Author Interview with Gabriel Constans

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

Gabriel Constans: In addition to writing, I also work as a freelance journalist, edit other people’s material and provide individual and couple’s counseling a couple of days a week. In the past, I’ve worked as a social worker and grief counselor at Hospice; as a mental health consultant with people in prison and young people and as a chaplain at a community hospital. 

What compelled you to write your first book?

Gabriel Constans: My love to write and engage others in discussion about topics and issues that I found important and relevant.
 

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Gabriel Constans: Ever since high school, when I founded, wrote and edited an alternative high school and community newspaper.
 

Tell us a little bit about your book/s.

Gabriel Constans: I have 12 books published in the U.S., the most recent being the novel Buddha’s Wife (Robert D. Reed Publishers), which provides a different perspective on the Siddhartha becoming The Buddha and what happened to his wife Yasodhara and the rest of his family when he left them in the middle of the night to seek enlightenment. This is my favorite book, though each one is significant in its own right. Paging Doctor Leff – Pride, Patriotism & Protest (Cacoethes Publishing) is a biography about an a Jewish kid from New York who became a doctor, joined the air force during the Viet Nam war and found out things weren’t as they seemed. The Skin of Lions – Rwandan Folk Tales (Cacoethes Publishing), is the only book of its kind, with stories from children at El Shaddai Center for Street Children in Kigali. My book on sexuality and gender (The Penis Dialogues – Aslan Publishing) is in the same vain as Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, but about men. Eve was kind enough to read it and provide a wonderful quote. Beyond One’s Own – Healing humanity in the wake of personal tragedy (Xempler Press) shows how some well known (and lesser known) people used personal tragedies to create positive personal and social change.
 

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Gabriel Constans: My next novel is circulating in my head, but will not be started until next year.
 

Have you ever won any writing awards? If so, what?

Gabriel Constans: No, but a story of mine is along side one by Maya Angelou in You The Writer (Houghton Mifflin). 

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

Gabriel Constans: Like I could fly! It still gets me high every time. In some ways it’s like seeing your child for the first time, after months of labor.
 

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

Gabriel Constans: Folk, reggae, blues, Bollywood, rock, classical, Irish, Hawaiian . . . in other words, just about anything.
 

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

Gabriel Constans: The process of creating and having it materialize as close as possible to what was inside. It’s a thrill. 

What one thing are you the most proud of in your life?

Gabriel Constans: My children and my wife.
 

What about your family? Do you have children, married, siblings, parents? Has your family been supportive of your writing?

Gabriel Constans: I’ve been married over 20 years. We have five children (2 adopted and 2 from previous marriage). I have 8 foster sisters and 1 through biology. I’m the oldest of the lot. They have always been supportive and proud of my writing. 

The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

Gabriel Constans: Yes, on both accounts. Some characters are very different from me, but usually contain some similar characteristics (of my self or others I’ve met). 

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?

Gabriel Constans: Numerous. Toni Morrison, Sue Monk Kidd, Alan Paton, Toni Morrison, Isabel Allende and Marcy Alancraig. 

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

Gabriel Constans: I loved The Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy series, as well as The Tolkein trilogy. I also enjoyed John Steinbeck.
 

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

Gabriel Constans: I have no favorite genre, but many favorite authors, including bell hooks, Isabelle Allende, Toni Morrison, Wallace Stegner, Alexander McCall Smith, Dave Eggers, Barbara Kingslover and Chitra Devakaruni.
 

Hey, let’s get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?

Gabriel Constans: He loved and was loved and tried to practice what he believed.
 

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now.

Gabriel Constans: I grew up in a small (at the time) Northern California town. My father worked in the lumber mill for over 40 years and my mother as a bookkeeper and social activist. It was a conservative town and didn’t support change or difference to any great degree. I presently live in Santa Cruz, CA, which is the opposite of my hometown. Santa Cruz is on the coast, about 70 miles south of San Francisco. It is a relatively small city, but rich in culture, community and friends. 

Do you have any pets? What are they? Tell us about them.

Gabriel Constans: A cat named Eggy and a bird called bird. Eggy usually sits in my lap while I write.
 

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?

