Joe Cosentino is the author of An Infatuation (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll, the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press-releasing this summer), 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. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Porcelain Doll (the second Jana Lane mystery), Drama Muscle (the second Nicky and Noah mystery), A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press novella), and A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella).
Hello Divine Magazine, it’s great to be with you today. I’m happy to answer your questions.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I started as an actor on stage and screen opposite people like Nathan Lane (A ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT), Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T Industrial), Bruce Willis (A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM), Holland Taylor (ABC-TV movie, MY MOTHER WAS NEVER A KID), Jason Robards (Commercial Credit Computer), and Charles Keating (NBC-TV’s ANOTHER WORLD). I approach writing in the same way as acting, beginning with the character and his/her desires, passions, fears, hopes, dreams, secrets, and goals. After all of my characters are real in my head, I create their environment by using sense memory to feel, taste, touch, hear, and see in my mind what they are experiencing. Then I let them talk to one another, and I write down what they do and say. Like my readers, I laugh, feel romantic, cry, and am surprised by my characters. I think this makes my characters and my plots organic, believable, personal, and fun for the readers.
Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
The leading character, Harold, is based on me. He has my wacky sense of humor, determination, and resilience. His devoted spouse, Stuart, is based on my spouse, who like Stuart makes lists about his lists and plans everything to the minute. Mario is a combination of a few guys I knew as a young actor who were (supposedly) straight, incredibly good looking, enamored by everyone they met, and who made some bad choices. Since the story spans twenty years, a few of the incidents really happened, but most are fabricated. Readers insist every detail really happened, which I love.
What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
I’ve read every book by Armistead Maupin. I love his witty, shocking, yet likable characters. His intricate plots, fast-paced scenes, and colorful locations always keep me interested and invested in his stories and characters. I try to do the same with my writing. Since I also write mysteries, I’ve read every Agatha Christie book. She is the master of hidden clues, red herrings, characters with secrets, and shocking endings. Again I try to emulate that when writing mysteries. Actually I like all of my books to include humor, romance, tragedy, and mystery—just like in real life.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Though I have written many plays, AN INFATUATION is my first novella. This is fitting since the novella is based on my previous one-act play. Since writing it, I have written another Bittersweet Dreams novella, A SHOOTING STAR, releasing from Dreamspinner Press this fall. Since I am a college theatre professor, this novella takes place in that world. I also wrote a holiday novella releasing this December from Dreamspinner Press entitled, A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. It takes place in Capri, Italy, where I recently vacationed, and is a beautiful story of first love. Finally, I have written a comedy/mystery/romance series taking place in the world of college academia, the Nicky and Noah mysteries. The first novel, DRAMA QUEEN, is being released by Lethe Press. I have written DRAMA MUSCLE and DRAMA CRUISE, the next two novels in the series. They are wild and crazy fun. I am currently writing a novella of short stories, and I have an idea for a new romance series.
Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
I LOVE to hear from my readers. Generally they tell me how much AN INFATUATION affected them emotionally, and they beg for a sequel. While no sequel is in the immediate future, two of the younger characters may pop up in a future novel. I am pleasantly surprised that so many of my readers are women. I guess the adage is true, love is love.
As a teenager, it was love at first sight for Harold while tutoring football star Mario, until homophobia and bullying drove Mario deep into the closet. Now they’re both married men. Mario, a model, is miserable with his producer wife, while Harold, a teacher, is perfectly content with his businessman husband, Stuart. When the two meet again at their ten-year high school reunion, the old flame reignites. Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future.
One Friday afternoon I accidentally ran into my hero in the boy’s locker room. I’d had enough of the big guys banging me into gym lockers, pushing me into cold showers, and hanging me from the gym ropes. So I was on my way to give Mr. Adoni a note from Dr. Dlorah excusing me from gym class for the remainder of the school year (due to my highly contagious disease being studied by my doctor in Guatemala, where he could not be reached for the next year).
The locker room smelled of an odd combination of soap, cologne, sweat, and desire. Mario was getting ready for football practice, standing at his gym locker without a combination lock on it. Nobody would dare to break into it (Except for me that one time I smelled his jock strap. Okay maybe it was a few times, but not more than ten.). Mario slid his T-shirt (red today) over his thick, black hair and threw it on the nearby bench. No longer harnessed by cotton, his arm, back, chest, and neck muscles swelled to full size. I was half hidden behind the adjoining row of lockers, wearing my usual green and blue flannel shirt and brown corduroy pants. Mario, who wasn’t looking in my direction, said something really beautiful to me that I will never forget. “Hi.”
“Did you just? Oh. Hi. Hello. Good afternoon. Nice to see you. I mean, change with you.” I looked down at the floor (but cheated a bit) as Mario kicked off his boots, slipped off his jeans then threw them in the lucky locker. His red underpants (briefs) revealed ample manhood. This is better than the newspaper’s underwear ads!
“Good gym class today with Mr. Adonis, I mean, Mr. Adoni.” Did I just say that? “Harold High.”
“High.” How can I get my pulse down to 260?
“Hi.” Mario reached into his locker for his sweat clothes.
Shouldn’t people be doing that for you? “Oh, my last name is High. Like a kite.” How can I stop my arms from waving like an airport flagger on speed?
“Mario Ginetti. Like nothin’ else imaginable.” Mario smiled, revealing a row of perfectly white teeth, and held the sweat clothes in his hands as if he was mortal.
“I know. I watch your body play.” Why can’t I stop talking? “I mean, I watch you play … football … on the field … in your football outfit.” I feel like Michelangelo with his David!
As Mario put on his sweats, I continued to sweat.
“I’m voting for your body … I mean I’m voting for you for president of your … our … the student body.” I need my jaw wired shut. “I’m your lab partner in Chemistry class. Ms. Hungry’s class … I mean Ms. Hunsley’s class.”
His olive-colored face glistened as Mario’s face registered recognition—of me! “I thought I knew you from somewheres. Hey, thanks for doing the lab reports.”
“It’s my honor … I mean my pleasure. It’s fine. If you need help putting up posters for your campaign, I can … ”
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com