Today, we’re welcoming Joe Cosentino back! Joe was last a guest in January when he was promoting his two comedy-mysteries, Drama Queen and its sequel, Drama Muscle. Kudos to Joe for Drama Queen winning Best Mystery Novel, Best Humorous Novel, and Best Contemporary Novel in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Poll of 2015! Just like the last time Joe appeared on the blog, this is a double feature — he is back next week with another exciting release! This week, however, we’re talking Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Joe’s first release from NineStar Press and the start of the new Cozzi Cove beach series. Already, Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back is getting attention. The TBR Pile voted in March’s Book of the Month! Congratulations and welcome Joe!
Joe: Thanks so much, Gillian. And congratulations to you on your NineStar releases too! We are both (nine) stars!
My first introduction to your writing were the Nicky and Noah comedy mysteries, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Cozzi Cove beach series. The first thing that struck me, however, was a similarity. In Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back Lance and Cal eat buckwheat waffles with blueberries and maple syrup for breakfast. I am pretty sure that Nicky and Noah are also big fans of buckwheat pancakes. So my first question to you, Joe, is are you a foodie? Or just really fond of buckwheat? (For the record, I think buckwheat and blueberry pancakes with a bit of lemon are amazing and my personal favourite.)
Joe: You noticed! Yes, many of my books have decadent scenes with delicious and extravagant food. My editors tell me they eat a huge meal after reading my books!
Getting into the serious part of the interview, I noticed that as I was reading Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, I was reminded of something, but I couldn’t put a finger on what. It wasn’t until Chapter Two when Harold revealed himself, that I put my finger on it — Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back is like a soap opera in book form! I know you’re a Dark Shadows fan, so was it an influence? Or maybe given Cozzi Cove’s location on the (New) Jersey Shore, the reality TV show of the same name was an inspiring factor?
Joe: I’m a soap opera junkie. So that makes total sense. I remember an evening soap opera a while back, Melrose Place, where young, beautiful Californians lived and loved in a condo. That may have influenced me too. I’m sure Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City did as well.
Cozzi Cove has a large cast and several concurrent romances. It must have been really hard to balance them all! However, managing all those different romance story lines isn’t too dissimilar to managing all the different layers of motive and opportunity of a mystery cast! Do you think that writing Drama Queen and Drama Muscle had an impact on writing Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back?
Joe: Yes, there is plenty of romance in Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back. But there is also a great deal of humor, mystery, and drama. Nothing is what it seems in Cozzi Cove, so my mystery writing definitely came in handy. We will be talking about In My Heart (An Infatuation & A Shooting Star) my novellas from Dreamspinner Press. Many readers begged me for more time with one of the minor characters in An Infatuation. So the first guest in Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back is Mario from An Infatuation.
One of the most interesting things for me personally about Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back was that you presented different sides of facing death. Was that intentional?
Joe: Yes, Cozzi Cove is a gorgeous and magical place of life, love, rejuvenation, surprises, and death. The circle of life is definitely in motion at Cozzi Cove. I always thought the same thing about an old TV series, Fantasy Island. I love how Cal inherited Cozzi Cove from his father who inherited it from his father. Sensing Cal’s sexual orientation as a boy, Cal’s father had turned Cozzi Cove into a gay resort. Cal is honored to follow in his father’s footsteps. Again, the circle of life.
Obviously the one-week time limit of the novel makes a leisurely exploration of feelings difficult. What problems did you encounter juggling multiple storylines and character viewpoints?
Joe: As you know there are seven guest bungalows and the main bungalow (where Cal as owner lives) in Cozzi Cove. I wrote each of the storylines separately then I intercut them in the same way a television writer creates a soap opera. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the stories complimented one another, and the cinematic structure of one character leaving a location as another character seamlessly enters.
Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back ends with a preview for the sequel, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward. I am hopeful this means that Cal’s romantic storyline will be explored further.
Joe: Definitely. Cal is in for quite a few surprises in his personal life in Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (up for pre-order at NineStar Press and releasing April 18). And of course a new set of enticing characters/vacationers arrive in the seven bungalows with new captivating stories.
I’m also curious about Connor. Are we going to see much character evolution from him over the course of the series?
Joe: Connor, Cal’s college student/maid packed with muscles and a roving sponge is definitely a big part of Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward. We get to see various sides of him in book 2, no pun intended.
