Interview with Nicky Abbondanza, the leading character in Joe Cosentino’s Drama Detective,
the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery/comedy/romance novel
Welcome, Nicky. Thank you for talking with us today about the fifth novel in Joe Cosentino’s popular Nicky and Noah mystery series.
I’m happy to get sprung from the book. My long legs need a stretch.
You’re such a popular character with MM and mystery readers. Who do you think should play you if there is a Nicky and Noah Mysteries television series?
Matt Bomer, and Neil Patrick Harris would be terrific as Noah. Joe Manganiello would be perfect as my brother, Tony (or any role). Joe wants to play Martin Anderson, my department head and best friend. Rather than Logo showing reruns of Golden Girls around the clock, and Bravo airing so called reality shows, they should do The Nicky and Noah Mysteries. Come on, TV producers, make Joe some offers!
Why did Joe Cosentino create this series?
Joe combines his past as a professional actor, present as a theatre college professor/department head, infatuation with mystery novels, and wild sense of humor in this series. Even at a young age, Joe suspected that Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson were more than roommates, which we have a lot of fun with in this fifth novel. There aren’t a lot of gay cozy mysteries out there. Joe changed all that.
For anyone who hasn’t read them (and they should!), tell us about the Nicky and Noah mysteries.
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 (the love of my life!). 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 I direct the college play production), and Noah and I must figure out whodunit and why. In the second book, Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention 2016), I’m 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. Noah and I must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as I direct a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from across the US. Complicating matters are our both sets of our parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with us. (The first three books are also available as wonderful audiobooks!) In Drama Luau, I’m directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort. Noah 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 Noah and I eavesdrop, seduce, role play, and finally trap the murderer, as pandemonium, hilarity, and true love ensue for a happily ever after ending—until the next book.
Has the Nicky and Noah mystery series been well received so far?
They liked me. They really liked me! 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. Who am I to argue? Noah and I are an adorable couple. The awards have also been amazing.
What do you like about Treemeadow College in Vermont?
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. It’s also very romantic. Just ask Noah.
Tell us about the storyline in Drama Detective. But no spoilers please!
I’m directing and ultimately starring as Sherlock Holmes opposite Noah 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, Noah 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. 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 men’s public bathroom stalls.
Joe describes you as tall, handsome with a Roman nose and dark hair, muscular, and having an enormous manhood. Does that help you solve the murders?
It doesn’t hurt. Well, maybe it hurts Noah. Hah. I have to flirt my way into some places to get certain information, so I guess it’s a huge asset (no pun intended). Even more, however, Noah and I use our theatre skills, including playing other people, to get clues. 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.
Your and Noah’s parents are also in the latest book.
I think our parents are absolutely 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. Also, both sets of our parents accept their son’s spouse as part of their family. Kudos to them.
Who is your favorite character in Drama Detective?
Noah of course. He is kind, gorgeous, sweet, sexy, and the perfect Watson to my Holmes. He is also genuinely concerned for others, and will do anything to solve a murder mystery. Finally, Noah is a one-man man, and I’m proud to admit that I’m the man. Of the newbies in book five, my favorite character is 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.
Who is your favorite couple in the book, next to you and Noah?
Ruben and Martin are based on Joe and his spouse. I love Martin’s paternal instincts toward Noah and me, 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), and how they can read each other like a book (no pun intended). They’re two terrific talented guys. (Try saying that three times fast)
Which character do you like the least in book five?
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.
Which character is the most misunderstood?
Corey Sundance is a handsome, muscular, and sexy young rebel with a cause. His inner secret makes him behave in a self-centered manner, but he’s masking the heart of a frightened child yearning for love.
Which character was the sexiest?
Noah would say Tony, my macho, muscular, Italian-American, younger brother.
How does Joe find the time to be a college professor/department head and do all this writing?
He writes in the evenings with me helping him along in his head. Being a little tired helps loosen his creative energies and flow. Plus, his spouse has gone to bed, so the house is quiet. It’s a great outlet for Joe after a long day. Now you know why there are so many murders in the Nicky and Noah mysteries. Hah.
Do you think gay fiction is important?
Of course! 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’m proud of the Nicky and Noah series with its LGBT leading characters and straight supporting characters. Besides being loved in the gay community, the series has a tremendous amount of crossover appeal with straight people. Everybody likes a clever mystery, a sweet romance, and a good laugh.
