Sunday, June 16, 2024

Q&A with Jana Eisenstein




Jana Eisenstein is the author of the memoir Ghosted: Dating & Other Paramoural Experiences


Q: What inspired you to write Ghosted?


A: I didn’t initially set out to write a book about dating. Rather, I started writing about dating as a way to make sense of where things were going so consistently, terribly wrong for me romantically.


Writing has always been the way I work through and process things, so, after every failed date (not to brag, but I had a lot) I sat down and wrote about it. Given how hard I threw myself into dating and how horrible I was at it, I eventually had enough stories to fill a book. That’s when I got serious about trying to make something out of my stories.


I knew, from talking to friends and acquaintances, that almost everyone had these experiences. I decided to share my own tales of misfortune so others could laugh and commiserate with me. It’s nice knowing you’re not alone, even when it comes to platonic toe-sucking. 


Q: How was the books title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: Ghosting is, unfortunately, a very common phenomenon in the dating world. I knew it would be a useful term to incorporate in the title to signify that this is a book about the struggles of dating. But my dating disappointments couldn’t all be captured with that one term.


I came up with the word “paramoural” – a play on “paramour” and “paranormal” – to describe all the unusual and unpredictable events that happen in the early phases of dating that leave you feeling uncertain about where things are going.


Overall, the title, “Ghosted: Dating & Other Paramoural Experiences” is entirely descriptive of the content of the book – it’s an examination of all iterations of dating and what happens when things go wrong.


It also doesn’t hurt that there are several other mainstream books/shows/movies using some variety of “Ghosted” in the title. When in doubt, I just let people assume my book is related to one of those more lucrative projects.

Q: What do you see as the role of humor in your writing?


A: Humor is how I (and everyone in my emotionally unavailable family) process pain and discomfort. When something unpleasant happens, sure, I could sit with and process it (which I hear is therapeutic, but uncomfortable).


Or I could absolve myself of all emotional pain by turning it into an amusing story, sharing it with everyone I know, and laughing at myself until it’s no longer triggering.


If I hadn’t revisited these (many) failed relationships through a humorous lens, I’m not sure I’d have the emotional fortitude to keep on dating. You’re welcome, future boyfriends.


Q: What impact did it have on you to write the book, and what do you hope readers take away from it?


A: Memoirs about dating tend to fall into one of two categories – the annoyingly optimistic If You Kiss Enough Frogs You’ll Eventually Find Your Prince category or the postfeminist I Don’t Need a Man to Be Happy category. I never saw my story represented in what I read.


I wanted to write something fun and relatable, that didn’t preach or claim to know the secret to true happiness; something that speaks to those who haven’t given up on finding love, but who are also coming to terms with the fact that a single lifelong romantic partner may not be what they find.


I want this book to resonate with readers who have been through the dating wringer and know that life doesn’t always deliver tidy resolutions or grand romantic payoffs. This is a book for realists looking to laugh at themselves and commiserate with others because, though they may occasionally be lonely, they’re certainly not alone.


More personally, I will say that laying out my biggest relationship failures back-to-back really helped me identify many of my own dating red flags. Since writing Ghosted, I’ve actually been able to make much smarter dating decisions. Which is great for my personal life, but not so great for my writing life.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: As I mentioned, my dating life is actually pretty satisfying these days. So that’s boring and not worth writing. I am in the very early phases of a (potentially terrible) new book idea – a dark comedy about the day-to-day of living with binge eating disorder.


In Ghosted I briefly touch on the fact that I developed binge eating disorder because it had repercussions for my dating life. As a super mature adult now (read: someone with enough money to pay for therapy) I’ve been trying to understand my disorder so I can manage it better and also find a way to explain it to others.


So many of the books I’ve read in my quest for knowledge have been self-help manuals or deep-dives into the tragic stories of characters who struggle to fix and love themselves. I haven’t found anything that fully illustrates the absurdity of the disorder or the toll it takes on almost every decision I make in a day.


I want to make people think, laugh, and connect. But, at the moment I’m struggling because, as it turns out, eating disorders are kind of a bummer.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: If you love a book (mine or anyone else’s) it truly helps the author if you rate it on Goodreads or Amazon (or wherever you purchased it). It helps even more if you write a quick blurb about why you loved it. And, if you really liked it, why not share it with a friend and/or post about it on social media?


Most writers I know aren’t writers as their first or even second jobs – they write because they love it and have a story they want to share. Help us share our stories!


Also, please don’t ghost. It’s just the worst.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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