About Santino Hassell

Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

The Science Teacher – Meet Nunzio

By |July 14th, 2015|

Last week we saw an excerpt that summed up Michael, so let’s go ahead and do Nunzio Medici as well:

The crush of people in the car intensified, and Nunzio moved closer until we were squished against the door. He didn’t hesitate to align our bodies until we were chest to chest, his mouth brushing my ear. I let him lean into me and didn’t pull away like I normally did when he showed these public displays of affection.

Nunzio was oblivious to the curious stares his touchy-feely nature garnered, but homophobes were generally reluctant to mess with two guys over six feet, no matter how much he cuddled me. And I couldn’t deny that I’d missed it.

“I wish I’d been here with you,” he said. “I shouldn’t have gone.”

“I wouldn’t have let you stay.”

“Like you could have stopped me?”

Nunzio is a Queens-born Italian American who refuses to show the lingering battle scars from his rough-and-tumble childhood. He won’t change for anyone and rarely bites his tongue, but he’s also one of the most affectionate characters I’ve ever written. Nunzio doesn’t take crap from anybody but when he loves, he loves hard. And he isn’t shy about showing it.

If I had to describe Nunzio in three ways it would be fiercely loyal, charming, and he’s a very… ardent lover (he’s also an ENFJ personality type).

Nunzio is the friend who would be there for you no matter what.

By the time I stopped talking my voice had a ragged edge and Nunzio was rubbing my back, his strong hand an anchor that kept me from sliding off the barstool and succumbing to weariness and resignation. I wished I’d just waited for Nunzio in his apartment where I could bask in his affection without an audience.

The devilish charmer every dude would be jealous of if he wasn’t so damn likeable.

Nunzio’s smile was infectious, and he couldn’t stop himself from casually touching people when he talked, not that anyone ever minded.

He’d always been the charming one of our duo. The one who could get an allegedly straight frat boy to drop his pants with no more than a suggestive comment and a raised brow. It was a talent that had kept him away from long-term relationships for most of our adult life.

And the kind of guy who could potentially get you off just by talking dirty.

“Just have fun with me. No one’s gonna know.”

“It’s not that.” I swallowed again, and my eyes slid shut when he dove in, mouth attacking my throat and sucking on the bobbing lump of my Adam’s apple. “Jesus Christ, Nunzio. What’s with you?”

His tongue dragged along the rough stubble on my throat. “Just really horny, and you’re right here. And I haven’t stopped thinking about stretching that ass out since July.”

Nunzio gives 200% of himself when it comes to his career and his relationships but unfortunately for him that sometimes backfires. Although he can come off as devil-may-care and even arrogant, Nunzio is sensitive. His feelings get hurt easily and when they do, he won’t hesitate to let you know that you’re the one causing him pain.

He walked out of his parents’ lives when they refused to accept who he is, so he’s very cautious with the remaining people he cares about. Especially Michael. It takes a lot for Nunzio to give up and walk away from someone, but if he feels he is being taken for granted… Well, it may get to that point.

You’ll learn more about Nunzio when SUTPHIN BOULEVARD is released on July 31. You can pre-order now, and don’t forget to enter the big-ass SB giveaway! There’s 2 days left, and you have the chance to win a teacher survival pack, a signed paperback, and exclusive SB merch.

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The History Teacher — Meet Michael (and enter a giveaway)

By |July 9th, 2015|

This excerpt is a good introduction to Michael Rodriguez, the main character of SUTPHIN BOULEVARD:SutphinBoulevard- FINAL SMALL

“The guy in the striped shirt wants to buy you a shot.”

Miranda’s voice jerked me out of my reverie. I hadn’t even noticed her approach.

“I already have a drink.”

She nodded at the other end of the bar. “He thinks you look sad.”

I didn’t pick myself up from my slouch against the bar, face still braced in one open palm. I peered past her—the guy in question was giving me an appreciative grin. He was good-looking, but I wasn’t in the mood to hear anything a buttoned-up yuppie had to say, especially not when I was unkempt, unshaved, and sweating in a torn-up T-shirt. Misery might love company, but Rodriguez men historically liked to suffer in silence—preferably with a bottle of rum while listening to Héctor Lavoe.

“He looks like a banker.”

“Close. He’s an accountant.”

“Sounds thrilling.” I turned away again, lifting my mug. “Tell him I’m straight.”

Michael is a thirty-two year old history teacher who was born and raised in Jamaica, Queens. If the people on his block would tell you anything about him, they’d say Michael is one blunt mother****er. He doesn’t bullshit you. If he’s not interested, he’ll let you know. But if he is? Watch out. He’s not shy about asserting himself professionally or romantically (unless you’re his best friend of twenty years and then things get… complicated and he’s a lot less sure of himself).

Three characteristics to describe Michael would be dedicated, passionate, and a liiiittle high-strung (he’s also an ISTJ personality for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing).

