A big welcome to Joe Coastentino – and his characters Nicky and Noah – as part of his blog tour for Drama Luau
Interview with Nicky and Noah, the leading characters in Joe Cosentino’s
fourth Nicky and Noah mystery/comedy/romance series, Drama Luau
Joe: Welcome, Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver. Thank you for chatting with me today about the fourth novel in your popular Nicky and Noah mystery series.
Noah: Our lives are an open book—or four. Thank you for letting us out of the books for a while.
Nicky: Our spines are killing us (no pun intended).
Joe: Thanks for always being there for me.
Nicky: We enjoy telling you what to write.
Noah: We know you have a soft spot in your head for us.
Joe: True. For anyone who hasn’t read them (and they should!), tell us about your mystery series.
Nicky: Our mysteries are set in an Edwardian style university founded originally by a gay couple (Tree and Meadow) whose name the university bears: Treemeadow College.
Noah: The clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning, and at the center is a touching gay romance between Nicky (Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza) and me (Assistant Professor of Acting).
Nicky: In the first novel, Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, Contemporary Novel of 2015), college theatre professors are falling like stage curtains (while I direct the college play production), and Noah and I must figure out whodunit and why.
Noah: In the second book, Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Nicky is directing the college’s bodybuilding competition, and bodybuilding students and professors are dropping like barbells.
Nicky: In <Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back (which Joe and his spouse also did). Noah and I must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as I direct a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring other college theatre professors including Noah.
Noah: Complicating matters are our both sets of parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with us. In each book Nicky and I eavesdrop, seduce, role play, and finally trap the murderer, as pandemonium, hilarity, and true love ensue for a happily ever after ending—until the next book.
Joe: Have your mysteries been well received so far?
Noah: They like us! They really like us!
Nicky: Reviewers called the books hysterically funny farce, Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys, and a captivating whodunit with a surprise ending.
Noah: One reviewer wrote it was the funniest book she had ever read. Who are we to argue?
Joe: Good point. Did you like being in Hawaii for the fourth novel?
Nicky: They call it paradise for a reason. Maui is the most beautiful place on Earth. The white sandy beaches, tall and majestic waterfalls, multicolored craters on mosaic mountaintops, palm trees waving in the soft breeze, and laid back and friendly Hawaiians were amazing.
Noah: Nicky and I marveled at the hidden beaches, took the white-knuckle drive to the gorgeous Seven Sacred Pools, gasped at the sunrise at Haleakala, swam in the clear turquoise water, and flew through the crystal blue sky while parasailing.
Nicky: Of course we also went to the luau complete with the boat procession, pig roast, huge and sumptuous buffet of Hawaiian foods, and the hula dancer show. The dancers were amazing! Incredibly muscular Hawaiian men wearing grass skirts, leis (no pun intended), flower headdresses, anklets, and bracelets, gestured with their arms, waved their knees, stomped, and grunted on an outdoor stage masked by a dormant volcano. It was a blast working with them on the show and getting to know them. That is until they were murdered one by one.
Noah: But the best thing about Maui was being with Nicky.
Nicky: You’re the best, Noah.
Noah: Love you, Nicky.
Nicky: Always, Noah.
Joe: You can take the boys out of the book, but not the book out of boys. Tell us about the storyline in Drama Luau. But no spoilers please!
Nicky: In Drama Luau I am directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort. Noah and I need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Our department head and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. In addition to the sexy hula dancers, we meet a handsome Hawaiian detective, a Bloody Mary type housekeeper, a cigar chomping hotel manager, the hotel owner and his senator wife who give new meaning to the term family values, and a cute young waiter who wants to be a hula dancer more than an anti-gay politician wants a dark backroom in a gay bar.
Noah: Nicky and I have the time of our lives solving this one, and also find our relationship in for quite a change.
Nicky: And in the third and fourth novels we get some help from Martin and Ruben, joining in with hysterically funny role plays to nab the killer.
Joe: And both sets of your parents make a brief appearance in book four.
Noah: They’re absolutely hilarious. Nicky’s mama and papa are pretty outspoken on just about everything.
Nicky: 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 dad is an amateur sleuth like me.
Joe: As they say, men marry their fathers. Who is your favorite character in Drama Luau?
