Monday, May 15, 2023

Q&A with Jobert E. Abueva




Jobert E. Abueva is the author of the new memoir Boy Wander: A Coming of Age Memoir. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The New York Times. He has worked in the global marketing field, and he lives in New Hope, Pennsylvania.


Q: What inspired you to write Boy Wander, and how long did it take to write it?

A: We live many lives in a lifetime. I had been bottling up some sometimes-shameful secrets from my formative years that, with the benefit of a middle age perspective, I was compelled to confront and reconcile with through writing, first for myself then eventually as a book project that found its way into the world.

Boy Wander was an on-and-off effort over 20 years whilst holding down a full-time global marketing career and living life. However, the pandemic and working from home offered me the time and space to finally finish the manuscript.


I was fortunate to land an independent publisher after going the literary agent route where I received much positive feedback and had several close calls.

Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book says, in part, that you write about “the dual roles he played in his adolescence as the golden boy of a prominent Filipino family and a sex worker,” adding, “Beneath his outward joviality...he was roiled by major struggles...” What do you think of that

A: It's an apt description. I recall my internal turmoil of trying to live up to the expectations of being the son of a prominent academic-diplomat from an ultra-Catholic family and culture, wanting to be the best possible version of myself at school to mask an obsession with wanting to explore my undeniable gayness.


Stumbling upon the goings-on at the shopping arcade of the Imperial Hotel became this “Alice in Wonderland” portal into sexuality which, as a teenager, I found thrilling especially when money was involved. It hardly felt exploitative in the moment but nonetheless it was something I knew I had to compartmentalize.


Q: What impact did it have on you to write this memoir?


A: I now understand when authors of memoirs speak to catharsis and of the Bible passage from John 8.32 -- “the truth will set you free.” Have I overshared? I’m still not quite sure, though I now have no secrets to hide and the world can accept me or not. Early feedback from readers is that Boy Wander gives them permission to face their own pasts no matter how awkward or shame-inducing.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: Even though events in the book took place in the 1970s and ‘80s, mostly in faraway places, they still resonate because someone somewhere every day in this world is on the same path of exploring and coming to terms with understanding their true selves. The journeys are as diverse as fingerprints, though what they all have in common is that they all do matter.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Besides the occasional short story, I have begun work on my next memoir, which in a way is a sequel to Boy Wander. I jokingly tell folks that there is a trilogy in me. As I, and all of us continue to live life through fascinating and challenging times, there is a lot more storytelling to be had.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: For more information:
Facebook: @joberteabueva
Instagram: @jobert_abueva
Twitter: @jabueva


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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