noah Oliver. However, my favorite character in book four is Mark Iona, the Maui Mist Resort waiter who desperately wants to become a hula dancer in the luau show. I also like his secret crush on hunky island detective John Nohea.

Who was the easiest character to write in book four?
Ruben and Martin since they are based on my spouse and me. I love Martin’s paternal instincts toward Nicky and Noah, sense of theatricality, and his inquiring mind. I also like how Ruben keeps Martin in line. Finally, it’s wonderful to see an older couple so much in love (uncommon in the entertainment field), and how they can read each other like a book—no pun intended.

Which character do you like the least in book four?

The hotel owner and his state senator wife are quite vocal about their religious freedom, and in their case, meaning their right to discriminate against gay people. Religious freedom means you are free to practice whatever religion you like, not take away someone else’s civil rights. But, as is always the case in the Nicky and Noah series, everything is not always what it seems, and Mano and Joanna Kapena offer lots of humor and surprises.

Which character was the hardest to write?
Kal, one of the hula dancers, is incredibly in love with his amazing good looks and muscles for days. He is also quite manipulative. That kind of thinking is foreign to me.

Who was the sexiest character?
John Nohea the handsome, muscular, straight forward, Hawaiian detective was incredibly sexy.

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. It’s a great outlet for me after a long day. Now you know why there are so many murders in the Nicky and Noah mysteries. Hah.

Where do you write?
My spouse and I had our house built. I have a cozy (no pun intended) home study with a window seat, fireplace with a cherry wood mantel (like Martin Anderson), a cherry wood desk and bookcase. It’s hard for me to leave that room.

What is your writing process?

I go to sleep at night with a pad and pencil on my night table since I get my best ideas when jolting from sleep at three a.m. I approach my writing in the same way as acting. I start with character biographies and ask questions about each character. Who do they love, hate, fear? What do they want? What is standing in the way of them getting what they want? What was their history? Then I get them talking to one another and the magic happens. I write an outline, but I deviate from it constantly. My spouse reads my second draft then I write my third draft, which goes to the editor. The fourth draft is after notes from the editor.

What’s next for Nicky and Noah?

The audiobook of Drama Detective, the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery.

How can your readers get their hands on the Drama Luau audiobook, and how can they contact you?
The purchase links for the Drama Luau audiobook are below, as are my contact links, including my website. I love to hear from readers!

Thank you, Joe, for sharing with us today.
It is my joy and pleasure to share this audiobook with you. So grab your plate at the buffet table, and take your front row seat for the luau show. The grass curtain is going up on Drama Luau!

———

Drama Luau, the 4th Nicky and Noah mystery, is a comedy/mystery/romance novel by Joe Cosentino. The audiobook performed by Griswold Addams

Audible Link—Drama Luau
Amazon Link—Drama Luau

Synopsis: Theatre professors and spouses, Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver, are on their honeymoon at a Hawaiian resort, where musclemen in grass skirts are keeling over like waterfalls. Things erupt faster than a volcano when Nicky and Noah, along with their best friends Martin and Ruben, try to stage a luau show. Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is bringing the grass curtain down on male hula dancers before things go coconuts for the handsome couple. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, sidesplittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining fourth novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and aloha!

Giveaway: Post a comment on what you love about a good gay mystery audiobook. The one that tickles our inner Sherlock Holmes the most will win a complimentary audiobook of any one of Joe Cosentino’s first three Nicky and Noah mystery audiobooks of your choice: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, or Drama Cruise! Audible Link—Nicky and Noah Mysteries US residents only and you must be 18 or over to enter. Winner will be chosen on July 24, 2021.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up week!

You can use this link to purchase this book from Amazon. Be aware if you have ad blocker on you may not see it:

Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite MM Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery novel. He is also the author of the remaining Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie, Drama Runway, Drama Christmas; the Player Piano Mysteries: The Player and The Player’s Encore; the Jana Lane Mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll; the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Moving Forward, Stepping Out, New Beginnings, Happy Endings; the In My Heart Anthology: An Infatuation & A Shooting Star; the Tales from Fairyland Anthology: The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland and Holiday Tales from Fairyland; the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories Anthology: A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, The First Noel; and the Found At Last Anthology: Finding Giorgio and Finding Armando. His books have won numerous Book of the Month awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions. As an actor, Joe appeared in principal roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Jason Robards, and Holland Taylor. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Goddard College, Master’s degree from SUNY New Paltz, and is currently a happily married college theatre professor/department chair residing in New York State. www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathleen C. July 19, 2021 at 12:06pm

I’m not sure I expect more or something different from a good gay mystery beyond a clever tale, rich characters, and a solution that’s realistic and doesn’t come out of left field. I like witty banter and humor without insanity, but cringe at cruelty…okay, I know there’s a murder, but karma can be a b****. I guess since I’m new to the series, starting at the beginning would be best, but the whole series seems it might be easy to join in anywhere.

Reply

2 Karen July 19, 2021 at 2:50pm

N/E because I laughed so hard listening to Drama Queen that I picked up the next two right away. I love strong positive representation of the lgbtq+ community, and I love how this series plays on camp while delivering a solid mystery story. I’m looking forward to listening to Drama Luau!

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3 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
August 2, 2021 at 10:52am

We have a winner!

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