Hello all! Please welcome the fabulous, multi-talentd author Joe Cosentino who’s dropped by to answer a few questions and share an excerpt from his latest release An Infatuation!
Hello, Joe. What was the most challenging part of writing this story?
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.
Is there a genre you haven’t written in that you would love to write?
I’ve written plays, children’s plays, straight mystery/romance (PAPER DOLL, Whiskey Creek Press), and MM romance/humor (AN INFATUATION). My next project is an MM mystery/romance/humor series set in the world of academia. Since I am a college professor, I know that world quite well. Happily, nobody has been murdered at my college—yet. I am finishing the first three novels, DRAMA QUEEN, DRAMA MUSCLE, and DRAMA CRUISE.
If you were stranded on a desert island (food and water provided), what three things would you take with you?
First I’d take my spouse, because we take good care of each other. Next, would be my bed since I’m not one to rough it. Finally, my computer, because I can’t stop writing!
Do you have a designated writing area at home? What’s it like?
I have a cozy study with a fireplace, window seat, and a cherry wood desk.
What’s a typical writing day like for you?
Since I am a college professor and busy during the day, I write late at night. I find being a little tired helps me not to stifle my thoughts, and allows for open creativity. Sometimes I’m surprised the next day at what I’ve written!
What are you working on now?
I’m writing a sequel to PAPER DOLL called PORCELAIN DOLL. It’s about an ex-child star, now middle aged, making a comeback film, and finding herself at the hands of a murderer as well as a handsome co-star.
Why did you decide to write M/M Romance?
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 that all the troublemakers had become police officers, and all the homophobes had come out as gay. AN INFATUATION was born.
What did you enjoy most about writing the story?
While the situation is fictitious, Harold is based on me, so that was fun. 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. I also love the anti-bullying message of the story.
What are you finding to be the most challenging part of being a published author?
Finding the time to write, submit, and publicize my work. My spouse teases me that he’s my assistant.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author looking to get published?
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. If you are writing a mystery, carefully place clues and red herrings throughout, culminating with a logical ending. Finally, until gays have equal civil rights, a little politicking never hurt.
Title: An Infatuation
Cover Artist: Christy Caughie
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Gay Romance, Contemporary, Bittersweet
Release Date: Feb 4th, 2015
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 at their ten-year high school reunion, the old flame reignites. Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future.
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.
Joe Cosentino is the author of the acclaimed mystery novel, Paper Doll (Whiskey Creek 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. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote a musical theatre adaptation of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals), and 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 and Drama Queen.