An Interview with Joe Cosentino, author of A Home for the Holidays, a holiday novella from Dreamspinner Press
What inspired you to start writing?
As a kid I played make believe constantly. “Let’s put on a show!” was my motto with full scale musicals in the garage starring my sister and me. Thankfully my parents and teachers indulged me (rather than committed me-hah). Eventually I became an actor in film, television, and theatre, working opposite stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Morphing into writing plays and now novels seem like the perfect progression. It occurred to me that acting is storytelling in the same way that writing is storytelling, so I decided to give writing a try. After writing some plays, I knew my novels would include show business in some way, since show business has always been such a huge part of my life. Since coming from a funny Italian-American family, I also knew humor would play a role in my novels.
Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
After writing two bittersweet dreams novellas, An Infatuation (loosely based on my high school and adult years) and A Shooting Star (loosely based on my college years as a theatre major) published by Dreamspinner Press, and a comedy mystery series taking place in the world of academia (the Nicky and Noah mysteries published by Lethe Press starting with Drama Queen), I needed a vacation. My parents, sister, niece, aunts, uncles, and cousins had been telling me for years to travel to Italy. I always resisted due to the long plane ride and steep cost. However, like Kunta Kinte charting his roots, I decided it was time. So my spouse and I dipped into our savings—and dipped into the Dramamine, and booked a flight and bus tour from the US to Rome, Naples, Venice, Assisi, Lake Como, Milan, Florence, the Amalphi Coast, Pompeii, Tuscany, and Lake Maggiore. However, there was no site more gorgeous, magical, and romantic than the Island of Capri. I will never forget the stunning views of enormous cliffs sitting majestically on the sparkling turquoise water, the gorgeous white sand beaches surrounded by artistic white stone formations, the breathtaking views of the Bay of Naples, the beautiful Amalfi Coast, and the artistic mountains of Calabria in the distance. Capri also had the most amazing restaurants and shops on the water’s edge. And the people somehow all seemed beautiful and sensuous. Upon arriving back in the US, I realized I had to write a romantic story taking place in Capri!
In the novella, like Harold in An Infatuation and Jonathan in A Shooting Star, Bobby is sweet, sensitive, and smart. As a law student, he has buried his head in his books. As the novella begins, he is ready for an adventure—and ready for first love.
Like Mario in An Infatuation and David in A Shooting Star, Paolo is handsome, muscular, charismatic, and like many people in Italy, much more interested in love than in work. He is also a gifted artist. Unlike Bobby, Paolo is very experienced in matters of the heart.
Bobby’s mother is loosely based on my mother. She is hysterically funny, and loves her son dearly.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
I love reading and writing stories with engaging characters in mouthwatering locations. Create a unique world that readers will want to visit and never leave. An outline is simply an outline. Don’t be afraid to deviate from it. When a reader finishes a book, he/she should be satisfied that the various parts equaled the whole, rather than the author pulling an ending out of the hat. Finally, while a sad ending is fine, don’t forget the humor!
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Since I was an actor, I look at writing like acting. I begin by writing a character biography for each character and a plot summary. Then I let the characters talk to one another—as I did when I was an actor doing improvisation. What my characters say and do make me laugh and cry. They always surprise me. I also check Facebook after I write each scene!
Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell us about?
I have a 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. In PAPER DOLL (Whiskey Creek Press), 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 (coming soon from The Wild Rose Press), 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 (not yet released from The Wild Rose Press), 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 romance with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. In CHINA DOLL (not yet released from The Wild Rose Press), 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. Since the novels take place in the 1980’s, Jana’s best friends are gay, and Jana is somewhat of a gay activist, the AIDS epidemic is a large part of the novels.
I love hearing from readers. They can contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
After reading A Home for the Holidays, people have said they’ve taken a little trip to Capri and had the romance of a lifetime. I hope readers will pick up this short novella. It’s a lot cheaper than a trip to Italy, and is bursting with the sights, scents, sounds, tastes, and romance of the magnificent island of Capri!
Bobby McGrath’s Christmas trip to the beautiful Italian Island of Capri to meet his eccentric, extended family offers stunning views—none more stunning than his third cousin, Paolo Mascobello, a real stocking stuffer. As the two young men embark on a relationship, Bobby, a driven law student, learns to relax and bask under the old Italian moon, and Paolo realizes there’s more to life than a frolic on the beach. For the two to find everlasting amore, Paulo must overcome his fear of commitment and learn to follow his dreams, and Bobby must get his wish for happily ever after. “Reading this little holiday treat is like taking a romantic trip to gorgeous Capri, Italy!”
