An Interview with Jonathan Bello, the leading character in A SHOOTING STAR, one of the two novellas in IN MY HEART (AN INFATUATION and A SHOOTING STAR) now in paperback by Joe Cosentino
published by Dreamspinner Press
Hello, Jonathan Bello, and congratulations on winning the Academy Award for Best Actor!
Thanks so much. I’m looking at the statue right now, still on an incredible high. Me, not the statue.
I’m guessing you are also excited that Joe Cosentino immortalized your college days in a novella, A SHOOTING STAR, part of the IN MY HEART series.
I sure am. And, if I do say so myself, it’s quite a story.
You are certainly a handsome man. Since our readers can’t see you, tell them what you look like.
I have chestnut curly hair and eyes to match. My fans say I’m handsome. Since I work out with a personal trainer every day in my home gym, I’m pretty muscular. I’m also Italian-American and come from a hysterically funny family. When I told my mother I wanted to be an actor, she said, “Take this knife and stick it through my heart!”
A SHOOTING STAR is about your days as a theatre major in college. What was so special about that time in your life that Joe had to immortalize it in print?
Did you ever have an all-consuming, incredibly powerful first love? Well, I’ll tell you about mine. As a freshman I was lucky enough to have a senior as a roommate. Later, I found out luck had nothing to do with it. The whole thing was orchestrated by my incredible roommate, David Star. Since you can’t see back in my memories, I’ll tell you David was twenty-one years old, half Native American with long shiny jet black hair down his neck, and crystal blue eyes. He wore the most amazing clothing and colorful long scarves—and he let me borrow them. David was incredibly muscular, and he taught me how to be the same. I learned everything I know about acting from him. My last name even came from David, he changed it from Falabella to Bello (meaning beautiful in Italian). He was extremely charismatic, and he changed the life of anyone with whom he came in contact. He adored helping, molding, and shaping others—including me. I can describe him as magical, an enigma, and incredibly sexy. Everyone was in love with him, and so was I. David wanted to be a star, and he was in my sky. But David carried an incredible secret. That led to something I think about and regret to this day.
What secret was that?
To find out about my love affair with David, what I regret, and how it all resolved, you’ll have to read A SHOOTING STAR on ebook or partnered with Joe Cosentino’s hit novella AN INFATUATION (2nd Place for Favorite Romance in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Poll Award for 2015) now in paperback. When you do, you’ll also read about Barry, my wildly funny and always loyal scene partner who got me through my classes. Barry was also Jewish and fed me blintzes at late night rehearsals. You’ll also meet my acting professor, the hysterically hypochondriac Professor Katzer. He gave me good advice about acting, and about life. On the dark side, you’ll get to know Terrence, another senior, who was as arrogant and manipulative as he was tall and muscular.
Sounds like a must-read.
It is. I hope everyone will read about David and Jonathan in A SHOOTING STAR (loosely based on Joe’s years as a college theatre major) and also about Harold and Mario in AN INFATUATION (loosely based on Joe’s high school years and ten-year high school reunion). I think they will make you laugh, feel romantic, and maybe even shed a few tears. But don’t worry, I get a happy ending. So does Harold. By the way, though Harold and I told him the whole story, I think Joe Cosentino did an incredible job of writing it.
Are you in any of Joe Cosentino’s other books?
No, but they’re all terrific.
Tell us a bit about them.
Dreamspinner Press also published A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS loosely based on Joe’s trip to the amazing, magical, gorgeous, romantic Island of Capri in Italy, and Joe’s gay take on his favorite fairytales, THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND.
Joe’s Nicky and Noah mystery series from Lethe Press takes place at Treemeadow College, a fictitious white stone Edwardian New England college. Though the novel is a farcical, gay, who-dun-it, as he did with A SHOOTING STAR, Joe was able to think back to his college days and incorporate some of the people and happenings from days gone by. He was also able to use some scenarios, though grossly exaggerated, from his current stint as a college theatre professor/department head. In DRAMA QUEEN (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Mystery, Best Crime, Best Humorous, Best Contemporary novel of 2015) 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 (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.
Joe’s other mystery series, the Jana Lane mysteries, has straight leading characters and gay supporting characters. In PAPER DOLL (Whiskey Creek Press), ex-child star 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. She also embarks on a romance with the devilishly handsome son of her old producer, Rocco Cavoto. In PORCELAIN DOLL (just released by The Wild Rose Press), 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 (coming 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 (coming 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. Joe is currently writing RAGDOLL, where Jana stars in a TV mystery and again life imitates art.
