An Interview-style post with Joe Cosentino for his e-book novella:THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND published by Dreamspinner Press
Welcome, Joe Cosentino. This is your premiere visit.
I feel like a virgin. Hah.
You are with us today to talk about your new e-book novella, THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND. How did you think up that title?
It sure caught your attention didn’t it?
It comes from the first story, my gay take on my favorite fairytale, Cinderella. In my version Cinder meets a naked stranger in the woods who just happens to turn out to be Prince Charming.
Why is he naked?
You’ll have to read the story to find out, but I promise it’s a doozy.
AN INFATUATION, your first e-book novella with Dreamspinner Press, won 2nd Place for Best MM Novel in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Poll Awards of 2015, and you won 2nd Place for Best LGBT Author. How did that make you feel?
Incredibly grateful, giddy, thrilled, and fueled to write more. A big thank you hug to everyone who voted me. It was especially gratifying since AN INFATUATION is my first book, and it’s loosely based on my time in high school and at my high school reunion. It fills my heart to know that so many people love it. They tell me it made them laugh, cry, feel romantic, and changed their lives. What more could an author want? My second Dreamspinner Press novella, A SHOOTING STAR, loosely based on my time as a theatre major in college, and AN INFATUATION are doing so well that Dreamspinner Press is publishing them together in paperback releasing March 21.
Do you like working with Dreamspinner Press?
Every person who works there is amazing and wonderful. They really care about authors and are incredibly supportive. They also have high standards and always shoot for the gay gold, constantly looking for ways to improve.
Your next Dreamspinner Press novella was A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, loosely based on your trip to magical, gorgeous, romantic Capri, Italy. Now THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND. Why fairytales?
Who doesn’t love fairytales? As a kid my older sister read them to me in bed every night before sleep. I was completely entranced by the beautiful stories of peasants becoming princes and princesses and finding true love. The gorgeous locations, wit, wonder, drama, and happy endings filled my young mind like beans in a counting jar. I wanted to live in those palaces, meet the charming princes, and bring financial equality to those kingdoms. I learned how to read by reading those cherished, worn fairytale books. I continued reading them as a teenager and read them now as adult.
What led you to, as they say in THE PRODUCERS, “keep it gay?”
As I read and reread my favorite fairytales, I was saddened to see no openly gay characters in any of my favorite stories. I asked myself, ‘Why aren’t there any gay people in fairyland? Why couldn’t a peasant boy fall in love with a prince? Wouldn’t a tired, hungry, homeless blond boy seek refuge in a house with three bears? What was Pinocchio’s growing appendage trying to tell him? Did Jack enjoy his time with the Giant more than he let on? Could the Snow Queen be a handsome, frigid prince? What’s the good of fairy dust without any fairies?’ I hope the movie industry comes along for the ride soon as well. Imagine the self-esteem of a gay kid or gay parent never seeing anyone like him/her in fairytales?
Okay, what are your stories about?
“The Naked Prince” is a different take on the Cinderella story. Cinder, a poor and beautiful young man who designs clothing, makeup, and hair for his stepmother and stepsisters, offers his clothing and slippers to a naked stranger in the woods who turns out to be none other than Prince Charming. Will Cinder and Prince Charming confront their manipulative mothers, bring equality to the kingdom, find themselves, and find one another? In “The Golden Rule,” when he is caught with nimble Jack, eighteen-year-old Gideon Golden is thrown out of his home in Fairyland by his homophobic parents. With nowhere else to go, he breaks into the home of three men living on Bear Mountain. Bo and Butch enjoy having a young roommate, but Ben isn’t convinced. Will Gideon and Ben make vinegar or honey? “Whatever Happened To … ?” takes place on Christmas Eve. A reporter living on Andersen Lane interviews a celebrity for the Queen Newspaper series, “What Ever Happened To … .” Friction ensues between the celebrity with the growing appendage who can’t tell fact from fiction, and the reporter who has a thing for giants. Eventually a romantic spark is lit between the two as Christmas Day arrives, and they realize they have more in common than living in Fairyland. Finally in “Ice Cold,” after losing their families during the great ice storm in the northernmost kingdom of Fairyland, young Gaelen and Kieran pledged their love for one another. When Isidore rides into Frost Village on his elaborate sleigh, Kieran follows the handsome prince to his castle in Arctic Kingdom, where Kieran becomes Isidore’s bewitched slave. This leads Gaelen on an amazing adventure to find his true love and melt his frozen heart. The stories are full of romance, humor, and adventure.
Tell us more about the main characters.
Cinder is sweet, giving, kind, and totally devoted to his family. He wants nothing more than to see them happy. Due to his selflessness, the spirits of his two deceased dads grant him a wish to go to the king and queen’s ball. Prince Charming is handsome, strong, and of course—charming. Like Cinder he wants to help the poor in his kingdom, but he doesn’t know how to do it. That’s where Cinder comes in. Cinder and Prince Charming are perfect foils and perfect soulmates.
Gideon begins as a selfish teenager. Thanks to Ben (the mature and hunky brother on Bear Mountain), Gideon learns the true meaning of love and family.
Pinocchio and Jack learn in their story to transcend their pasts and love themselves, and each other, again.
Gaelen is a sheltered young man who finds his inner strength to save his love, Kiernan, from the wicked Prince Isidore. Along the way he is tempted by three handsome men in the forest, but his heart always belongs to Kiernan.
What is the moral of the novella?
Everyone is welcome in Fairyland, and everyone deserves love and happiness.
Who is your favorite character in THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND and why?
I love all of them, but my favorite are Cinder’s funny, sweet, devoted dads. I want to play Mortimer in the animated movie!