Tell us about Joe’s Jana Lane mysteries published by The Wild Rose Press.
I’m not in them, but here goes anyway. Joe 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.
Joe’s 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?
I’d say variety is the spice of life and ask them to give the Nicky and Noah mysteries a chance. As my mother said to me as a kid about sardines and pea soup, “Just try it, you may like it.” Okay, bad analogy. I still hate them.
And how about Joe’s New Jersey beach series?
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.
Back to Drama Detective. How can readers get their hands on Drama Detective, and how can they contact you?
The purchase links for Drama Detective are below. Readers can contact me through Joe’s web site. I’m always in his head. I guess I’m the man inside the man. And we both love to hear from readers!
Thank you, Nicky, for sharing with us today.
It is Noah’s and my joy and pleasure to share these stories with you. So put on your Sherlock Holmes coat and hat, grab your pipe and program, and take your front row seat. 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
Suddenly, a honky-tonk piano introduction led each of them to face front and belt out, “Acting Butch on Baker Street,” a rousing opening number featuring spinning members of the underworld and a Scotland Yard kick line. At the conclusion of the number, everyone ended with a frozen smile, looking like a pack of right wing politicians entering a ghetto.
“Good energy, everyone! Let’s take a ten-minute break,” I called out from my front row center seat in the audience.
I’m Nicky Abbondonza, Associate Professor of Directing at Treemeadow College, a quaint college in Vermont named after its benefactors, couple Harold Tree and Jacob Meadow. Or as we call them, Treemeadow’s Adam and Steve. Since you can’t see me, I’ll tell you I’m tall, pretty muscular, courtesy of Treemeadow’s gym and my insomnia, with dark hair, green eyes, and a Roman nose. If you’ve read my other four stories, you know I generally wear a dress shirt, blazer, and slacks. You’ll also know that murder is on the menu as are an assortment of characters (and I mean characters)—suspects and victims—as I try to figure out whodunit. So let’s get the game afoot. Ah, speaking of a foot, you newcomers should know another little tidbit of information. Well, not so little actually. I’m referring to my penis. It would make a porn star blush. My nickname in the gym locker room back home in Kansas was “Donkey Donza.” Yes, I’m from Kansas, a true friend of Dorothy’s.
Back to the story. Since it’s summertime, our cozy New England campus is full of multicolored flowers, babbling brooks, warm sunshine, and peace and quiet. So quiet that my department head and best friend, Martin Anderson, Professor of Theatre Management, decided to transform our college theatre into a professional summer stock venue for the tryout of a new Sherlock Holmes Broadway bound musical. True to Martin’s nature, he also took on a role in the play, Langdale Pike (society informer).
Martin, short, thin, bald, and somewhere between seventy and six-feet-under, stood downstage center (meaning closest to the audience for you non-thespians) in his Victorian gray suit. “Nicky, do you think I should act more like a gossip in the opening number?”
“You couldn’t act more like a gossip if twenty closet-gay actors from Hollywood left their beards and asked you for advice on whom to date,” Martin’s husband said sitting third row house left.
I’ll explain. Though Martin is a terrific department head and professor, his brainstorms generally end up as headaches for Martin’s long suffering spouse, Ruben Markinson, who Martin convinced to be our show’s producer. To raise needed funds for this venture, Ruben, the CEO of a gay rights organization, interviewed Broadway chorus boys about their peccadilloes, and then hit up anti-gay Republican legislators to buy shares of the show (and their silence). Next, we held auditions in New York City and found our cast. When our budget had been spent, Ruben (having been bitten by the acting bug in our previous capers) agreed to be understudy for one of the characters in the show, Porky Johnson (agent in the criminal underworld). The rest of the understudies (including yours truly understudying Sherlock Holmes), as well as the ensemble, designers, and technical crews, all came from our college population (including the kids whose parents didn’t want them loafing around at home over the summer).
Like all of us who love Martin, Ruben is well aware of Martin’s “inquisitive” nature. Ruben called out to his husband, “Martin, you and gossip go together like an HMO customer service representative and the words, ‘not covered.’”
“No comments from the peanut gallery,” Martin replied from the stage.
Ruben glared over the laptop on his knees. “Don’t make me fire you, Martin.”
“You try and I’ll bring you up on charges with Equity.”
“Touché, Martin.” Ruben blew him a mime kiss.
Martin caught it and placed it against his heart.
The true sanctity of marriage.