Thursday, September 3, 2015

Welcome Back Guest Author: Joe Cosentino

Remember when a television interview would start with the host saying "My next guest needs no introduction"? Yes? No? Am I showing my age? Wait, don't answer that.


In any case, today's Guest Author, Joe Cosentino, is now a very familiar face on the blog and I wish I had a prize to offer him for being such a good sport and allowing me to keep asking him questions. Sadly, I can only offer him even more questions. I'm good that way. :)

(Pssst: if you'd like to hear more from Joe, go ahead and click HERE for his other guest posts)

So Joe! It's great to have you back with A Shooting Star, your second novella in the In My Heart series.

I’m thrilled to be back. I love your blog, your questions, your sense of humor, and your books! When AN INFATUATION released from Dreamspinner Press, I was the new kid (rather I was a kid at heart) on the MM block. You and so many other MM authors and bloggers embraced me. I will always be grateful.

I appreciate your kind words. You've also pointed out one of the huge pluses to writing and publishing MM—the community! It's truly a welcoming group. Now, let's start out talking covers!

1. I've adored each of your book covers and feel they've done a great job representing the work inside, but the fellow on this one (and his smile) really grabbed my attention. Who was the cover artist, and how much input do you have when it comes to a cover? Does it differ from publisher to publisher?

I’ve worked with four publishers so far: AN INFATUATION and A SHOOTING STAR (Dreamspinner Press), PAPER DOLL the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), and DRAMA QUEEN the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press) are released. Coming soon are A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS and THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND (Dreamspinner Press), PORCELAIN DOLL the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press), and DRAMA MUSCLE the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press). In each case, the experience was the same. I drove the cover artist totally insane. After I described the cover as I saw it, the artist emailed me a draft of the cover art. I then asked for change after change until he/she was ready to put a cover over me. In the case of A SHOOTING STAR, LC Chase should get a bonus from Dreamspinner Press. The model for David (on the right) was the fourth model she emailed me. I’m glad you love the cover and feel it depicts the story well. So do I! 

2. The old adage tells us not to judge a book by its cover, but I'll confess that I've purchased many a title merely because of the front image. How about you? And if yes, have you ever regretted it?

Yes! Yes! That’s why I spend so much time driving the cover artists insane. I believe the cover should reflect the characters, plot, time period, location, and the mood of the book. I think mine do!

3. Your first work in the In My Heart series, An Infatuation, resonated with readers as I'm sure this one will. Why do you think the theme touches us so deeply?

After AN INFATUATION was released by Dreamspinner Press, I received so many comments from readers telling me how they laughed, felt romantic, cried, and believed their lives were changed after reading it. I hold those comments in my heart, and they propel me to write more books. They loved the fact that the story spans twenty years, Harold wears his heart on his sleeve, and Harold and Mario have a unique and special bond of love. Harold and Mario are complete opposites, but they complete one another, even when they aren’t together. 
I received numerous requests from readers for a second novella in the In My Heart series. Since AN INFATUATION was loosely based on my high school days through adulthood, I thought back to my days as a theatre major in college, and A SHOOTING STAR was born. Like Harold in AN INFATUATION, Jonathan in A SHOOTING STAR is loosely based on me, though I haven’t won an Academy Award—yet. He is ingenuous, funny, warm, gullible, and has an open heart. As is the case with Stuart in AN INFATAUTION, Barry, Jonathan’s loyal scene partner in A SHOOTING STAR, is loosely based on my spouse. Similar to Mario in AN INFATUATION, David, Jonathans’ roommate in SHOOTING STAR, is a combination of a number of young men I met as a theatre major in college and as a young actor doing theatre, film, and television. They were gay, bi, closet-gay, or straight. Each was handsome, muscular, charismatic, sensuous, and almost other-worldly like Greek gods. Though they appeared to hold the world in the palm of their strong hands, they each had a secret weakness. Their presence changed everyone around them. The acting professor, the hysterically hypochondriac Professor Katzer in A SHOOTING STAR, is a lampooned version of an acting professor I had in college who has since passed away. I want to play him in the movie version!

4. You've successfully published work with different publishers in what can be considered differing genres, all while keeping similar enjoyable elements of strong characterization, humor, adventure, and romance. Is there a specific genre—perhaps my favorite, SciFi or YA—you haven't yet, but would like to try?

A few reviewers said the first half of AN INFATUATION is similar to a young adult novel, since it takes place in Harold’s and Mario’s high school. So in a way, I feel as if I have already written in that genre. 

I have a romantic mystery series, the Jana Lane mysteries, with straight leading characters and gay supporting characters. I created a heroine who was the biggest child star ever until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. Starting with PAPER DOLL, at thirty-eight her flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in her future. In each book Jana solves a film-related murder mystery and embarks on a new romance. I’ve written four novels so far.
My Nicky and Noah mystery novels are farcical, gay, who-dun-its. Starting with DRAMA QUEEN, theatre professors/lovers Nicky and Noah use their theatre skills (including playing other people) to solve murders at fictitious Treemeadow College, named after its founder, gay couple Tree and Meadow. I’ve written three novels so far.