Noah: Nicky of course! He’s smart, handsome, strong, affection, and my partner for life. I love how he cares so much about everyone, and tries so hard to solve the mysteries.
Nicky: And I love Noah’s warmth, sweetness, devotion, and compassion.
Noah: Our favorite new character in book four is Mark Iona, the Maui Mist Resort waiter who desperately wants to become a hula dancer in the luau show.
Nicky: We also like Mark’s secret crush on hunky island detective John Nohea.
Joe: Which character do you like the least in book four?
Nicky: The hotel owner and his state senator wife are quite vocal about their religious freedom, in their case meaning their right to discriminate against gay people. Religious freedom means you are free to practice whatever religion you like, not take away someone else’s civil rights.
Noah: But as is always the case in the Nicky and Noah series, everything is not always what it seems, and Mano and Joanna Kapena offer lots of humor and surprises.
Joe: As in all my mysteries. Tell them about my Jana Lane mysteries published by The Wild Rose Press.
Nicky: Noah and I aren’t in them, but they’re still really good. Joe 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. She also embarks on a romance with the devilishly handsome son of her old producer, Rocco Cavoto. In Porcelain Doll 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 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 flirtation with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. In China Doll 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. 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.
Noah: Your Dreamspinner Press novellas (An Infatuation—Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award 2nd Place for Best MM Romance, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland) were so well received, the first two winning a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention. What do you say to people who loved them and might be surprised that the Nicky and Noah mysteries are quite different?
Joe: I’d ask them to give you and Nicky a chance. As my mother said to me as a kid about pea soup (now one of my favorite foods), “Just try it, you may like it.”
Noah: And how about Joe’s New Jersey beach series? Tell everyone about that, Nicky.
Nicky: Noah and I aren’t in that series either! NineStar Press published Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings about handsome Cal Cozzi’s gay beach resort on a gorgeous cove. Joe spent his summers as a kid on the Jersey Shore, so it’s a special place for him. 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 so full of surprises. Some reviewers have called it a gay Fantasy Island. Maybe Noah and I will check in there one day.
Nicky: But back to us.
Noah: How can your readers get their hands on Drama Luau, and how can they contact you?
Joe: The purchase links for Drama Luau are below, as are my contact links, including my web site.
Nicky: Joe loves to hear from readers. You can get to Noah and me through him!
Joe: Thank you, Nicky and Noah, for sharing with us today. What’s next for you too?
Nicky: Drama Detective, book five, releasing in six months.
Noah: But for now, it is our joy and pleasure to share our stories with you.
Nicky: So grab your plate at the buffet table, and take your front row seat for the luau show. The grass curtain is going up on Drama Luau!
Theater professors and spouses, Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver, are on their honeymoon at a Hawaiian resort, where musclemen in grass skirts are keeling over like waterfalls. Things erupt faster than a volcano when Nicky and Noah, along with their best friends Martin and Ruben, try to stage a luau show. Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is bringing the grass curtain down on male hula dancers—before things go coconuts for the handsome couple. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining fourth novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and aloha!
Excerpt of Drama Luau, Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino
The olive-skinned, barefooted muscular men wore loincloths (malo), coconut necklaces, shell bracelets and anklets, and flower (lei) head garlands. With the powerful emerald mountain behind them, the dancers (‘olapa) aerobically executed hand signs, knee sways, and foot stomps toward the turquoise sea (makai), as their deep, full voices chanted to the goddess of the ocean (Namakaokahai). The lead dancer (alakai) and the dance captain (kumu) moved front and center executing their tree in the breeze hand gestures. The dancer helper (kokua) made gestures to the ocean waves behind them.
The ‘ukulele, steel guitar, and bass accompaniment ended. The dancers slouched and looked toward the rows of tables and chairs facing them.
“Kimu, stand further upstage.”
“Nicky, they don’t know what upstage and downstage mean.”
“Thanks, Noah. Kimu, stand behind the other dancers, so Kal and Ak are the focus of the dance.”
