Title: Drama Queen (a Nicky and Noah Mystery)
Author Name & Publisher: Joe Cosentino (Lethe Press)
Publication Date & Length: June 6, 2015 – 194 pgs
It could be curtains for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodies popping up all over campus, Nicky must use his drama skills to figure out who is playing the role of murderer before it is lights out for Nicky and his colleagues. Complicating matters is Nicky’s huge crush on Noah Oliver, a gorgeous assistant professor in his department, who may or may not be involved with a cocky graduate assistant…and is also the top suspect for the murders! You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat, delightfully entertaining novel. Curtain up!
With the student actors and technicians sitting in the front of the theatre (obliviously texting on their phones), my student stage manager, SuCho, screamed for everyone’s attention, and for me to come to the front of the theatre house to give them my notes. This thankfully sent David off to his office in a huff.
After I had given my first few notes, I noticed Noah Oliver standing in the back of the theatre. Noah is tall and lean with curly blond hair, blue eyes, and the sweetest smile I have ever wanted to kiss in an Assistant Professor. While I teach Theatre History and Play Directing, Noah is our department’s specialist in Acting, and for good reason. Noah is a terrific actor, a creative and passionate teacher, and a wonderful colleague. More importantly, I have had a crush on him since the moment he made his entrance into our humble campus three years ago. Noah is single, gay, and seems to really like me. Why don’t I ask him out? Noah is twenty-eight years young. As a junior professor in my department in need of my vote for tenure this year, if I make a pass at him it could be considered attempted coercion on my part.
It was difficult for me to concentrate on giving my notes to the students since Scotty Bruno, my graduate assistant and Assistant Director of the play, was talking, laughing, and obviously flirting with Noah in the rear of the theatre. I had reason to be concerned. Scotty has bleached blond hair, contact lens turquoise eyes, ultra-white bonded teeth, and muscles as if sculpted by Michelangelo, housed in multi-colored, stuffed shorts and tank top (in winter) that were not unnoticed by Noah. Unless I was becoming nearsighted, I could have sworn that Scotty whispered something into Noah’s ear then handed Noah a box. What the heck is in it? Love letters? Condoms? My heart on a silver platter?
1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?
I feel as if I am writing all the time and everywhere. I’ll hear snippets of conversation at my college (I’m a college professor) and write them down. I wake up in the middle of the night with a new idea and jot it down on the pad on my night table. When someone endlessly tells me his/her problems, I tend to zone out and write in my head. I even write in my dreams. My formal writing environment, however, is my home office with a huge cherry wood desk, cherry wood mantel fireplace, cherry wood bookshelves, and a window seat. Just like Martin Anderson’s (theatre department head’s) office in DRAMA QUEEN. As college theatre professors Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver try to uncover why their colleagues are dropping like stage curtains, Nicky and Noah spend some time in their department head’s office. So like my home office, Martin’s office is an important place in the Nicky and Noah novels. I set the series in a fictitious, quaint, Edwardian style New England college, which fits Martin’s office perfectly.
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
I generally create a character in each of my books based on me. This way when the movie versions come along, I can act in the movie (and win an Oscar-hah). Listen up, movie producers!
Here’s the list: Harold High, the happily married man with a past infatuation in AN INFATUATION (Dreamspinner Press romance novella), Simon Huckby, the flamboyant Hollywood agent in PAPER DOLL (the first Jana Lane mystery/romance, Whiskey Creek Press), Martin Anderson, the department head of the theatre department in DRAMA QUEEN (the first Nicky and Noah comedy/mystery/romance, Lethe Press), and Professor Katzer, the acting professor in A SHOOTING STAR (Dreamspinner Press romance novella releasing this fall).