I have also written a number of plays and musicals for adults and children. 
So I feel like I have written in all the genres that interest me as a reader—except screenplays. Hear that, Hollywood!

5. Several authors I chat with are torn between the demands of promoting their work via social media and their writing time. Then they become practically catatonic when asked to factor in real life and outside employment. How do you juggle it all, and can you offer any newer authors some practical advice?

I am a college theatre professor/department head (like Martin Anderson in DRAMA QUEEN). So I am pretty busy during the daytime. I keep myself on a rigid schedule. I come home, exercise (to keep my manly figure-hah), eat dinner with my spouse, do some publicity, then write until bedtime. My advice for other writers is to write the kind of book you like to read. If one publisher rejects it, send it to another. Block out two hours a day to write and stick to it.

6. You've shared with us in prior interviews a bit of your writing process—starting with a character biography and then moving on to an outline. Do things go pretty much according to plan or have you ever written an ending that surprised you?

My characters constantly surprise me. Even in a mystery, where you have to plot out the clues, plot twists and turns, and shocking ending in advance; once the characters start talking in my head, they often have a mind of their own. In A SHOOTING STAR the character of Barry (Jonathan’s loyal friend and scene partner) began as a small role. He was so funny, sweet, and touching that he became a featured role. 

Final Bonus Question: What is the one item (this doesn't have to be anything extravagant) you've always coveted, but have never allowed yourself  to purchase and why?

My spouse does all of the shopping, because if I go to a store, I’ll buy everything in sight! If I could buy something ultra extravagant, it would be a film studio to make movies of all of our MM novels!

That would be terrific. Hmmm, do you think Dreamspinner has somewhere in their future business plans a space for "Dreamspinner Studios"? Maybe even a Dreamspinner cable channel after enough films were made? Do you think it could give LMN a run for their viewers?

I guess we'll enjoy our favorite novels while we wait. Which makes this a good place to segue into your latest release:

On the eve of the best night of his life, winning an Academy Award, Jonathan Bello thinks back to his one great love, David Star.Flipping back the pages of time, Jonathan recalls his handsome, muscular, and charismatic college roommate. Since Jonathan was a freshman and David a senior in the Theatre Department, David took Jonathan underhis wing and molded him, not only as an actor but as a lover. With every wonderful new adventure, David left his joyful mark on anyone with whom they came in contact, but Jonathan soon uncovered David’s dark past, leading to a shocking event. Undaunted, Jonathan celebrates the captivating man who will always hold a special place in his heart.

A Bittersweet Dreams title:It's an unfortunate truth: love doesn't always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears. 

Reviews for A SHOOTING STAR:

“Of all the books I’ve reviewed, or attempted to review over the past year, this is only the second book that was well written.”Multitasking Mommas

“A very gripping, heart wrenching novella. A great read!!” Pam Kay Reviews


As an Italian-American, I subscribed to my mother’s theory that if someone doesn’t want you to see something, he will hide it in a locked vault covered with cement. So I inadvertently took a quick look at my roommate’s things on the other side of the room. He was incredibly neat. Numerous theater textbooks and play scripts lined his bookshelf in alphabetical order. The bulletin board above his desk displayed artistically arranged programs from various comedy, drama, and musical college productions listing the same male lead in each show: “David Star”.

“Do you always look at other people’s things?”

I nearly got whiplash as he entered the room
Stammering like a kid caught masturbating by his parents, I said, “I… w-was… ad-m-miring y-your… r-room.”

Though it was a fall September day, he took off his scarf (violet) and rested it on a tall coat-rack, which held scarves in various colors like a department store window display. He was taller than me, with a chiseled, handsome face, and straight, shiny black hair, which fell down his thick neck. I admired his perfectly sculpted muscles, housed in a turquoise designer dress shirt. But what captivated me the most were his piercing crystal-blue eyes—and the enormous bulge in his skin-tight, designer beige pants.

“What’s your name?”

“Johnny Falabella.”

He looked at me like a surgeon examining a tumor. “No, it’s not.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s Jonathan Bello.” He opened a bureau drawer, pulled out a bottle of hair gel, and tossed it to me. “You should gel your hair.” He opened his closet, revealing a multitude of color-coordinated shirts and slacks, and lay some on my bed. “And you can wear these.”

I looked at his perfectly pressed designer clothes. “Where did you get all these things?”

“They were gifts, mostly.”

“You must have some generous friends…. Sorry, I don’t know your name.”

I’m David Star.” He took a bow.

Looking back at his play programs, I said, “You must have starred in every play at the college over the last three years.”

“Guilty as charged.”

“What happened to your last roommate?”

“He went to LA over the summer break and started auditioning. He got cast in a new TV sitcom. I hope it takes off. It’s called Cosby.”

“At the orientation session, they said freshmen are housed with other freshmen. How did I get a senior for a roommate?”

His eyes twinkled. “Just lucky I guess.”

“Do you think it was some kind of an administrative error or something?”

“Or something.” He added matter-of-factly, “I asked for a freshman roommate.”

About Joe:
Joe Cosentino is the author of An Infatuationand A Shooting Star(Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (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 educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella), The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press short stories novella), Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press), and Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press).

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