Finally, Joe’s Cozzi Cove beach series begins today with COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK and continues on April 18 with the release of COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD both published by Nine Star Press. Cozzi Cove is a private, gorgeous cove on the New Jersey Shore with bungalows run by ex-professional football player Cal Cozzi as a gay resort. In book one the guests include Mario and Harold, brothers and college students (from AN INFATUATION) who happen to look alike, but couldn’t be more different. Mario is searching for love, and Harold is searching for lust. Josh and Greg, a wealthy older couple, are matchmakers for their handsome son, Christopher. When it comes to Connor, the maid, packed with muscles and a roving sponge, anything can happen and does out on the cove. Opposites attract as wild Tim with the secret past meets shy Mark, and porn star Chuck Caliber connects with Sean, a virgin romance novelist. Finally computer-game designer Arthur has a midnight sea rendezvous with a merman! Even married Cal faces an emotional upheaval when a gay bashing turns into something quite unexpected. Cozzi Cove is a romantic, magical, and enticing place where secrets abound and nothing is what it seems.
Will you be checking into Cozzi Cove?
Joe told me I inspired a character in book 2.
How can readers contact you?
Through Joe, he loves to hear from readers. Please contact him via his web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com. He'll like the company. And tell him Jonathan Bello sent you!
Excerpt of AN INFATUATION by Joe Cosentino
published by Dreamspinner Press
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.
Excerpt of A SHOOTING STAR by Joe Cosentino,
published by Dreamspinner Press
As an Italian-American, I subscribed to my mother’s theory that if someone doesn’t want you to see something, he will hide it in a locked vault covered with cement. So I inadvertently took a quick look at my roommate’s things on the other side of the room. He was incredibly neat. Numerous theater textbooks and play scripts lined his bookshelf in alphabetical order. The bulletin board above his desk displayed artistically arranged programs from various comedy, drama, and musical college productions listing the same male lead in each show: “David Star”.
“Do you always look at other people’s things?”
I nearly got whiplash as he entered the room.
Stammering like a kid caught masturbating by his parents, I said, “I… w-was… ad-m-miring y-your… r-room.”
Though it was a fall September day, he took off his scarf (violet) and rested it on a tall coat-rack, which held scarves in various colors like a department store window display. He was taller than me, with a chiseled, handsome face, and straight, shiny black hair, which fell down his thick neck. I admired his perfectly sculpted muscles, housed in a turquoise designer dress shirt. But what captivated me the most were his piercing crystal-blue eyes—and the enormous bulge in his skin-tight, designer beige pants.
“What’s your name?”
He looked at me like a surgeon examining a tumor. “No, it’s not.”
“It’s Jonathan Bello.” He opened a bureau drawer, pulled out a bottle of hair gel, and tossed it to me. “You should gel your hair.” He opened his closet, revealing a multitude of color-coordinated shirts and slacks, and lay some on my bed. “And you can wear these.”
I looked at his perfectly pressed designer clothes. “Where did you get all these things?”
“They were gifts, mostly.”
“You must have some generous friends…. Sorry, I don’t know your name.”
“I’m David Star.” He took a bow.
Looking back at his play programs, I said, “You must have starred in every play at the college over the last three years.”
“Guilty as charged.”
“What happened to your last roommate?”
“He went to LA over the summer break and started auditioning. He got cast in a new TV sitcom. I hope it takes off. It’s called Cosby.”
“At the orientation session, they said freshmen are housed with other freshmen. How did I get a senior for a roommate?”
His eyes twinkled. “Just lucky I guess.”
“Do you think it was some kind of an administrative error or something?”
“Or something.” He added matter-of-factly, “I asked for a freshman roommate.”
DREAMSPINNER PRESS IS PUBLISHING A PAPERBACK ANTHOLOGY OF JOE COSENTINO’S TWO HIT E-BOOK NOVELLAS!
AN INFATUATION: 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.