Which one of your characters was the hardest one to write and why?
“Ice Cold” was a stretch for me since unlike most of my other work it is a fantasy epic. I enjoyed it though and I love all of the colorful characters Gaelen meets on his journey.
Which one of your characters did you enjoy writing the most and why?
Gideon sparing with Ben was a blast. Those two really heated things up.
How do you handle writing love scenes?
Lovemaking is a part of life, so it makes sense to include love scenes in novels. The love scenes in this novella are as beautiful and magical as the stories.
Didn’t you start out as an actor?
I am currently a college theatre professor/department head (like Martin Anderson in my Nicky and Noah mysteries). Prior to that I acted with Holland Taylor in the ABC-TV movie MY MOTHER WAS NEVER A KID, Charles Keating on NBC-TV’s ANOTHER WORLD, Jason Robards in a Commercial Credit Computer commercial, Rosie O’Donnell in an AT&T Industrial, and Bruce Willis and Nathan Lane in plays on stage.
Tell us about the Nicky and Noah mysteries. And congratulations for DRAMA QUEEN winning Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Poll Best MM Mystery, Best Crime, Best Contemporary, and Best Humorous Book of 2015!
Thank you! Again I am overwhelmed and elated about that. The Nicky and Noah mystery series from Lethe Press is a farcical, gay, cozy, who-dun-it. 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. 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 (not released yet), 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.
Do you write MF fiction as well?
Yes, I also have a mystery series, the Jana Lane mysteries, with straight leading characters and gay supporting characters. In PAPER DOLL (Whiskey Creek Press), 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. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. She also embarks on a romance with the devilishly handsome son of her old producer, Rocco Cavoto. In PORCELAIN DOLL (The Wild Rose Press releasing March 15), Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, Jason Apollo. In SATIN DOLL (not yet released from The Wild Rose Press), 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. She also embarks on a romance with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. In CHINA DOLL (not yet released from The Wild Rose Press), Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, enchanted by her gorgeous co-star Peter Stevens, and faced with murder on stage and off. Since the novels 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.
Is it difficult plotting the clues?
It’s really great fun—and an incredible amount of work planning the clues, red herrings, plot twists and turns, and surprise but justifiable ending. I also keep in mind that a good mystery also includes strong characters, romance, comedy, drama, and interesting locations.
What are you writing now?
I have a new series of novels in a gay beach resort called Cozzi Cove. Though I hide under a beach umbrella due to my fair skin, I love the beach! Nine Star Press is publishing COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK and COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD soon about handsome Cal Cozzi and his gay resort at the New Jersey shore.
As a college professor/department head, how do you have the time to write?
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. My mother asked me, “Don’t you have anything better to do than write at night?” I wonder if Shakespeare’s mother asked him that? Hah.
How long does it generally take you to write a book?
About three months.
What is your writing process?
I write a plot summary and biography for each character. Sometimes I write an outline and other times I wing it. I show the second draft to my spouse for his notes. The third draft goes to the publisher.
How can your readers contact you?
I love hearing from readers. They can contact me at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
As was his custom, Cinder sat at the fireplace, lit a candle, and placed his pet mouse from the jar onto his lap. He closed his eyes and asked his fathers to help him get to the ball to give his stepsister her missing apparel for her dance with the prince. Suddenly the flame of the candle flickered, and Cinder heard his fathers’ voices. Cinder’s father Maxwell, told him how much he missed him. Cinder’s other father, Mortimer, reminded Maxwell that he missed Cinder too. Maxwell explained to Cinder that he was safe and happy in the other world. Mortimer interjected that Maxwell should not forget that Mortimer was safe and happy in the other world with Maxwell. It was the most comforting moment of Cinder’s life, except for meeting the young man in the meadow.
Maxwell then said, “Cinder, my son, whom I love more than anything in all creation, your fathers have been granted one night, and one night only, with the power to help you. And we have chosen this night.”
“Tell our boy what we are going to do for him,” said Cinder’s other father Mortimer.
Maxwell explained that Cinder would attend the prince’s ball.
Cinder could not believe what he was hearing. At first he thought it was a dream, but no dream could ever be so wonderful. Knowing his stepsister must be heartbroken without her hat and bag, Cinder hoped he could get them to her before she danced with the prince.
“Tell Cinder the stipulation, Maxwell.”
“I was just about to do that, Mortimer.” Then Maxwell said to Cinder with tenderness in his voice, “My son—”
“He’s my son too, Maxwell,” added Cinder’s other father.
After taking a calming breath, Maxwell continued. “Our son, the great force has granted me—”
Mortimer cleared his throat.
“Has granted us the special power to send you to the prince’s ball, but the power will last for one night only. At the stroke of midnight, everything will return back to the way it was.”
Cinder was incredibly grateful to his fathers. He wanted more than anything to tell them how much he loved them and to ask them so many questions, including whether they could help him see the young man from the meadow again. But before Cinder could speak, a slight breeze grazed his cheek. The breeze grew slowly and steadily in intensity and finally became a gust of wind as Cinder’s burlap clothing magically transformed into an exquisite powder blue suit, ruffled shirt, and handkerchief. Cinder looked down at his feet and noticed the mouse’s pickling jar had been transformed into handsome glass slippers. The wind continued to grow until it threw open the cottage door, carrying a pumpkin from the root vegetable bin and Cinder’s pet mouse with it. Cinder hurried outside and marveled as the pumpkin turned into a stunning gold coach and the pet mouse expanded into a handsome coachman. The squirrel, chipmunk, rabbit, and blue jay frolicked in the wind until they became four striking white horses.