Thursday, 14 December 2017
AN INTERVIEW WITH JOE COSENTINO, AUTHOR OF THE PERFECT GIFT,
(Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories, Book 2)
PUBLISHED BY DREAMSPINNER PRESS
- When did you start writing?
My first recollection of storytelling is when my older sister and cousin wrapped a sheet around me in my cousin’s garage, placed me in a garbage can full of yellow paper strips, and we performed a Nativity scene for unsuspecting family members and friends. When I realized that I was the star, the theatre bug bit me. That led to full theatrical musical productions in a neighbor’s garage. To this day when I enter a garage, I start singing and dancing. Ultimately, I majored in theatre at college, and became a professional actor, working in film, television, and theatre opposite stars like Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T industrial), Nathan Lane (Roar of the Greasepaint onstage), Bruce Willis (A Midsummer Night’s Dream onstage), Charles Keating (NBC’s Another World), Jason Robards (Commercial Credit computer commercial), and Holland Taylor (ABC’s My Mother Was Never a Kid TV movie). Moving on to playwriting and ultimately writing novels came next. Along the way, I received two master’s degrees and became a college professor/department head, though like Bobby’s mother in my short story, my mother keeps asking me when I’m going to make as much money as my sister the accountant.
- What are the rules for writing a good romance story?
Fall in love with your characters as they fall in love with each other. If you do, the readers will as well. And don’t forget the setting. Let it be as romantic as possible. Finally, a little humor and mystery never hurt any story.
- What is your writing process?
I generally wake up at 3am with a great idea. The next day, if I can read the notes on my night table, I write a brief outline and biography for each character. Next, as in my acting days, I ask myself questions about each character and their journey. What are they thinking and feeling? What do they want? What is standing in the way of them getting what they want? Then I get them talking to one another and the magic happens. My spouse reads my second draft and gives me some feedback. After we argue, my third draft goes to the publisher.
- We are here today to talk about your holiday novella, The Perfect Gift, Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories Book 2, published by Dreamspinner Press. Tell us about the story and setting, and how you came up with them.
Dreamspinner Press published A Home for the Holidays, Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories Book 1, my short novella loosely based on my trip to the magical and gorgeous island of Capri. Bobby, a young, Italian American law student traveling to Capri during the winter holidays to meet his quaint Italian relatives, falls in love with his handsome, muscular, sexy Italian distant cousin, Paolo. Since I come from a long line of funny Italian Americans, I included a good deal of humor in the story as well with Paolo’s eccentric family. Readers, reviewers, and listeners to the audiobook performed by the spicy Joel Leslie called it the perfect holiday gift, feeling as if they had taken a trip to Capri for the romance of a lifetime. Since A Home for the Holidays leaves open the future of Bobby’s and Paolo’s relationship; Joel, readers, reviewers, and some Dreamspinner Press staff asked me why I hadn’t written a sequel. When I couldn’t come up with a reason, I got to work.
In The Perfect Gift, Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories Book 2, Bobby (a junior lawyer) and Paolo (a junior fashion designer) have lived together in their quaint Victorian-era apartment for a year. Bobby wants marriage, but Paolo is hesitant. After enjoying the winter holiday attractions of Philly, Paolo proposes and Bobby is ecstatic. Bobby isn’t the only one who is excited. His mother and sister begin planning “Operation Bobby and Paolo,” a wedding that would make the royal family jealous. Bobby’s best friend and the pastor of their open and affirming church join in the wedding hysteria. The problem is that Bobby and Paolo have their hearts set on a small, intimate wedding. After some comical and heart-wrenching story twists and turns, Bobby and Paolo come up with the perfect solution and become “December Grooms.”
The following Christmas, the couple tour many of the quaint and wonderful holiday sites in the area featuring elaborately decorated trees and wreathes, Dickensian villages, Victorian carolers and bell ringers, vendors selling hot mulled cider and roasted chestnuts, and bay-windowed shops. They exchange beautiful gifts, and enjoy spending Christmas with Bobby’s eccentric family. However, something is missing in their lives. There’s an emptiness and a longing neither of them can explain. While playing department store Santa, Bobby’s father suffers a heart attack. A man in a Santa suit, who Bobby assumes is his father’s replacement, brings the young couple to the hospital room of a sick little boy. Could this boy be “An Unexpected Gift” leading to happily ever after for Bobby and Paolo? You’ll have to read the story to find out.
- Tell us about your main characters.
