An Interview with Nicky Abbondanza
the leading character in Joe Cosentino’s Drama Christmas,
the eleventh Nicky and Noah mystery/comedy/romance novel
Nicky, you’re famous!
Congratulations on the release of the eleventh novel in your award-winning and popular Nicky and Noah gay cozy comedy mystery series.
Thank you. Noah and I are donning our gay apparel as we speak.
Since the readers can’t see you, tell them what you look like.
Noah says I’m totally hot. Now you know why I love him so much. I’m tall with dark hair and long sideburns Noah loves to kiss, a cleft chin, Roman nose, emerald eyes, and a hunky body thanks to the gym on campus I call the torture chamber.
Noah says I have a huge heart. Among other huge organs, which is just fine with Noah.
Tell us about Drama Christmas, the eleventh novel in your popular, award-winning series.
In Drama Christmas I direct and play Bob Crotchitch in an original musical version of A Christmas Carol, Call Me Carol, at Treemeadow College. Since Noah was readying the kitchen knives and Taavi threatened to call child protective services, I cast my handsome husband, Associate Professor of Acting Noah Oliver, as Scrooge’s Nephew Freddy, and our son, Taavi, as Tiny Tim. My best friend Department Chair Martin Anderson, threatened to give me all 8 a.m. classes if I didn’t cast him as Scrooge/Carol and his husband Ruben Markinson as Marley/Ghost of the Lover of the Past. Martin’s sassy office assistant, Shayla Johnson, said she’d fill my classes with all senior audits if I didn’t cast her as Scrooge’s Housekeeper. I also cast my favorite target, Detective Manuello, as Ghost of the Lover of the Present. Noah and my both sets of wacky parents are also along for the bumpy ride. The show proves that every Christmas needs a good Carol. However, more than stockings are hung when hunky chorus members drop like snowflakes. Once again, Noah and I use our drama skills to catch the killer before our Christmas balls get cracked. I know you’ll laugh, cry, feel romantic, and love delving into this crackling mystery with a surprise ending. “I’m more excited than a televangelist at a wig shop.”
As usual, calamity ensures.
I have my hands full as technical dress rehearsals for the show get off to a rocky start, Taavi falls unrequitedly in love, a homeless teenager is found living in the theatre, ensemble members claim their belongings have been stolen, and of course murder after murder multiplies. “Try saying that three times fast with a tongue ring.”
Who are the new characters in book eleven?
Assistant Professor of Music Barrett Knight plays the Ghost of the Lover of the Future. Barrett tries to make sweet music with Noah and me (pun intended). Muscleman Roman Giamani, student set designer, has his design on someone else in the show. He also has a huge…secret. Student costumer Logan Benton and student stage manager Colton Corrigan share their tortured pasts and yearn for a happy future. Hunky ensemble members wealthy Lucas Alencar, ex-hustler Buck La Rue, and diner worker Marc Micklos claim to be straight, but visit gay establishments. Lighting designer student Alec Griffin shines the light on everyone’s antics, including mine.
Who was your favorite new character?
Student stage manager Colton Corrigan is working on a documentary about the show. He’s behind his camera more than a news reporter with acne. When he finally comes out (no pun intended), he opens up (pun intended) to another character in a big way.
Which new character do you like the least?
Ensemble member Buck La Rue, an ex-male escort, thrives to become a reality TV star and president. Remind you of anyone? He double crosses his best friend, Mark Micklos, in a shocking way.
Which new character was the hardest to pinpoint?
Ty Wilde, a thirteen-year-old, tough, homeless boy infiltrates the theatre—and Martin’s heart. When the entire chorus is murdered, Ty steps in as the Waif character and saves the show.
Which new character was the sexiest?
Dark-eyed muscleman Roman Giamani tosses his long dark hair past his broad shoulders. He carries a huge secret and also a huge heart.
What makes the Nicky and Noah mystery series so special?
Me! I’m a legend in my own mind. Actually, it’s a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, and there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning “faster than a Super PAC buying a conservative politician.” At the center is the touching relationship between Noah and me. You watch us go from courting to marrying to adopting a child, all the while head over heels in love with each other. Reviewers called the series “hysterically funny farce,” “Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys,” and “captivating whodunits.” One reviewer wrote they are the funniest books she’s ever read! Another said Joe is “a master storyteller.” Who am I to argue? Even though I tell Joe everything to write.
How are the novels cozy?
