Please join me in welcoming the ever-fabulous Joe Cosentino—or rather one of Joe’s hilarious stars of Nicky and Noah series, Nicky Abbondanza—to Stories That Make You Smile. Nicky is here today celebrating the upcoming release of the 14th (!!!) story is this brilliant series.
An Interview with Nicky Abbondanza
the leading character in Joe Cosentino’s Drama Oz,
the 14th Nicky and Noah mystery/comedy/romance novel
Nicky, thank you for interviewing today.
I enjoyed my trip here via the yellow brick road.
Congratulations on the release of the fourteenth novel in your award-winning and popular Nicky and Noah gay cozy comedy mystery series: Drama Oz.
Thank you. It’s wonderful, like the wizard.
Since the readers can’t see you, tell them what you look like.
Noah says I’m adorable. He should know. Noah’s adorable too. I’m tall with dark hair and long sideburns Noah loves to kiss, a cleft chin, Roman nose, emerald eyes, and a muscular body thanks to the gym on campus, which I call the chamber of horrors.
Noah says I have shrewd mind for solving mysteries and a huge heart.
I have another huge organ, which is just fine with Noah (smile).
Tell us about Drama Oz, the fourteenth novel in your popular, award-winning series.
It stars me! (smile) A killer is loose in the Wizard of Oz theme park theatre, where we are staging an original musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz entitled Friends of Dorothy. The young actress cast as Dorothy is quite the diva. The young actors cast as Toto, the Munchkin Leader, and the Winged Monkey Leader fully inhabit their roles and their G-string, chaps, and loincloth respectively. Of course Noah and I use our drama skills, including playing wacky characters in investigative role-plays with the suspects, to catch the killer before the witch’s fireball sends us up in smoke.
As usual, hilarity and calamity ensues.
But let’s talk about me. I play wizard onstage and off, doing double duty as show director and taking on the role of the Wizard. After all, “It takes a wiz!” My gorgeous and devoted husband, Noah Oliver, is cast as the Scarecrow sitting on a long pole (pun intended). Our teenage son, Taavi, plays the role of the Tinman with a large can of lube, and his best friend, Ty, counters as the Lion with a playful tail. Our best friends, older couple Martin and Ruben, join the cast playing Aunt Em and Uncle Henry “going down on the farm.” They also double as Glinda who does it good and the Wicked Witch of the wild West.
Who are the new characters in book fourteen?
Adorable actor Pip Manning plays Toto in the show. His affections (and dog collar) waver between handsome Mormon Drew Gateway the stage manager and bodybuilder Detective Rick Boulder. Gymnast with a secret Topper Tucker, who plays the Winged Monkey Leader, has his wings set on stocky Taz Zaman, who plays the Munchkin Leader. A crew of woman technicians and the diva starring as Dorothy have more baggage than an airport.
Who was your favorite new character?
Topper Tucker goes through quite a journey in the story. He finds out a great deal about his family, and he also finds true love. Topper’s good humor, kindness, and compassion make him quite a likeable guy—like me.
Which new character do you like the least?
The first murder victim who was incredibly annoying—unlike me.
Which new character was the sexiest?
Bodybuilder Detective Rick Boulder had a great sense of humor—and a great set of pecs. Unfortunately, or fortunately, his detecting skills were sketchier than a Republican governor’s voter redistricting map. So I stepped in as theatre chair sleuth, Sherlock Holmes.
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 conservative politician writes anti-gay legislation.” 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. This novel in Key West is cozier than a priest in the Confessional with a new altar boy, since the popular and picturesque vacation site is loved by so many. Key West, Florida is one of my favorite places. It’s a peninsula with white sandy beaches laden with foamy waves tickling jagged rocks under an azure sky dotted with marshmallow clouds. Gorgeous white seagulls and towering lighthouses herald gorgeous pink, violet, and gold sunrises and sunsets. Quant guesthouses, theatres, and restaurants inhabited by people open and affirming to all line the shore. So in this novel, we thespians from Treemeadow stage our show at the Wizard of Oz theme park in Key West, Florida.
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 backroom of a gay bar during a blackout.” 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 the titles of the novels in the series.
The Nicky and Noah mysteries are Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie, Drama Runway, Drama Christmas, Drama Pan, Drama TV, and now Drama Oz.
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.
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 Luke McFarlane as my brother Tony.
Joe has other popular mystery series: the Player Piano Mysteries and the Jana Lane mysteries. There are mystery elements in his Found At Last series and Cozzi Cove series. One of the stories in his Tales from Fairyland Anthology is a mystery.
