Author Visit and Interview: Joe Cosentino - talking about A Shooting Star



On the eve of the best night of his life, winning an Academy Award, Jonathan Bello thinks back to his one great love, David Star. Flipping back the pages of time, Jonathan recalls his handsome, muscular, and charismatic college roommate. Since Jonathan was a freshman and David a senior in the Theatre Department, David took Jonathan under his wing and molded him, not only as an actor but as a lover. With every wonderful new adventure, David left his joyful mark on anyone with whom they came in contact, but Jonathan soon uncovered David’s dark past, leading to a shocking event. Undaunted, Jonathan celebrates the captivating man who will always hold a special place in his heart. 
A Bittersweet Dreams title: It's an unfortunate truth: love doesn't always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

Hi Joe, welcome to the stable! Pull up a stool and grab a glass of whisky…

 I had the honour of reading Drama Queen for the blog so when a request came in to review A Shooting Star I jumped at the chance. To say my expectations were high – it’s unfair but true, though I do also admit to being slightly nervous. I’m an HEA gal through and through, and as this is a Dreamspinner Press Bittersweet Dreams title I was worried about buying the village shop out of tissues before I’d finished reading.

Ha!! What did I know? This dream is bittersweet, and kudos, because I did not see the bitter coming. Well I anticipated the bitter – from an entirely different direction. Sleight of hand from the theatre indeed. But it also contains what I’m calling your trademark humour. Very observational, very witty and a wonderful mix of subtle and blatant. Considering I was expecting to cry, I spent a lot of time chuckling. My review is up later today, check back later to see what I thought.

So, what questions do I have? Let’s see…

BMBR: Let’s talk about the humour straight away as it really is a signature of your writing. Authors are often told to ‘find their voice’, and yours is so distinct with, as I said, the humour – or wit is possibly a better term – the wit running all the way through it. Is this something that comes naturally to you? Or are you forever testing lines on your nearest and dearest to see which gets the best reaction?
JC: First, let me say that I also love YOUR sense of humour, Lori. Your reviews are so clever and fun. After reading them, I feel as if I’ve visited with a witty friend over tea to dish about the neighbours. As for me, I come from a very funny Italian American family. Humour is and always has been a natural part of my life. I remember as a kid watching my mother mop the kitchen floor while she lowered her dressing gown and sang, “Let Me Entertain You” from the musical GYPSY. My father, wearing her sweater around his waist and smoking cigar, gave his rendition of “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair” from SOUTH PACIFIC. As you mentioned, my sense of humour bleeds into my books. In my upcoming release, a holiday short story from Dreamspinner Press, a HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, a young American meets his extended family in Capri, Italy, and he falls for his third cousin, Paolo. Paolo’s family is quite humorous and inspired by my family. I can’t wait for you to read it! I think you will also like my February release from Dreamspinner Press, a novella of gay fairy tales I wrote entitled, THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND. I let my imagination run wild!

BMBR: Though not the MC, let’s talk about the star of the story, David Star. Wow. What a character! I detested David as much as I adored him and I suspect this is exactly how you wrote him to come across. Unbearably patronising at times, cruel (I thought) in his affections toward Jonathan, utterly self-obsessed…yet somehow he manages to be the complete opposite of ALL these traits at the same time. What?? How do you go about writing a character like David?
JC: Similar to Mario in AN INFATUATION, David in SHOOTING STAR is a combination of a number of young men I met as a theatre major in college and as a young actor living in New York City. Each was handsome, muscular, charismatic, sensuous, and almost other-worldly like Greek gods. Though they appeared to hold the world in the palm of their strong hands, each had a secret weakness. David is magical, an enigma, and incredibly sexy. I drove the poor cover artist, LC Chase, crazy in selecting a model’s photo for David on the cover. The fourth try was magic!

BMBR: Okay, so that’s David. Now let’s turn our attention to the actual MC, Jonathan. Jonathan is very sheltered, at least that’s how he seems to me. A product of his upbringing, where he’s basically s-mothered in a close knit, loving family. A close knit, loving family who expected him to become an accountant and when he declared he was going to be a theatre major…
“…It was such a traumatic time for everyone in my life that finding out I was gay elicited this response, “That’s nice, Johnny.
(I loved this line!) So, he’s thrown into the all too bewildering world of college – not just as a normal student but as a theatre major. Na├»ve, cosseted, protected. Then he meets his roommate, David Star, and we see an almost coming of age like quality to the story arc. Where did you start with developing Jonathan?
JC: Thanks. Jonathan is ingenuous, warm, gullible, and has an open heart. He also wears his heart on his sleeve. I love that we see the story through his eyes since he’s new to the college—and to love. He reminds me of some of my students.

BMBR: Barry. Little old Barry. He was my favourite character, I truly loved him. Tell me about him.
JC: As is the case with Stuart in AN INFATAUTION, Barry, Jonathan’s loyal scene partner in A SHOOTING STAR, is loosely based on my spouse. Barry is hysterical and has such a great sense of self. He is also a devoted friend. I think Barry is the spine of the novella, just like my spouse is the spine of my existence.

