Please welcome Joe Cosentino to the blog! Joe is an author with Dreamspinner Press and has written a fantastic story! Everyone please give a warm welcome to Joe. I’ll have you know I resisted the urge to use that last exclamation mark there.
JOE COSENTINO ANSWERS READERS’ QUESTIONS
Rhys Ford, thank you for hosting me today on your amazing blog. Via Facebook, I asked my readers to post questions they would like me to answer on your blog. They came up with some really interesting questions. It was great fun answering them. Enjoy!
I am still friends with the writer/director of CIRCUS, a musical I did at the Cubiculo Theatre in NYC in 1975. I played Rodo, the clown. I looked adorable in my clown outfit and makeup. Hah. We are all still friends! We have reunions at each other’s homes. We literally have grown up and grown old(er) together sharing career changes, location changes, marriages, divorces, births, and deaths. Our story would make a great movie. I want to play me!
Over the next few years I also acted opposite Nathan Lane (ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT in dinner theatre), Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T Industrial), Bruce Willis (A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM in regional theatre), Holland Taylor (MY MOTHER WAS NEVER A KID ABC-TV movie), Jason Robards (Commercial Credit Computer commercial), and Charles Keating (NBC-TV’s ANOTHER WORLD) as well as with many many other gifted actors, writers, and directors. After our roles were finished, we moved on to other things and did not remain friends. That is one of the reasons I cherish the CIRCUS group so much.
Where do you get your inspiration for creating your characters? Which of your characters most resembles you?
Each of my characters is a composite of a few people I’ve known. The exceptions are Harold and Stuart in AN INFATUATION (Dreamspinner Press), which started as my one-act play and morphed into the novella. Harold is based on me, and his husband Stuart is based on my spouse. Harold has my sense of humor and ability to forge on despite amazing obstacles. Since it spans a twenty-year period, Harold matures throughout the novella as I did in my life. I love Stuart’s devotion to Harold as well as Stuart’s over planning of everything. My spouse makes lists of the lists he needs to make. He plans the itineraries for our vacations to the minute. Finally I love how Start isn’t jealous of Harold’s infatuation with Mario, because Stuart has the utmost faith in the strength of his and Harold’s relationship. Mario is a composite of a few studly guys I knew as an actor. They took it for granted that everyone was infatuated with them, and they were!
Jana Lane in the Jana Lane mysteries was born with PAPER DOLL by Whiskey Creek Press. She is based on a number of child movie stars like Hayley Mills, Shirley Temple, Patty Duke, etc. I cringe when my students tell me they’ve never heard of them!
The Nicky and Noah comedy mysteries (releasing this summer from Lethe Press with DRAMA QUEEN) take place at a college. Since I am a college theatre professor and department head, my colleagues tease me that if they tick me off I will kill them in one of my books. In actuality, the characters are conglomerations of many people I’ve known. I think that makes the characters more interesting and bit larger than life—which I like!
Which of your works are you most proud of or is your favorite and why?
Yikes! That’s like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. I love them all equally! They each still make me laugh, feel romantic, cry, and shock me when I read the endings. Even now, though logically set up, I still don’t see the surprises coming. Regardless of the genre, each of my stories have likeable characters, humor, drama, romance, twists and turns in the plot, and a surprise ending. I love that! That’s why I think they should all have film versions, and I am hoping for offers!
How do you balance your writing, teaching, and personal life?
As a college professor and department head, I am pretty busy during the daytime. My students keep me young and they keep my mind active. The two hours before bed each night are when I do my writing. I’m a bit tired, which frees my creative juices and opens up all possibilities. My personal life has definitely taken a hit since I’ve begun writing. As an “old marriage man” I’m fine with that.
When and how do you decide if a book will be part of a series and how many books to write with the same characters?
I love reading mystery series, so I decided to write two mystery series—one MF (though it has gay supporting characters) and one MM. I have written three novels in each series so far, some awaiting publication. In addition, I wrote three standalone MM novellas published by Dreamspinner Press. Readers have often asked me if I would consider turning them into series. Two reviewers were adamant about it for AN INFATUATION, which I take as a great compliment. I assume the same thing will happen when A SHOOTING STAR (September) and A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (December) are published. They say, never say never, so I won’t rule out sequels, but none have been written at this time.
What is the most challenging part of writing?
Finding the time to do publicity/interviews/social media and write.
What’s the most fun part?
Spending time with all the fascinating characters in my head. Since I started as an actor, including doing improvisation, there are many vivid personalities in there. I also love working with the artists on the covers. That’s me on the cover of AN INFATUATION—not!
How do you get past writer’s block?
I never have writer’s block. The exact opposite! I have so many stories reeling around in my head that it is sometimes difficult deciding which one to write first. As most writers, I keep a pad and pencil on my night table and wake up in the morning jotting down notes.
How do you feel while you’re in the middle of writing a book?
