Author: Isaac Constantine
Genre: Literary fiction
Publisher: MP Publishing
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Format: eBook & Print
“A child petrified by the shadows in his bedroom. A boy shrinking from the anger of his father. A wandering adolescent who sees the Twin Towers as the legs of an interplanetary god. A new adult battered by the absence of that god.
Burdened by the weight of the past and the uncertainty of the future, Jeremiah sets out in search of the answers to his own mysteries, embarking on a journey that will carry him from the raves of New York to the Latin tropics to Israel's Independence Hall, and back to an autumn evening in The Sheep Meadow when the world was still whole.
A story of fathers and sons, self and shadows, Jeremiah's Ghost traces the path of a young man through a landscape where memory is just another kind of fiction.”
A genre-bending coming-of-age odyssey.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
I generate lots of material from my personal experience, which is inseparable from my imagination. My early stories featured characters and scenarios I invented, though each was modeled in part on a person I knew. Jeremiah, my novel’s protagonist, is a stand in for me in many ways, and like most artists I have a vivid imagination. That affords me the chance to indulge and describe my fantasies freely while keeping the work grounded in realism.
Have you ever co-written book/books? If so was it difficult? If not would you ever consider co-writing with another author?
I worked once as a ghostwriter, and another time as a co-author on projects that went unrealized. Both experiences were frustrating for several and obvious reasons. Today I’m open to collaboration, though I insist on payment upfront. It’s not fun working fifty hours on a book for a major publisher only to have the “author” or co-author back out. When an editor sends you through bureaucratic hoops to collect a paycheck, until you give up in frustration, it adds insult to injury.
Where do you get your character names from?
I choose names that seem to both describe and inflect a character’s essence. People have all kinds of associations with names, and it’s impossible to anticipate or control how thousands of readers will respond to them. At the same time I think it’s possible to use names to evoke a certain feeling, and characters’ names tend to alter or punctuate the meaning of their stories, if that makes sense.
What type of research goes into your writing?
Very little went into my novel. I read a lot on the history of Israel for the chapter where Jeremiah visits. I’ve been to Israel, too, but it was important for me to try to keep my facts straight around themes that are inescapably political and potentially combustive. My next project involves a great deal of research. I do a lot of it at home on the internet, in books and print articles that I read, and the rest through field research – experiential learning, visiting and immersing myself in various communities, talking to people, hearing their stories, participating in their rituals, adapting to their cultures, etc.
Are your family and friends supportive of your writing?
Not always. I have a small group of close friends whose support I can rely on unconditionally. I’m lucky to have them. The life of a writer is difficult with that support; without it, life would be unbearable.
Do you remember when your interest in writing came about?
At 18 I arrived at a point where I needed a creative outlet for my emotional storms. I drew and painted a lot in my youth and gravitated more to the visual arts. I preferred paintings to poems and movies to books. Then, as a late-teen, my relationship to language changed. I felt certain for the first time in my life that I had something to say. Writing presented itself as the obvious path on my quest to discover my most authentic and powerful voice.
Other than writing what are your interest?
My interests are varied and change often. I trained in martial arts for a few years – Muay Thai mostly and a bit of Jiu Jitso – and I’m doing a lot of strength and fitness training now to prepare for competition at the amateur level. I’d like to fight in Thailand someday and write about it. I’m culturally and spiritually curious and adventurous, so I like to travel a lot both within and outside of the state of California, where I reside currently. I had a regular, almost-daily meditation practice for years, and trained to be a meditation instructor, though I left the school I was studying at after completing my teacher training. I took up yoga a few months ago to manage stress and correct my skeletal alignment from years of typing on my laptop. I love nature, though I haven’t enjoyed it enough lately. I’m a passionate activist, too. I was involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement and I’ve been fighting corruption in business and politics, and advocating for social and economic justice ever since.
Did you learn anything from writing your books, if so what was it?
“You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table. There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.”
What are your current WIP? Can you share with us?
Saving The World Through Touch: a Lover’s Guide to Revolution is part transformational-memoir, part political treatise. It’s a personal account of my divorce, my move my from New York to California, and the infinite shifts that occurred in my life when I left the city I’d lived in for 29 years to start a new life. It’s a work of personal adventure and political journalism written like a novel – with all the tools and dramatic conceits of a novel. I’ve been writing the first draft on Facebook in collaboration with some friends of mine. It’s an experiment, to say the least. It will be epic.
Indian, Italian and Mexican lately
I don’t have a favorite color.
See Kenny Rogers…
Too many favorites to name.
This or That
Day or Night
Rain or Snow
Facebook or Twitter
Mac or PC
Coffee or Tea
Where did the inspiration for this story come from? What is the story behind the story so to speak?
It’s a story I’ve wanted to tell since I was an undergrad. I might have first had the idea during my year away from school. I was sent home for a year after one semester. Back home in NYC, for the first time in my life I became aware of having experiences that I thought would make good stories, which I wanted to tell. When I returned to school I enrolled in an intro to fiction course. In truth, I was turned away when I first applied. It was, and remains a competitive course at my school, with a great professor. But I got in the Fall semester of my junior year, which is when I wrote the earliest draft of a story that many years later merged with and became a chapter in my novel. And Jim Shepard, my undergraduate fiction professor, wrote me a great blurb for the front cover. Thanks, Jimbo!
Tell us about the book cover. How does it represent your book? How did you choose the artwork?
I met the artist at a book fair in San Francisco. He was selling etchings, or lithographs of the image. I was looking for cover art at the time and the image seemed perfect. My publisher had to crop it to fit it on the cover, which is unfortunate because the symbolism is less apparent in the reduced image. If you look closely at the reflection of trees in the water you see the façade of the Twin Towers. It’s the artist’s rendering of the reflecting pools at the 9/11 memorial. For me the cover resonates with the 9/11 theme, which is prominent, and with the somber gothic tones of the work itself. It’s a dark book, though there are lighter, happier and more humorous moments throughout. The cover doesn’t suggest that maybe. Never let an author choose his own cover art, I guess. I’m surprised my publisher did. Their description doesn’t help.
Isaac Constantine was born in New York City in 1978. He attended Williams College, where he earned his BA in English, and Columbia University for an MFA in Fiction. Constantine worked briefly in publishing as an editorial assistant at The Paris Review and Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins. He is a blogger, a freelance writer and editor, a veteran of the Occupy Wall Street movement and an activist associated with the Anonymous hacker collective. He lives in San Francisco.
Places to find Isaac
Amazon Author Page
Places to find Jeremiah's Ghost