An Interview with Nicky Abbondanza by Joe Cosentino – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Joe Cosentino who is celebrating the recent release of Drama Pan, the 12th Nicky and Noah mystery/comedy/romance novel. Post a comment about why you love a gay cozy mystery. The one that tinkers our bell the most will win a complimentary audiobook of Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery novel, by Joe Cosentino, performed by Michael Gilboe.

Enjoy an Interview with Nicky Abbondanza

Nicky, you’re like Peter Pan, the guy who never grew up!

Noah says I grow “up” in bed each night. (smile)

Congratulations on the release of the twelfth novel in your award-winning and popular Nicky and Noah gay cozy comedy mystery series.

Thank you. I bought Noah a dozen roses to celebrate.

Since the readers can’t see you, tell them what you look like.

Noah says I’m totally hot. Now you know why I love him so much. I’m tall with dark hair and long sideburns Noah loves to kiss, a cleft chin, Roman nose, emerald eyes, and a hunky body thanks to the gym on campus I call the torture chamber.

And?

Noah says I have a huge heart. Among other huge organs, which is just fine with Noah.

Tell us about Drama Pan, the twelfth novel in your popular, award-winning series.

It’s all about me (smile). In Drama Pan my merry theatrical crew at Treemeadow College create our own musical version of Peter Pan entitled, Every Fairy Needs a Big Hook! Enter the belligerent Couture family of avant-garde technical designers as guest artists. In no time the Coutures are hung out to dry by a mass murderer. For the twelfth time we thick as thieves thespians (Try saying that three times fast while eating peanut butter) use our drama skills, including playing outrageous characters, to catch the killer before they get thrown to the crocodiles.

As usual, calamity ensues.

Of course! I do triple duty as director, Mr. Darling, and Captain Hook. (See, it’s all about me. smile) Noah gets the title role of Peter Pan. He slept with the director. (smile) Our witty and wild best friends Martin Anderson, Theatre Department Chair, and his husband Ruben camp it up as a tiger of a Tiger Lily and swarmy Smee the pirate respectively. Our stagestruck son Taavi tries to steal the show as Michael Darling, and Martin and Ruben’s cocky son holds his own as John Darling. Martin’s sassy secretary Shayla plays Mrs. Darling, and longsuffering detective Manuello hits the ground as Nana and the Crocodile. I have my hook full as technical dress rehearsals for the show get off to a start more rocky than Captain Hook’s boat, and Taavi and Ty fall unrequitedly in love with the same person.

Who are the new characters in book twelve?

Graduate assistant and technical director Jax Jun insists the play violates his “religious freedom.” Santino Thirio, senior theatre major and stage manager, pumps his muscles while pumping others to invest in his dream to become a producer. Twink Tripp Taleb, the sophomore theatre major playing Tinker Bell, has his fairy dust aimed at Santino. Oscar Romero, tall and brawny sophomore theatre major with the loud singing voice playing the Merman, has his fins in the water over Tripp. All of the actors are exasperated over the avant-garde technical aspects of the show, none more than Tiara Moore, junior theatre major playing Wendy.

Who was your favorite new character?

Oscar Romero, the student who plays the Merman, wearing a g-string and fins. He has a song in the show called “What’s Between My Legs.” His affection for the student playing Tinker Bell is really sweet.

Which new character do you like the least?

All of the Coutures! The family of technical designers are egotistical (I wouldn’t know about that. smile), arrogant, predatory, and opportunistic. It’s great fun to watch them get the hook.

Which new character was the sexiest?

Dark-eyed muscleman Santino Thirio, our student stage manager who knows how to work a lighting board—and work everyone around him.

What makes the Nicky and Noah mystery series so special?

Me! I’m a legend in my own mind. Actually, it’s a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, and there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning “faster than a Super PAC buying a conservative politician.” At the center is the touching relationship between Noah and me. You watch us go from courting to marrying to adopting a child, all the while head over heels in love with each other. Reviewers called the series “hysterically funny farce,” “Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys,” and “captivating whodunits.” One reviewer wrote they are the funniest books she’s ever read! Another said Joe is “a master storyteller.” Who am I to argue? Even though I tell Joe everything to write.

