An Interview with Joe Cosentino, author of An Infatuation
by Dreamspinner Press/Bittersweet Dreams!
An Interview with Joe Cosentino…
What has the response from readers been like so far to An Infatuation?
The response has been amazingly positive. The novella received mostly rave reviews from all web sites and extremely enthusiastic response from readers. An example of a reader response that really touched my heart was posted by a reader on Amazon, Goodreads, and the Dreamspinner Press web site:
“If we’re lucky, we get to read a book that blazes a trail through us. Whether they make us laugh, cry, or even think a little differently, these books still leave a mark on us days, maybe even weeks after we’ve read it. For me, this was one of those books. It did everything I ask of a book: it took me away on a sweet journey about two high school boys, made me feel about their relationship, and gave me an ending I’ll never forget. This book made me think. It affected me, and that’s what writing and authorship is all about. Mr. Cosentino, you should be very proud of what you created here. You gave me beautiful characters, real and flawed, who are memorable and who made mistakes. They could’ve made better choices, but they didn’t because they were human. Authors strive to make characters who are as close to humanity as possible. They hope to make character-driven stories, not plot-driven stories. You’ve done exactly that. Thank you for Harold. Thank you for Mario. Thank you for writing this book. And please, don’t stop writing.”
How and where do you write?
Since I am a college professor and busy during the day, I write in the evenings. Thankfully I have a cozy, quiet study with a window seat, cherry wood mantel fireplace, cherry wood bookcase, and cherry wood desk. As an actor and writer, I tend to become my characters. As if playing a role, I ask myself about their motivations, actions, objectives, fears, likes, passions, and thought processes. My spouse is accustomed to hearing various voices coming from study. He relates since he is an audio book performer.
Who are your favorite authors and why?
Armistead Maupin has an amazing flair for writing eccentric, loveable characters with engaging and realistic dialogue. I try to remember that in my own writing. I’ve read all nine TALES OF THE CITY books by Armistead Maupin, every Agatha Christie novel and short story, and all of Greg Herren’s MM mystery novels. I also love the three Rainbow Boys MM young adult novels by Alex Sanchez.
What advice would you give to other writers in the M/M genre?
I love reading and writing stories with engaging characters who I want to spend time with. I recommend letting your characters talk to one another and seeing what happens. An outline is simply an outline. Don’t be afraid to deviate from it. Also, a romance story needs much more than romance. Don’t forget the humor, and the twists and turns in the story. Finally, until gays have equal civil rights, a little politicking never hurt.
What tips would you give other writers, when creating comedy in their own writing?
When a reader finishes a book, he/she should be satisfied that the various parts equaled the whole, rather than the author pulling an ending out of the hat. I recommend not writing jokes to try to be funny. Let the humor come out of the situations and the characters naturally. People are funny, but only in real life, believable situations. And don’t forget the yang side of comedy is tragedy, and find the emotional core of your characters and story. As the old expression goes, “Make ‘em laugh then make ‘em cry.” That’s why I love Bittersweet Dreams books.
How do you imagine the ideal reader of your book?
My ideal reader is a lover of a good story, someone who craves being swept away and becoming part of the novel. My reader enjoys humor, and being taken on a roller coaster ride. Finally, my reader relishes in captivating characters and earth-shattering romance, as she/he willingly enters the portal of my book. That’s why I love hearing from my readers!
What inspired you to start writing, especially your novella AN INFATUATION?
As a kid I played make believe constantly. “Let’s put on a show!” was my motto. I played all the characters—male and female. Hm, that explains a lot. Thankfully my parents and teachers indulged me rather than committed me. I always enjoyed improvisation as an actor, and I see writing as an extension of that. It also keeps the mind sharp, which is much appreciated as I get older.
