Title: Denial, Deceit, Discovering
Author Name: J. James
Publication Date & Length: May 31, 2013 – 364 pgs
Denial, Deceit, Discovering is the heart-rending story based on true events in the life of Jack Ellis; a young Catholic man deep in denial of his own homosexuality. It tells the story of how his own denial and the denial of his loved ones forced him to conform to the straight world, resulting in his marriage to his high school sweetheart. After years of cruising gay porn sites, chatting online with endless guys and intimate encounters with close friends, Jack was pulled into a life of deceit with a string of sexual partners.
The story explains the pain and suffering of those around him as his secrets unfold and honesty rises up. The torture endured as Jack struggles to piece together the complex story of his own sexuality is truly moving. Escaping the shame, Jack flees to Bangkok with his gay lover where a much greater world of deceit and discovery awaits them both.
Denial, deceit, discovery will make you laugh, cry, cringe and blush as Jack’s story unfolds from a life of shame to one of hope and acceptance for homosexual men.
‘Did you ever think of men when you masturbated?’
Sometimes I cannot believe I have arrived at this point. This is one of many direct and personal questions from the Catholic priest dealing with my annulment. I cannot help but sense his judgement of me. From his failure to hide his disgust to the way his sunken, weathered eyes glare at me as he waits for my sordid responses. I am sitting in a room that reminds me of a nursing home. It is bitterly cold; though I’m not sure if I am shivering from the cold or the depth of questioning. Excessively floral wallpaper with clashing printed soft furnishings was never a good look.
The mahogany 70’s style furniture pieces marked the perimeter of the room and the over-sized portrait of God’s beloved son hanging above the chimneybreast was particularly distracting. I did not feel comfortable discussing my love of cock with a priest, let alone with Jesus in the room!
Two years after our thirteen year relationship ended, I have been instructed by my now ex-wife to visit the priest to support her annulment application – a Catholic loophole that allows two Catholics to declare that their marriage never truly existed. We have to prove that I was incapable of willingly entering into the marriage due to my underlying, yet undiscovered, homosexuality. Personally I do not have the patience for this, but it is a small gift for my ex-wife that will enable her to one day remarry in the eyes of God.
In 2001 we married after seven happy years and we stayed married for another six, although maybe these were not as happy as the first seven. And why did I do it? Why did I marry a girl when the answer to the opening question was YES! Quite simply, because I loved her. When I stood there on the day of our wedding it never entered my mind that I was lying, or trying to cover up or trick anyone. I simply loved her and wanted to spend my entire life with her. On reflection, I guess I knew I was gay but I certainly did not want to live my life as a gay man. At that point I had never admitted to myself that I was indeed gay; something I have come to regret. It was not out of malice or false intentions, rather just total confusion and denial; born out of an upbringing in a straight, Catholic world. The signs were all there, but no one ever asked me the question and, therefore, I had no reason to even question it myself.
I have spent many a sleepless night trying to piece together the complex story of my sexuality and can now define three distinct periods in my life: one of denial, one of deceit and a final time of discovery. To some extent they are chronological but there are many overlaps whilst in each phase of my life. When I finally declared my sexuality at the age of thirty-one, I ended the thirty-one years of denial – a pretty hefty sentence for anyone! To some extent I am still there now. But there have been many exciting and somewhat dangerous discoveries along the way; from early childhood fumbles with girls, mutual masturbation sessions with male friends as teenagers first discovering porn, to naive visits to male prostitutes as a young man and random hook ups with strangers off the internet as a married man. With some of these discoveries came webs of deceit shrouded in guilt, lies and more confusion. But it was these very experiences that have shaped the gay man I am today – one who has found true monogamous love.
Since accepting my homosexuality, many people have used the line, ‘You had a choice…’ but to me it was anything but a choice. In fact, I would say I did everything possible to choose not to be gay and despite my greatest efforts to suppress who I really was; eventually it came and bit me on the arse anyway.
1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?
There are two places where I seem to be most productive when writing One is my local coffee shop. I love to sit on the high bar stools and high-topped tables with my ipad and watch the world go by. I find inspiration for my characters from everyday people moving around me. I also do a lot of my writing on long haul flights. I think this is because there are no other distractions such as mobile phones, emails etc.