How are the novels cozy?

Many of them take place in Vermont, a cozy state with green pastures, white church steeples, glowing lakes, and friendly and accepting people. Fictitious Treemeadow College (named after its gay founders, couple Tree and Meadow) 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.

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 loveable 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 “like an anti-gay politician in the back of a pick-up truck.” No matter what is thrown in my path, I always end up on top, which is just fine with Noah.

For anyone unfortunate enough not to have read them, tell us a bit about the first eleven novels in the series.

I’ll let Joe do that. He needs to be good for something. Take it away, Joe.

Joe: In Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of the Year) Nicky directs the school play at Treemeadow College—which is named after its gay founders, Tree and Meadow. Theatre professors drops like stage curtains, and Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit. In Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out why bodybuilding students and professors in Nicky’s bodybuilding competition at Treemeadow are dropping faster than barbells. In Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back. 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 US. Complicating matters are their both sets of wacky parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with the handsome couple. 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/best friend and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. In Drama Detective (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Nicky is directing and ultimately co-starring with his husband Noah as Holmes and Watson in a new musical Sherlock Holmes play at Treemeadow College prior to Broadway. Martin and Ruben, their sassy office assistant Shayla, Nicky’s brother Tony, and Nicky and Noah’s son Taavi are also in the cast. Of course dead bodies begin falling over like hammy actors at a curtain call. Once again Nicky and Noah 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. In Drama Fraternity, Nicky is directing Tight End Scream Queen, a slasher movie filmed at Treemeadow College’s football fraternity house, co-starring Noah, Taavi, and Martin. Rounding out the cast are members of Treemeadow’s Christian football players’ fraternity along with two hunky screen stars. When the jammer, wide receiver, and more begin fading out with their scenes, Nicky and Noah once again need to use their drama skills to figure out who is sending young hunky actors to the cutting room floor before Nicky and Noah hit the final reel. In Drama Castle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Nicky is directing a historical film co-starring Noah and Taavi at Conall Castle in Scotland: When the Wind Blows Up Your Kilt It’s Time for A Scotch. Adding to the cast are members of the mysterious Conall family who own the castle. When hunky men in kilts topple off the drawbridge and into the mote, it’s up to Nicky and Noah to use their acting skills to figure out whodunit before Nicky and Noah land in the dungeon. In Drama Dance (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), during rehearsals of The Nutcracker ballet at Treemeadow, muscular dance students and faculty cause more things to rise than the Christmas tree. When cast members drop faster than Christmas balls, Nicky and Noah once again use their drama skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out who is trying to crack the Nutcracker’s nuts, trap the Mouse King, and be cavalier with the Cavalier before Nicky and Noah end up in the Christmas pudding. In Drama Faerie, Nicky and friends are doing a musical production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Treemeadow’s new Globe Theatre. With an all-male, skimpily dressed cast and a love potion gone wild, romance is in the starry night air. When hunky students and faculty in the production drop faster than their tunics and tights, Nicky and Noah use their drama skills to figure out who is taking swordplay to the extreme before Nicky and Noah end up foiled in the forest. In Drama Runway Nicky directs a runway show for the Fashion Department. When sexy male models drop faster than their leather chaps, Nicky and Noah use their drama skills to figure out who is taking the term “a cut male model” literally before Nicky and Noah end up steamed in the wardrobe steamer. In Drama Christmas Nicky, Noah, and crew don their gay apparel in a musical version of Scrooge’s A Christmas Carol, entitled Call Me Carol! More than stockings are hung when hunky chorus members drop like snowflakes. Once again, our favorite thespians use their drama skills to catch the killer and make the yuletide gay before their Christmas balls get cracked.

Joe is a college theatre professor/department chair like Martin Anderson in your series. Has that influenced your series, Nicky?