Bobby is twenty-five with long auburn hair, emerald eyes, and a swimmer’s build. He has my sensibility and sense of humor. Like Harold in my An Infatuation and Jonathan in my A Shooting Star, Bobby is sweet, sensitive, and smart. As a junior lawyer who has just passed his bar exam, he is passionate about LGBT equality. He is also passionately in love with his husband Paolo.
Paolo is loosely based on my cousin’s cousin who lives in Italy. Like Mario in An Infatuation and David in A Shooting Star, Paolo is handsome, muscular, and charismatic with wavy chestnut hair and sapphire eyes. He is also a gifted junior fashion designer who is very much in love with Bobby. In book two, Paolo has transformed from a party boy to a committed husband.
Bobby’s parents are loosely based on mine. They are hysterically funny, and love their son dearly.
Geoffrey, the sick boy who approaches Bobby and Paolo is adorable, a bit cocky, and so in need of love. He is a combination of many neglected children I’ve met through a friend who is a social worker.
Jared, Bobby’s best friend and colleague, is a laugh riot, but he is quite devoted to Bobby.
- What about The Perfect Gift makes it different from other MM holiday novellas?
Bobby and Paolo’s love for each other, the wonderful winter holiday locations, the humor, the mystical element in the story, a gay wedding, and the happily ever after ending make the story a terrific read. Also, I think everyone can relate to feeling that something is missing during the holiday season, and hoping for that perfect holiday gift.
- Bobby and Paolo are distant cousins. Might that ruffle some feathers?
As Bobby’s mom says in the story, it is not unusual for distant cousins to couple in Italy. Actually, this was the case with my great uncle and great aunt who were married for sixty years until their deaths. Since a year has gone by since we last saw Bobby and Paolo, they have matured as people and as a couple.
- Will there be a part three for Paolo and Bobby?
I’m writing it now.
- What other books have you written?
My Nicky and Noah comedy mystery series features Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary novel of 2015), Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective. In each novel, dead bodies drop like hammy actors at a curtain call as college theatre professors and lovers Nicky and Noah use their theatre skills, including impersonating others, in hysterically funny antics to figure out whodunit and why.
My Jana Lane mystery series from The Wild Rose Press includes Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, and Rag Doll. Set in the 1980’s, ex-child star and current comeback actress Jana Lane solves mysteries on her movie, television, and stage sets with the help of her gay best friend and gay agent while fundraising for her AIDS foundation.
Finally, my Cozzi Cove beach series from NineStar Press is set in a gay resort on the New Jersey shore owned by ex-football player, handsome Cal Cozzi. Each novel provides an entryway into Cal’s life and the lives of the various residents staying in Cal’s bungalows each summer. They include Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention/TBR Pile Favorite Book of the Month), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings. I love the mystical element in each book.
- As a college professor/department head, where do you find the time to write so many books?
I write at night after my spouse has gone to sleep and the house is quiet. As my mother would say, I’ve always had a strong imagination. So it’s not difficult for me to connect to my inner muse and let the characters out. Being a bit tired helps release my inhibitions and creativity.
Like Bobby and Paolo in my stories, I hope everyone reading this gets just what you need this holiday season. Enjoy my special holiday gift to you. Please know that it comes wrapped in a huge ribbon of love. And I love hearing from readers. You can contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
THE PERFECT GIFT (Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories, Book 2)
by JOE COSENTINO
published by Dreamspinner Press, e-book $4.99
Back in America after finding A Home for the Holidays and each other in Capri, new couple Bobby McGrath and Paolo Mascobello are ready to tie the knot during the winter holidays. Their families, friends, and pastor offer more advice than sages on speed. So, young lawyer Bobby and fashion designer Paolo are caught in the matrimonial holiday circus. Will a shocking turn of events somehow lead to the perfect wedding for the December grooms?
The following Christmas, Bobby and Paolo aren’t feeling the holiday spirit. They have a nice apartment, designer clothes, entertaining and supportive friends and family, but little time for each other. While out shopping in their quaint local holiday village, Bobby and Paolo encounter Gregory, an adorable seven-year-old who changes their lives forever, offering them a true holiday miracle… if they’re willing to accept it.