Many of them take place in Vermont, a cozy state with green pastures, white church steeples, glowing lakes, and friendly and accepting people. Fictitious Treemeadow College (named after its gay founders, couple Tree and Meadow) 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 even more cozy in winter with snow blanketing the campus and surrounding the village.
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 of a pick-up truck.” No matter what is thrown in my path, I always end up on top, which is just fine with Noah.
For anyone unfortunate enough not to have read them, tell us a bit about the first ten novels in the series.
I’ll let Joe do that. He needs to be good for something. Take it away, Joe.
Joe: In Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of the Year) Nicky directs the school play at Treemeadow College—which is named after its gay founders, Tree and Meadow. Theatre professors drops like stage curtains, and Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit. In Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out why bodybuilding students and professors in Nicky’s bodybuilding competition at Treemeadow are dropping faster than barbells. In Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back. Nicky and Noah must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from across the US. Complicating matters are their both sets of wacky parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with the handsome couple. In Drama Luau, Nicky is directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort and he and Noah need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Their department head/best friend and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. In Drama Detective (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Nicky is directing and ultimately co-starring with his husband Noah as Holmes and Watson in a new musical Sherlock Holmes play at Treemeadow College prior to Broadway. Martin and Ruben, their sassy office assistant Shayla, Nicky’s brother Tony, and Nicky and Noah’s son Taavi are also in the cast. Of course dead bodies begin falling over like hammy actors at a curtain call. Once again Nicky and Noah use their drama skills to figure out who is lowering the street lamps on the actors before the handsome couple get half-baked on Baker Street. In Drama Fraternity, Nicky is directing Tight End Scream Queen, a slasher movie filmed at Treemeadow College’s football fraternity house, co-starring Noah, Taavi, and Martin. Rounding out the cast are members of Treemeadow’s Christian football players’ fraternity along with two hunky screen stars. When the jammer, wide receiver, and more begin fading out with their scenes, Nicky and Noah once again need to use their drama skills to figure out who is sending young hunky actors to the cutting room floor before Nicky and Noah hit the final reel. In Drama Castle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Nicky is directing a historical film co-starring Noah and Taavi at Conall Castle in Scotland: When the Wind Blows Up Your Kilt It’s Time for A Scotch. Adding to the cast are members of the mysterious Conall family who own the castle. When hunky men in kilts topple off the drawbridge and into the mote, it’s up to Nicky and Noah to use their acting skills to figure out whodunit before Nicky and Noah land in the dungeon. In Drama Dance (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), during rehearsals of The Nutcracker ballet at Treemeadow, muscular dance students and faculty cause more things to rise than the Christmas tree. When cast members drop faster than Christmas balls, Nicky and Noah once again use their drama skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out who is trying to crack the Nutcracker’s nuts, trap the Mouse King, and be cavalier with the Cavalier before Nicky and Noah end up in the Christmas pudding. In Drama Faerie, Nicky and friends are doing a musical production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Treemeadow’s new Globe Theatre. With an all-male, skimpily dressed cast and a love potion gone wild, romance is in the starry night air. When hunky students and faculty in the production drop faster than their tunics and tights, Nicky and Noah use their drama skills to figure out who is taking swordplay to the extreme before Nicky and Noah end up foiled in the forest. In Drama Runway Nicky directs a runway show for the Fashion Department. When sexy male models drop faster than their leather chaps, Nicky and Noah use their drama skills to figure out who is taking the term “a cut male model” literally before Nicky and Noah end up steamed in the wardrobe steamer.
Joe is a college theatre professor/department chair like Martin Anderson in your series. Has that influenced your series, Nicky?
As a past professional actor and current college theatre professor/department chair, Joe knows 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! He never seems to run out of wild characters to write about. His faculty colleagues and students kid him that if any of them tick me off, he’ll kill them in his next book. And he probably will. The little guy is fearless!
What do you like about the regular characters in the series?
I like my never give up attitude and sense of humor in the face of adversity. I’m genuinely concerned for others, and I’ll do anything to solve a murder mystery. I’m also a one-man man, and I’m proud to admit that man is Noah Oliver. Noah is blond, blue-eyed, lean, handsome, smart, and devoted. He makes the perfect Watson to my 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 me, Noah is gifted at improvisation, and creates wild and wonderful characters for our role plays to catch the murderer. I think it’s terrific how Martin and Ruben throw riotous zingers at each other, but they’re so much in love. You don’t see a lot of older gay characters in books nowadays. Of course Martin’s administrative assistant, Shayla, thrives on her one-upmanship with Martin, and he thrives right back.
