Well, you of course, pen a book about teenage love and life in your native Bayonne.
That’s what Robin Constantine of Charlotte, N.C., has done with her novel the “The Promise of Amazing,” published by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins on Dec. 31.
Set in and around Bayonne, “Promise” is the story of Wren Caswell and Grayson Barrett, who meet one night during a wedding reception at Caswell’s family’s catering hall.
“What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love,” says the publicity release.
The young-adult novel is Constantine’s third crack at writing a book, and her first to break into the world of publishing.
The critics seem to be taking note.
“Filled with action, passion, and adolescent angst, Constantine’s novel introduces two believable characters with strong, honest voices who work to find themselves as they chart new territory together,” wrote Publishers Weekly.
“Enjoyable and sometimes surprising … for readers who like a little more heft than the average teen romance novel,” wrote the School Library Journal.
“Well written and worth the read!” according to Hypable.com.
Constantine said she picked the young-adult genre because of personal preference.
“I just like writing in that particular time period,” she said. “I guess since it is an exciting time. It’s kind of a contradiction. You’re making choices for your life while deciding what parties to go to on the weekend.”
And while the book was set in Bayonne, and does reference a Holy Family-like girls high school (“Sacred Heart”) similar to the one Constantine graduated from, she stresses it’s not autobiographical.
“Some of my friends have the read the book and said, ‘who’s this and who’s that,’” she said. “I just tell them ‘it’s fiction.’”
Autobiographical or not, Constantine’s novel was influenced by her Bayonne upbringing.
“I think it is a lot,” she said. “It’s very Jersey centric. Just the thought that you can get to a lot of places in Bayonne by walking, and how everybody knows everybody. How generations of families know each other.”
The book launch was a homecoming of sorts for Constantine. It was held at Words bookstore in Maplewood, a 13-mile drive from Bayonne. Since the event was held on Jan. 3, she was able to schedule it with her holiday visit to see loved ones here.
A winter storm affected the turnout, but not the enthusiasm, as Constantine read a short passage and signed books for the audience members who did brave the cold and icy roads to attend the event.
Education and work
Constantine is a graduate of Montclair State University, where she earned a B.A. in Communication Studies.
After graduation, she worked for The Jacksina Company, an entertainment public relations firm in New York, which specializes in Broadway and Off-Broadway theater and film.
Constantine’s focus on writing fiction began shortly after the birth of her first child, when she joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and became a founding member of an area critique group.
Selling the book
Constantine signed with her agent, Tamar Rydzinski of The Laura Dail Literary Agency, and her book was sold in December 2012 to Balzer + Bray in a two-book deal. The companion novel will be released in 2015.
“Promise” is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com, as well as independent booksellers (call first). For more information, visit www.robinconstantine.com.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.