C. G. Moore discusses the inspiration behind his debut, Young Adult novel, Fall Out, which explores the journey of self-discovery and acceptance that many LGBT+ people embark on.
My strongest writing comes from a place of emotion, from real-life experiences that have shaped me and led me to this point. My ideas come to me in different ways; overhearing a conversation on the bus, a lyric in a song, but most often, I have vivid dreams where I witness the story from beginning to end.
The idea for Fall Out was a bit different though. It was born out of a conversation I had with a friend who remarked on my tragic love life. I was working on a supernatural Young Adult series at the time when my friend turned to me one day and said, ‘You date a lot of weirdos – why not write a book about that?’
At first, I dismissed the idea. I couldn’t write about something so close to home but as the idea evolved, I started to hear Cal’s voice in my head. I thought about my own experiences coming out and I asked myself questions: Why is Cal going on these dates? What is he trying to achieve? I delved back into my own experiences, asked myself these questions. I was just like Cal, a gay boy who was trying to make sense of the world. I didn’t see myself represented on TV or in books and films. Being gay felt taboo.
At school, I was bullied mercilessly before I knew what it was to be gay. I remember the moments when other boys would shout slurs, isolate me from friend circles, drop pencil parings in my hair, dead-arm me and so much more. I hit the bruises – that part was easy – but the slurs stirred something inside me. It took me a long time to figure out that that feeling was one of uncertainty and fear. I remember coming back to the same question: what is wrong with me? It took a long time to overcome that social conditioning from my peers; years of psychological and emotional abuse that became as much a part of my life as eating Corn Flakes for breakfast or getting the bus home at 4pm sharp.
As dark as I knew the story would become, I also wanted there to be humour in Fall Out, because like Cal, I went on hopeless dates, trying to search for someone to love me because I couldn’t love myself. I remember latching on to the idea that a boyfriend would complete me when my mental health wasn’t in the place to cope with any of that. When I picked away at these memories and better understood my past, I was able to better connect to Cal, hear his voice a little clearer and more accurately convey his struggles. I try not to base my characters or scenes on real people but Cal is undoubtedly similar to me in so many ways and indeed, he is quite similar to many gay men I have spoken to, where “coming out” is the starting point of acceptance and self-discovery, but it is never the end point.
In much of the LGBT+ literature that I read as a teenager, most of it focused on “coming out” and in many ways, they were lighter portrayals of it. Sure, we had the questioning, the feeling of confusion and fear that people will discover the protagonist’s secret, but it was all resolved with little hardship and that didn’t at all mirror my reality and the hardships I’d endured. School was a nightmare. “Coming out” to my mother was a horrifying experience. She locked herself in her bedroom for days after I told her. I could hear her cry herself to sleep through the paper-thin walls. When I came to write Fall Out, I knew that I wanted Cal to have that resilience that LGBT+ people develop in their teenage years in the face of adversity, but also colour it with humour. It was important to tell a story that would resonate more widely and take people on that journey so they really feel every moment of Cal’s Everest highs and Atlantis lows.
I learned quite early on that the events in the book had to be fiction. In the early days, I tried to write about the things that happened to me and it stifled my creativity. I found it hard to differentiate between my journey and Cal’s journey. My story took over. It became less about fiction and more about reality. I hit a creative cul-de-sac and lost my way, but when I connected with my past and really tried to understand myself in my teenager years, I re-connected with that emotion that went on to fuel the story
Everyone in life has a different journey, a different path, and I hope that readers can empathise with Cal’s journey and the hardships that LGBT+ people face daily. The idea of wanting to be loved – whether it be by a partner, family or friends – is a universal feeling. As the great Maya Angelou put it: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I hope that Fall Out is a story that makes readers feel.
(c) C.G. Moore
Christopher (otherwise known as C. G. Moore) is a freelance editor and marketer. He has previously lectured on the MA in Publishing course at the University of Central Lancashire. His debut book – Fall Out – publishes on the 18th June 2020. You can connect with him and chat at @YAfictionados on Twitter.
The virtual launch for Fall Out takes place on Twitter on the 18th June from 6pm and includes a competition, a quiz and a live Twitter Q&A with LGBT+ influencer and activist Calum Mc Swiggan. More information can be found on C. G.’s pinned tweet on Twitter.
About Fall Out:
I am Cal Adams – what does that mean?
Sixteen years old.
For Cal, coming out is explosive, but that is nothing compared to the fallout from his family, friends and foes. When events in Cal’s life reach critical, he is shaken to his core. Can he rely on his loved ones to help avoid meltdown?
‘A devastatingly raw reminder that some LGBTQ+ kids still face prejudice, hate and a daily struggle just to live their lives. But Fall Out is also full of hope, humour and the promise that things will, eventually, get better.’ SIMON JAMES GREEN (author of Noah Can’t Even and Alex in Wonderland)
Order your copy online here.