How about your and Noah’s parents?
They’re 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. My parents’ goal to feed everyone and protect their children is heartwarming. My mom’s gambling addiction is also a riot. Both sets of parents fully embrace their sons and their sons’ family, which is refreshing.
I’m sure Joe has been told that the books would make a terrific TV series.
Many many times. Rather than Logo showing reruns of Golden Girls around the clock, and Bravo airing so called reality shows, I would love to see them do The Nicky and Noah Mysteries. Come on, TV producers, make your offers! Joe has written a teleplay of the first novel and treatments for the remaining novels!
How would you cast the TV series?
Here’s my wish list: Matt Bomer as me, Neil Patrick Harris as Noah, Rosie O’Donnell and Bruce Willis as Noah’s parents, Valerie Bertinelli and Jay Leno as my parents, Joe as Martin Anderson (nepotism!), Nathan Lane as Martin’s husband Ruben, Wanda Sykes as Martin’s office assistant Shayla, and Joe Manganiello as my brother Tony.
Tell us about Joe’s other mystery series, the Jana Lane mysteries published by The Wild Rose Press.
Noah and I aren’t in them. So take it away, Joe.
Joe: 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 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. In Porcelain Doll Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. 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. In China Doll Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, 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.
And how about Joe’s New Jersey beach series?
Noah and I aren’t in those either. So you’re on again, Joe.
Joe: A reviewer compared them to Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City books. I was incredibly humbled and flattered. I love those books, and they are incredibly cinematic (hint-producers)! They are: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, and Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings. The series (NineStar Press) is 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 of Cal and his family and the guests as Cozzi Cove, each 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.
What’s next for Joe?
Joe has a new mystery series, The Player Piano Mysteries. Book 2, The Player’s Encore, releases March 15, 2021. The Player Piano Mysteries take his cozy mystery writing into the supernatural world since the sleuth, dapper Freddy Birtwistle from the Roaring Twenties, is a ghost! But Noah and I aren’t in them.
How can your readers get their hands on Drama Christmas, and how can they contact you?
The purchase links are below, as are Joe’s contact links, including his web site. I love to hear from readers via Joe! He tells Noah and me everything you say about us!
Thank you, Nicky, for interviewing today.
My pleasure. “I’m happier than a priest with an altar boy’s robe malfunction.” It is my great thrill, joy, and pleasure to share this eleventh novel in my series with you. So take your seats. The stage lights are coming up on an infamous miser, Victorian lovers of the past, present, and future, a not so Tiny Tim, and murder!
DRAMA CHRISTMAS (the 11th Nicky and Noah mystery) by JOE COSENTINO
E-book and Paperback: 193 pages
Genre: MM, contemporary, mystery, comedy, romance, winter holiday, drama, academia
Cover Art: Jesús Da Silva
Release date: December 1, 2020
It’s winter holiday time at Treemeadow College, and Theatre Professor Nicky Abbondanza, his husband Theatre Associate Professor Noah Oliver, their son Taavi, and best friends Martin and Ruben are donning their gay apparel in a musical version of Scrooge’s A Christmas Carol, entitled Call Me Carol! More than stockings are hung when hunky chorus members drop like snowflakes. Once again, our favorite thespians will need to use their drama skills to catch the killer and make the yuletide gay before their Christmas balls get cracked. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining eleventh novel in this delightful series. Take your seats. The stage lights are coming up on an infamous miser, S&M savvy ghost, Victorian lovers of the past, present, and future, a not so Tiny Tim, and murder!
Smog swirled through the London street, knighted by delicate snowflakes proclaiming the winter season. Women draped in fancy layered dresses, bonnets, and gloves strolled on the arms of men sporting long three-piece suits with white ruffled fronts and black top hats.
Like an open snow globe, the quaint Victorian village at Christmastime featured a lit candle shop, bay windowed toy store, succulent butcher shop, frilly hat maker, multicolored flower shop, and cozy inn. Festive holiday wreaths and elaborately decorated trees adorned all the establishments, except for one—Ebenezer Scrooge’s Counting House.
Suddenly, jazzy music played as the street inhabitants faced front singing and dancing of their city at Christmastime, “Oh de London, It’s Not Only Merry, It’s Gay.” During the last refrain, the fog swirls turned into black gusts, and the delicate snowflakes transformed into snowdrifts. Ducking for cover, the passersby screamed and hurried off the street. The shops blurred away like a painting under a faucet.