When I told my mother I wanted to be an actor, she said, “Take this knife and stick it through my heart.” I did it anyway, and acted on stage and screen with stars like Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, Jason Robards, and Nathan Lane. As my students say, “You were cute when you were young!” Anyway, it occurred to me that acting is storytelling in the same way that writing is storytelling, so I decided to give playwriting a try. When I told my mother I wanted to write fiction, she said, “Don’t you have anything better to do?” I wonder if Shakespeare’s mother said that?
I knew my first novella would be a bit autobiographical, but have a universal theme. Hasn’t everyone been infatuated with someone? I was thinking back to my high school days, and how difficult it was back then for a gay teen before GLSEN, PFLAG, and Will and Grace. Lab partners, gym locker rooms, and club meetings where super important. At my high school reunion, I realized things weren’t what they seemed back then. A story was born. It began as a one-act play, which I expanded and morphed into a novella.
Who are the main characters in AN INFATUATION?
Harold is based on me. Actually, I really admire Harold’s resilience, honesty, intelligence, wit, and ability to keep going in trying situations. His heart may be broken, but his spirit always stays intact. Harold’s devotion to his spouse, Stuart, is admirable, as is his honesty about his teenage infatuation with Mario. I love that the story spans twenty years so we see Harold (and Mario) develop and mature.
Mario is a combination of many supposedly straight, perfect guys who gay guys so easily become infatuated with every day. I love that Harold and Mario come full circle at their high school reunion.
Which character was the most fun to write?
Stuart was great fun to write, because he is based on my spouse who is totally organized and a real list maker, but also sweet, creative, and caring. He creates an itinerary for our trips in ten minute time blocks!
Who was the hardest character to write?
It is always hard for me to write homophobic characters. How nonsensical is it for someone to spend his/her time, money, and energy trying to hurt, belittle, or take away the rights of someone else? In most cases, the homophobic person is gay him/herself, and due to internalized homophobia, is battling with him/herself via the gay target. That is the case with the two homophobic characters in my novel.
What other books have you written? And what are you working on now?
My MF mystery/romance series, the Jana Lane mysteries, premieres March 18 with PAPER DOLL from Whiskey Creek Press. PORCELAIN DOLL will follow shortly. My MM mystery/romance/comedy series, the Nicky and Noah mysteries, premieres this summer with DRAMA QUEEN from Lethe Press. DRAMA MUSCLE will follow shortly. I just finished a new MM romance Bittersweet Dreams novella, A SHOOTING STAR, and am currently working on a new MM romance novella, A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. I am also working on the third Nicky and Noah mystery book (DRAMA CRUISE), and the third Jana Lane mystery book (SATIN DOLL).
Which roles do you want to play in the movie versions of your books?
I think my books would make terrific films! Here are the roles I would play:
AN INFATUATION: Mr. Ringwood, high school principal
PAPER DOLL: Simon Huckby, movie agent
DRAMA QUEEN: Martin Anderson, college professor/department head
A SHOOTING STAR: Professor Katzer, college professor
A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: walk by in a cameo a la Alfred Hitchcock
So come on movie producers!
Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
Winning an Academy Award for Best Screenwriter and Best Featured Actor (Mr. Ringwood) for AN INFATUATION. (You have to dream big)
What would you like to say to your readers?
I know this story will touch your heart, because it’s everyone’s story. We’ve all had an infatuation, and this novel is a testament to that. Please email me via my web site and tell me about your experience with the book. I also love answering questions about the novella, so let them fly. My web site is: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
AN INFATUATION by JOE COSENTINO
a Bittersweet Dreams MM romance novella from Dreamspinner Press
Buy links: Dreamspinner Press Amazon
With his ten-year high school reunion approaching, Harold wonders whether Mario will be as muscular, sexy, and tantalizing as he remembers. As a teenager, it was love at first sight for Harold while tutoring football star Mario, until homophobia and bullying drove Mario deep into the closet. Now they’re both married men. Mario, a model, is miserable with his producer wife, while Harold, a teacher, is perfectly content with his businessman husband, Stuart. When the two meet again, will the old flame reignite, setting Harold’s comfortable life ablaze? How can Harold be happy with Stuart when he is still infatuated with his Adonis, his first love, Mario? Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future.
