Joe Cosentino interviews Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver from his
the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery/comedy/romance novel
Joe: Welcome, Nicky and Noah. Thank you for chatting with me today about the fifth novel in your popular mystery series.
Nicky: We’re always chatting with you, Joe. This time it’s not all in your head.
Noah: And it feels good to get out of there for a while. It’s a wild and wacky place.
Nicky: I’ve been meaning to ask you, why did you start writing?
Joe: I thought I was asking the questions.
Nicky: Hey, we gave you five hit novels. Can’t you answer my question?
Joe: Okay. After majoring in theatre in college, I 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 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). Moving on to playwriting and ultimately writing novels came next working with Dreamspinner Press, NineStar Press, Lethe Press, and The Wild Rose Press. Along the way I received two master’s degrees and became a college professor/department head (like Martin Anderson in the Nicky and Noah mystery series). I do lots of writing there, but it’s nowhere near as fun as writing with you two guys in my head.
Noah: I have a question. If there was a Nicky and Noah Mysteries television series, who would you cast as us?
Joe: Matt Bomer and Neil Patrick Harris. I also think Nathan Lane as Martin Anderson’s (the department head’s) spouse. I want to play Martin Anderson! Wanda Sykes would be a riot as Martin’s office assistant, Shayla.
Noah: Joe Manganiello would be perfect as Nicky’s brother, Tony (or in any role). And I can see Rosie O’Donnell and Bruce Willis playing my parents,
Nicky: I can also see Valerie Bertinelli and Jay Leno as my parents.
Joe: Rather than Logo showing reruns of Golden Girls around the clock, and Bravo airing so called reality shows, I would love to see them do The Nicky and Noah Mysteries. Come on, TV producers, make your offers!
Nicky: Joe, why did you decide to write in the mystery genre?
Joe: When I was a kid I had terrible insomnia. What finally cured me was reading Sherlock Holmes mysteries and Agatha Christie novels. I became absorbed with analyzing the clues, sifting through the red herrings, and marveling at the brilliant detectives’ powers of deduction as I sharpened my own little gray cells. Even at a young age, I suspected that Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson were more than roommates, which made reading the series even more fun. Unfortunately, given the times in which those books were written, none of the characters were openly gay. I decided to change that.
Nicky and Noah: And we’re happy you did!
Nicky: We say the same thing sometimes. It’s a cute couple thing we do.
Noah: Why did you write a gay cozy mystery/comedy/romance series?
Joe: The Nicky and Noah mysteries are the kind of books I like reading: hysterically 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. I’ve been told the series is unique and I agree. As my parents will tell you, I’ve never been one to follow the pack. For anyone who hasn’t read them (and they should!), tell the readers about your mysteries.
Nicky: 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 (that’s me!) and Assistant Professor of Acting Noah Oliver (that’s my man!). The characters are wacky, surprising, and endearing.
Noah: 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 I 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. Nicky and I must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring other college theatre professors from across the US and me. Complicating matters are our both sets of parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with us. (There are terrific audiobooks of the first three novels!) In Drama Luau, Nicky is directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort and he and I need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Our department head and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. In each book Nicky and I eavesdrop, seduce, role play, and finally trap the murderer, as pandemonium, hilarity, and true love ensue for a happily ever after ending.
Nicky: Until the next book.
Noah: Has the Nicky and Noah mystery series been well received so far?
Joe: 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. The awards have also been amazing.
Nicky: They like us. They really us!
Joe: Who could resist such a handsome and charming couple?
Nicky: No argument here.
Noah: Is it challenging writing a series?
Joe: I feel as if I am visiting with old friends.
Nicky and Noah: You are!
Nicky: There we go again.
Joe: I also enjoy watching the leading characters and their relationships develop. As you two guys fall more deeply in love with each other in each book, I and the readers fall more deeply in love with you. Watching your marriage expand to include a son has been so emotionally gratifying. 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.
Noah: I’ve always wondered, since you are a college theatre professor/department head, Joe, are you Martin Anderson, and is the series based on your life?
Joe: 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, your department head, is based on me. As you know, 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. The other characters are a conglomeration of people I’ve met, spiced up by my vivid imagination.
Nicky and Noah: So that’s how we were born.
Nicky: And we did it again.
Joe: Do you guys like working at Treemeadow College in Vermont?
Noah: Treemeadow College is the perfect setting for a cozy mystery with its white Edwardian buildings, low white stone fences, lake and mountain views, and Cherry wood offices with tall leather chairs and fireplaces.
Nicky: And it’s very romantic. Right, Noah?
Joe: Tell the readers about the storyline in Drama Detective. But no spoilers please!
