by Joe Cosentino
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an Audible code for their choice of one of the first four Nicky and Noah mystery audiobooks: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, or Drama Luau., and a link to purchase the new book.
Joe Cosentino, what are you thankful for this holiday season?
Kings River Life Magazine, of course! How many brownie points do I get? (smile)
A king’s ransom (smile).
I’m also thankful for television, which has helped us all get through the pandemic. So, the thirteenth novel in my award-winning and popular Nicky and Noah gay cozy comedy mystery series is set in the world of television.
The thirteenth novel?
Lucky thirteen! (smile)
Why do four novels in the series so far, Drama Queen, Drama Dance, Drama Christmas, and now Drama TV, take place during the winter holiday season?
What is it about wintertime and cozy mysteries? They seem to go together. A crackling whodunit is so much more fun when the sleuths discuss the clues and red herrings over hot cocoa at a cherry mantel crackling fireplace with cottony snow falling outside onto the lawn, church steeple, lake, and mountains in the distance.
What is the other connection between Drama Queen, the first novel, and Drama TV, the current novel?
I constantly hear from readers that the Nicky and Noah mysteries should become a television series. I totally agree! What would be more fun than watching the handsome, hilarious, theatre armchair sleuths and their wacky crew use theatre skills to solve cozy whodunits on television? So after writing a dozen popular Nicky and Noah mystery novels, I wrote the pilot teleplay adaptation of the first novel, Drama Queen. The teleplay, like the novel it is based on, is loaded with romance, humor, touching relationships, and a crackling good mystery. After writing it, I was excited. Alas, no television producers have read the teleplay. So, I decided to do the television pilot anyway—in the plot of the thirteenth Nicky and Noah mystery novel titled Drama TV. In the thirteenth novel in this popular series, Theatre professors and spouses Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver, their best friends Martin and Ruben, and their sons Taavi and Ty shoot (no pun intended) the pilot episode for a television series based on their first caper, Drama Queen. Where else would they do the television show but cozy Treemeadow College during winter break? It will come as no surprise to Nicky and Noah fans that cast members drop like television ratings. Once again, our favorite thespians use their drama skills to catch the killer before they get cancelled.
It’s great to see our favorite characters back.
I know! I miss them when I’m not writing a novel in the series. Hunky and hilarious Nicky Abbondanza, Professor of Play Directing, does double duty (Try saying that three times fast wearing a mouthguard) directing and playing himself in the TV pilot. Nicky’s loving and loyal husband Associate Professor of Acting Noah Oliver (by a bit of nepotism) plays Noah Oliver. Their witty and wild best friend Martin Anderson, Theatre Department Chair, plays himself and to his husband’s chagrin casts Ruben in the multifaceted role of a dead body. Nicky and Noah’s stagestruck son Taavi tries to steal the show as enterprising film student Kyle Samson, and Martin and Ruben’s cocky son Ty holds his own as unlucky in love theatre major PJ Myers. Martin’s sassy office assistant, Shayla Johnson, plays Martin’s sassy office assistant Shayla Johnson. Long suffering detective Manuello is such a bad actor he has difficulty playing himself!
Who are the new characters/suspects/victims for book thirteen?
Country boy actor Bucky Ray plays country boy Graduate Assistant of Technical Theatre Tyler Thompson. Out and proud actor Clark Murata is cast as fun and flirty Graduate Assistant of Play Directing Scotty Bruno. Hunky actor Ford Heathcliff is hunky junior police detective John Dickenson. Striking actor Chris Jones plays Associate Professor of Movement Jackson Grier. Ex-soap opera star Zorah Mars is cast as Professor of Costuming Ariella Samson. Between them all, they have more secrets than (as Nicky would say) a Russian operative rigging an election.
Why do you think there aren’t many other gay cozy mystery series out there?
Most MM novels are erotica, young adult, dark thrillers, or supernatural. While that’s fine, I think we’re missing a whole spectrum of fiction. In the case of the Nicky and Noah mysteries, they include romance, humor, mystery, adventure, and quaint and lovable 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 over (as Nicky would say) like a Mormon with five wives. No matter what is thrown in their path, Nicky and Noah always end up on top. At least Nicky ends up on top, which is just fine with Noah.
When you wrote Drama Queen, did you envision this as a series?
Totally. Though each book has its own complete story and ending, I wrote the first three books together. When they were so popular, I kept writing.
For anyone unfortunate enough not to have read them, tell us the titles of the first twelve novels in the series.
Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of the Year), Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Dance (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Faerie, Drama Runway, Drama Christmas, Drama Pan.
They are all available as e-books and paperbacks. Are they all also available as audiobooks?
The first six novels are available now as audiobooks. The others should be joining them soon—if the audiobook gods agree.
How did you remember elements about the characters and settings over the eight years?
I kept good notes on everything for continuity. Also, the regular characters are like family to me. I know them so well. I love watching them and their relationships grow and develop. It’s equally fun creating new characters in each book. I laugh out loud when writing these novels, and the endings still surprise me—even though I wrote them!
You’re a college theatre professor/department chair like Martin Anderson in your series. Has that influenced the series?
As a past professional actor and current college theatre professor/department chair, I know first-hand the wild and wacky antics, sweet romance, and captivating mystery in the worlds of theatre and academia. The Nicky and Noah mysteries are full of them! I never seem to run out of wild characters to write about. My faculty colleagues and students kid me that if any of them tick me off, I’ll kill them in my next book.
Are you Martin Anderson, the theatre department head, in the novels?
My colleagues say my sense of humor is Nicky’s, but I look like Martin Anderson. I love how Martin is so loyal and supportive of Nicky and Noah. His one up-man-ship with his office assistant Shayla is a riot. I’ll admit that like me Martin is a bit of a gossip. His spouse, Ruben, is based on mine. 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 (uncommon in the entertainment field), and how they can read each other like a book—no pun intended.
Are Nicky and Noah based on any of your younger colleagues?
Like most of the characters in my books, Nicky is a combination of a few people I’ve known. He’s handsome, muscular, smart, charming, and he has an enormous manhood, which doesn’t hurt (or maybe it does). However, what I admire most about Nicky is his never give up attitude and sense of humor in the face of adversity. He is genuinely concerned for others, and he’ll 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. Nicky is also incredibly devoted to his family and friends. Noah is blond, blue-eyed, lean, handsome, smart, and devoted. He makes the perfect Watson to Nicky’s 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, like Nicky, Noah is quite gifted at improvisation, and creates wild and wonderful characters for their role plays to catch the murderer.
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?
Both 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. Nicky’s parents’ goal to feed everyone and protect their children is heartwarming. Both sets of parents fully embrace their sons and their sons’ family, which is refreshing.
You and your spouse have traveled to Alaska, Hawaii, and Scotland, just like Nicky and Noah. Did those trips inform those novels in the series?
Since my spouse and I have traveled extensively to gorgeous locations, those situations often pop up in my books. I hear other things pop up as well when the readers read Nicky and Noah’s love scenes. (smile)
How did you become a storyteller?
My mother says I tell tall tales—and she’s right! I’ve always had a wild imagination. My parents always feared what I’d make up and tell neighbors about them. And they still do! I appropriately majored in theatre at college. Then I went on to act opposite stars like Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T industrial), Nathan Lane (Roar of the Greasepaint musical 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). Finally, I began writing plays and ultimately writing novels. Since I’m a cozy mystery reading fanatic, and there are so few gay cozy mystery series out there, I was happy to fill the bill—or in this new novel, the nightshirt.
How do you find the time to be a college professor/department head and do all this writing?
I don’t get a lot of sleep.
Where do you write?
My home study is very much like Martin Anderson’s office at Treemeadow College including a fireplace with a cherry wood mantel and a cherry wood desk and bookcase. I also have a window seat beneath a large window/gateway to the woods.
Do you write an outline before each book?