Praise for AN INFATUATION (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for 2015: 2nd Place Best MM Romance Novel, 1st Place Best Cover Design):
"The author executed his storyline with a marvelous precision that would be the envy of many authors. He draws the readers into the lives of his characters, they become real and in turn, their emotions becomes yours." "If you can only afford to buy one more book this year, buy this one.” Three Books Over the Rainbow Reviews
"I really loved this book and having an ending that made me laugh and cry at the same time is testament to the brilliant writing." BooksLaidBareBoys
“I think you will be left breathless with the reality and emotion behind An Infatuation.” Diverse Reader
“Don't miss this one friends, it is a heartfelt story magical in the telling! Thanks Joe for putting your heart on the page for us to savor!” Bike Book Reviews
“Author Joe Cosentino brought just the right amount of humor, angst and honesty to make this short but sweet coming of age story a success.” MM Good Book Reviews
“Joe Cosentino proves there’s more than one way to a happy ending in An Infatuation, a story of first love and heartbreak delivered in a fresh and funny voice.” The Novel Approach
“It’s unusual for me to get sucked into a book in the first chapter but it grabbed me early and I read the whole thing in one day”. Nautical Star Books
“I recommend this book to anyone reminiscing about that one that got away.” LoveBytes Reviews
“There were times I laughed and then there were times I cried…unforgettable.” Multitaskingmomma Reviews
“Like an onion, Joe Cosentino's stories have layers. I would really recommend them. This is a Bittersweet novel, but it has laughs-a-plenty despite the sad and ugly lurking beneath the veneer. A truly fabulous read.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“The story kept me turning the pages and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.” “I love that Harold found what he was looking for in life and in a partner and love that he has his HEA. Great read.” Up All Night, Sleep All Day
“just the right dose of humor, honesty, and of course, sweet romance” Readers’ Favorite
A SHOOTING STAR: On the eve of the best night of his life, winning an Academy Award, Jonathan Bello thinks back to his one great love, David Star. Flipping back the pages of time, Jonathan recalls his handsome, muscular, and charismatic college roommate. Since Jonathan was a freshman and David a senior in the Theatre Department, David took Jonathan under his wing and molded him, not only as an actor but as a lover. With every wonderful new adventure, David left his joyful mark on anyone with whom they came in contact, but Jonathan soon uncovered David’s dark past, leading to a shocking event. Undaunted, Jonathan celebrates the captivating man who will always hold a special place in his heart.
Praise for A SHOOTING STAR:
“unbelievably beautiful” “a masterpiece” Lovebytes Reviews
“heart-wrenchingly beautiful, that no words I possess in my vocabulary would do it justice” “Again Joe Cosentino drew me into his wonderful world of part fact/part fiction/loosely based on his own experiences world – a world as a reader I love to enter, time and time again.” Three Books over the Rainbow
“A Shooting Star could easily function as a master class in how to write short fiction (or any fiction). Joe Cosentino has provided a work that will leave you thinking and wanting to savor and re-read it again and again.” GGR Reviews
"This is a bittersweet love story, so don’t be surprised if you find tears running down your face when a shining and burning star is extinguished too soon. But, as Joe Cosentino proves time and time again, with his wonderful writing and storytelling ability, love will prevail, and you will smile from ear to ear." Kathy Mac Reviews
“For those readers looking for something a little bit different - dare I say unique? For those readers who like to laugh. For those readers who appreciate the nuances of people and the way each character is different. For those readers who want to read a damn good story - check out this author. I'm glad I did.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“Cosentino has another winning heartbreaker with A Shooting Star.” Prism Book Alliance.
“Yes, it is a bittersweet story but it is one that still has hope and love.” Hearts on Fire Reviews
“This story just blew me away.” “If you like something different from time to time, a bittersweet story, actors, college men, and a very sweet romance I highly recommend this.” Cathy Brockman Romance/MM Good Book Reviews
“From the beginning I was enthralled and couldn’t wait to finish the book.” Inked Rainbow Reads
“really grabs you and tugs at your emotions” “unique and enjoyable.” Nautical Star Books
“a sophisticated, enthralling and suspenseful tale with a gothic vibe and a multi-layered execution that will have you sitting up and taking notice. This is polished prose at its best. Intelligent writing, a thought-provoking plot and characters befitting the theater genre make A Shooting Star one of my favorite reads this year.” Love’s Last Refuge Reviews
“a beautifully written story, full of life, love, heartbreak, tragedy, and maybe most importantly, triumph.” Readers’ Favorite
Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Drama Queen and Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah mysteries (Lethe Press), Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (NineStar Press), Paper Doll (Whiskey Creek Press) and Porcelain Doll (Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries, 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, Charles Keating, 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 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 voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015.
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Christy Caughie & L.C. Chase