Another thing I noticed is that while I was dragged out of the story by the fact that the ambulance driver covered Michael’s brother’s body with a sheet instead of a body bag, and that in a fatal car accident, there was no police presence, Michael was not interviewed as a witness, and he was free to wander the city an hour later. However, I accepted mermen and other paranormal occurrences without any question! I suspect that this might be my urban fantasy/mystery bias showing! On the other hand, you have an established married couple, college kids, lifelong friends and total strangers. With such a wide variety of character types and romance dynamics, what groups of fans would you recommend the Cozzi Cove series for?
Joe: I love the precision with which you read, Gillian! Please keep in mind that Michael is a runaway. Most of Michael’s story about his brother is told to Cal by Michael. We aren’t there as it is happening. So we don’t fully know what exactly occurred. We get to see a lot more of Michael in book 2. And of course the merman storyline has quite a few surprises in it that are revealed by the end of book 1. I think anyone who enjoys a soap opera type story will enjoy this series.
As a writer myself, I was obviously interested in Sean Guile — and his reception by other characters! I loved that you poked fun at authors, and that we saw Sean’s reaction to getting some literary criticism — not a fun part of being an author but one that we all have to deal with! I really enjoyed how realistic Sean’s reaction was. I don’t really have a question, but that was one of my favourite moments in the story! I know there is female gay romance novel reader appearing in the sequel, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward. Is this going to be a continuing theme?
Joe: I love Sean Guile (in book 1). As a virgin gay romance novelist captivated by a gay porn star, he is quite a fun character. I want to play Sean in the television series! Hunter Foster, a woman who immerses herself in reading gay romance novels appears in book 2. I enjoyed the idea of gay romance novels within a gay romance novel. I’m glad you did too. Sean definitely reacts dramatically to criticism of his books. As a writer, most of my reviews and reader response have been incredibly positive, which fuel my writing. What a gift it is for a reader to post a positive review on Amazon or Goodreads, relating how something I’ve written has moved them, made them laugh, made them cry, think about something new, or changed their life. I can’t think of anything better. As for the few bad reviews, I don’t read them. As my mother always told me, if you don’t have something nice to say about somebody, don’t say anything. I can’t imagine why anyone would continue reading a book after chapter one if he/she doesn’t like it. Just put it down and read something else. As Sean says in the novel, why attack a book someone has poured his/her blood, sweat, and tears into? As the saying goes, just say no.
Cozzi Cove represents happy childhood memories, love and belonging to Cal, while offering acceptance, new possibilities and the chance for love to his guests. Is there any place that represents to you what Cozzi Cove is for Cal?
Joe: My aunt and uncle had a bungalow on the New Jersey Shore. Every summer my family would stay with them. My sister and I had the time of our lives playing at the beach, bay, miniature golf course, trampoline emporium, eating salt water taffy, and dining at our favorite seafood restaurant. All those places and experiences are in the Cozzi Cove novels.
I believe that you have just returned from vacation yourself! How was it?
Joe: Ironically we went to the New Jersey Shore and I saw a cove! A cove is formed when softer rocks are worn away by the sun and salty water faster than the harder rocks surrounding them. This creates a gorgeous bay of turquoise water shielded by large rocks in the distance and smaller rocks near the water’s edge. It was as gorgeous as the cove on the book covers.
You have produced an incredible body of work in what seems like a very short amount of time — and you show no signs of slowing down! I’ll be asking you more about your upcoming releases in next week’s interview, but for now, I’m curious about your writing discipline. How do you keep yourself motivated to write?
Joe: Thanks, Gillian. Since I’m a college professor/department head, 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 overlooking the woods. When I complain about my schedule, my mother says, “Just think how hard you would work if you had a real job, like your sister’s” (an accountant). It takes me about three months working evenings and weekends per book. I generally get an idea for a book, waking up at three o’clock in the morning. I jot notes on my nightstand. That evening I begin a biography for each character and eventually a plot summary. I show the second draft to my spouse for his notes. The third draft goes to the publisher. For a list of my books, including my Jana Lane mystery series with gay supporting characters, go to http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Thanks again, Joe! I’m looking forward to our next chat next week!
