Join me in welcoming Joe Cosentino back to my blog with an exclusive interview and his newest novel, New Beginnings, Book 4 in the Cozzi Cove Series!
New Beginnings is available now at
Welcome back, Joe! You are one prolific author, having written sixteen books in two years, while being a college theatre professor/department head!
Joe: My mother said to me recently, “What a shame you never made anything of yourself, unlike your sister, the accountant.” I wonder if Jesus’ mother said that to him.
Do your family and friends read your books?
Joe: Yes, they love them. But they complain I’m writing them faster than they can read them.
How does a reader know a Joe Cosentino novel?
Joe: Readers tell me they love the humor, drama, romance, exotic locations, quirky characters, plot twists and turns, and surprise endings. Like my life, my books are a wild ride.
What makes you happiest as a writer?
Joe: When I hear from readers who tell me they laughed and cried while reading my books. And when I win awards. Lots of awards.
And you’ve won plenty.
Joe: Yes. Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press) was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery Novel, Contemporary Novel, and Humorous Novel of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine. An Infatuation came in second place as Favorite LGBT Romance. I won second place as Favorite LGBT Author. In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star and Drama Muscle won Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions.
No awards for the Cozzi Cove beach series?
Joe: How could I forget! Sorry, Cozzi Cove fans. Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (book one) was voted Favorite Book of the Month at The TBR Pile, received a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention, and won Third Place Favorite Novel of the Year at Urban Book Reviews.
Why do you think the readers love the Cozzi Cove beach series so much?
Joe: Cozzi Cove is a magical place, where nothing is what it seems and anything can happen.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Joe: My mother told me she was in labor for twenty hours, and it’s all my fault.
I mean professionally. After college, you were an actor, which I’m guessing is why so many of your characters have a theatrical bent.
Joe: I acted in film, television, and theatre, working opposite stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards.
Can you give us an example?
Joe: I did an ABC-TV movie called My Mother Was Never a Kid and I was on the NBC-TV daytime drama, Another World. So I met lots of fascinating and unusual people.
What were Nathan Lane and Rosie O’Donnell like?
Joe: Very funny and quite kind.
Then you became a playwright and finally a novelist. What do your colleagues and students at your college say about your books?
Joe: My colleagues want me to kill them in a Nicky and Noah mystery, and my students want me to cancel class so they can vacation at Cozzi Cove.
Why did you write the Cozzi Cove series?
Joe: My sister and I as kids would grumble through the school year waiting for our annual summer trip to 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. All those places and experiences are in the novels set in a 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, and I know you will too.
After Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, 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. It was like visiting good old friends to further develop the characters in book four.
What is a cove?
Joe: The 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 gorgeous bay of turquoise water shielded by large rocks in the distance and smaller rocks near the water’s edge.
What is the storyline of Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings?
Joe: Cal Cozzi opens his string of seven guest bungalows on Cozzi Cove for the fourth summer. We are treated to five interwoven stories about Cal, his family, his friends, and his guests.
Tell us more about the main characters and how they change in book four.
Joe: Handsome and sexy ex-football player Cal Cozzi is now thirty-three years old, and still enjoying his role as owner and manager of his family’s guest bungalows. In book four, Cal finds his great-grandfather’s diary, exposing a shocking surprise. Cal and his husband, Michael Rodgers, an African American recent college graduate in journalism, are expecting a baby.
Cal has a new houseboy, blond and muscular Billy Dean, a red letter Christian college student who signed a chastity pledge in his hometown Alabama. Obviously, that doesn’t last very long at Cozzi Cove.
Cal’s 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 her brother. Taylor’s wife, Carla, plays a pivotal role in book four as she is the surrogate for Cal and Michael’s baby. Michael and Taylor weigh new job opportunities that could take them away from Cozzi Cove.
Bisexual guest Nijad can’t decide which sibling guest he prefers: Annabel or Andrew. An occult enthusiast guest, Jonathan, encounters a sexy vampire at the cove. As usual, nothing is what it seems as secrets are revealed and romances blossom in the magical place called Cozzi Cove.
What is the moral of the story?
Joe: We are all connected to our past, present, and futures.
Who is your favorite character in Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings and why?
Joe: That’s like picking a favorite child, though my mother would have no problem picking my sister the accountant who has a “real” job. I love all of the characters, but Cal holds a special place in my heart. I adore his honesty, courage in the face of adversity, and loyalty to his husband, family, friends, and guests. Cal’s connection to his ancestor who built Cozzi Cove is explored in the new book.