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
I’m a college professor/department head. I love giving back to students what I’ve learned, as well as mentoring junior faculty (as retired faculty had mentored me). For many years I was an actor on stage, film, and television, working with stars like Nathan Lane (A ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT), Bruce Willis (A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM), Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T industrial), Jason Robards (Commercial Credit Computer commercial), Charles Keating (NBC’s ANOTHER WORLD), and Holland Taylor (ABC’s MY MOTHER WAS NEVER A KID). When my books are made into films, I can make my acting comeback like Norma Desmond in SUNSET BOULEVARD (hah).
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?
As an actor, I try to write captivating characters saying realistic, witty, sexy, and interesting dialogue in layered plots with twists, turns, and surprises. When writing a mystery, I lay out the clues and red herrings, culminating in a shocking but satisfying ending. In addition to that, when writing my first books I worried a great deal about whether or not a publisher would publish them, if/which audience would embrace them, and how well or so well they might sell. What a waste of time! Now I write freely and artistically knowing the book will get to the right publisher and readers.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
Nothing. That’s like asking a parent what he/she would change about a child. Actually, if you asked my mother that about me, she’d have quite a lot to say. Hah. Honestly, I love the Nicky and Noah series. It’s hysterically funny (and still makes me laugh), wacky, wild, romantic, and has a good, solid mystery at his core with a surprising but earned ending. I love the theatricality of it. I also love Nicky and Noah. As they fall in love with one another in the series, it’s hard not to fall in love with them. I you’re your readers give DRAMA QUEEN a try, and have a blast reading it.
6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
Most of my books have something to do with show business and/or academia, which isn’t surprising since I come from those two worlds. Humor has always been a huge part of my life. My parents are hysterically funny. When I told my mother I was writing plays then later novels, she replied, “Don’t you have anything better to do?” I wonder if Shakespeare’s mother said that to him? Hah. I have always been a huge mystery buff. I’ve read every mystery novel I could get my hands on. So again it’s not a surprise that I write mysteries with shocking endings. Romance is a part of everyone’s life. So including romance in my books seems natural.
7) What’s next for you as a writer?
I have two new romance novellas releasing fall and winter, A SHOOTING STAR (a college romance) and A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (young love on the island of Capri) from Dreamspinner Press. I just finished writing a novella of gay fairytale stories. I have written the next two Jana Lane mysteries, PORCELAIN DOLL and SATIN DOLL (about an ex-child star making a comeback). I have also written the next two Nicky and Noah mysteries, DRAMA MUSCLE (where Nicky and Noah have to find out why Physical Education professors at their college are dropping like dead weights as Nicky directs the student bodybuilding competition) and DRAMA CRUISE (where Nicky and Noah have to figure out why college theatre professors are dropping overboard like life rafts while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard a cruise ship to Alaska). I just started what I hope will be a new romance series set on the beach, always a romantic spot. I created a character of a gay romance novelist for me to play in the movie!
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
I live in the New York area, which of course is a melting pot of different people and cultures, as well as a creative hub for art, music, theatre, dance, literature, film, and television.
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
I write the kind of book I like reading. Since I write mystery, comedy, drama, and romance, that just about covers it.
10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?
Like Nicky in the Nicky and Noah series, I’m a vitaminaholic. I guess there could be worse things.
Joe Cosentino is the author of AN INFATUATION (Dreamspinner Press), PAPER DOLL Jana Lane mystery 1 (Whiskey Creek Press), DRAMA QUEEN Nicky and Noah mystery 1 (Lethe Press–releasing this summer), A SHOOTING STAR (Dreamspinner Press–releasing this September), A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (Dreamspinner Press–releasing this December), PORCELAIN DOLL Jana Lane mystery 2 (Whiskey Creek Press), DRAMA MUSCLE Nicky and Noah mystery 2 (Lethe Press), and THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). 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. His one-act plays, INFATUATION and NEIGHBOR, were performed in New York City. He wrote “The Perils of Pauline,” available on CDROM (through Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe received his MFA from Goddard College in Vermont, and MA from SUNY New Paltz. He is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York.