The Player by Joe Cosentino – Q&A and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Joe Cosentino who is celebrating the recent release of the first book in his new series, Player Piano Mysteries, The Player. Post a comment here on what you love about a ghostly romantic mystery. Freddy and Andre’s favorite will win a Dreamspinner Press backlist e-copy by Joe Cosentino of your choice!

Joe, wecome back and congratulations on the release of The Player. Time to play. 🙂
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 pinstriped suit.

How do you find the time to be a college professor/department head and do all this writing?

I’m a night owl, so I write late into the night.

Where do you write?

In a very cozy environment! My home study (very much like Martin Anderson’s office in my Nicky and Noah Mysteries) includes 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. The fourth draft is after notes from my editor.

Which other MM authors do you read?

All of them!

What have you learned about reviews?

I always encourage readers to post a reader rating and review on Amazon, Goodreads, and Audible. That’s how people find out about books. It’s like applauding for an actor at the curtain call. My reviews are generally very good. I don’t read the few negative reviews. If you don’t like a book, stop reading it after chapter one and read something else, rather than posting a low rating and mean review. Remember, folks, karma can be a bitch! What you put out there, you very well may get right back at you. Writers don’t do it for the money. We do it for the love of our books and our readers.

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. I remember as an actor, 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 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 under the guise of their “religious freedom.” 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. I’m hoping the same will occur with The Player. Most people like a clever mystery, a sweet romance, and a good laugh, regardless of the sexuality of the characters.

The Player isn’t your first mystery series.

Right. After my Nicky and Noah Mysteries series won awards and became incredibly popular to my delight, readers asked if I had written a second LGBTQ mystery romance series. My Jana Lane Mysteries series could have fit the bill, however, the supporting rather than leading characters are LGBTQ in that series. So, The Player was born.

How did you create your leading character, the dazzling and captivating Freddy Birtwistle?

While walking through an antique shop upstate New York, I came across an old player piano. It was handcrafted from maple, mahogany, and spruce with an elaborate leaf pattern molding. In the center section stood the roll of pre-programmed music on perforated paper: George Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me” from 1926. While listening to the song, I couldn’t help imagining who might have owned the Pianola. Since player pianos were popular with the wealthy in the Roaring Twenties, I imagined the owner, like the piano, was a player and a socialite from a family who made their fortune in the railroad industry. I named him Freddy Birtwistle and envisioned him as tall and lean with slicked-back jet-black hair, violet eyes, high cheekbones, a thin nose, and rosy cheeks. True to the period, he was meticulously dressed in a pinstriped black suit and vest, white silk shirt, and gray suspenders with matching bowtie and silk pocket handkerchief. His shoes were shiny black patent leather with white spats. Even more interesting than my creation’s looks and wardrobe was his alluring and joyous bon vivant personality. I decided Freddy socialized with the rich and famous of his time, and at thirty years old, he was shot by a misinformed jealous husband. An eternal partier, poor Freddy had died having never found true love.

Is this your first book featuring a character who is a ghost?

Yes! My popular Tales from Fairyland series (The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland and Holiday Tales from Fairyland) includes fantasy LGBTQ characters, but the stories are my comic gay spins on classic fairytales. And my Cozzi Cove series includes LGBTQ characters in romantic and mysterious situations that border on fantasy, but that highly praised series is more of an LGBTQ romance serial. So, the time has come for Freddy Birtwistle in The Player!

Is the story told through Freddy’s perspective?

No, my central character is twenty-five-year old Andre Beaufort. He’s described as being tall and thin with a cut body, amber eyes, dark hair, milk chocolate complexion, and a bubble butt. Andre is a grade school music teacher who finds the player piano in the basement of his apartment building. By pedaling it and playing famous songs of the Roaring Twenties, Andre brings back the ghost of Freddy, the original owner of the house before it was converted into apartments.

Do Freddy and Andre fall instantly in love?

Not exactly. The two get off to a rocky start, but eventually they find their way into each other’s hearts.

How do they become a ghostly Holmes and earthbound Watson?

Part I: The City House takes place in Hoboken, New Jersey. When Andre’s neighbor, a beautiful woman of mystery, is murdered in the building, Andre must protect his aunt, his best buddy, and himself by joining with Freddy (who only Andre can see—leading to comical misunderstandings) to catch the murderer. In Part II: The Country House, Andre travels to Freddy’s old country home in Cold Spring, New York, which has become a bed and breakfast. Andre discovers a player piano there as well, which joyously brings Freddy to him there. When the owner of the inn is murdered, the game is afoot again, and Andre and Freddy solve their second murder mystery as they continue to fall deeper in love.

