HI Joe! It’s so nice to have you with us today. We are dying to know…
Why did you decide to write Bittersweet stories?
When I was a professional actor, I loved doing plays or movies combining humor and drama—just like in real life. As I morphed into playwriting and now fiction writing, I felt the same way. After I wrote AN INFATUATION, the first In My Heart bittersweet dreams novella from Dreamspinner Press, many readers and reviewers commented the story made them laugh and cry. I love that!
Tell us a bit about A Shooting Star. Do you identify with David or Jonathan?
After AN INFATUATION I received numerous requests from readers for a second novella in the In My Heart series. Since AN INFATUATION was loosely based on my high school days through adulthood, I thought back to my days as a theatre major in college, and A SHOOTING STAR was born.
In the novella, new college theatre major Jonathan meets the gorgeous, muscular, tantalizing, and mysterious upper classroom and theatre department star aptly named David Star. As David grooms Jonathan for college life and for stardom, Jonathan falls deeply in love with him. This leads Jonathan on an inner and outer journey, where he learns some shocking secrets about David, and about himself. As a remembrance story, the novella begins with Jonathan having just received the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Film, as he thinks back to the person who was responsible for his win.
Like Harold in AN INFATUATION, Jonathan in A SHOOTING STAR is loosely based on me, though I haven’t won an Academy Award—yet. He is ingenuous, funny, warm, gullible, and has an open heart. As is the case with Stuart in AN INFATAUTION, Barry, Jonathan’s loyal scene partner in A SHOOTING STAR, is loosely based on my spouse. Similar to Mario in AN INFATUATION, David in SHOOTING STAR is a combination of a number of young men I met as a theatre major in college and as a young actor. They were gay, bi, closet-gay, or straight. Each was handsome, muscular, charismatic, sensuous, and almost other-worldly like Greek gods. Though they appeared to hold the world in the palm of their strong hands, they each had a secret weakness. The acting professor, the hysterically hypochondriac Professor Katzer, is a lampooned version of an acting professor I had in college who has since passed away. I want to play him in the movie version!
Do you think Jonathan’s success would have happened had things worked out in a different way?
That is the essence of the story! I believe the people we meet in our lives help mold and shape who we are and how we succeed in life. Jonathan is a success due to having known David and Barry.
What is the most challenging thing about writing?
I can’t understand how some writers talk about having writer’s block. I have so many stories rolling around in my head, it’s hard to decide which I should write next.
Do you write with the ending in mind or does the story evolve as you go? (so, planner or pantser?)
When writing a mystery like my Jana Lane mysteries (PAPER DOLL from Whiskey Creek Press) or Nicky and Noah mysteries (DRAMA QUEEN from Lethe Press), I start at the end with a shocking ending then work backwards with clues, reversals, plot twists and turns. With a romance novel I start with the characters and do lengthy character biographies. That helps mold the story for me.
Give us your thoughts on what constitutes a happy ending.
Though AN INFATUATION and A SHOOTING STAR are bittersweet dreams novellas with sad events in them, to me they both have happy endings, because the leading character in each is content and in a better place at the conclusion.
What one book would you call your favorite?
Armistead Maupin’s the TALES OF THE CITY books are amazing. I love his quirky, unpredictable, yet totally likeable characters.
What book did you learn the most from?
Agatha Christie’s mysteries are gems. I love the way she hides the clues. I am always surprised at the endings, but the clues were there all along. She also includes humor and romance.
Describe yourself in three words.
Funny, loyal, and hardworking.
Would your best friend describe you the same way?
She would probably add talkative.
What do you have upcoming?
I will be editing for release: A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (a winter holiday novella taking place in Capri, Italy) from Dreamsprinner Press, THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TAKES FROM FAIRYLAND (gay fairy tales novella) from Dreamspinner Press, PORCELAIN DOLL (the second Jana Lane mystery) and SATIN DOLL (the third Jana Lane mystery) from Wild Rose Press, DRAMA MUSCLE (the second Nicky and Noah comedy mystery) and DRAMA CRUISE (the third Nicky and Noah mystery) from Lethe Press. I plan to finish writing CHINA DOLL (the fourth Jana Lane mystery) and DRAMA ALOHA (the fourth Nicky and Noah mystery. Looks like I’ll be really busy. I am also working on a new gay romance novel set in the Jersey Shore, COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK which features two minor characters from AN INFATUATION.
On the eve of the best night of his life, winning an Academy Award, Jonathan Bello thinks back to his one great love, David Star. Flipping back the pages of time, Jonathan recalls his handsome, muscular, and charismatic college roommate. Since Jonathan was a freshman and David a senior in the Theatre Department, David took Jonathan under his wing and molded him, not only as an actor but as a lover. With every wonderful new adventure, David left his joyful mark on anyone with whom they came in contact, but Jonathan soon uncovered David’s dark past, leading to a shocking event. Undaunted, Jonathan celebrates the captivating man who will always hold a special place in his heart.
A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.
As an Italian-American, I subscribed to my mother’s theory that if someone doesn’t want you to see something, he will hide it in a locked vault covered with cement. So I inadvertently took a quick look at my roommate’s things on the other side of the room. He was incredibly neat. Numerous theater textbooks and play scripts lined his bookshelf in alphabetical order. The bulletin board above his desk displayed artistically arranged programs from various comedy, drama, and musical college productions listing the same male lead in each show: “David Star”.
“Do you always look at other people’s things?”
I nearly got whiplash as he entered the room.
Stammering like a kid caught masturbating by his parents, I said, “I… w-was… ad-m-miring y-your… r-room.”
Though it was a fall September day, he took off his scarf (violet) and rested it on a tall coat-rack, which held scarves in various colors like a department store window display. He was taller than me, with a chiseled, handsome face, and straight, shiny black hair, which fell down his thick neck. I admired his perfectly sculpted muscles, housed in a turquoise designer dress shirt. But what captivated me the most were his piercing crystal-blue eyes—and the enormous bulge in his skin-tight, designer beige pants.
“What’s your name?”
He looked at me like a surgeon examining a tumor. “No, it’s not.”
“It’s Jonathan Bello.” He opened a bureau drawer, pulled out a bottle of hair gel, and tossed it to me. “You should gel your hair.” He opened his closet, revealing a multitude of color-coordinated shirts and slacks, and lay some on my bed. “And you can wear these.”
I looked at his perfectly pressed designer clothes. “Where did you get all these things?”
“They were gifts, mostly.”
“You must have some generous friends…. Sorry, I don’t know your name.”
“I’m David Star.” He took a bow.
Looking back at his play programs, I said, “You must have starred in every play at the college over the last three years.”
“Guilty as charged.”
“What happened to your last roommate?”
“He went to LA over the summer break and started auditioning. He got cast in a new TV sitcom. I hope it takes off. It’s called Cosby.”
“At the orientation session, they said freshmen are housed with other freshmen. How did I get a senior for a roommate?”
His eyes twinkled. “Just lucky I guess.”
“Do you think it was some kind of an administrative error or something?”
“Or something.” He added matter-of-factly, “I asked for a freshman roommate.”
Joe Cosentino is the author of An Infatuation and A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), 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 A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella), The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press short stories novella), Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press), and Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press).
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Post a comment below about Joe’s interview by 9/16 @ 11:59 PM. The one that fires our heart the most will win an ebook of AN INFATUATION, the first In My Heart novella by Joe Cosentino published by Dreamspinner Press, from the author. CLOSED! Congratulations Ree Dee!