That was me, Nicky Abbondanza, Associate Professor of Directing at Treemeadow College, an Edwardian style private college in the quaint state of Vermont. My husband and the love of my life, Assistant Professor of Acting at Treemeadow, Noah Oliver, is by my side, right where I like him. Why am I directing a luau show at the Maui Mist Resort in Hawaii? Our honeymoon in Maui was a gift from our parents. But when the customers of my parents’ bakery in Kansas became glucose intolerant, and the clientele of Noah’s parents’ dairy farm in Wisconsin found themselves lactose intolerant, Noah and I were left tolerating the bill. So my department head and his husband hit the internet and found this luau show directing job, which came with free airfare, hotel, and food for two. Enticed by the gorgeous tropical location and the gorgeous luau dancers, Martin Anderson, Professor of Theatre Management at Treemeadow College, and Ruben Markinson, director of one of the top gay rights organizations in the country, decided to tag along and keep us out of trouble. Since Martin and Ruben are our best friends, that was more than fine with Noah and me.
Since you can’t see us, I am thirty-six, tall, with dark hair, green eyes, a Roman nose, cleft chin and long sideburns. Thanks to the gym at Treemeadow College (named after Tree and Meadow, the gay couple who founded it), I am pretty muscular. One minor thing. Actually, it’s pretty major. I have a nine and-a-quarter by two-inch penis, which causes Noah to tell everyone we are “going clubbing” when we have sex.
Noah is handsome with wavy blond hair, crystal-blue eyes, porcelain skin, and hotter and sweeter buns than any found in my dad’s bakery. Martin is short, thin, and bald. As an incredible gossip, he resembles an alien looking for a good piece of news to bring back to his home planet. Ruben is tall, thin, distinguished-looking, with salt and pepper hair and two large eyes watching over Martin. Though Ruben would never admit it, like his husband, Ruben revels in the dish too.
I said to the dancers, “The opening (ho’i) number will be fine. Let’s move on.”
Whereas the first dance was an introduction to the dancers, the second number, in honor of the creation gods (Kane and Lono), is a sensual dance, where the muscular dancers get to flex, grunt, and gyrate.
Sitting next to me at the front table opposite the stage, Noah rested a hand on my knee. “Did my character work with the dancers pay off?”
I nodded. “They all seem like characters to me.”
Noah squeezed my hand as the five dancers came on stage, now wearing grass skirts. Kal (short for Kalani), at twenty-five, is tall, strikingly handsome, muscular, the leader of the pack, and he knows it. Ak (Akamu), at thirty-five, was once the stallion of the troupe, but a receded hairline and wrinkles had transformed Ak to dance captain. As leaders, Kal and Ak take focus in the dance numbers, either dancing downstage center or up center on the platform in the shape of a volcano. Pretty ironic since Kal and Ak are ex-lovers and ex-friends.
Current lovers Keanu (dancer helper), at medium height with a growing paunch, and Ahe, young, small, and cute as a button, took their places midstage and looked at each other adoringly.
Finally, Kimu, at medium height with a bull dog face and protruding belly, stood farthest upstage. The only straight member of the troupe, Kimu, said, “Are you girls ready to dance?”
Keanu left his lover, Ahe, and approached Kimu. “What a surprise, Kimu. Liquor on your breath.”
Leader Kal added, “Yeah, Kimu, during the last number you were wavering more than the palm trees near the stage fan.”
Kimu answered, “Hey Kal, is it true that you gave Keanu a pity lei?”
These guys are worse than the divas I work with in the theatre. “Can we please start the number?”
Praise for DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, Contemporary Novel of 2015):
“This fast-paced, hilariously funny, entertaining novel will have you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out who-dun-it!” Joyfully Jay
Praise for DRAMA MUSCLE, the second Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention):
“reading these books is like watching a fabulous comedic, murder mystery, action, adventure, romantic film.” “I was giggle snorting and laughing so much I had to stop reading. Joe Cosentino’s writing is absolutely flawless. He’s a master storyteller and will keep you guessing and utterly riveted until Drama Muscle’s highly satisfying ending. This is an absolute gem of a book, and series.” Divine Magazine
Praise for DRAMA CRUISE, the third Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press:
“Joe Cosentino does it again with Drama Cruise, the third Nicky and Noah mystery. I loved the humor, drama, and theater work inside. Plus, the romance and murder investigation keep readers turning the pages. Absolutely, must read this latest book in the series.” Urban Book Reviews
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of 2015 by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) and Drama Cruise (Lethe Press), Drama Luau; In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press); Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (TBR Pile Book of the Month/Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings Cozzi Cove series (NineStar Press); Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The 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. Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015! Coming next: Drama Detective, the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery.