DRAMA PAN (the 12th Nicky and Noah mystery)
a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO
E-book and Paperback: 52,760 words, 214 pages
Genre: MM, contemporary, mystery, comedy, romance, spring, academia, theatre, drama
Cover Art: Jesús Da Silva
Release date: June 1, 2021
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!
Excerpt of Drama Pan, the 12th Nicky and Noah mystery novel, by Joe Cosentino:
I felt a warm, soft, comforting arm around my shoulders. Though I was contemplating jumping off the white steeple of our local Open and Affirming church, I couldn’t resist smiling at my husband’s handsome face so full of love. “The captain always steers the ship out of turbulent waters, Nicky.”
“Tell that to the captain of the Titanic who by the way had nothing over me.”
My husband Noah, my Watson, though thirty-seven (seven years younger than me, but who’s counting) appeared as the spirit of youth in his Peter Pan moss tunic. Glancing down at Noah’s matching tights gave my little Nicky (or not so little Nicky) a stir. “Nicky, we’ve had worse tech dress rehearsals than this.”
“What could be worse?”
“Nobody’s been killed.” Noah adjusted the triangular cap over his blond curly locks, and the scent of strawberry shampoo enveloped me.
“True, but the run-through just began, and I already have five pages of notes.”
“Only five?” Noah’s crystal blue eyes sparkled. “By the way, you look delectably darling in your Mr. Darling tuxedo.”
“And you are the most fetching Peter I know.”
He patted my growing bulge. “I’ll take second place.”
“Don’t take it too hard.” No pun intended.
We shared a delicious kiss.
“Can you two get a room?”
Thanks to my younger (but who’s counting) brother Tony, Noah was in an Abbondanza sandwich. Since Tony has my dark hair, Roman nose, emerald eyes, and Abbondanza abundance, I felt as if looking into a mirror—connected to a time tunnel.
Noah gave Tony a hug. “Have I told you how much I love your choreography in this show?”
“Only three times—tonight.”
Noah grinned. “I’m glad you’re visiting with us, Tony.”
“Me too.” Tony scratched his long sideburns (another Abbondanza trait). “I don’t think I could have gotten through this without you two guys and Taavi.”
“We’re you’re family.”
I reached over Noah and placed my hand on Tony’s shoulder. “Thank you for choreographing.” I added quickly, “But I have a number of notes for you.”
Tony groaned. “Of course you do.” Then noticing our son in the row behind us, Tony mussed Taavi’s dark locks. “How’s my nephew, the star of plays and movies?”
Taavi cocked his head. “You forgot the ballet and the modeling show.”
Noah, Tony, and I said in unison, “He’s an Abbondanza.”
Taavi leaned toward me. “Pop, can I talk to you?”
“No, you can’t get billing over the title, or a solo in the show as Michael.”
Taavi turned to Noah. “Dad, can’t I even get an autograph station at the stage door?”
“Your Pop said no.”
Taavi sighed. “My fans on social media will be disappointed.”
“Leave them wanting more,” Tony said.
Taavi offered my brother a theatrical smile. “Uncle Tony, it’s so cool when you visit. I wish you could live with us all the time.”
Catching on to Taavi’s manipulation, Tony replied, “I can’t get anything for you from your pop.” Then he rose, his muscles filling his white T-shirt and black jeans. “Except dance notes.”
Taavi offered him the hang loose sign from Taavi’s native Hawaii.
Tony said, “Speaking of choreography, since we’re on a technical break, (or breakdown) I can use the time to run the dances with the pirates and the Lost Boys.”
I glanced at Taavi. “Meaning my students in the ensemble who would each burn their dormmate at the stake to play the role of Michael. So stop complaining.”
“Listen to your pop.” My younger brother sighed. “I’ve had to do it all my life.”
Release Day Interview with Joe Cosentino, author of Drama Pan,
the 12th Nicky and Noah mystery/comedy/romance novel
Joe Cosentino, welcome on the release day of the twelfth novel in your award-winning and popular Nicky and Noah gay cozy comedy mystery series.
Thank you. There are now a dozen novels in this series. I hope the last one doesn’t lay an egg. (smile)
Why do you like writing about musical theatre so much?
Broadway musicals have always been my passion. I recall singing and dancing to Broadway show albums as a kid, acting out all the roles in my favorites like Fiddler on the Roof, Hello Dolly, Gypsy, Mame, My Fair Lady, and South Pacific. My wish came true as an actor when I got to play opposite Nathan Lane in a production of Roar of the Greasepaint and a clown in an Off-Broadway musical called Circus. It was thrilling to sit in the audience of a Broadway theatre and see every hit musical over the last few decades, including sitting next to Jerry Herman at the opening of his La Cage Aux Folles. As a college theatre professor, it tickled my fancy to direct musicals like Hair, A Night in the Ukraine, and Me and My Girl. So it was no wonder that some of my Nicky and Noah mystery novels featured the adorable gay couple and their pals “putting on a musical” in their Treemeadow College theatre. In Drama Detective it was a wacky musical version of Sherlock Holmes entitled, Is Holmes a Homo? In Drama Faerie the crew performed a hysterical musical rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring an ass who was a great Bottom. Call Me Carol! was the title of the madcap musical based on Scrooge’s A Christmas Carol in Nicky and Noah’s latest adventure, Drama Christmas.
Why Drama Pan as the twelfth novel in the series?