What reviewers said about A Home for the Holidays, Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories Book 1:
“I adore the character of Bobby…the heartwarming family moments…the love the author has for Capri and the people there flows off the page in every word he has written…..When you finish reading this story, you will want to book your own flight to Italy and boat to Capri.” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
“Joe Cosentino’s holiday novella, A Home for the Holidays, delivers in every way that a romantic, feel-good story should. Every book I read by this author continuously pulls me in and wraps me up like a warm blanket.” Kathy Mac Reviews
“The one thing you can't escape when reading Cosentino's books is his humour; it's what draws me back time and again to this author. Sometimes the humour is subtle, sometimes it's unashamedly overt - every time it is hilarious.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
I’m going to go on record saying that Joe Cosentino pretty much has me at hello. His writing style is incredibly smooth with beautiful details that never feel like too much or too little. Even in this very short story, I felt like I was right there in Capri with Bobby. Both the scenery and Bobby’s emotions are painted with lush, vivid detail…exceptional writing and beautifully gift-wrapped love story.” AM Leibowitz
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, the Bobby and Paolo Holiday stories: A Home for the Holidays and The Perfect Gift, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, (Lethe Press), Drama Luau, Drama Detective; the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). 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, Charles Keating, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. He was voted 1st Place Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of 2015, and 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Romance Author of 2015 by the readers of Divine Magazine. He has also won many Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions including for In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star. http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Excerpt of The Perfect Gift (Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories, Book 2)
by Joe Cosentino, published by Dreamspinner Press:
“Hi, Mom. What are you doing?”
“Sitting home alone like a dog.”
That’s Mom’s logic. If their house isn’t full of people eating and carrying on, she’s alone.
“In his den, watching the game on TV as usual.”
I’m Bobby McGrath. Since this is my story, I should tell you more about myself. I have frizzy red hair, green eyes, and a swimmer’s body, thanks to the pool at my gym. The swimmer’s body is thanks to the pool. The red hair and green eyes are courtesy of my dad’s side of the family,
which my mom calls the Bad Seed. And I passed the bar. I don’t mean I’m a recovering alcoholic. I aced my bar exam, and I’ve been a junior lawyer for nearly a year now.
“Bobby, are you listening to me or thinking about one of your cases?”
“I’m listening, Mom.” I sat on the window seat in my Victorian apartment’s turret and gazed out at the carolers appropriately dressed in Victorian garb as they sang in front of the department store across the street. That’s the department store where my father is manager and plays Santa every December. “How did Dad’s physical go with Dr. Sherman?”
“He said Dad’s overweight. Like we didn’t know. For that we shelled out a thirty-dollar co-pay.”
“Did you mention how Dad’s been forgetting a few things lately?”
“I told him how your father forgot to take out the garbage, sweep out the garage, and chase the squirrels out of our summerhouse in the backyard.”
I couldn’t help thinking Dad’s memory lapses were intentional.
“Dr. Sherman asked Dad some questions, like Dad’s birthdate and our anniversary.”
“Your father never remembers things like that, so I answered for him.”
“Mom, you shouldn’t have—”
“Your father’s fine, except for an enlarged prostrate.”
“Don’t correct your mother, especially now.”
“You know I don’t like to burden you with my problems.”
“All right. I should get on my laptop to do some research for a—”
“I’m worried about your sister.”
“Both of them.”
I took a sip of Lemon Zinger tea and braced myself for a long story.
“They work so hard at their jobs and taking care of the kids, they never see their husbands.”
My sisters’ know-it-all spouses? “Is that a bad thing?”
“Watch your mouth, mister. I’m your mother. In my day we never disrespected our parents, no matter how wrong they were about everything. And we never took drugs.”
“I don’t take drugs, Mom; neither does Paolo.”
“But plenty of young people today are drug addicts, Bobby. They say they’re nervous. If young people are nervous, they should do what I do, and take a Prozac.”
As Mom rambled on about the sad state of our youth, I glanced over at the antique cherry coffee table to a framed picture of Paolo and me smiling in front of the Mascobello villa in Capri, Italy. That’s where I met Paolo, when I visited my extended family. Don’t freak out. Paolo is a very
distant cousin. He has dreamy sapphire eyes, wavy chestnut hair, more muscles than a daytime television star, and a little-boy pout that makes me want to take care of him for the rest of his life. Which I do. Since Paolo was quite the playboy in Capri, I had my doubts about our relationship. But we’ve been living in boyfriend bliss here in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, for a year now.
Giveaway: Post a comment about your favorite holiday gift. The one that reaches the star on Zipper Ripper’s Blog’s tree will be shared with the author to win a gift audiobook of A Home for the Holidays, Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories Book 1, by Joe Cosentino, performed by Joel Leslie, published by Dreamspinner Press. http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/A-Home-for-the-Holidays-Audiobook/B01MQJ2OZY/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1479506188&sr=1-1
Saturday, 9 December 2017
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