What’s special about this book?

The two stories include sexy characters, cozy settings from the Art Deco period, my unique sense of humor, surprising plot twists and turns, fun red herrings, a touch of drama, a shocking yet justifiable ending, and of course lots of sweet romance.

Why two parts?

Since my readers are so loyal and wonderful, I decided to offer them a special gift with The Player. It is actually two books for the price of one!

Who are the supporting characters in The Player?

In Part I, Andre’s protective Aunt Nia manages Andre’s apartment building. His best buddy, Victor Martinez, is an actor who gets excited about a commercial audition to play a hemorrhoid. Victor enters into a love affair with cross-dressing lawyer Alexander Popov, the murder victim’s twin brother. The victim’s husband, sexy mystery author Denis Sokolov, just happens to write a novel that mirrors the murder. Hunky and sexy college film professor Leander Bryce enjoys exercising in his skivvies at the window while Andre watches. Milo Archer, a college student with a crush on Andre, wants to start a revolution. Hot personal trainer Hunter Buck and gorgeous grade school vice principal with a secret Preston Steele complete the list of suspects, all of whom share a secret past with the victim, including the police detective, Takoda Shawnee.

And in the second story?

Evangelical ex-judge Cynthia Butler Russell, the owner of the bed and breakfast originally owned by Freddy’s family when it was a mansion, is murdered in her office. The suspects include Cynthia’s straying husband Jim, her envious and comically alcoholic sister Sherry, Cynthia’s gorgeous gay son Nelson, Nelson’s muscular lover Sergio, and Sergio’s PFLAG mother Renata. While staying at the inn, Andre befriends Gabriel, an adorable sleepwalking architect. Andre also meets Zian, a cute painter who desires Gabriel, and Dustin Kelly, the tall detective hiding an interesting secret.

Who is your favorite character?

That’s like asking a parent for the name of their favorite child, though my parents would have no problem naming my sister (smile). If I have to choose, I’ll say Freddy. His upbeat attitude and spirit (no pun intended) are glorious. As Freddy might say, he’s a real lalapazaza!

Which character do you like the least?

Cynthia Butler Russell chooses the hate of her restrictive religion over the love of her son. There’s not much to like in that.

Which character was the hardest to write?

Freddy’s comical stories about his past with celebrities from his era were fun to write, but they required a great deal of research and imagination.

Which character is the sexiest?
Let’s take an example of acid buy viagra where why not try here reflux or heart burn. A normal man, according to Nocturnal Penile Tumescence has it on an average of five times a night. generic viagra australia JFK was assassinated, the Beatles transformed music and fashion, the civil rights movement came to the fore, and the Vietnam war viagra samples australia wrought escalating protest and social unrest. The most common disorder is the generic tadalafil tablets problem of impotency.
Quite a few of them are hotsy-totsy, as Freddy would say. I’ll pick Preston Steele. After people read the novel, they’ll know why.

How are the stories cozy?

They take place in Art Deco environments with fireplaces, turrets, window seats, balconies, and comfy chaises and armchairs opposite gorgeous murals, wallpaper, and statues. The windows sport views of the glistening Hudson River and sun-kissed mountains.

You were born in New Jersey, and you currently live upstate New York. Did that play a part in selecting your locations for The Player?

Absolutely. As Freddy would say, those places are Ell’s hips!

How can your readers get their hands on The Player?

The purchase links are below.

Will there be more Player novels?

The Player’s Encore, the Player Piano Mysteries book 2, will be released next year.

Thank you, Joe, for interviewing today.

My pleasure. In the words of Freddy Birtwistle, “You’re a blue Serge!”

I hope everyone will give The Player a play. I’m sure, like Andre, you will fall in love with Freddy and have a great deal of fun trying to solve the mysteries. And I love to hear from readers. So drop me a line at my website.

When young music teacher Andre Beaufort discovers an antique player piano in the basement of his apartment building, he is visited by the ghost of the original owner: a dapper and charismatic playboy from the Roaring Twenties, Freddy Birtwistle.

Andre has never seen a ghost and Freddy has never been one, so they get off to a rocky start. But when Andre finds his neighbor murdered on his doorstep, he and Freddy join forces to narrow the pool of suspects.

