‘For Cal, coming out is explosive, but that is nothing compared to the fallout from his family, friends and foes.’
YA debut author Chris Moore explains his motivation to write Cal’s story.
School life for me was never easy. The boys at my school called me ‘gay’, weaponising the word like a grenade, before I knew what it meant to be gay. It’s hard to ignore it when you feel fists breaking skin and leaving bruises across your body, when you hide this from your mother in case this makes things even worse. Backed into a corner, with no one to turn to, this was my reality.
But the beatings weren’t the worst part. There were weeks when I wasn’t punched in the school yard or tripped coming out of the classroom. There were times when the purple bruises faded into obscurity. It was the names that really cut deep, that made me feel like I was nothing, like I was an abomination. From the age of eleven I knew I was different, but I didn’t know what that meant. The other boys called me a ‘faggot’, called me ‘gay’, like I was a disease to be caught if people ever got too close. I never had any friends, though—no one to get close to. You’d have to be made of steel not to let the words get to you.
This is something that LGBT+ people face at various points of their lives: in the school yard, on the streets of our city or online. Public spaces that don’t feel so safe for us because we have to regulate ourselves so we fit in. Am I acting too gay? Is it safe to hold my boyfriend’s hand on this street? Am I safe walking out of this gay club by myself or will I be attacked? These thoughts might sound irrational but when you’ve experienced prejudice all your life, it teaches you to be careful, for fear you’ll wind up in hospital or worse.
I think that’s why I wrote a lot of supernatural fiction at first. I wanted to escape my reality, not face it. Initially, Fall Out was a way of looking at the humour in dating, the funny yet relatable ways that we try to find love. Pretty early on it evolved, and as my protagonist’s voice became clearer, the message became more solid.
It became more about the ways in which we try to find love because we are told by so many people in offline and online spaces that we’re not good enough, that we are fundamentally wrong, and this bears no truth. We are loved. We are seen. We are heard. We can be anything we want to be but, first, we must accept and let go of the past, and try to shape a stronger future for ourselves. Some of the bullying incidents in the book are real and others are fictionalised. I wanted to capture those moments where a younger me struggled to understand myself and, instead, became quieter and more introverted as I constantly wondered what was wrong with me.
In a digital age, I fear for LGBT+ youths who now face cyberbullying. This wasn’t my reality, but I wanted to write it into the book, to show people the emotional and psychological damage that online bullying and harassment can cause. I wanted LGBT+ people to see themselves in the story and grow up in a world where they feel represented, where they connect with the stories around them. Most of all, I wanted to offer them hope. For all the physical, emotional and psychological torture that people at school or keyboard warriors can hurl at you, there is—and will always be—hope. As Harvey Milk said, ‘hope will never be silent’. I channelled my pain into writing Fall Out. I’ll never forget what happened, and, though I may forget the names and the faces, I will never forget how it made me feel. There is always hope, though, and it’s that hope that will drive us through our darkest times and push us past adversity to a brighter future.
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?
Fall Out will be published on 18 June 2020. Order your copy here.
About the author
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 début book Fall Out will be published on 18 June 2020. You can connect with him and chat at @YAfictionados on Twitter.