They’re great stories but Noah and I aren’t in them. Next question.
What’s next for Joe?
It depends on what Noah and I tell him.
How can your readers get their hands on Drama Oz, 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! So drop me a line via Joe’s web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
Thank you, Nicky, for interviewing today.
My pleasure. I know you’ll laugh, cry, feel romantic, and love delving into this crackling new mystery with more plot twists and turns than a past Republican president’s bankruptcies and illegal charities. I’m more excited than the Republicans storming the Capitol to share this fourteenth novel in the series with you. So follow the yellow brick road to a girl with a dog who is one hot bitch, a wicked witch who would kill for a new pair of shoes, a sexy Wizard who wants to bang the Scarecrow’s brains out, a Tinman and Lion embarking on a mixed marriage, plenty of monkey business, and murder!
The Treemeadow College theatre crew stage an original musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, entitled Friends of Dorothy, at a summer theme park in Key West. Quickly cast and crew members melt away like a witch submerged in water. Nicky, as the Wizard on stage and off, must save the show and figure out whodunit. Once again, our favorite thespians will need to use their drama skills to catch the killer before a witch’s fireball sends them up in smoke. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining fourteenth novel in this delightful series. It’s a scorcher! So follow the yellow brick road. The stage lights are coming up in Oz on a girl with a dog who is one hot bitch, a wicked witch who would kill for a new pair of shoes, a sexy Wizard, a Scarecrow sitting on a big pole, a Tinman with a giant can of lube, a Lion with a long tail between his legs, plenty of monkey business, and murder!
Praise for the Nicky and Noah mysteries
“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his 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
“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet….I can’t find anything not to love about this series….This read had me laughing and falling in love….Nicky and Noah are my favorite gay couple.” Urban Book Reviews
“For fans of Joe Cosentino’s hilarious mysteries, this is another vintage story with more cheeky asides and sub plots right left and centre….The story is fast paced, funny and sassy. The writing is very witty with lots of tongue-in-cheek humour….Highly recommended.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“Every entry of the Nicky and Noah mystery series is rife with intrigue, calamity, and hilarity…Cosentino keeps us guessing – and laughing – until the end, as well as leaving us breathlessly anticipating the next Nicky and Noah thriller.” Edge Media Network
“A laugh and a murder, done in the style we have all come to love….This had me from the first paragraph….Another wonderful story with characters you know and love!” Crystals Many Reviewers
“These two are so entertaining….Their tactics in finding clues and the crazy funny interactions between characters keeps the pages turning. For most of the book if I wasn’t laughing I was grinning.” Jo and Isa Love Books
“Superb fun from start to finish, for me this series gets stronger with every book and that’s saying something because the benchmark was set so very high with book 1.” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“The Nicky and Noah Mysteries series are perfect for fans of the Cozy Mystery sub-genre. They mix tongue-in-cheek humor, over-the-top characters, a wee bit of political commentary, and suspense into a sweet little mystery solved by Nicky and Noah, theatre professors for whom all the world’s a stage.” Prism Book Alliance
“This is one hilarious series with a heart and it just keeps getting better. I highly recommend them all, and please read them in the order they were written for full blown laugh out loud reading pleasure!” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
About Joe Cosentino
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, Drama TV, Drama Oz;
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
E-book and Paperback: 215 pages
Genre: MM, contemporary, mystery, comedy, romance, theatre, musical theater, Wizard of Oz, theme parks, Key West
Heat Level: 2
Cover Art: Jesús Da Silva
Release date: June 1, 2022
As if my wish was granted by a fairy godfather, my wonderful husband appeared next to me—picking hay out of his eyes. After bringing me in for a healing hug, he said, “Nicky, everything will be fine in the end.”
I was as doubtful as a porn star bottom with a horse-hung overly-energetic top. “We haven’t even finished the first act yet.”
“We’ll pull everyone together.”
“That’s what the Texans said at the Alamo.”
Noah took my hand. “I think our troupe just needs some nourishment. I ordered dinner for the cast and crew in your honor: the theme park restaurant’s Wizard’s Crock Pot.”
“It should be ‘cracked’ pot.” I massaged my throbbing temples. “Why did we ever take this job—besides the desperately needed money?”
“To create another terrific show, and to be together as a family.” He kissed my Roman nose.
“Taavi has little time for us. He’s otherwise engaged, hopefully not literally, with Ava Boada.”
“How does Gabriela feel about that?”