Soon Andre and Freddy discover that opposites attract, even if one’s alive and the other dead. Together these amateur detectives make an enticing team, and it’s a good thing too, because the first murder they solve together won’t be their last. But the real mystery isn’t just whodunit—it’s how a romance between a man and a ghost can have a happily ever after ending.

The Player contains two stand-alone cozy murder mysteries, The City House and The Country House.

Praise for Joe Cosentino’s Books:

“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless…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

“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet.” Urban Book Reviews

“The author executed his storyline with a marvelous precision that would be the envy of many authors. He draws the readers into the lives of his characters, they become real and in turn, their emotions becomes yours….If you can only afford to buy one more book this year, buy this one.” Three Books Over the Rainbow Reviews

“I really loved this book and having an ending that made me laugh and cry at the same time is testament to the brilliant writing.” BooksLaidBareBoys

Enjoy an Excerpt

THE PLAYER piano stood upright, demanding my attention and beckoning me toward it. Having an MA in Music, specializing in the Roaring Twenties era, I could tell it was a genuine pianola authentic to the period. It was handcrafted from maple, mahogany, and spruce with an elaborate leaf-pattern molding. Aunt Nia stood next to me in the corner of the basement with her hand planted firmly on her ample hip. Her familiar scent of coconut soap permeated my senses.

“Andre Beaufort, are you going to stare at that dusty old piano while the entire apartment building floats into the Hudson River?” My aunt missed her calling as an actress.

“How long has this pianola been here?” I asked.

“I’d say since the year of the flood, but with this leaky pipe, I don’t want to tempt the fates.” She handed me a roll of Teflon duct tape, led me to the ladder, and pushed me by my behind up to the top. “You get that bubble butt from my side.” She giggled.

My father, French Canadian, and my mother, African American, had died with my baby brother in a car crash when I was four years old. My mom’s sister had raised me ever since in the building she managed, an Art Deco mansion converted into an apartment building. I had lived in apartment 1B with Aunt Nia until my twenty-first birthday. For the last four years, I’ve exerted my independence and lived on my own—in apartment 3A—a walk-up that keeps my legs toned and my inherited butt firm. As I ripped a piece of thick tape off the roll, I asked Aunt Nia, “Shouldn’t you call a plumber?”

“I did, but he’s booked until the end of July.” Looking authoritarian in her peach ankara maxi dress and matching bib collar necklace, Aunt Nia announced, “The tape should hold for a month.”

“Is that all right with the owner of the building?”

“Who knows?”

“How can you work for someone you’ve never met?”

Still beautiful at fifty-five, Aunt Nia shook her head, and long dreads formed a halo around her smooth face. “I get my monthly check, and the bills are paid. So Florida’s Tzar Me In Corporation is all good by me.”

“But shouldn’t they know about this?”

“What the owner doesn’t know won’t hurt him—or me. I’ll email ‘office’ about it.”

I wrapped the tape around the pipe and the leak stopped. “Maybe I should have been a plumber.”

She snickered. “You’d make more money.”

“True, but you know I love teaching.” I grinned. “Now that it’s the end of June.”

“I hear that.” Aunt Nia, who was a high school guidance counselor, chuckled as she helped me down the ladder.

As a grade school music teacher, it was fulfilling to share my love for music with children, teaching them about history, culture, self-expression, emotion, and different sounds to calm and delight. However, with so much state-required administrative work thrust upon me lately, fewer children labeled “gifted and talented,” and pushy parents demanding their tone-deaf and entitled children have solos in the school’s spring concert, I was in dire need of my summer break.

After handing my aunt the roll of tape, I was drawn back to the player piano. Sitting on the dusty bench, I sneezed and then placed my feet on the pedals. The center section at my eye level was open, so I could see the roll of preprogrammed music on perforated paper. It was a George Gershwin song from 1926: “Someone to Watch Over Me.” As I pressed the pedals, a few familiar notes played. “It still works!” I rose and lifted the top of the bench. “Aunt Nia, there are nine more rolls of music in here! Who owns this?”

“It must have been left here by the original owner in the 1930s. The building has changed ownership a few times since then. I guess nobody wanted it. I can’t say that I blame them.”

“Can I have it?”

About the 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, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie, Drama Runway, Drama Christmas; the Dreamspinner Press stories: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays/The Perfect Gift/The First Noel, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland/Holiday Tales from Fairyland, Found At Last: Finding Giorgio/Finding Armando, The Player Piano Mysteries: The Player/The Player’s Encore; the Cozzi Cove series (NineStar Press): Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings; 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 he 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.

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