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Homeland: Boaz Yakin on Jerusalem

Noted writer Boaz Yakin creates a stunning family narrative in Jerusalem.


Congratulations on this beautifully rendered book.
Thanks, much appreciated.
I guess the first question I have would be, how closely do these stories adhere to the real-life stories you were told by family members when you were growing up?
In some cases, extremely closely. In others not at all. I've combined characters and compressed things that happened in different time periods. It's fair to say that the book is inspired by reality, but completely woven into a fictional framework.
Were these stories of your family members only, or did they also entail stories of others?
I've used stories from family members, from many other people I spoke to. I've used elements of a screenplay my father wrote about Jerusalem, which he called "The Tear," and was kind enough to allow me to draw from. And from many, many hours of reading and research.
Do you have plans to also transform these stories into a film?
This script originally was written as a screenplay before we turned it into a graphic novel. I'm thrilled to have it published in this form, though— particularly after seeing the incredible work that Nick Bertozzi and his team achieved with the artwork on the book.
Why turn this into a graphic novel? What drew you to making these stories come alive through words and pictures instead of cinematically?
It's a great opportunity to allow your work to have a life, rather than sitting on your shelf gathering dust. The same thing happened with a screenplay I wrote called "Marathon," which was turned into a GN by First Second. I'm proud of both books, and grateful for the opportunity to let these stories have a life in another, equally interesting format.

Which story in Jerusalem was most memorable or poignant to you? The story that resonates most with you and speaks your perception of the book?
I don't know if there's one—it's the way they all intersect and build on each other that creates the resonance, to my mind.

Was there a particular story that was the most difficult to tell or present in this graphic novel?
I'm not sure. I think there was a lot of pain to go around in the story—and I was interested in exploring all of it.

The characters in Jerusalem are so rich and textured, often containing both good and bad qualities, particularly Emily. Her ability to encompass so many facets and personalities is amazing. How did you capture that authentically with her?
I knew my grandmother growing up—and heard many stories about her from my father and all my uncles. While the character in this story is not exactly her, I tried to draw from everything I remembered and heard about her to re-create her extremely multifaceted personality as interestingly as possible.

It seems that you spent years working on this book. Is that so, and how did you keep the passion for this project strong throughout that time?
I actually spent about a year on the original screenplay, between research and the actual reading. It then sat idle for many, many years until it got life as a GN. At which point my work was mainly editorial, trimming the script down and adjusting it for the graphic format so Nick could get a handle on illustrating it; he's really the one who put in the back-breaking work in the last few years on this project, and to incredible effect.
What are you working on next?
Right now, I have absolutely no idea.

-- John Hogan