BMBR: So the theatre, wily temptress that she is, is undoubtedly as big a star of your novels as any character. Theatre and acting have (and do) feature prominently in your life and your love for it is apparent in your writing. I honestly feel as though I am in backstage as I read. What is it about this world of theatrics and drama that is so consuming and why use it so heavily in your writing? Is it simply a case of write what you know, or something more?
JC: 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). When I told my mother I wanted to be an actor, she stopped cutting vegetables in the kitchen and said, “Do me a favour. Take this knife and stick it through my heart.” Hah. It was no surprise to anyone when I went to college as a theatre major. Like most college theatre departments, mine was full of comedy, romance, mystery, and of course drama. The flames of love were kindled and hearts were broken while we put up play after play for delighted audiences who never knew the personal secrets behind the stage curtains. There was the star student who got the leading role in every show. Everyone, male and female, was in love with him, and he was in love with himself. There was also the class clown, the manipulator, everybody’s best friend, and (as they say on Gilligan’s Island) the rest. As we learned our acting craft, we learned solid lessons about life. A SHOOTING STAR is my homage to those amazing times. As you know, DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah comedy mystery from Lethe Press, is also set in a college theatre department (in this case a fictitious white stone Edwardian campus in New England). As a theatre college professor/department head, I was able to take little tidbits from my life and use them in this novel, where college theatre professors Nicky and Noah use their theatre skills (including playing other people) to find out why their colleagues are dropping like stage curtains, as Nicky directs the college play production—and falls for Noah. In DRAMA MUSCLE (written and releasing in a few months from Lethe Press), Nicky directs the bodybuilding competition on campus. He and Noah need to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights on campus. In DRAMA CRUISE (written and releasing next year), Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show on a cruise to Alaska. He and Noah need to uncover why cast members are falling overboard.
Since I was a professional actor in film, television, and theatre, working opposite stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards; I was able to use that knowledge for my Jana Lane mysteries series. In PAPER DOLL, the first Jana Lane mystery from Whiskey Creek Press, ex-child star Jana Lane has to figure out who attacked her on the studio lot at eighteen and who is attacking her now at thirty-eight. In PORCELAIN DOLL (written and releasing from The Wild Rose Press in a few months), Jana makes a comeback film and has to find out who is murdering members of her cast and crew and why. In SATIN DOLL (written and coming out next year), Jana goes to Washington, DC and is involved in a political scandal resulting in murder. In CHINA DOLL (written and coming out next year) Jana does a Broadway play and uncovers who is killing members of the company and why. Though they are romantic mysteries, my sense of humour came out in Jana’s funny agent, Simon Huckby. I want to play him in the movie. I also want to play Principal Ringwood in AN INFATUATION, Department Head Martin Anderson in DRAMA QUEEN, and Professor Katzer in A SHOOTING STAR!

BMBR: Tell us a little about your writing process. Are you a planner or a panster? Are you fuelled by coffee, forcing the lines out painful word by painful word and cursing the muse by the end of the process or typing like a fiend, grinning madly, knowing exactly where the story is going? Or, you know, something in between?
JC: I write at night after my spouse has gone to bed. I have a beautiful cherry wood study with a fireplace, huge desk, bookcases, and window seat. My mother asked me, “Don’t you have anything better to do than write at night?” I wonder if Shakespeare’s mother asked him that? Hah. Since I was an actor, when I get an idea for a book (usually waking from sleep at 3am), I write a plot summary and biography for each character. Then I write an outline, which always changes when I write the first draft. I show the second draft to my spouse for his notes. The third draft goes to the publisher.

BMBR: Are you an avid reader yourself? What books would you sell your soul for?
JC: I’ve read all nine TALES OF THE CITY books by Armistead Maupin and every Agatha Christie novel, short story, and play. I love their quaint, likeable characters, plot twists and turns, humour, romance, and surprises.

BMBR: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers or actors?
JC: Write stories with engaging characters who you want to spend time with. Just as I did improvisation as an actor, I recommend letting your characters talk to one another and seeing what happens! 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 equalled the whole, rather than the author pulling an ending out of the hat. Finally, while a sad ending is fine, don’t forget the humour!

BMBR: Is there a character in this novella with whom you more closely identify?
JC: Like Harold in AN INFATUATION, Jonathan in A SHOOTING STAR is loosely based on me when I was in college, though I haven’t won an Academy Award—yet.

BMBR: I’ve tried to keep the questions so the answers would be spoiler free, but is there anything else you want to add or wish I had asked?
JC: After my Bittersweet Dreams novella, AN INFATUATION, was released by Dreamspinner Press, I received many comments from readers thanking me for making them laugh, cry, and have what they called, a life-changing read. They requested a second novella in the In My Heart series. Since AN INFATUATION was loosely based on my high school days through adulthood, I thought back to my days as a theatre major in college, and A SHOOTING STAR was born. So far readers seem to be enjoying it as well. I love hearing from readers. They can contact me at http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.

Thank you for stopping by Joe, it’s been fun! You’re an author firmly on my auto-read list now and think people need to read your work ASAP. With a voice that is distinct and refreshingly different, and a wit that is deceptively old-skool but unerringly accurate readers are in for a treat!


Thank you, Lori. You’re the best!

Further information and to buy links:

Contemporary Romance
ASIN:              B014LNRXU6
ISBN-13:
978-1-63476-526-8
Pages:
113
Cover Artist:
L.C. Chase

What's everyone else saying?
Reviews for A SHOOTING STAR:

“Of all the books I’ve reviewed, or attempted to review over the past year, this is only the second book that was well written.” Multitasking Mommas

“A very gripping, heart wrenching novella. A great read!!” Pam Kay Reviews

Joe Cosentino is the author of An Infatuation and A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe 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, 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 A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella), The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press short stories novella), Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press), and Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press).



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