Which one of your characters was the most fun to write? And why?
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.
Which character was the most difficult to write? And why?
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.
Are you Cal, Michael your spouse, and 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. Taylor in Cozzi Cove is very much like my sister, though my sister won’t admit it—in public.
Cal and Michael, and all of the characters, reach a surprising plateau in their relationship.
Joe: That’s Cozzi Cove for you, just when you think you’ve figured it out, there’s a game changer.
Will there be more Cozzi Cove novels?
Joe: If I can keep waking up at 3am with new ideas.
The novels are quite dramatic and the stories are seamlessly intercut. At times they read like a film or television show. Did you do that on purpose?
Joe: Definitely. I love writing quirky and endearing characters in scenes full of emotion with lengthy dialogue. 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.
There are also a number of love scenes. How did you go about writing them?
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.
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.
What advice would you give to other writers in your genres?
Joe: Don’t listen to the naysayers. Don’t try to copy anyone else’s style. Discover what’s special about you and your stories and write them without inhibitions. If one publisher isn’t interested, send them to the next. it. Finally, don’t forget the humor! In your books and in your life.
As a college professor/department head, how do you have the time to write?
Joe: I write at night after my spouse has gone to bed. I have a beautiful cherry wood study with a fireplace, huge desk, bookcases, and window seat overlooking the woods like Martin Anderson, the department head in my Nicky and Noah mysteries. When I complain about my schedule, my mother says, “Just think how hard you would work if you had a real job, like your sister.”
How long does it generally take you to write a book?
Joe: About three months working evenings and weekends.
What is your writing process?
Joe: Jumping up awake in the middle of the night, I jot notes on my nightstand with a new book idea. The next day I begin a biography for each character and eventually a plot summary. I write the first draft, then show the second draft to my spouse for his notes. The third draft goes to the publisher. The fourth is after notes from the publisher’s editor.
You currently work with four different publishers. How do you find the right publisher for each book?
Joe: It’s not unusual to see writers working with different publishers as the writer embarks on writing in different genres and styles. I search for the best publisher for the style of each book or series.
How do you promote your books?
Joe: I have an active Facebook page, Twitter account, and Goodreads blog. I’ve also built up a list of contacts to send review copies and blog posts. My favorite thing, however, is to do interviews like this one.
Tell us about your other gay romance releases.
Joe: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press) are loosely based on my high school and college years respectively. They were so popular as individual e-books, Dreamspinner Press published them together in one paperback. I got my own anthology! I still receive comments from readers that those stories made them laugh, cry, feel romantic, and changed their lives. They say your first is your most precious. Just ask my mother about my sister.
A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press) is my cherished holiday short novella 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 (Dreamspinner Press) 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. The award-winning Joel Leslie did all of the audiobooks.
The Cozzi Cove novels have mysterious elements, but you also have two mystery series.
Joe: Right. My Nicky and Noah mystery series (Lethe Press) are farcical, gay, cozy, who-dun-its. In Drama Queen 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 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. Michael Gilboe and Chip Hurley did the wildly entertaining first and second audiobooks.
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. Charissa Clark Howe is doing the terrific audiobooks.
How can your readers contact you?
Joe: I love hearing from readers! They can contact me at my website or any of the social media links below.
So grab your Speedos, suntan lotion, and shades and head back to Cozzi Cove. Cal Cozzi has a bungalow waiting just for you. I hope to see you there!
About New Beginnings
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.
“But it’s not just about the Cozzi’s and the webs they weave, it’s also about the Guests that check-in and check-out. But they never check out of our hearts. We as readers, remember every one of them – they are the real beauty of Cozzi Cove together with this author’s amazing talent – he makes these OTT characters stay with us, his characterization is just phenomenal and therefore great fun to read, I never chuckle as much as I do as when I’m reading a Cosentino.”—Three Books Over the Rainbow
“I love this series and hope it continues, after all, every year comes with a summer and Cozzi Cove will always be open for business.”—Books Laid Bare Boys
“Loved, loved, loved it! The Cozzi Cove stories have a great mix of drama, angst, romance, and sex. There is something for everyone.”—TTC Books and More
Joe is a professor and currently the head of a department at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming releases are Satin Doll & China Doll Jana Lane mysteries (Wild Rose Press), Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), and Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (NineStar Press). Joe was also 2nd Place reader-voted Best MM Author of 2015 in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards.