Author Joe Cosentino Interviews His Characters Cal Cozzi and Michael Rodgers
from Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, the fourth novel in the Cozzi Cove beach series
by Joe Cosentino, published by NineStar Press
Joe: Welcome, Cal and Michael, the leading characters in my Cozzi Cove beach series. After writing four books about you, I feel like we’re old friends.
Cal: Thanks for letting us out of your head, Joe.
Joe: My pleasure. You’re an amazing couple.
Michael: Do you like us better than the other couples in your books?
Joe: That’s like asking a parent which child the parent prefers, though my mother would have no problem picking my sister. I love all of my characters, but Cal holds a special place in my heart. I adore Cal’s honesty, courage in the face of adversity, and loyalty to your husband, family, friends, and guests.
Cal: I’m getting misty-eyed.
Michael: I liked the loyalty to his husband part.
Joe: It’s been great fun to watch your relationship grow.
Cal: Yeah, it started with Michael trying to gay bash me in an alley.
Michael: Which Cal never lets me forget.
Cal: But after Michael lived and worked with me, I found him irresistible.
Michael: Who can blame you? And who can blame me for falling in love with Cal?
Joe: Since the readers can’t see you, Cal is thirty-three, tall, muscular, with auburn hair and green eyes. Michael is twenty-two, shorter, stocky, with caramel-colored skin and exotic eyes. Has the age difference caused a problem in your relationship?
Michael: Not for me. I like my old Sugar Daddy.
Cal: Very funny. It took some adjustment, especially when Michael went to college to major in journalism and had a crush on another student.
Michael: I didn’t have a crush on him. He had a crush on me.
Joe: Throughout the course of the books, you’ve both dealt with family issues, loss and laughter, and all the while managing Cozzi Cove, which has been in Cal’s family for generations.
Cal: Yes, Cozzi Cove is a magical place, where anything can happen.
Michael: Since you were an actor, Joe, our books are full of humor, drama, romance, and lots of surprises. I really like that. It keeps us on our toes.
Cal: Why did you write the Cozzi Cove series? Besides, getting to write about your fascination with Michael and me.
Joe: When I was a kid, my sister and I spent our summers at my aunt and uncle’s bungalow on the New Jersey shore. We swam and made sandcastles at the beach, waded in the bay, played miniature golf, ate salt water taffy, and jumped up and down on trampolines until we (literally) saw green. As you know, all those places and experiences are in the novels set in the fictitious place I call Cozzi Cove, a gay resort of eight bungalows in a private cove on the Jersey Shore. The main beach and boardwalk are only a mile away. It’s a place I love to visit.
Cal: And it’s our home.
Michael: How did the readers and reviewers like the first three Cozzi Cove beach novels?
Cal: They liked us. They really liked us.
Joe: They loved you. After Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (TBR Pile Favorite Book of the Month/Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, and Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out released, readers and reviewers praised their romantic, humorous, dramatic, mysterious style, and interwoven captivating stories. Many readers begged for a return trip to Cozzi Cove, so I wrote Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings. As with the first three books, romance is everywhere on Cozzi Cove, and nothing is what it seems. It was like visiting good old friends to further develop the characters in book four.
Michael: Shouldn’t we tell any new readers about the cove?
Joe: Go for it.
Cal: My bungalows on Cozzi Cove are set on a stretch of cove formed when softer rocks were worn away by the sun and salty water faster than the harder rocks surrounding them. This created a stunning bay of turquoise water shielded by large rocks in the distance and smaller rocks near the water’s edge.
Joe: Care to tell the readers a bit about the storyline of Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings?
Cal: Sure. I open my string of seven guest bungalows on Cozzi Cove for the fourth summer. There are five interwoven stories about me, my family, my friends, and my guests.
Joe: Michael, tell us more about our main character, Cal Cozzi, and the developments in book four.
Michael: Cal is a handsome and sexy ex-football player. In book four, Cal finds his great-grandfather’s diary, exposing a shocking surprise. After getting married in book three, Cal and I are expecting a baby in book four!
Cal: And I have a new houseboy, blond and muscular Billy Dean, a red letter Christian college student who signed a chastity pledge in his hometown Alabama.
Michael: Obviously, that doesn’t last very long at Cozzi Cove.
Cal: My sister, Taylor, drops in from Paris as usual. As a type A personality and top one-percenter, the world revolves around her, which makes her hysterically funny. She is also incredibly devoted to me, which I like.
Michael: And she loves getting under my skin.
Cal: Taylor’s wife, Carla, plays a pivotal role in book four as she is the surrogate for our baby. Michael and Taylor weigh new job opportunities that could take them away from Cozzi Cove.
Michael: I’ll never tell.
Joe: How about the guests in book four?
Cal: A bisexual guest, Nijad, can’t decide which sibling guest he prefers: Annabel or Andrew. And an occult enthusiast guest, Jonathan, encounters a sexy vampire at the cove.
Michael: As usual, nothing is what it seems as secrets are revealed and romances blossom in the magical place called Cozzi Cove.
Joe: What do you think is the moral of the story?
Michael: Don’t you know? You wrote it?
Cal: Can the sarcasm, Michael, or I’ll slap your can.
Michael: And you’ll love it.
Joe: I think the moral is that we are all connected to our past, present, and futures.
Cal: Works for me. Which one of the characters was the most fun to write?
Joe: Billy Dean’s southern expressions and Annabel’s British expressions cracked me up. Of course Taylor is always hysterically funny. Her wife, Carla, gives Taylor a run for her money in book four. I laughed out loud many times while writing her.
Michael: Which character was the most difficult to write?
Joe: Guest Vlad was difficult with his vampire persona, but as a huge fan of the old Dark Shadows serial, I was up to the task.
Michael: Are you Cal? Am I your spouse? And is Taylor your sister?
Joe: Cal is more like the person I’d love to be. One of the guests in book four, Jonathan the tax auditor, is a great deal like me. I want to play him in the movie. I’m also like Harold (An Infatuation), Jonathan (A Shooting Star), and Bobby (A Home for the Holidays). Stuart (An Infatuation) and Barry (A Shooting Star) are based on my spouse. Taylor in Cozzi Cove is very much like my sister, though my sister won’t admit it—in public.
Cal: Will there be more Cozzi Cove novels?
Michael: Please don’t leave us dormant in your brain!
Joe: If I can keep waking up at 3am with new ideas, there will be more novels. So get busy and start whispering ideas in my head. I love writing quirky and endearing characters in scenes full of emotion with lengthy dialogue. By the way, I wrote a screenplay version of the first novel. Come on, producers, make me an offer! Couldn’t you see Matt Bomer as Cal? Actually, I could see Matt Bomer as anybody in anything. Now let me ask you guys, how did you do with the love scenes in the book?
Cal: Just fine.
Michael: This guy’s a tiger.
Joe: Lovemaking is a part of life, so it makes sense to include love scenes in novels. I have been told the scenes are character-driven, sweet, and sexy.
Cal: They were sweet for us.
Michael: Mmm. Hmm. Joe, do you react like a reader when you read your books?
Joe: Totally. I just reread Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings and laughed, cried, gasped, and felt romantic. I was shocked at the ending of each storyline. How do you guys feel about the readers of the Cozzi Cove beach series?
Cal: They have great taste. They clearly crave being swept away by the stories and becoming part of the novel. They relish beautiful locations and captivating characters. They also love humor, romance, mystery, and a good surprise ending.
Joe: What struggles do you two face as a couple?
Cal: I’m more of a roots kind of guy. Cozzi Cove always has been and always will be my home. There’s a bit of the rebel gypsy in Michael.
Michael: That may change in book four.
Cal: Joe, tell us about your other gay romance releases.
Joe: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) first love novellas are loosely based on my high school and college years respectively. A Home for the Holidays my holiday short novella is about an American law student who, as I did, takes a trip to the romantic and gorgeous island of Capri, Italy, where he embarks on a relationship with his captivating third cousin. The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland is my gay take on my favorite beloved fairytales like Cinderella, Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, Pinocchio, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Snow Queen. Dreamspinner Press is the publisher, and Joel Leslie did the incredible audiobooks.