He’s the dutiful son even though his family drives him insane.

I heaved an exasperated sigh. “Ray, just tell me what you want.”

“We got family shit.”

Raymond had this amazing ability to annoy the hell out of me with just one sentence and very little information. We used to be close enough to be friends as well as brothers, but that had changed after I’d moved back to our childhood home in Queens to help take care of our mother.

The hard-ass History teacher at McCleary High School who clearly cares a lot about his students.

I ignored the dawning look of horror on his face and jerked my thumb at an orange textbook on my desk. “Don’t give me that face, because this is a good deal. And I can tell you now that this is a one-shot deal. I don’t believe in magical makeup packets and get-out-of-p.m.-school-free cards for kids who can’t be bothered to show up. You feel me?”

“Yeah, I feel you, mister.” Shawn leaned against the desk behind him. “But what if I don’t finish in time?”

“You have no choice.”

“Yeah, but what if I can’t?”

I snorted. “Stop making excuses before you even try.”

But he’s also that guy who wants to carry everything but sometimes buckles under the weight bearing down on his shoulders.

Try as I might to convince them, Raymond wouldn’t get a job, my father wouldn’t stop drinking, and my childhood home was all but falling apart. The fact was cemented by the handful of bills in the mailbox—one was a cut-off notice for the electricity, another was a letter from the bank reminding me I was late paying the mortgage.
I crumpled the envelopes in my hand, shame warring with frustration after I stepped into the house.

Michael thinks he can handle it. He thinks if he has a plan, he’ll have things well in hand. And usually that works out for him, but when it doesn’t… Well, then he both withdraws and gets lost in his thoughts, or he seeks escape.

Escape Route #1: Going to the bar.
Escape Route #2: Sex with aforementioned best friend.

A couple of months ago, the most physical we’d gotten was lying next to each other during a Breaking Bad marathon and eating off the same plate, but it took roughly ninety seconds for Nunzio to convince me to strip and lie on my back with my thighs spread wide.

Sounds intense, right? Well, he is. He’s an intense dude at work, with his family, and in the bedroom. Let’s just say he’s a very… giving lover. Especially when he’s hooking up with a guy who has Sinatra baby blues, a killer smile, and a dirty mouth. A guy named Nunzio. But you’ll meet him next week.

You’ll learn more about Michael when SUTPHIN BOULEVARD is released on July 31, but for now you can pre-order and enter this super dope giveaway for the chance to win a Teacher’s Survival Pack (filled with exclusive merch, random goodies and supplies a NYC public teacher might need), an I <3 SUTPHIN BOULEVARD T-shirt (wrinkles optional), and a signed paperback:


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that cover tho.

By |July 2nd, 2015|

So, some exciting things are in the works. SUTPHIN BOULEVARD comes out in 30 days and it’s up for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press, but let’s pause on that for a minute to discuss that cover.


SutphinBoulevard- FINAL SMALL

And let’s also give credit where credit is due. It was designed by Natasha Snow, the photography is courtesy of the extremely talented Mel Seser, and the badass (and gorgeous) Juan Forgia is the model. Working with them has been fantastic. I seriously couldn’t have asked for a more talented group of people to set the tone for the Five Boroughs series.

That being said, creating the cover for this book was challenging. I wanted to represent the main character of SUTPHIN BOULEVARD, which meant I needed a Latino model. It didn’t take long to realize stock image websites are not the most diverse places. They have very limited options and none of them worked unless I made multiple concessions regarding the look and mood of the cover.

The only option was to license an image on my own, but finding the right model and photographer wasn’t a walk in the park. To help me with the process, I turned to Lenore DiTrani (close friend and super badass editor) and her business savvy. We combed the internet for potential models, narrowed down the list several times, and I wound up licensing two separate photos from two different photographers, but it took a couple of months.

The first image I licensed was of a NY-based model who does a lot of commercial work, but we continued looking around (because seeking physical representations of my characters is sometimes an obsession of mine) and stumbled upon a photo of Juan Forgia.

Not only was he very close to how I imagine Michael Rodriguez—the MC—but I loved his attitude on social media, and we noticed both he and the photographer are from Argentina—a country that is dear to Lenore’s heart. In the end, I went with them not just because Juan was physically perfect for the character, but communicating with Mel Seser was just incredibly easy and enjoyable. She was helpful, enthusiastic, and ensured Juan was 100% in agreement, which was very important to me.

So, that’s the tale of how my vision for SB’s cover was brought to fruition. I’ll be sharing some info on my experiences with custom photography in a future blog post, so look out for that if you’re curious or want some tips.

Also, don’t forget to join my newsletter if you want to be kept up to date with all SB news! Next week I’ll be announcing a badass giveaway with a pretty cool prize.


Natasha Snow: website
Mel Seser: website | Instagram
Juan Forgia: Instagram