INTERVIEW | J. James – Author of Denial, Deceit, Discovery2nd March 2017
All the way from Thailand, we get a chance to speak with the author behind this year’s hottest book Denial, Deceit, Discovery. A very personal and open account of one man struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality. A book we can all relate to.
This is a very honest and open book based on your personal battle with religion and sexuality. Why did you decide to write the story for all to read?
I had always planned to be a writer but did not have the time or the ideas to make a start. After being requested to provide a written statement to support my annulment I realised that my story could help so many others. I had felt incredibly alone during my struggle of accepting my sexuality. I wanted to feel like I could help at least one other person to avoid that same feeling. Knowing someone else has or is experiencing the same feelings or thoughts as you is incredibly comforting. I also felt that there was no other book out there like this – most memoirs hold back – I wanted it to be as raw and honest as possible.
Was it a struggle at times to relive some events during the writing process?
It was incredibly cathartic writing the book. It really made me face up to all those feelings, emotions and experiences I had gone through and yet had boxed away neatly in my head. Open up these boxes was very upsetting but so necessary in helping me to truly accept myself, my past and therefore move forward finally. Writing is such a healer and similar to therapy. It is not until we verbalise (either in words or print) that we truly start to understand and accept our emotions.
How did your family feel about you writing such an honest book, especially with it being, firstly very truthful and secondly quite erotic in places?
Many of my friends and family were extremely supportive and it was from their feedback that I continued to write at times when I contemplated stopping. It was a little embarrassing for me knowing that my Aunt or cousins or sister etc were reading about my sexual encounters and I am sure it was a little uncomfortable for them too. Some of my friends and family, including my mother have decided not to read it and that is fine with me. I was quite impressed my father read the book – it is the first book he has ever read so that is flattering! I have not been able to look him in the eye ever since though hahaha.
Was there any censorship looking back?
To be honest – not really! I obviously censored the names of people and sometimes altered locations – just to spare the blushes of others really. I did remove one or two scenes in the final draft to protect myself from criticism.
What percentage of the book is based on your own experiences and how much was fictional?
Haha that depends who is asking me the question. If my mothers asks, I would say 80% is fictional. I tried to make the character of Jack as relatable as possible and I think there is a little bit of Jack in all of us. The events are all based on my own experiences but the time frames have been altered occasionally to help with the flow (blushing now!!!).
Has writing the book been a detoxing experience?
When I came out I thought, ‘That’s it! All done – I can now start living as a gay man.’ I was so wrong. I had told people I was gay but I myself had not accepted it. I had gone through an incredibly traumatic experience – breaking up with a long term partner and I think I failed to acknowledge that. On reflection I think I ran away to Thailand rather than face up to what I had done. This was why my first gay relationship was not a success. Writing the book forced me into accepting the things I had done in the past and helped me to understand who I was and why I was this way. I accepted the blame for my mistakes and forgave myself for my wrong doings and this enabled me to move on with a less heavy heart.
Do you see much of your family or past?
I am very fortunate that my work allows me the opportunity to return to the UK many times a year so I see my family frequently. There are no issues with my family at all – they are all very accepting of sexuality and are happy for me. There are occasions when I am out shopping in the UK and I see an old school friend and they ask how my wife is etc and that is a little awkward to say the least!
Was there a specific audience in mind when you wrote the book? Would you hope it would also help others to realise their true selves?
I guess when I started the book I was thinking of other gay men who may have or were living a similar life. This was because I really wanted to help others. I have had some great messages from readers saying that the book has really changed their life which is so rewarding. I also thought the book might help the families or friends or gay guys understand the complexity of homosexuality and therefore be less judgemental in their views. I had not realised that so many straight women would love the book so much. This group make up a huge percentage of my readers. I think they connect with some of the other themes that are in the book – relationships, break-ups, friendship, family, growing up etc. I have even had a few straight guys tell me that the book has had a profound impact on them because they picked up the message about being true to yourself though not necessarily about sexuality.
Are you still living in Thailand with your partner?
Yes I am still living in Thailand and my partner and I are now married and enjoying a wonderful life together. I cannot face the thought of the British weather so for now I am staying here and making the most of the sun and the sandy beaches.
For others struggling with their sexuality would you have a few words of advice?
First of all I would never tell someone what to do. I think we have to remember that we all come from different family backgrounds, religions and cultures. Just because my family accepted me does not mean I would tell another person that they must be honest and come out now. I think some openly gay people forget this and criticise those struggling to come out.
The most important things I would want to say is that they are not alone and that thousands of men experience the same emotions and feelings. I would want to help them to recognise and understand and essentially accept their feelings. That is the hardest part. These feelings may never have been discussed and so the confusion that they cause is tremendous and this leads to denial that has to be carefully unpacked. I would encourage a person to be true to themselves and to remember that it is their life and theirs alone and they have the right to live it as they want. But ultimately, we may not have a choice about our sexuality but we do have a choice about what we do about it. Each person has the right to make their own choice. I would discourage someone though from bringing another person into the situation without being fully aware i.e. a man who decides he prefers to marry a woman. I think this is a cruel thing to knowingly do this to a woman after I have personally seen the trauma it causes.
Is there a sequel to come?
Mmmmm I am not sure that people want a sequel to this – do they?!? I don’t think we have seen the last of Jack but for now I am exploring other genres and styles of writing. But never say never!!
Denial, Deceit, Discovery is available now in paperback and kindle editions from Amazon