Noah: Nicky is directing and ultimately starring as Sherlock Holmes opposite me as Dr. Watson in a Sherlock Holmes musical premiering at Treemeadow College, Is Holmes a Homo?, on the road to Broadway. When cast members begin toppling over like hammy actors at a curtain call, Nicky and I use our drama skills to figure out who is lowering the street lamps on the actors before we get half-baked on Baker Street.
Nicky: As usual it’s a laugh riot, and also a good puzzle with an ending you won’t see coming. You’ll love it more than an anti-gay politician loves a dark corner at a gay bar.
Joe: Noah, since the readers can’t see you both, how would you describe Nicky?
Noah: Nicky is incredibly handsome with a Roman nose and dark hair, muscular, with long sideburns that get me every time, and an enormous…manhood.
Joe: Does that help him solve the murders?
Nicky: It doesn’t hurt. Well, maybe it hurts Noah.
Joe: Nicky, please describe Noah.
Nicky: Noah is gorgeous with porcelain-like skin, long golden hair, and soft blue eyes.
Joe: Do your good looks help you solve the murder mysteries?
Nicky: Sometimes I have to flirt a little for information.
Noah: But just a little.
Nicky: Even more, Noah and I use our theatre skills, including playing other people, to get clues.
Noah: Most of all, Nicky uses his smarts, always a fine asset in an amateur detective. And as in the third and fourth novels, we get some help from Martin and Ruben, joining in with hysterically funny role plays to nab the killer. Those are my favorite scenes.
Joe: I love your parents in the novels. Do they crack you up as much as they do me?
Nicky: 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 me. As they say, men marry their fathers.
Noah: And both sets of our parents accept their son’s spouse as part of their family. Kudos to them.
Joe: Noah, who is your favorite character in Drama Detective?
Noah: 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.
Nicky: And I’m proud to admit that man is Noah Oliver who is sweet, kind, and my rock.
Joe: Awwww. Who is your favorite new character in book five?
Nicky: Mark Melody, the creator of the Sherlock Holmes musical who talks in musical theatre talk and has a wild crush on Corey Sundance a young stud actor member of the company. How about you?
Joe: You’re all my beloved creations, but Ruben and Martin are special to me, since they are based on my spouse and me. I love Martin’s paternal instincts toward you two guys, his 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).
Nicky: I like how Martin and Ruben can read each other like a book (no pun intended).
Joe: Which character do you like the least in book five?
Nicky: I started out not liking handsome Rev. Tommy Hawk for his discrimination against Noah and me under the guise of Hawk’s “religious freedom.” However, when things took a turn in the story, my feelings changed.
Joe: How about you, Noah?
Noah: At first I thought Corey Sundance was a hunky young rebel without a cause. But then I realized that his inner secret makes him behave in a self-centered manner, and he’s masking the heart of a frightened child yearning for love.
Nicky: That’s my Noah, always finding the good in everyone.
Joe: Which character do you think is the sexiest?
Nicky: Noah will say my younger brother.
Noah: Tony is muscular, handsome, and sexy, but his older brother is the man for me.
Nicky: Joe, how do you find the time to be a college professor/department head and do all this writing?
Joe: 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.
Noah: How do you get your ideas?
Joe: From you two guys whispering inside my head. And also from my past experiences as an actor and/or college professor. Trips with my spouse also garner ideas i.e. our cruise to Alaska (Drama Cruise book three) and our trip to Hawaii (Drama Luau book four).
Nicky: Is it hard to write comedy?
Joe: For many people it is incredibly difficult. Thankfully not for me. I’ve always thought funny. I remember directors telling me as an actor 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 parents bought me a jacket and my sister a house. When I complained, my mother said to me, “You’re getting a bargain. The house comes with your father and me.”
Noah: Why do you write gay fiction?
Joe: Go to a mall and look at the row of movie posters without any LGBT characters in them. Take a look at so many of our political and so called religious leaders who raise money and gain power by demonizing LGBT people and trying to take away civil rights. I mourn for the young gay kids who consider suicide. So I support organizations like GLSEN, 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. Everybody likes a clever mystery, a sweet romance, and a good laugh.
Nicky: Tell them about your Jana Lane mysteries published by The Wild Rose Press (which Noah and I aren’t in).
Joe: I created a heroine who was the biggest child star ever until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. In Paper Doll Jana at thirty-eight lives with her family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Her flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in her future. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. She also embarks on a romance with the devilishly handsome son of her old producer, Rocco Cavoto. In Porcelain Doll Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, Jason Apollo. In Satin Doll Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana plays a US senator in a new film, and becomes embroiled in a murder and corruption at the senate chamber. She also embarks on a flirtation with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. In China Doll Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, enchanted by her gorgeous co-star Peter Stevens, and faced with murder on stage and off. In Rag Doll Jana stars in a television mystery series and life imitates art. Since the novels take place in the 1980’s, Jana’s agent and best friend are gay, and Jana is somewhat of a gay activist, the AIDS epidemic is a large part of the novels.