Cover: Artist Paul Richmond
Upon entering my room, I noticed Lucia had unpacked my things into a large mahogany wardrobe out of C. S. Lewis. Exhausted from my trip, I stripped off my clothes, leaped onto the gigantic, canopied four-poster bed, and slept until I felt a firm nudge on my shoulder. As I opened my still jet-lagged eyes, I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or awake. Standing next to my bed was the most gorgeous man I had ever seen. About my height and age, his wavy chestnut hair framed piercing sapphire eyes, a straight nose, and full red lips. Wearing a skintight button-down red shirt, black pants, and black loafers, he gave Michelangelo’s David a run for his florin. To say his body was strong was like saying the Catholic Church had a little wealth and power. His taut, perfectly shaped muscles sprouted additional muscles of even greater magnitude. Bulging shoulders led to mountainous pectoral muscles, a narrow waist and hips, and a prominent lump between his sculpted thighs. His skin was olive-colored and so smooth it appeared as if he had no veins in his body.
“Mama said you should come down for lunch.”
Covering my rapidly growing erection with my thigh, I responded in a daze, “Who are you?”
He spoke perfect English. “I am Paolo.”
Next to Paolo, even with a swimmer’s body, I felt incredibly white and skinny. “Hello, Paolo. I’m Bobby. I think we’re related.” As I rose to get dressed, Paolo seemed to check out my body, or was that wishful thinking?
“Your grandfather and my grandfather were cousins.”
Doing the math quickly, I said, “So that makes us third cousins?”
“I guess it does.” He shook my hand. It felt warm and comforting. “We look nothing alike.”
I laughed at the understatement. “No.”
“Is this your first time in Italy?”
“Do you like it here?”
“Do you answer every question with ‘yes’ or ‘no’?”
“No.” I felt like a teenager at his first dance.
Paolo shrugged his massive shoulders. “You better get down to the dining room. Mama doesn’t like to hold lunch.”
Once dressed in a light blue sweater and dark blue pants, I said, “I don’t know how to get to the dining room.”
He smiled. “Follow me.”
Review by Claire Potterton
This is a very fast paced novel, packed with an array of unique, likeable characters, beautifully descriptive writing, and love at first sight.
The attraction between Bobby and Paolo is instantaneous, two very different men with, seemingly, very little in common, who recognise something a bit special in the other.
A whirlwind romance follows, precipitated by Paolo’s family’s insistence that he act as Bobby’s tour guide on their home island of Capri. Long conversations, romantic meals and a spot of skinny dipping draw these two young men together, cementing an unexpected relationship. (Unexpected to them that is, it seems the mothers may have had a hand in orchestrating their meeting!)
We only meet Bobby’s family through telephone conversations, (enough to know that they love their son, despite their rather quirky way of showing it), but Paolo’s large, loud, colourful Italian family are such wonderful characters. Over the top, over emotional, loving, interfering….all the things I imagine big, traditional Italian families to be.
From time to time, the writing is a little over flowery and convoluted for my taste, but the majority of this book is superbly written; you can see the beauty of Capri, almost taste the incredible food laid out on the page. Paolo and Bobby’s romance is sweet and tender, with just a little angst in the mix as they come to terms with what their new relationship means, both to them and their futures.
It’s a sweet story, a hopeful story; perhaps not a happy ever after, but a definite happy for now.
A really enjoyable romance.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Praise for Joe Cosentino’s In My Heart novellas, AN INFATUATION & A SHOOTING STAR, from Dreamspinner Press:
“unbelievably beautiful” “a masterpiece” Lovebytes Reviews
“as Joe Cosentino proves time and time again, with his wonderful writing and storytelling ability, love will prevail, and you will smile from ear to ear.” Kathy Mac Reviews
“a master class in how to write short fiction (or any fiction). Joe Cosentino has provided a work that will leave you thinking and wanting to savor and re-read it again and again.” GGR Reviews
“Like an onion, Joe Cosentino’s stories have layers.” “For those readers looking for something a little bit different – dare I say unique? For those readers who like to laugh. For those readers who appreciate the nuances of people and the way each character is different. For those readers who want to read a damn good story – check out this author. I’m glad I did.” “A truly fabulous read.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“This story just blew me away.” Cathy Brockman Romance/MM Good Book Reviews
“From the beginning I was enthralled and couldn’t wait to finish the book.” Inked Rainbow Reads
“really grabs you and tugs at your emotions” “unique and enjoyable.” Nautical Star Books
“It turned out exactly how I wanted it to.” BFD Book Blog
“This is polished prose at its best. Intelligent writing, a thought-provoking plot and characters befitting the theater genre” “one of my favorite reads this year.” Love’s Last Refuge Reviews
“Don’t miss this one friends, it is a heartfelt story magical in the telling! Thanks Joe for putting your heart on the page for us to savor!”
Bike Book Reviews
“It’s unusual for me to get sucked into a book in the first chapter but it grabbed me early and I read the whole thing in one day”. Nautical Star Books
“There were times I laughed and then there were times I cried…unforgettable.” Multitaskingmomma 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
“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
Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek 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, Charles Keating, 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 releases in 2016 are The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Porcelain Doll & Satin Doll & China Doll Jana Lane mysteries (Wild Rose Press), Drama Muscle & Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah mysteries (Lethe Press), and Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back & Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (Nine Star Press).
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com