Michael: And about your two mystery series.
Joe: My Nicky and Noah mystery series (Lethe Press) are farcical, gay, cozy, who-dun-its. In Drama Queen (Divine Magazine Readers’ Favorite LGBT Mystery Novel and Humorous Novel) theatre college professors are dropping like stage curtains. With the inept local detective more interested in getting into Nicky’s pants than solving the murders, it is up to well-endowed Directing professor, Nicky Abbondanza to use his theatre skills (including playing other people) to solve the case, while he directs a murder mystery onstage. Complicating matters is Nicky’s intense crush on Assistant Professor of Acting, gorgeous Noah Oliver, the prime suspect in the murder. In Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship. In Drama Luau (releasing June 1), muscular male hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts as Nicky directs the Luau show. It’s up to Nicky and Noah to figure out whodunit and why.
In the Jana Lane mysteries (the Wild Rose Press), with straight leading characters and gay supporting characters, Jana Lane 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. Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. In Porcelain Doll Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. 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. In China Doll Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, where she is faced with murder on stage and off. In Rag Doll Jana stars in a television mystery series and life imitates art on the set. The novels are full of mystery, romance, humor, and theatricality. Since they take place in the 1980’s, Jana’s best friends are gay, and Jana is somewhat of a gay activist, the AIDS epidemic is a large part of the novels.
Cal: But Michael and I aren’t in any of those books. We help you with the Cozzi Cove novels.
Michael: How can the readers contact us?
Joe: Through me. I love hearing from readers! They can contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Joe: Thanks guys for speaking with me today.
Michael: Always a pleasure.
Cal: So everyone grab your Speedos, suntan lotion, and shades and head back to Cozzi Cove. I have a bungalow waiting just for you. I hope to see you there!
Welcome back to the romantic and magical place called Cozzi Cove, seven guest bungalows on the New Jersey Shore. This summer, Cal and his new husband Michael, along with sister, Taylor and her wife, Carla, prepare for the first in the next generation of Cozzis. To add to the action: Cal finds his great-grandfather’s diary, exposing a shocking surprise; Michael and Taylor weigh new job opportunities that could take them far away from Cozzi Cove; red-letter Christian and new houseboy, Billy Dean, gets his wish when meeting Jesus and John at the cove; summer guest, Nijad, can’t decide which sibling he prefers—Annabel or Andrew; and Jonathan, an occult enthusiast, encounters a sexy vampire. As usual, nothing is as it seems when romance blossoms once again at Cozzi Cove. What secrets, mysteries, and passions lie waiting to unfold? Find out in Book Four of the Cozzi Cove series.
Praise for COZZI COVE: STEPPING OUT:
“With love, romance and the big reveal of so many secrets, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out is perhaps the most important novel in the series so far. With so many of the recurring characters getting a huge chunk of the storytelling time, I couldn’t have asked for a better exploration of the Cozzi family and their chaotic summers at Cozzi Cove. Thanks to the perfect ending, I really hadn’t expected there to be more…but, YES! There is an excerpt at the end for the next book. And I couldn’t be more thrilled!”
