Interview – Denial, Deceit, Discovery author, J. James
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by J. James, author of the fictional memoir, Denial, Deceit, Discovery. Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, J. Please do make yourself comfortable.
J. James: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. It’s great to be here.
SPS: It’s great to sit down and talk with you today, J. Can we start by just asking you to tell our readers a little about yourself?
JJ: Sure. Well I’m from the UK originally but now living in Thailand – enjoying the much warmer climate that is certainly a contrast from the UK! I have actually been working in education for the past 15 years and always wanted to write and finally I achieved this dream. I was previously married to my high school sweetheart but I came out in my early 30’s and that led to the breakdown of the marriage. I remarried just this year to a man who is my soul mate and best friend.
SPS: Your first published work is Denial, Deceit, Discovery; a work of fiction in the style of a personal memoir. What made you decide to write this book?
JJ: Having always worked in education I had always planned on writing a children’s book but that all changed when I came out. My wife and I were Catholics and when we divorced she requested that I support her application for an annulment from the church which then allows either party to remarry in the eyes of God. As part of the process of obtaining an annulment for my marriage I was requested by the priest to write a page expressing my situation and the feelings I experienced about men etc and the confusion around my sexuality. I found the task difficult to do on one page and it took 6!! The priest said it was the most moving and emotional account he had ever read. I realised then that my story and experiences could really help others. I also found it incredibly cathartic.
SPS: It is a work of fiction, but is it true that you have drawn on your own experiences when writing the piece?
JJ: The book is based on true events and many of these are events from my own life. However, I have drawn on the stories and experiences of the many other gay men I have met over the years of which there were always common themes. I think there is a little bit of every gay man in the main character Jack.
SPS: Tell us about the lead character, Jack Ellis, as we first meet him.
JJ: When you first Jack he is just a pre-pubescent boy exploring the world around him. Quite early on Jack is exposed to situations that raise questions about his feelings towards others of the same sex but of course Jack is not equipped to interpret what these feelings mean. Quickly the reader is pulled into the confusion that Jack faces around his sexuality as a young man and the complex nature of his relationships with others. His deep rooted denial and the denial of others around him is exposed very quickly in the story.
SPS: Years of Denial and Deceit cause a lot of pain and suffering for those around Jack, is this something he is aware of, or is he too caught up in his own world?
JJ: The greatest sadness expressed in the book is the torture that Jack faces around his own confusion and denial. The book certainly expresses how this denial and the deceit that followed caused so much pain to others. Readers will feel such empathy but they will hate him at other times because his behaviour makes him seem so selfish. However, when the reader understands the whole story they will see that the behaviour stems from such a deep rooted denial that was unknown by others around him. Whether Jack was aware of the effect on others or whether he was just too wrapped up in his own world is something the reader will form their own opinion on 🙂
SPS: In an effort to escape the shame, Jack heads to Bangkok, how do those he leaves behind react to his departure?
JJ: So much pain and upset and even embarrassment had been caused by Jack’s behaviour and subsequent coming out that I think everyone needed the space to heal and recover and the distance offered by the move to Bangkok was much needed by everyone I think.
SPS: Once there, more deceit and discovery await Jack, can we look forward to a happy ending?
JJ: The book is an emotional roller coaster throughout and just when we think Jack may have found happiness something seems to turn his world upside down. At the end we are left longing to see Jack happy, and although the reader may have many unanswered questions I think there are certainly the signs that Jack has finally found what he has been searching for 🙂
SPS: Do you have plans to further continue telling the story of Jack Ellis?
JJ: I don’t think we have seen the last of Jack Ellis but I’m not sure where and how he will make an appearance haha.
SPS: How important do you feel it was for you personally to get your story out there?
JJ: One of the most difficult criticisms I received when I came out was “you had a choice” about being gay. People just don’t understand the complexity of sexuality and so I feel so strongly about trying to educate others. But when I received feedback from readers saying that they could relate to the book or the book helped them to deal with their own situation I knew I needed to get the story out there. Sometimes, just knowing that someone else is or has experienced the same thing as you makes such a difference. If my book can save one young man or his loved ones a fraction of the pain I endured then it will all have been worth it.
SPS: What assistance do you hope Denial, Deceit, Discovery will provide to anyone going through a similar situation?
JJ: I really hope the book will bring comfort to others. I hope it will show others that what they are feeling is not wrong or abnormal. I also hope it will educate others and help them to empathise. I also want to inspire others and to show that there is always hope.
SPS: Do you think your own experiences would have been any different if you’d had access to a similar story early on?
JJ: I have asked myself the same question many times! We all need to be able to relate to others. Having no one to talk to about my feelings and having no knowledge of the experiences of others meant I felt incredibly alone at times. Maybe if I had known what I was feeling was normal and was ok maybe I would have had the confidence to ask more questions, to seek answers or to be brave enough to face up to my challenges. But I don’t dwell on this for too long. I believe everything happens for a reason. The experiences I did have shaped the person I am today.
SPS: What can we expect in the near future from the pen (or fingers) of J.James
JJ: At the moment I am so busy promoting my debut book that I don’t have as much time as I would like for writing. I have started on my second book and can reveal that maybe it won’t be too long before Jack makes an appearance. I’m experimenting as an author and trying some different genre and styles of writing. You will have to wait and see haha.
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
JJ: When I first started on this project I had very limited knowledge of the publishing world. I sent my unfinished/unedited book to a few random publishers. One or two vanity publishers tried to entice me but I soon wised up to that! The few rejections I had really disappointed me though on reflection I had done little research before submitting the manuscript. I decided very early on that self-publishing excited me and that having full control and direction was my preference. I also think the publishing industry is changing rapidly and the support for indie authors is very exciting.
SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
JJ: Follow your dream – don’t make excuses of not having enough time, or not being capable. If it is something that interests you then make the time. I often write whilst on long haul flights! If it matters to you then you will grab at opportunities.
SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
JJ: I have so much respect for an author called Rochelle Weinstein who is the author of What we leave behind and The Mourning After. I stumbled across Rochelle whilst searching the internet for publishing information. After watching an interview she did on NBC and looking at her website I contacted her and she has been a huge supporter of my book ever since. She inspired me and gave me the confidence to try the indie route.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today J, and good luck in the future.
JJ: It has been so enjoyable talking to you and I am very grateful for you taking the time.
SPS: For more information on J. James and his work please do visit his Author page