Joe: Me, too! Until then…
by JOE COSENTINO from NineStar Press
On Cozzi Cove at the New Jersey shore, handsome Cal Cozzi’s seven bungalows are open for summer and love. Mario and Harold are brothers and college students who happen to look alike, but couldn’t be more different: Mario is searching for love, and Harold is searching for lust. Josh and Greg, a wealthy older couple, are matchmakers for their son, Christopher. When it comes to Connor, the maid, packed with muscles and a roving sponge, anything can happen. Opposites attract as wild Tim with the secret past meets shy Mark, and porn star Chuck Caliber connects with Sean, a virgin romance novelist. And what will happen when computer-game designer Arthur has a midnight sea rendezvous with a merman? Even married Cal faces an emotional upheaval when a gay bashing turns into something quite unexpected. What secrets and passions lie in magical Cozzi Cove?
Praise for COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK:
“I loved this story. It carries you through the full range of emotions, from joy to sadness, from happiness to anger. The characters are beautifully written.” “I look forward to a return visit to the Cove.” TBR Pile
“Heartbreaking and heartwarming, sweet beginnings for some, sour endings for others, emotions jumping off the page as you turn eagerly to read more, welcome to Cozzi Cove. The author measured his scales to perfection in delivering the perfect balance of love, laughter and tears in this sexy, fun filled holiday romance entwined with some sadness. Summer magic waved it’s wand at all who visited and stayed at Cozzi Cove and I was one of those who wanted to stay.” Three Books Over the Rainbow
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (NineStar Press), Drama Queen and Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah mysteries (Lethe Press), An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll and Porcelain Doll (Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries, 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 Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (Nine Star Press), Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), and Satin Doll and China Doll Jana Lane mysteries (Wild Rose Press). Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015!
Excerpt of COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK by Joe Cosentino
Alone together in the parking lot, the two young men smiled at one another.
Suddenly Chris’s throat tightened. “I’m Julie. I mean, I’m Chris Tyler-Hampton.” He extended a clammy hand.
“Nice to meet you, Chris. I’m Mario Ginnetti.”
“I’m gay.” Chris replayed in his head what he’d just said. “I mean, I’m on college break.” Chris noticed Mario’s bulging pectoral muscles in his polo shirt. Mario returned the favor by openly checking Chris out. Looking into Mario’s dreamy dark eyes, Chris asked, “Are you on college break too?”
Mario nodded. “I go to Princeton. I’m a psych major, and I play football.”
Chris admired Mario’s strapping body. “I’m in engineering at Yale. I know, the whole Asian stereotype thing.” He tried to focus on not sounding like a lunatic as his heart raced like a Saturday-night driver. “Are you staying here with your parents too?”
“I’m parentless in Bungalow One.” Mario unleashed luscious dimples and a row of straight white teeth. In an obvious attempt at seduction, he posed on his car, but slipped on its smooth finish and fell to the ground.
Chris helped him to his feet.
With his face as red as a ripe strawberry, Mario said, “My father’s dead and my mom ran off with a mobster.”
Chris gasped. “I’m sorry.”
“You asked if my parents were here. They’re gone. My mother paid my college tuition first. It happened a while ago.”
Chris understood. “I’m sorry about your folks. I complain about mine, but they’ve always been there for me. We generally spend the summers in Europe, but Dad read about this place. Since I have one week off before my summer internship, they booked us in here for a week before they leave for Switzerland.” Chris hoped he didn’t sound snobby. “Well, I better get back inside and make sure Julie is using her best manners.”
Clutching his grocery bag to his chest, Mario said, “And I should refrigerate this stuff.”
Chris took a step away and then stopped and turned back to face Mario. With a throat drier than the Sahara Desert, he said, “Would you like to visit the main bitch with me tomorrow?”
Mario did a double take.
“I mean, would you like to go to the ocean beach … with me … tomorrow?”
Mario ran a shaky hand through his jet-black hair. “Is tomorrow supposed to be a good beach day?”
Chris replied, “I’m not sure. If there’s a hurricane or something, we can go inside.” Chris wiped the sweat off his neck with his handkerchief. “And if a shark comes along, we can always swim to shore.” Chris made a desperate attempt at swallowing and said, “I’ll knock on your bungalow door at ten a.m. If that’s indeed okay.” He had never said the word indeed before.
Mario nodded. “Ten a.m. is good.”
“I look forward to seeing you then.” Chris couldn’t stop himself from looking back at Mario and smiling as he walked toward his fathers’ bungalow. When he banged into the trash can, he barely felt the pain in his knee or the gash in his calf.
Publisher: Nine Star Press, Release Date: March 21, 2016
Cover Design: Arai Tan
Length: 60,000 words
Praise for Joe Cosentino’s other works:
“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
“From the beginning I was enthralled and couldn’t wait to finish the book.” Inked Rainbow Reads
“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