As a past professional actor and current college theatre professor/department chair, Joe knows 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! He never seems to run out of wild characters to write about. His faculty colleagues and students kid him that if any of them tick me off, he’ll kill them in his next book. And he probably will. The little guy is fearless!

What do you like about the regular characters in the series?

I like my never give up attitude and sense of humor in the face of adversity. I’m genuinely concerned for others, and I’ll do anything to solve a murder mystery. I’m also a one-man man, and I’m proud to admit that man is Noah Oliver. Noah is blond, blue-eyed, lean, handsome, smart, and devoted. He makes the perfect Watson to my 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 me, Noah is gifted at improvisation, and creates wild and wonderful characters for our role plays to catch the murderer. I think it’s terrific how Martin and Ruben throw riotous zingers at each other, but they’re so much in love. You don’t see a lot of older gay characters in books nowadays. Of course Martin’s administrative assistant, Shayla, thrives on her one-upmanship with Martin, and he thrives right back.

How about your and Noah’s parents?

They’re 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 me. As they say, men marry their fathers. My parents’ goal to feed everyone and protect their children is heartwarming. My mom’s gambling addiction is also a riot. Both sets of parents fully embrace their sons and their sons’ family, which is refreshing.

I’m sure Joe has been told that the books would make a terrific TV series.

Many many times. 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! Joe has written a teleplay of the first novel and treatments for the remaining novels!

How would you cast the TV series?

Here’s my wish list: Matt Bomer as me, Neil Patrick Harris as Noah, Rosie O’Donnell and Bruce Willis as Noah’s parents, Valerie Bertinelli and Jay Leno as my parents, Joe as Martin Anderson (nepotism!), Nathan Lane as Martin’s husband Ruben, Wanda Sykes as Martin’s office assistant Shayla, and Joe Manganiello as my brother Tony.

Tell us about Joe’s other mystery series, the Jana Lane mysteries published by The Wild Rose Press.
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Noah and I aren’t in them. So take it away, Joe.

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. In Porcelain Doll Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. 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. In China Doll Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, 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.

And how about Joe’s New Jersey beach series?

Noah and I aren’t in those either. So you’re on again, Joe.

Joe: A reviewer compared them to Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City books. I was incredibly humbled and flattered. I love those books, and they are incredibly cinematic (hint-producers)! They are: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, and Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings. The series (NineStar Press) is 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 of Cal and his family and the guests as Cozzi Cove, each 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.

What’s next for Joe?

It depends on what Noah and I tell him.

How can your readers get their hands on Drama Pan, and how can they contact you?

The purchase links are below, as are Joe’s contact links, including his web site. I love to hear from readers via Joe! He tells Noah and me everything you say about us!

Thank you, Nicky, for interviewing today.

My pleasure. I know you’ll laugh, cry, feel romantic, and love delving into this crackling new mystery with more plot twists and turns than a congressional hearing to impeach a treasonous ex-president. I’m more excited than a Republican governor taking Democrats off the voter rolls to share this twelfth novel in the series with you. So take your seats and throw the fairy dust. The stage lights are coming up in Never Land on a lad who won’t grow up without Viagra, a pirate with a huge hook, a twink called Tink, a Lily who’s a tiger, a Merman perplexed at what’s between his legs, and murder!

It’s spring 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 sprinkling on the fairy dust in an original musical extravaganza of Peter Pan entitled Every Fairy Needs a Big Hook! Pirates shout more than “Yo, ho!” when a family of visiting technical designers, the Coutures, drop like yesterday’s fashions. Once again, our favorite thespians will need to use their drama skills to catch the killer before they get the hook. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining twelfth novel in this delightful series. So take your seats and believe in fairies. The stage lights are coming up in Never Land on a lad who won’t grow up without Viagra, a pirate with quite the hook, a twink called Tink, a Lily who’s a tiger, a Merman surprised at what’s between his legs, and murder!

Praise for the Nicky and Noah mysteries:

“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his 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.” “the best modern Sherlock and Watson in books today…I highly recommend this book and the entire series, it’s a pure pleasure, full of fun and love, written with talent and brio…fabulous…brilliant” 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

“Every entry of the Nicky and Noah mystery series is rife with intrigue, calamity, and hilarity…Cosentino keeps us guessing – and laughing – until the end, as well as leaving us breathlessly anticipating the next Nicky and Noah thriller.” Edge Media Network

“This is one hilarious series with a heart and it just keeps getting better. I highly recommend them all, and please read them in the order they were written for full blown laugh out loud reading pleasure!” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Enjoy an Excerpt

The Darling’s white nursery was lit only by the three lamps, one at each bedside. Wendy, Michael, and John knelt at their beds singing their nightly prayer with Big Ben and the London Bridge watching over them outside the nursery window. Suddenly, the three children were hung from the ceiling like bandits in the old West.

“Stop!” Remember me? It’s Nicky Abbondanza, PhD, Professor of Play Directing at Treemeadow College and Vermont’s theatre armchair Sherlock Holmes. My last name means ‘an abundance,’ which is certainly true in my case. An expression in my Kansas hometown is ‘hung like an Abbondanza,” given the fact that I have a nearly foot long penis—flaccid—which it has been constantly during tech week. For any of you who aren’t insane enough to direct a play, tech week is the time when the technical elements are added to a production, and any director worth his weight in Playbills yearns for a straitjacket and a long commitment to a mental institution harboring no thespians, which of course doesn’t exist. So here I sit front row center in the college’s ruby (like the color of my eyes) theatre with electronic tablet in hand contemplating how to begin my suicide note.

Why am I in the college’s theatre during spring break week—a time when students are generally away getting STDs and unwanted pregnancies? My younger brother Tony arranged for the award-winning Couture family of technical theatre designers to be visiting artists at Treemeadow for the Theatre Department’s spring extravaganza. So my best friend, Theatre Department Head/Professor of Theatre Management Martin Anderson, went right to work writing an original musical production of Peter Pan called Every Fairy Needs a Big Hook! After rehearsing much of spring semester, we finally hit tech week before opening night.

Outside our Edwardian-style campus, trees are budding over the low white stone wall and walkways surrounding the campus. A rainbow array (no pun intended) of flowers peeks out from behind the university’s white stone entrance, where the bronze statues of Harold Tree and Jacob Meadow, the gay couple who founded the university, have again become a resting spot—and relieving spot—for multicolored birds of many species. The calm, cool spring air ripples in the surrounding lake and brush over the bordering majestic mountains. However, inside the theatre, we are feeling anything but calm or cool.

“Why are the children dangling from the ceiling like track lighting?”

That was the renowned Jules Couture, avant-garde set designer, taking center stage. Jules, in his fifties, small, wiry, with an enormous nose to match his huge ears, looks like an aardvark in heat.

“Because your flying apparatus is even more temperamental than you are, Jules.” Jax Jun, theatre graduate assistant and technical and musical director for our show, locked eyes with Jules. In their techie black turtlenecks and chinos, the two men looked like beatnik renegades from a 1950’s funeral.

Jules ran a shaky hand through his dark hair and narrowed his gray eyes. “There is nothing wrong with my flying equipment.”

“Except that it ejaculates prematurely.”

No pun intended.

Jules groaned. “My family and I cannot work like this, Nicky.”

I can relate.

Jax’s exotic jade eyes widened. “None of us would have to ‘work like this’ if I were designing the show.”

Jules snickered like a Republican president pardoning his cohorts in crime. “The Coutures have designed shows to rave reviews from our native France to Italy to London and throughout the US on our way to Broadway.”

“Your avant-garde style may work in some venues, but it’s out of place in this show and at our university,” replied the graduate assistant.

“How so?”

Jax scratched at his thin dark locks. “A set that looks like a teeth-whitening commercial, turning Never Land into outer space, and the revealing Merman and Tinker Bell costumes are against my religious freedom!”

I cleared my throat, which unfortunately didn’t clear my head. “Can we discuss this another time, gentlemen, since the children have hit the roof—literally?”

About the Author 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, Drama Pan; 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.

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