Today we are pleased to have Joe Cosentino visit to talk about his new release from Dreamspinner Press.
Hello, Joe. What inspired you to start writing, especially your new novella AN INFATUATION?
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. You can see me on You Tube in the ABC-TV movie, MY MOTHER WAS NEVER A KID, about a third of the way through. 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? Think about your first infatuation. There’s nothing more powerful.
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.
How long did it take you to write this novella?
It began as a one-act play, which I expanded and morphed into a novella. So it took many months to write. The story is personal and important to me, so I wanted to get everything just right. Once I was confident that I had achieved just that, a la God, I announced to my spouse, “It is finished!” I have not had a better night’s sleep before or after that night—until I saw the gorgeous book cover!
Who is your favorite character from your novella? And why?
While the situation is fictitious, Harold is based on me, so it’s a no-brainer! 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.
Which one of your characters was the hardest one to write? And why?
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.
Which one of your characters did you enjoy writing the most? And why?
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!
Is Mario based on anyone?
Mario is a combination of many supposedly straight, perfect guys who gay guys so easily become infatuated with every day. I love that the story spans twenty years so we see Harold (and Mario) develop and mature in their special relationship. I also love that Harold and Mario come full circle at their high school reunion.
How can we buy this e-book for $4.99?
Can you tell the readers a little bit about AN INFATUATION?
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.
Can you give an excerpt from AN INFATUATION?
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.
What is your bio?
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 Paulineeducational 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. JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
What are your social media links?
My Website: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
My Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino
My Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00KRPXJP6