“Spending a week in the sun with the permanent and transitory residents of Cozzi Cove makes for a superb, unputdownable, read. There are laugh out loud moments, lots of chuckles, some very heartwarming as well as heart wrenching moments, lots of gorgeous men and women, love, lust and even some tears. Joe Cosentino has a brilliantly unique sense of humour, and a masterful way of writing stories containing farce, larger than life men and women, and often over the top characters you’ll fall in love with. For all that his characters come across as completely relatable and realistic. His books are one of a kind and utterly addictive. I have yet to read a Joe Cosentino book that was less than 5 stars, and this book is no exception. Do yourself a favour and grab this book with both hands. I guarantee you’ll be very glad you did.” Divine Magazine
Praise for COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD:
“Imagine a beautiful getaway where the hot, sexy, and wealthy gay men go…it’s a place where there’s never a dull moment. Every page of this new title brings readers nothing but excitement, intrigue, and an intensity that will burn away the night’s quiet. Most novels offer readers one journey in which readers travel upon, however, readers are brought not one but several journeys that will leave them breathless and hooked. As with all of Joe Cosentino’s novels, humor comes in abundance and fits in perfectly with all of this stunning characters.” “Joe sweeps his readers into his characters’ lives by creating realistic characters with real issues. It’s easy to get lost in it all. The book automatically captures your heart from page one and forever holds it. After reading the story, readers will be begging for the next grand adventure. Funny, heart melting, and swoon worthy, readers will finish reading this in one sitting. I loved reading this riveting tale, and I highly recommend it to readers everywhere.” Urban Book Reviews
Praise for COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK: Book of the Month at The TBR Pile, Rainbow Award Honorable Mention, 3rd Place Best Fiction Book of 2016 on Urban Book Reviews
“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
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino won Divine Magazine’s Readers Poll of 2015 for Best LGBT Mystery Novel, Best LGBT Humorous Novel, and Best LGBT Contemporary Novel of the Year. He wrote the Cozzi Cove beach series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (TBR Pile Book of the Month/Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Favorite), Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), and Drama Cruise (Lethe Press); the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), A Home for the Holidays, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland; and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, and 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, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards!
Author’s Contact Links:
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Publisher: Nine Star Press
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
Length: 55,600 words, 174 pages
Release date: March 27, 2017
Excerpt of Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings:
Just as they were finishing breakfast, Carla Mangione lumbered through the back kitchen door and announced, “If this watermelon doesn’t come out of the patch soon, I’m going to kill someone.”
“Hey, you’re talking about our watermelon!” Cal replied as he got up to help her to the table. He put pancakes on a plate as Michael went to pour juice and milk for her.
“It won’t be soon enough for me.” Carla rubbed her enormous stomach; she was only thirty-five, but these days looked more like fifty-five. “I never knew you could get varicose veins on your stomach.”
“And I’m sure yours are beautiful.” Cal served Carla breakfast, kissed the top of her dark hair, and took a seat across from her at the table.
Carla leaned forward to massage her lower back. “I must be the biggest pregnant woman ever.”
“That’s because you’re carrying our big, beautiful baby,” Michael said, joining them.
After taking a sip of juice, Carla gagged. “Why does everything taste like fish or liverwurst?”
“Maybe our baby is the antichrist,” Cal offered.
Carla took a bite of the pancakes. “What kind of huge genes do you two guys have?”
“Don’t blame us.” Cal put his arm around Michael. “It must have been the egg-donor.”
“She must have donated ostrich eggs.” Carla pushed her plate away.
Michael pushed it back in front of her. “Eat up, honey. You’re having breakfast for two.”
She looked down at her enormous stomach. “Really? Do you think?”
Cal finished his juice. “Whatever happened to, ‘As your dear old friend and sister-in-law, it would be my honor to help you and Michael bring a child into this world. I can’t think of anyone who’d make better parents’?”
“That was before I gained forty pounds and my back started aching constantly—before my breasts swelled up like helium balloons and my ankles expanded faster than a conservative politician’s pocket after meeting with a Super PAC.”
Cal fed her another piece of pancake. “But isn’t it all worth it to bring a new life into the world?”
Carla groaned. “I used to get offended when people said God was a man. Now I’m sure of it. No woman would put another woman through this.”
“Did you do your exercises this morning?” Michael asked.
Carla laughed. “I stopped being able to see my toes weeks ago.”
“Have you been meditating with your crystals?” Michael sounded like a teacher with a lazy student.
“I think I threw them at your pictures when the baby kicked me like a Radio City Rockette. Meanwhile, you two were no doubt going at it last night like a running back and a wide receiver.”
“A tight end, please,” Michael said as he handed Carla her glass of milk.
“If I get any more milk in me, my breasts will explode.” She took a sip and swallowed as if drinking fish oil laced with liquid soap.
Cal asked, “Have you been taking your prenatal vitamins?”