Gabriel Constans: When I write nonfiction, I sit at my desk, in a very small open office (off the kitchen) and type it out on the computer. The cat is on my lap and music playing throughout the day. If I’m writing fiction, I start out sitting on the couch, doing it in longhand and then edit and type it out on the computer after I’ve finished the first draft. 

Do you watch television? If so, what are your favorite shows? Does television influence of inspire your writing?

Gabriel Constans: Television influences me to a degree, most importantly when I see a show or movie that is written well. Shondra Rhymes, who created and writes some episodes of Gray’s Anatomy is excellent at displaying diversity and the human condition. Hopefully, a film based on my screenplay, Stellina Blue, will be a MOW sometime soon. It’s presently making the film festival rounds. I mostly watch futbol (soccer) and am somewhat of a fanatic.
 

What about movies? Same as above.

Gabriel Constans: Movies influence my writing much more than TV. Some of my all time favorites are Casablanca, Gandhi, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, An Angel At My Table, Antonia’s Line, Harold and Maude, It’s A Wonderful Life and Julia and Julie. 

Focusing on your most recent (or first) book, tell our readers what genre your book is and what popular author you think your writing style in this book is most like.

Gabriel Constans: Some have called Buddha’s Wife an “inspirational romance and adventure story”. I’d say it is closest to Zimmer’s Mists of Avalon; Kazanzakis’s Last Temptation of Christ; The Red Tent; and Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees.
 

How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)?

Gabriel Constans: It took a couple of years to write Buddha’s Wife because of the research and lack of information (at the time) and was just about as long as I’d expected it would. It took many years to have it come to fruition and publication.
 

Is there anyone you’d like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?

Gabriel Constans: My sweetheart, partner, wife and friend, Audrey, has continually inspired, motivated and supported my writing. 

Is there any one particular book that when you read it, you thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I’d written that one!”?

Gabriel Constans: Zillions, including the Harry Potter series, Alan Paton’s Cry, The Beloved Country, Syue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees and especially Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
 

Thinking about your writing career, is there anything you’d go back and do differently now that you have been published?

Gabriel Constans: Worry less about others opinions sooner.
 

What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by your writing?

Gabriel Constans: To entertain, provoke emotion and thought and make money in order to support El Shaddai Center for Street Children in Rwanda.
 

How has having a book published changed your life?

Gabriel Constans: It changes how people perceive your ability to write.

Many authors have said that naming their characters is a difficult process, almost like choosing a name for their own child. How did you select the names of some of your lead characters in your book/s?

Gabriel Constans: The main characters in Buddha’s Wife are taken from historical records, as well as several I included that are some friend’s names.
 

Have you ever had a character take over a story and move it in a different direction than you had originally intended? How did you handle it?

Gabriel Constans: Ambapali, in Buddha’s Wife, was going to be a minor character, but turned out to have a significant impact, especially on the ending.
 

Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

Gabriel Constans: Absolutely. Love is stronger than hate and compassion can transform pain and violence.
 

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where?

Gabriel Constans: Numerous events and signings can all be viewed on the “Events” page at www.buddhaswife.com.
 

It’s said that the editing process of publishing a novel with a publisher is can be grueling and often more difficult than actually writing the story. Do you think this is true for you? How did you feel about editing your masterpiece?

Gabriel Constans: The editor and publishers at Robert D. Reed Publishers have been the best I’ve ever worked with. They are a wonderful combination of being great human beings, having excellent experience and providing just the right input and questions.
 

Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than you had imagined?

Gabriel Constans: No. It’s just like I dreamed it would be and as it has felt with other books published.
 

Now, use this space to tell us more about who you. Anything you want your readers to know. Include information on where to find your books, any blogs you may have, or how a reader can learn more about you and writing.

You can find out more about my writing, journalism and counseling at www.gogabriel.com. Information about Buddha’s Wife, including excerpts, ordering, reviews and events, can be found at www.buddhaswife.com. My work as an advisor and raising funds for The Rwandan Center for Street Children in Kigali is very important to me. People can find out more and donate by visiting www.rwandanorphansproject.org.

Buddha’s Wife can be bought at www.buddhaswife.com, www.rdrpublishers.com, your local independent bookstore or all major online booksellers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound.org, etc.).

 

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