Fragile! The most challenging time for me is writing the first draft. There are so many different paths a novel can take. It is a sensitive time when I’m fleshing out the characters and story. I don’t talk about the novel with anyone at this point—not even my spouse.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I generally start a new book over a holiday break from teaching, so I have a chunk of time to write the outline and begin the first draft. Once I feel the baby has been born, I switch to my usual schedule of writing two hours a night to finish the first draft then move on to my second draft. After my spouse reads the second draft and gives me feedback, I move on the writing the third draft then generally send it to the publisher, where there is a fourth and perhaps fifth draft with the editor who checks for continuity and proofing.
Do you write to music? Or do you prefer quiet?
I am lucky enough to have a really cozy office with a large cherry wood desk, bookcase, and fireplace mantel as well as a window seat and reclining chair. It’s the perfect place to write, especially since it is absolutely quiet (looking out into the woods). I don’t play music, because I want to hear the voices in my head and write what they are saying. And boy do they have a lot to say!
If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
An old tree with very deep roots.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I check my Facebook page after I write a scene.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Generally three months for a novella and six months for a novel before it goes to the publisher.
Do you do research for your books?
Yes, for some of them. Since the Jana Lane mysteries take place in the 1980’s, I have great fun researching and writing about the politics, social mores, music, fashion, and attitudes of the time period. Since I was around back then, it is a great pleasure for me to journey back in time with that series. In PAPER DOLL/book 1, Jana travels to Hollywood to solve a mystery about her past. Though I’ve been to Hollywood and live in the Hudson Valley, New York like Jana, I had to do a bit of research on certain historic places in the novels like Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, and the FDR Home (in PAPER DOLL) and the Vanderbuilt Mansion (in PORCELAIN DOLL/book 2), when Jana makes a comeback film. In SATIN DOLL/book 3, Jana travels to Washington, DC to solve a mystery. Though I have been there three times, I had to research the historic sites in the novel like the Ford Theatre, Jefferson Memorial, Capitol, and Smithsonian to fully remember them.
A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAY (releasing in December by Dreamspinner Press) takes place in Capri, Italy. Though we vacationed there, I had to do some research to remind myself of the gorgeous mountains, sea, churches, gardens, villas, sunsets, and other natural wonders of that romantic island.
AN INFATUATION and A SHOOTING STAR (releasing in September from Dreamspinner Press) are very personal to me so no research was necessary.
The first two Nicky and Noah comedy mysteries, DRAMA QUEEN and DRAMA MUSCLE, take place at a fictitious New England college. The third novel, DRAMA CRUISE, takes place on a cruise to Alaska. Though we took that cruise, I had to do some research to remind myself of some activities onboard ship as well as stops for touring. I remembered the all night buffet perfectly.
Who is your favorite author? Which authors inspire you?
Readers have compared PAPER DOLL (the Jana Lane mysteries) to an Agatha Christie or Mary Higgins Clark novel. I love that since I’ve read every one of their books. Reviewers and readers seem to love my hidden clues, humor, sense of the dramatic, and jaw dropping endings like in an Agatha Christie. They also like the romance, quick pace, and inclusion of social issues as in a Mary Higgins Clark novel.
Readers have also compared some of my books to Armistead Maupin’s, which again I take as an incredible compliment since I’ve read his books over and over again. I adore his quirky, human, loveable characters, and his plot-twists and turns. Once you start one of his books, you can’t put it down. You are an inhabitant in his world and you are hooked. I try to emulate that.
How can your readers reach you?
I have a web page, a Facebook page, Goodreads author page, Amazon author page, and Twitter account. So it shouldn’t be too difficult. Hah. Below are the press postings for my two current releases followed by my author’s bio. Fill out the contact sheet on my web site for news about upcoming releases and special offers: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com. I love to hear from readers!
Any last words?
I posted a really funny skit I wrote and acted in on You Tube, JULIE. Here’s the link. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoEp-_UjlFg
With his ten-year high school reunion approaching, Harold wonders whether Mario will be as muscular, sexy, and tantalizing as he remembers. 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, will the old flame reignite, setting Harold’s comfortable life ablaze? How can Harold be happy with Stuart when he is still infatuated with his Adonis, his first love, Mario? Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future.
Jana Lane was America’s most famous child star until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. Now she’s a thirty-eight-year-old beauty and mother of two living in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Jana’s flashbacks from her past turn into murder attempts in her present. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana visits the California movie studio she once called home. This sends her on a whirlwind of visits with former and current movie studio personnel. It also leads to a romance with the son of her old producer – Rocco Cavoto – the devilishly handsome filmmaker who is planning Jana’s comeback both professionally and personally. Can Jana uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves, including the person who destroyed her past and threatens to snuff out her future?
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. 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 Porcelain Doll (the second Jana Lane mystery), Drama Muscle (the second Nicky and Noah mystery), A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press novella), A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella).
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com