For a mystery, an outline is imperative. It’s important to plot out all the clues and surprise reveals. I generally think of a great idea for a new book at 3 a.m. If I can remember it the next day, or read my notes on my night table, I draft the outline. Since I was an actor, I also write a character biography for each character. Then I close my eyes and let the magic happen. As I see the scenes in front of me like a movie and the characters start talking to each other in my head, I hit the computer. My spouse reads my second draft. After we argue, I write my third draft.
What advice do you have for unpublished writers?
Don’t listen to naysayers. Find the magic within yourself. Get in front of the computer and start writing your unique story. Don’t copy anyone. Write what you know and feel passionate about. Write every day. Don’t be afraid to take chances. When you have a story you think is perfect, ask someone you trust to read it. Then after doing another draft, email it to a publisher who has an open submissions policy and who publishes the kind of story you’ve written, or publish it yourself.
Is it hard to write comedy?
Not for me. I’ve always thought funny. As an actor, I remember directors telling me to stop making my scenes so funny. I didn’t realize I was doing it. I think I get this from my mother. For example, for Christmas one year my mother gave me a jacket and my sister a house. When I complained, she said, “But it’s a nice jacket.” Thanks, Mom!
Why do you write gay fiction?
Why not? LGBT people have many interesting untold stories. Go to a mall and look at the row of movie posters without any LGBT characters in them. Visit a bookstore and see cover after cover of opposite sex love stories. Take a look at so many of our Republican political and so-called religious leaders who raise money and gain power by demonizing LGBT people and trying (and often succeeding) to take away civil rights. I mourn for the young gay kids who consider suicide. So I support organizations like GLSEN (regularly donating a percentage of my book royalty money), and I write stories that include LGBT people and themes. However, just as my Jana Lane series with its gay supporting characters has huge crossover appeal for gay people, the Nicky and Noah series with its LGBT leading characters and straight supporting characters has a tremendous amount of crossover appeal for straight people. Most people like a clever mystery, a sweet romance, and a good laugh, regardless of the sexuality of the characters.
How can your readers get their hands on Drama TV, and how can they contact you?
The purchase links are below, as are my contact links, including my website. I love to hear from readers! So do Nicky and Noah. I tell them everything!
Thank you, Joe, for interviewing today.
My pleasure. As a past professional actor and current college theatre professor/department chair, I know first-hand the hysterically funny antics, sweet romance, and captivating mystery in the worlds of theatre and academia. The Nicky and Noah mysteries are full of them!
I know you’ll laugh, cry, feel romantic, and love delving into this crackling new mystery with an ending that will shock you more than an anti-gay politician in the back room of a gay bar during a blackout.
I’m excited to share this thirteenth novel in the series with you. So relax on the sofa and reach for the remote. The TV screen is exploding with sexy young heartthrobs, egotistical reality TV show contestants, a soap opera diva, a hot rap singer, and murder!
And I love to hear from readers. So drop me a line. I’ll share it with Nicky and Noah! JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
Drama TV (the 13th Nicky and Noah mystery), a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO
It’s winter break at Treemeadow College, and Theatre professors and spouses Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver, their best friends Martin and Ruben, and their sons Taavi and Ty are starring in a television pilot for the Nicky and Noah Mysteries series based on their first caper, Drama Queen. More is shot than footage as cast members drop like giant flat screen TVs mounted by an intoxicated carpenter. Once again, our favorite thespians will need to use their drama skills to catch the killer before they get cancelled. You will be applauding and shouting “Bravo” for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, sidesplittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining thirteenth (yikes!) novel in this delightful series. So relax on the sofa and reach for the remote. The TV screen is exploding with sexy young heartthrobs, egotistical reality TV show contestants, a soap opera diva, a hot rap singer, and murder!
Giveaway: Post a comment on what you love most about a good gay mystery on television. The one that lights up our wide screen the most will win a gift Audible code for their choice of one of the first four Nicky and Noah mystery audiobooks: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, or Drama Luau.
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. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new Christmas mystery episode just went up this week.
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