Carla nodded. “Maybe that’s why this kid has been jumping around inside me like a Mexican hat dancer. Do either of you have any Mexican blood?”
“African and Scandinavian,” Michael replied.
“Scottish and Italian,” Cal said.
“Well, maybe he was doing a tribal dance and the tarantella.” Carla flicked back her long dark hair. “While I was lying awake in bed, I did the baby’s astrology and numerology charts.”
Michael asked, “How can you do that without knowing his birthdate?”
Carla glared at him. “I decided if he doesn’t come out of me by the end of the week, I’m pulling my nephew out with tongs.”
“What did the charts show?” Cal didn’t believe in the occult, but he was thankful to get Carla’s mind off her discomfort.
Carla smiled. “He’s going to be kind, strong, fair, honest, and quite successful.”
“Of course he is. He’s our son.” Cal kissed Michael’s cheek.
“Let’s hope he’s kind enough to make an appearance soon.” Carla ate more of her breakfast.
Michael asked, “How is Dotty doing running the restaurant during your maternity leave?”
“Fine.” Carla sat back. “I should never go back.”
Cal grinned. “You wouldn’t leave Carla’s.”
“You’re right.” She winked at Cal. “That restaurant is as much a part of me as Cozzi Cove is a part of you.”
Michael seemed miles away.
“What’s wrong?” Cal asked.
Michael shrugged, his head hanging down.
Carla said, “Don’t be shy, Michael. You know I’m family now. I married Cal’s sister. Remember? You were there, marrying this guy.”
Since Michael wasn’t talking, Cal asked Carla, “When is my dear sister coming for a visit?”
Carla sighed. “Taylor said she’d be here after her business meetings in Paris and Rome, but before her meetings in Washington, DC and New York.”
“What does that mean?” Cal asked.
“It means Taylor and the conservative big-money boys are making sure the top one percent stay that way.” She turned to Michael. “You’re not off the hook so easily about your pouting. What’s up?”
“A lot, last night.” Michael patted Cal’s crotch.
Cal put his arm around his husband. “We know something’s wrong, Michael. Spill it.”
“And feel free to spill my milk while you’re at it,” Carla said, pushing away her glass.
Michael pushed it back in front of her. “I wasn’t going to say anything.”
“But?” Cal asked.
Michael rested his chin on his hand. “Cozzi Cove has been in your family for generations, like Carla’s Seafood Restaurant has been in Carla’s.”
“So?” Cal asked again.
“So you both belong here. I’m just a guy who fell in love with the man I tried to gay bash.”
Cal took his hand. “Michael, you’re my husband. Cozzi Cove is as much your home as it is mine.”
“It doesn’t feel that way.”
Carla groaned. “Did my wife say something obnoxious to you the last time she visited?”
“Taylor said lots of obnoxious things to me the last time she visited, but that’s not it.”
“Then what is it, Michael?” Cal asked.
Michael bit his lower lip. “I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone. And I can’t think of a place I’d like living more than Cozzi Cove. But this is your land, your inheritance, and your soul. Sometimes I feel like an outsider.”
At that moment, there was a knock at the front door. “That must be my new houseboy,” Cal said, getting to his feet.
Carla leaned on the table and pushed herself off the chair. “I don’t want anyone seeing me like this. I’m going back to my bungalow.”
“Take this for the road,” Michael said, handing her the glass of milk.
She downed the milk in one gulp and cringed. “If I don’t come out of my bungalow in a week’s time, send in the bulldozer.” Carla left out the back kitchen door.
Cal paused at the kitchen entry, looking on as Michael cleared the table and started stacking the dishwasher. “We’ll talk about this later,” he said.
“It’s fine, really.”
Unconvinced, Cal left for the living room.
Post a comment about why the beach is a romantic place by 4/6/17. The one that blows our sail the most will win an e-book of Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention/TBR Pile Book of the Month), the first Cozzi Cove novel by Joe Cosentino, published by NineStar Press. http://myBook.to/Cozzi_Cove_BB Closed, congratulations Heather!