Like a good holiday fruitcake, I’m back. It’s me, Nicky Abbondanza, PhD, Professor of Play Directing at Treemeadow College, loving husband to Associate Professor of Acting Noah Oliver, and doting father of Taavi Kapule Oliver Abbondanza—who calls me the director of his latest show. You’ve probably guessed the show is Scrooge’s A Christmas Carol. As many of you know, Treemeadow College in picturesque Vermont was founded by gay couple, Harold Tree and Jacob Meadow, whose bronze likenesses are celebrated at the college’s entrance—where many a grateful student has relieved himself after a dorm party. Given Treemeadow’s history, we couldn’t do a straight (pardon the pun) version of the Dickens classic. So, my best friend and Theatre Department Head, Martin Anderson, threatened to put coal in his long-suffering husband’s compression stockings if Ruben Markinson didn’t agree to produce an alternative version of the famous play. Ruben, feeling the holiday spirit—and Martin’s shoe in the seat of his leisure suit—secured a grant from the Gay, Gay, and Even More Gay Foundation to cover our budget. Then Martin wrote the book, music, and lyrics to Call Me Carol!, claiming the lead role of Scrooge/Carol for himself, and offering the part of the Ghost of Jacob Marley/Scrooge’s Lover of the Past to Ruben—commenting that Ruben was as old as any ghost. As director, I cast the most talented actor in the country, if not the world, to play Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Crotchitch—me. My husband, Noah, threatened to put anti-freeze in my eggnog if I didn’t cast him as Nephew Fred in addition to his position as acting coach for the show. Our son, Taavi, had a family court judge on his cell phone until I gave him the role of Tiny Tim. New Assistant Professor of Music Barrett Knight agreed to be musical director and play the Ghost of Scrooge’s Lover of the Future—after I reminded him about his upcoming fall tenure hearing. Theatre students not anxious to get home to relatives gloating about their children making big money in the business world were cast as ensemble members. Students also took on the tasks of choreographer, set designer, lighting designer, costume designer, and stage manager. Local Detective Jose Manuello, wanting to keep an eye on the production—and on me—offered to play the Ghost of Scrooge’s Lover of the Present. Let me explain for anyone who hasn’t read the previous ten Nicky and Noah mysteries—and you should! Mystery and mayhem follow me like a Republican president and a stolen Supreme Court seat. My productions are always met with bravos and wild applause. However, they’re also rife with murder—which I always use my theatre skills to solve. Hence Manuello’s interest in me and this show.
Since you can’t see me, I’m thirty-five. Okay, you got me, I’m really a youthful forty-three, tall, with dark hair, emerald eyes, a Roman nose, sexy cleft in my chin that Noah loves to kiss, and a pretty muscular body thanks to the torture devices in our college gym. There’s something else Noah loves to kiss. Brace yourself, Nicky and Noah newbies. I have a nearly foot long penis when erect. And despite my age, it’s erect a lot. That genetic gift from the Abbondanza line has helped me catch many a murderer, and it has made my father’s bakery a favorite with the women and gay men in Kansas—especially Papa’s cream pie.
Generally, Noah, Taavi, and I wear dress shirts, dress slacks, blazers, winter overcoats, and a long scarf. Since we are donning our gay apparel for this show, we’re outfitted in Victorian-era three-piece suits that are as uncomfortable as a Democrat at an Alt Right meeting.
So here we are at the start of winter break in tech week for our show. For you non-thespians, that’s the week prior to performances when the director generally bemoans his ulcer while suffering a heart attack en route to the psychiatric ward. Sitting in my front-row center seat in the theatre house—clutching my director’s notepad and pen like a surfboard during a tsunami—I called out to the student stage manager at his console offstage left, “Colton, what’s going on?”
Post a comment about why you love models. The one that sends us down the runway will win a gift Audible code for the audiobook of Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino, performed by Michael Gilboe!
Praise for the Nicky and Noah mysteries:
“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his use of farce, along with his convoluted plot-lines, will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven't discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat.” Divine Magazine
“a combination of Laurel and Hardy mixed with Hitchcock and Murder She Wrote…
Loaded with puns and one-liners…Right to the end, you are kept guessing, and the conclusion still has a surprise in store for you.” “the best modern Sherlock and Watson in books today…I highly recommend this book and the entire series, it’s a pure pleasure, full of fun and love, written with talent and brio…fabulous…brilliant” Optimumm Book Reviews
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; 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. http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com