“Ava’s mother is encouraging their relationship, since it evidently reminds Gabriela of her first love. Our costume designer also has designs (no pun intended) on her daughter stepping up from our show’s wardrobe assistant to star.”
“Interesting.” Noah sat me down next to him. “Tell me everything you know.”
“I don’t know anything.”
Noah cocked his head at me. “You’ve been spying on the cast and crew as usual. So spill it, husband.”
I guess he doesn’t mean my seed. “According to our son, and Gabriela, Ava is quite the talent.”
“Then why doesn’t Ava audition for theme park shows here in Florida?”
“Ava doesn’t think she can cut the mustard, so she mimics Bria Newkirk’s Dorothy from the wings. And since Ava’s late father was a set designer, and her mom is a costume designer, Ava sees her future behind the scenes.” I added, “Like the Wizard behind the curtain. It doesn’t help matters that Bria treats Ava like Cinderella.”
Sounding like our gossip-starved friend Martin, Noah asked, “Have any ‘relationships’ formed in our merry little group?”
I scratched my head. “Gabriela may be interested in our Winged Monkey Leader.”
Noah gasped. “Gabriela Boada likes them young.”
“And double-jointed apparently.”
“Does our cheeky monkey share Gabriela’s interest?”
“Topper Tucker seems charmed by Gabriela and Ava, but not in a romantic way. I think our Georgia farm boy wanted to monkey around with our Munchkin Leader.”
“Until Taz Zaman mentioned his belief in the Quran.”
“Yeah, given the anti-gay passages in that book, I don’t think Taz Zaman will have a monkey on his back, at least not Topper Tucker.”
“Do you think Taz is gay?”
“Maybe bi. Taz and our musical director slash choreographer share some kind of secret known only to them—and to Bria Newkirk.”
“That sounds like an unorthodox threesome.”
Noah squeezed my hand. “Are any of our other company members headed down the Yellow Brick Road together?”
“Our Toto may want a bone, literally, from our stage manager.”
“Pip Manning finds Drew Gateway fetching?”
No pun intended. “Possibly.” I explained, “But they come from very different backgrounds. Pip’s a local here in Florida. His impoverished Protestant father is disappointed Pip’s living hand to mouth (or paw to snout) as an actor rather than studying to become a lawyer. Pip’s mother tried to drum the Bible into him, but it didn’t take—except in Pip’s nightmares about Adam and Eve.”
“He’s a Mormon from a medical family in Utah.”
My husband the romantic said, “I hope their differences don’t get in the way of Pip and Drew’s budding relationship.”
I rubbed my cleft chin. “There’s hope. Pip mentioned being turned on by the Mormon temple garment.”
“The long underwear Mormons wear to protect them from evil.” I smirked. “Though I have the feeling Drew may not want much protection (no pun intended) from Pip.”
My gentle and caring husband said, “I feel sorry for people whose religions don’t recognize God created them exactly as they are.”
“And whose religions spend millions of dollars to take away their rights via the Republican Party.” I thought about our Open and Affirming liberal Christian church back in Treemeadow, where the pastor, prayers, songs, sermons, and congregants welcome and support everyone. “Drew doesn’t need to stay in a religion that vilifies and demeans him for being gay.”
“Is he struggling with that?”
“He’s grasping at the straw that his religion will one day accept people like us.”
“Why doesn’t Drew leave the church?”
“Because of his family ties. Drew’s family members are Mormons in the medical profession.”
“How do Drew’s folks feel about their stage manager son?”
“They wish he was operating a stethoscope rather than a lighting and sound board.” I recalled our technical director’s comments about Drew. “Connie Wong would agree with them.”
As always, Noah defended the underdog (no pun intended). “Drew will get it together. He just needs to focus on stage managing rather than on trying to do everyone else’s job. Hopefully he and Pip will get it together too.” Noah tried to find the silver (or pink) lining. “On a positive note, the acting in the show is quite good. I went over each character’s actions, objectives, emotional beats, and tactics with them.”
“And they are certainly characters.” My stomach growled louder than a factory spewing toxic mercury into the air after a Republican president’s environmental deregulations.
Noah lifted me to my feet. “Come on, Wizard. Let’s dive into The Wizard’s Crock Pot.”
We stepped up the stairs and across the stage. When we reached the wing, Noah gasped and pointed to a lifeless body sprawled out on a pile of hay. “Nicky, look!”
I followed Noah’s horrified gaze and discovered Bria Newkirk lying next to Uncle Henry’s pitchfork. Both were dripping with blood. Bria is off pitch.