Noah: Joe, your Dreamspinner Press novellas (In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland) were so well received as books and audiobooks, winning various awards. What do you say to people who loved them and might be surprised that the Nicky and Noah mysteries are quite different?
Joe: That reminds me of my gay friends who say they have only one “type” of man they like. Variety is the spice of life. I’d ask them to give the Nicky and Noah mysteries a chance. As my mother said to me as a kid about pea soup (now one of my favorite foods), “Just try it, you may like it.”
Nicky: And how about your New Jersey beach series (also without Noah and me)?
Joe: NineStar Press published Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, and Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings about handsome Cal Cozzi’s gay beach resort on a gorgeous cove. I spent my summers as a kid on the Jersey Shore, so it’s a special place for me. The first novel was a Favorite Book of the Month on The TBR Pile site and won a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention. I love the intertwining stories so full of surprises. Cozzi Cove is a place where nothing is what it seems, anything can happen, and romance is everywhere. Some reviewers have called it a gay Fantasy Island.
Nicky: How can your readers get their hands on Drama Detective, and how can they contact Noah and me?
Joe: The purchase links for Drama Detective are below, as are my contact links, including my web site. I love to hear from readers!
Nicky: And we hear everything in your head.
Joe: Thank you two for this interview, though you asked most of the questions.
Noah: It was fun, fabulous, and fantastic.
Nicky: Try saying that three times fast.
Joe: Time to go, guys.
Noah: It is our joy and pleasure to share these stories with you.
Nicky: So put on your Sherlock Holmes coat and hat, grab your pipe and program, and take your front row seat.
Joe: The curtain is going up and the game is afoot in Drama Detective!
DRAMA DETECTIVE (a Nicky and Noah mystery)
a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO
Theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is directing a Sherlock Holmes musical in a professional summer stock production at Treemeadow College, co-starring his husband and theatre professor colleague Noah Oliver as Dr. John Watson. When cast members begin toppling over like hammy actors at a curtain call, Nicky dons Holmes’ persona on stage and off. Once again Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is lowering the street lamps on the actors before the handsome couple get half-baked on Baker Street. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining fifth novel in this delightful series. Curtain up, the game is afoot!
About the author:
“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his use of farce, along with his convoluted plot-lines, will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven't discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat.” Divine Magazine
“a combination of Laurel and Hardy mixed with Hitchcock and Murder She Wrote…
Loaded with puns and one-liners…Right to the end, you are kept guessing, and the conclusion still has a surprise in store for you.” Optimumm Book Reviews
“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet….I can’t find anything not to love about this series….This read had me laughing and falling in love….Nicky and Noah are my favorite gay couple.” Urban Book Reviews
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise (Lethe Press), Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle; the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland, The Perfect Gift; the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). 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 Chair of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards, and his books have received numerous Favorite Book of the Month Awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions.
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
I’m sure you’re wondering where we found a musical version of Sherlock Holmes. When word got out about town that we were looking for a property to produce, Mark Melody (whose musical based on Dracula, You Suck, had crowned him the “Prince of Off-Broadway”) sought us out. Mark offered his latest all-sung musical script, Is Holmes a Homo?, as well as his services as musical director and understudy for Martin’s role of Langdale Pike—for a percentage of the show instead of a salary. Since the show was funny, if not inspired, and more importantly the price was right, Ruben signed us up for the tryout at Treemeadow (try saying that three times fast).
I turned around to face Mark sitting behind me. “Please work with the cast to clean up the harmonies in the opening number before every dog in Vermont is at our stage door.”
“I know,” Mark replied with a groan. “This is fast becoming The Little Show of Horrors.” Mark, at thirty, tall, dark-skinned, and thin, rose from his seat. “I think I Can-Can. I think I Can-Can.” As you musical theatre savvy folks can see (and I bet there are quite a few of you), Mark talks in Broadway musicals. Want to guess his sexual orientation?
When Mark was in the orchestra pit looking up at the singers (I use the term “singers” broadly), Corey called out to him from the stage manager console in the wing, “Showing some skin might help the number.”
Mark’s face lit up like a jack-o-lantern at a bomb site. “Nicky, can we replace the opening number with ’You Gotta Have a Gimmick’ from Gypsy?”
“No!” I called out to the theatre ether.
Mark shrugged, sat behind the synthesizer, and got to work with the cast.
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