Perhaps my favorite musical of all times is Mary Martin’s version of Peter Pan based on the original J.M. Barre play. Every Christmas my family I and would be riveted to our television screen to watch again and again the timeless classic about the boy who wouldn’t grow up. So after writing eleven popular Nicky and Noah cozy comedy mystery MM novels, it’s not a surprise that the twelfth novel in the series, Drama Pan, centers around the group producing their uproarious musical adaptation of Peter Pan called 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 our thick as thieves thespians (Try saying that three times fast while eating peanut butter) Nicky and Noah use their drama skills, including playing outrageous characters, to catch the killer before they get thrown to the crocodiles.
It’s great to see our favorite characters back.
Yes! Hunky and hilarious Nicky Abbondanza, Professor of Play Directing, does double duty as Mr. Darling and Captain Hook. Nicky’s loving and loyal husband Noah gets the title role of Peter Pan. Their 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. Nicky and Noah’s 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 (Try saying that three times fast near a whistle) plays Mrs. Darling, and Nicky’s longsuffering detective Manuello hits the ground as Nana and the Crocodile.
Nicky has his 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/suspects/victims for 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.
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 room of a gay bar” (as Nicky would say). No matter what is thrown in their path, Nicky and Noah always end up on top. At least Nicky ends up on top, which is just fine with Noah.
When you wrote Drama Queen, did you envision this as a series?
Totally. Though each book has its own complete story and ending, I wrote the first three books together. When they were so popular, I kept writing.
For anyone unfortunate enough not to have read them, tell us the titles of the first eleven novels in the series.
Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of the Year), Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Dance (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Faerie, Drama Runway, and Drama Christmas.
How did you remember elements about the characters and settings over the six years?
I kept good notes on everything for continuity. Also, the regular characters are like family to me. I know them so well. I love watching them and their relationships grow and develop. It’s equally fun creating new characters in each book. I laugh out loud when writing these novels, and the endings still surprise me—even though I wrote them!
You’re a college theatre professor/department chair like Martin Anderson in your series. Has that influenced the series?
As a past professional actor and current college theatre professor/department chair, I know 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! I never seem to run out of wild characters to write about. My faculty colleagues and students kid me that if any of them tick me off, I’ll kill them in my next book.
Are you Martin Anderson, the theatre department head, in the novels?
My colleagues say my sense of humor is Nicky’s but I look like Martin Anderson. I love how Martin is so loyal and supportive of Nicky and Noah. His one up-man-ship with his office assistant Shayla is a riot. I’ll admit that like me Martin is a bit of a gossip. His spouse, Ruben, is based on mine. It’s great when Ruben keeps Martin’s theatricality in line with hysterical barbs. The older couple stay sharp by engaging in their verbal warfare, but it’s all done in deep admiration and respect. Finally, it’s wonderful to see an elderly couple so much in love (uncommon in the entertainment field), and how they can read each other like a book—no pun intended.
Are Nicky and Noah based on any of your younger colleagues?
Like most of the characters in my books, Nicky is a combination of a few people I’ve known. He’s handsome, muscular, smart, charming, and he has an enormous manhood, which doesn’t hurt (or maybe it does). However, what I admire most about Nicky is his never give up attitude and sense of humor in the face of adversity. He is genuinely concerned for others, and he’ll do anything to solve a murder mystery. Finally, he is a one-man man, and Nicky is proud to admit that man is Noah Oliver. Nicky is also incredibly devoted to his family and friends. Noah is blond, blue-eyed, lean, handsome, smart, and devoted. He makes the perfect Watson to Nicky’s 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 Nicky, Noah is quite gifted at improvisation, and creates wild and wonderful characters for their role plays to catch the murderer.
Since both you and Nicky are of Italian-American descent, are Nicky’s parents like yours? Are Noah’s parents like your spouse’s parents?
Both Nicky’s parents and Noah’s parents have many of the traits of my parents. They’re 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 Nicky. As they say, men marry their fathers. Nicky’s parents’ goal to feed everyone and protect their children is heartwarming. Both sets of parents fully embrace their sons and their sons’ family, which is refreshing.
You and your spouse have travelled to Alaska, Hawaii, and Scotland, just like Nicky and Noah. Did those trips inform those novels in the series?
Since my spouse and I have travelled extensively to gorgeous locations, those situations often pop up in my books. I hear other things pop up as well when the readers read Nicky and Noah’s love scenes. (smile)
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 nightshirt.
How do you find the time to be a college professor/department head and do all this writing?
I don’t get a lot of sleep.
Where do you write?
My home study is very much like Martin Anderson’s office at Treemeadow College including 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.
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 Republican 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. 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. Most people like a clever mystery, a sweet romance, and a good laugh, regardless of the sexuality of the characters.
How can your readers get their hands on Drama Pan, and how can they contact you?
The purchase links are below, as are my contact links, including my web site. I love to hear from readers! So do Nicky and Noah. I tell them everything!
Thank you, Joe, for interviewing today.
My pleasure. As a past professional actor and current college theatre professor/department chair, I know first-hand the hysterically funny antics, sweet romance, and captivating mystery in the worlds of theatre and academia. The Nicky and Noah mysteries are full of them!
I know you’ll laugh, cry, feel romantic, and love delving into this crackling new mystery with an ending that will shock you more than a priest passing on an altar boy in the confessional.
I’m excited 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!
And I love to hear from readers. So drop me a line. I’ll share it with Nicky and Noah! http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
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.
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Giveaway: 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. Please don’t forget to leave your e-mail, so we can contact you if you win. Check Drama Queen out here: http://www.audible.com/pd/B012I834LS/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-039908&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_039908_rh_us