Not Coming Out
Not Coming Out gives readers a memoir of a young man's adventure into life itself. I have written it with a desire to tell what I hope is the entertaining and interesting story of my leaving home and embracing discovery, but I also hope it will inspire and encourage others to see that taking that first big step out the door is truly life-changing.
I believe it could be regarded as falling somewhere between comedy and drama; it is, after all, based on my life in the real world. I have found that real life usually shifts between those two genres, and so naturally do books about people's lives.
The characters in the book either are entirely, or heavily based on, real people whom I have encountered during my time here in China. Names have been changed to protect identities, and I have amalgamated some people into certain characters to keep the narrative clean and flowing. One might call the book a somewhat 'unreliable' memoir due to that fact, but I have no doubts that the prevailing truth throughout will be sufficient to carry the day.
In terms of positioning, I believe that Not Coming Out not only covers a broad comedy-drama genre, but can speak to a huge spectrum of readers. It tells a frank story of real life which, despite being set in the Far East, is full of universal situations, feelings, dilemmas and actions, and will (I hope) resonate with Westerners and Asians alike.
Tommy is 18 years old, fresh out of secondary school, and on a mission to realise his dreams of going to Oxford. Months earlier, he had received a rejection letter, shattering his lifelong ambition to study law there. Encouraged and supported by his favourite teacher, also an Oxford alumnus, he succeeds in getting a second-chance interview to gain a place at the very top of the wait pool. The interviewing professor is impressed by Tommy's mettle, and decides to put him atop the list, on the condition that his admission be deferred a year. Tommy demurs, and is then faced with a key question: "What should I do with this upcoming year?"
Three weeks pass, and Tommy still can't decide what to do. He is bombarded with suggestions, some practical, some downright crazy. He returns to his school to speak with his teacher, who gives him the idea to take the time to go overseas somewhere - somewhere far away - where he could work as a teacher.
Tommy hadn't even been out of Europe before. At that time, his idea of 'far' was an Italian olive grove or some Greek party island ruled by Club 18-30. Tommy chose to commit his fate to the only authority that could be trusted to throw up a relevant result: Google. He searched "teach overseas far from home" - and resolved that the first place to show up would be his choice.