Joe Cosentino is the author of An Infatuation (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll, the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press-releasing this summer), 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 Porcelain Doll (the second Jana Lane mystery) and Drama Muscle (the second Nicky and Noah mystery).
Contact/Find Joe Cosentino at his website http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com or Goodreads Author page
One Friday afternoon I accidentally ran into my hero in the boy’s locker room. I’d had enough of the big guys banging me into gym lockers, pushing me into cold showers, and hanging me from the gym ropes. So I was on my way to give Mr. Adoni a note from Dr. Dlorah excusing me from gym class for the remainder of the school year (due to my highly contagious disease being studied by my doctor in Guatemala, where he could not be reached for the next year).
The locker room smelled of an odd combination of soap, cologne, sweat, and desire. Mario was getting ready for football practice, standing at his gym locker without a combination lock on it. Nobody would dare to break into it (Except for me that one time I smelled his jock strap. Okay maybe it was a few times, but not more than ten.). Mario slid his T-shirt (red today) over his thick, black hair and threw it on the nearby bench. No longer harnessed by cotton, his arm, back, chest, and neck muscles swelled to full size. I was half hidden behind the adjoining row of lockers, wearing my usual green and blue flannel shirt and brown corduroy pants. Mario, who wasn’t looking in my direction, said something really beautiful to me that I will never forget. “Hi.”
“Did you just? Oh. Hi. Hello. Good afternoon. Nice to see you. I mean, change with you.” I looked down at the floor (but cheated a bit) as Mario kicked off his boots, slipped off his jeans then threw them in the lucky locker. His red underpants (briefs) revealed ample manhood. This is better than the newspaper’s underwear ads!
“Good gym class today with Mr. Adonis, I mean, Mr. Adoni.” Did I just say that? “Harold High.”
“High.” How can I get my pulse down to 260?
“Hi.” Mario reached into his locker for his sweat clothes.
Shouldn’t people be doing that for you? “Oh, my last name is High. Like a kite.” How can I stop my arms from waving like an airport flagger on speed?
“Mario Ginetti. Like nothin’ else imaginable.” Mario smiled, revealing a row of perfectly white teeth, and held the sweat clothes in his hands as if he was mortal.
“I know. I watch your body play.” Why can’t I stop talking? “I mean, I watch you play … football … on the field … in your football outfit.” I feel like Michelangelo with his David!
As Mario put on his sweats, I continued to sweat.
“I’m voting for your body … I mean I’m voting for you for president of your … our … the student body.” I need my jaw wired shut. “I’m your lab partner in Chemistry class. Ms. Hungry’s class … I mean Ms. Hunsley’s class.”
His olive-colored face glistened as Mario’s face registered recognition—of me! “I thought I knew you from somewheres. Hey, thanks for doing the lab reports.”
“It’s my honor … I mean my pleasure. It’s fine. If you need help putting up posters for your campaign, I can … ”
Having just tied the laces of his sneakers, Mario stood absolutely still. He looked at me as if he was staring into my heart and somehow knew what I was feeling. “I gotta take a wicked piss.”
Can I watch?
“Thanks for helping me out, Buddy.” He slammed the locker door and left.
He called me, Buddy! My heart was as soft and silly as putty that Mario held in the palm of his hand like his soap on a rope.
Think back to your infatuation. When was it? Where were you? How did you feel? How did you react? How did it begin? How did it end? Write about it and post it with your email address and preferred electronic reading format. The staff at Scattered Thoughts and Words will select the entry that tickles their libido the most and email the information to the author who will email the prize to the winner. Happy Infatuations!
Contest Ends March 3rd. Leave a comment about your first crush, and use the Rafflecopter link provided below for all the additional ways you can win. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
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