Gus Constantine’s Escaping Cyprus is a chilling tale that tells the untold story of the Cyprus invasion.
In his debut novel, Escaping Cyprus, Gus Constantine sheds light on the brutality of the Turks, following the invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
Meet Gus Constantine
Gus Constantine was born in Hartford, CT to Greek Cypriot immigrant parents from Vavla. When he was 5, his family moved to the Bronx, where he spent his formative years. There, he attended Zodoohos Pege Greek Orthodox Church. Throughout his childhood, he’d heard stories from his parents about their homeland. Someday, he vowed, he’d find out more.
He attended one year of college, and his only memory is a writing class.
“I wrote a report about my childhood. After reviewing all the reports, the teacher used 2 as examples. He whited-out the names so no one knew whose was whose. He passed them out for the students to read, and tell him which one they liked better. The teacher said about mine: ‘The spelling and punctuation is horrid, but this is a fabulous story.’ 99% of the class liked it too. I got a C, but he said someday I would be a writer. Ironically it was 1974.”
Gus married in 1978, and moved to Commack, Long Island, where he’s lived ever since. He and his wife, Georgia, have three children and seven grandchildren. They are active members at St. Paraskevi Church in Greenlawn, where Gus served the Parish Council for 9 years, including 2 years as president.
For years, Gus worked odd jobs, and for a time was a furrier.
“One day I came home at noon, because I’d quit. They kept cutting my pay. I called a friend, who helped me get a job at UPS. I ended up there for 29 years, until I retired.”
His father passed away in 1998, and his mother in 2000. When he went to clean out their home, he discovered that old college report. It was no accident. It served as a reminder for how much he liked to tell stories. This thought remained in the back of his mind, one of those nagging thoughts that just wouldn’t go away.
A writing journey
Around 2012, Gus began writing what became Escaping Cyprus, with pen and paper.
“Then I was in a serious accident driving a tractor trailer. I broke an arm and my back. This forced my retirement. I stopped writing for a year, as I recovered. Then my kids bought me a laptop. Probably the biggest obstacle was learning Microsoft Word.”
His family and friends were encouraging, and cheered him on, but not others he looked to for guidance.
“I asked a retired teacher that I knew to look at it. She told me she was ‘too busy’, and wouldn’t help me. But I had a story to tell. I put my mind to it, and I accomplished it.”
Author Gus Leodas a friend from church, provided much-needed encouragement and guidance.
“I gave him samples of my writing, and I told him I like to write, that I had an idea for a book. I showed him my college report. He said, ‘Gus you deserved an F but you know how to tell a story. You have talent. Write this story.’ I knew then that I could really do it.”
Gus had been out of school for years, and didn’t really know much about grammar, etc. But that thought was still nagging at him, and he had this story he felt compelled to tell. He had to do something for his heritage. The time had come.
About Escaping Cyprus
As a Greek Cypriot-American, he’s always been passionate about Cyprus. Through the years, he’d heard endless stories of people being tortured, chased from their homes in their pajamas, and far worse. And as we know, this is not in the history books. You don’t learn about it unless you’ve lived it, meet someone that has, or by some strange twist of fate, you seek out the information on your own.
“Unfortunately, in every war, women are victimized. It doesn’t win wars — it’s about power and domination. I heard so many stories like that, it was important to tell them. I call it the untold story.”
This self-published work of historical fiction is based on many true accounts, from people here in the States, and others he learned doing research in Cyprus.
Review of Escaping Cyprus
Escaping Cyprus is a chilling tale of invasion, war, and cruelty. The story begins with a bang, as Young Haji Ioannou wakes up find his family being brutalized by Turkish soldiers. He’s the only one who makes it out alive. With the help of his schoolteacher Rebecca, and his beloved priest, Fr. Demetri, he lives to tell the tale.
While on the run. Fr. Demetri shares an an important secret with Haji, which ultimately saves his life, and allows him to to escape Cyprus.
He and Rebecca try to build new lives in New York, and deal with the demons of the past. We follow them on their struggles to come to terms with what they experienced and all they’ve lost.
Gus’ college teacher and his friend were right. He sure can tell a story. Don’t look for flowery prose. As he says, he wrote the story the way he talks. In simple language, he created a masterpiece, that hooks you, and you can’t put it down. It gives you a glimpse of what actually happened in Cyprus. It tugs at your heartstrings. You’ll see the events unfold in your mind like a movie. You’ll cheer for Haji and Rebecca to find their way.
Gus is already hard at work on a gangster story, and a sequel to Escaping Cyprus.
By: Gus Constantine
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (April 16, 2015)