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
Jack is the main character from Denial Deceit Discovery. His behaviours and experiences mirror my own but there are elements of his personality that I desire to have. I understand the struggles Jack faces and the torment he has struggled with for many years.
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
Being an author is not my full time job. I am currently working in education and this is something I feel passionately about because it provides me with the opportunity to inspire young adults. Developing creativity in students is a wonderful reward and it was from this experience that my own desire to write was born.
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?
There are two things actually. One is that I wish I had understand the idea of showing the reader rather than telling them. It was something I had learnt about but not really fully understood. The more I read the more I appreciate this writing skill. The second is that I wish I had known how difficult it is to get your book ‘out there’. I naively thought that writing the book would be the most difficult aspect but actually that was the easy part. Marketing the book is the hardest aspect. I think there are so many books out there that getting the attention of readers without the backing of a big publisher is really challenging.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
I never realized that the main readers of my book would be women. I was originally targeting gay men when I was writing the book and I placed a lot of emphasis on the sexual encounters of the main character – describing the scenes graphically. Now that I know more women than men are reading the book I wish I had focused on the feelings of the characters and expanded more on some of the sub plots.
6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
I never put myself under pressure to think of ideas or to force my writing. I look for inspiration around me – the people I meet, the scenarios I find myself in and the discussions I have with friends. Sometimes I meet a person and there is something about their personality that makes me think of a story around them. One of my friends recently told me about high class sex parties for the rich and this gave me an idea to write about.
7) What’s next for you as a writer?
I am currently continuing to promote my first book and reach out to the LGBTi community. I am currently writing my second novel which is a M/M romance novel featuring Robbie – a hopeless romantic desperate to find true love after being brought up surrounded by destructive emotional relationships. Robbie never gives up hope on finding Mr Right and even moves to Bali in search for him.
The book also features the seductively handsome Indonesian who is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Not all is as it seems with Danur but will Robbie be luckier in love this time?
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
Although I am originally from the UK I am currently living in the UK. I definitely think this influences my writing. The laid back lifestyle here has enabled me to discover my love of writing that previously I could never find the opportunity to explore. The beautiful people and landscapes of SE Asia also inspire my writing. Denial Deceit Discovery was partly based in Thailand and my new novel will be centred around Bali. I find the cultures fascinating and love to explore this in my writing.
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
I really enjoy Crime/Thrillers because I love how this genre generates so many questions as I am reading – I am always tryng to solve the crimes, deduct whodunit, predict plotlines etc. This genre also makes me feel uncomfortable especially if the stories are realistic but I like this feeling in a strange way because it pushes my boundaries of what I find acceptable etc.
10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?
Where to start haha. I love shopping I have to admit – tshirts and shoes are probably my two things. I would probably describe the gym as my vice too – I am a little obsessed with keeping fit and working out.
Denial, Deceit, Discovery is a new work of fiction by J. James. Written in the style of a personal memoir, James tells the complex, engaging and moving coming out story of the book’s main character, Jack Ellis. Jack is a young Catholic man living in the UK who struggles mightily on the road to self-awareness. Jack’s life is inspired by many events experienced by the author, but the universal themes of honesty, personal growth and acceptance transcend one person’s story. Denial, Deceit, Discovery will make you laugh, cry, cringe and blush as Jack’s life evolves from shame and embarrassment, to hope and acceptance. It’s a wholly relatable tale that will speak to anyone who has struggled to understand an aspect of his or her identity.
After over a decade of teaching, educational management and administration, James needed to find an outlet to share his personal story. As a lifelong lover of literature and writing, James has dedicated his career to educating students, helping them develop the tools they’ll need to share their stories in the future.
His first manuscript was inspired by the response James received from the Catholic priest who officiated his marriage annulment. As part of the process, James was asked to submit a small document outlining his feelings about the events that culminated in the failure of his marriage. The priest commented that the piece was the most moving and impactful account he had ever read. He called it an “inspiration” to other men and women struggling with similar situations. After exploring many options, James realized that his story could help people to understand the complex issues facing gay men in denial – hopefully, helping to spare others from the heartache he and his loved ones experienced.
James currently lives and works in Southeast Asia. He enjoys the tropical climate, and the relaxed pace, which has provided him with the opportunity to continue developing ideas for his second novel.