4 Questions with Samuel Prize Winner Jobert E. Abueva
Author: Mai Tran
June 8, 2022
The J. Michael Samuel Prize honors emerging LGBTQ writers over the age of 50. This award is made possible by writer and philanthropist Chuck Forester, who created it out of the firmly held belief that “Writers who start late are just as good as other writers, it just took the buggers more time.” The prize is awarded to an unpublished LGBTQ writer over 50 working in any genre. The award includes a cash prize of $5,000.
Jobert E. Abueva (he/him) is recipient of the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation Literary Award for LGBTQ+ historical short fiction and two National Arts Club literary scholarships for non-fiction. He was named the 2021 winner of Writer’s Advice Flash Memoir Contest. Jobert is also a winning storyteller having performed on the ‘Word of Mouth’ stage at the Bucks County Playhouse Theater. His writings have appeared in Harrington Gay Men’s Fiction Quarterly, The New York Times, Newsweek Japan, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Poetry Nippon and most recently The Philadelphia Inquirer where seven of his op-ed pieces speaking to LGBTQ+ and AAPI issues were among the paper’s most read. He is former managing editor of The Bucks County Writer literary magazine produced by the Writers Room of Bucks County in Doylestown, PA. Among his current projects is his first book, a boyhood memoir. Hailing from Manila, the Philippines, Jobert graduated from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and Columbia Business School. He resides in New Hope, PA. More at www.jobertabueva.net
Are there any LGBTQ writers or books that you count as formative influences to you as a writer? How did you discover them?
It seems that anyone who was a member of The Violet Quill writer’s group of the early 1980s was an early-day influence. I met Edmund White at a signing for his novel, The Married Man, at Three Lives & Company. I said I wanted to be a writer and he smiled and said, “Jobert, go write.” By then I had already read A Boy’s Own Story and This Beautiful Room is Empty. Of course, there’s Felice Picano’s Like People in History. And Andrew Holleran’s In September the Light Changes stories. How I miss the days of spending hours perusing the aisles of A Different Light in Manhattan.
What does a writing day look like for you?
If it is an ideal day, I will start in the early morning and lose track of time as I am engrossed in the story I want to tell. Such days are few and far between given my day job as a global marketer for an educational nonprofit. Even an hour late into the night or at the break of dawn is an hour more that I get to dedicate joyfully to my craft.
Are there other LGBTQ writers working today whose work you particularly admire?
Garth Greenwell’s Sophia, Bulgaria-based stories are a masterclass in the portrayal of human desire. I met Daniel Jaffe at an LGBTQ literary festival recently. His Foreign Affairs: Male Tales of Lust & Love collection offers a true sense of place and longing which resonated with me as one who has lived abroad and travelled the world. Also of note: Michael Lowenthal’s Sex With Strangers. I am not above the acerbic and absurd so David Sedaris makes the cut too. I realize that there are so many more out there I have yet to discover.
What’s next for you?
I am in the editing phase of Boy Wander, a memoir of my nomadic childhood and at times tumultuous Tokyo teenage years. I do hope to find it a good home in the publishing world. I am also querying agents on a self-help book proposal I’ve just completed. I would love to continue writing op-eds and short stories; maybe even try my hand at a novel. And there is always my advocacy work on behalf of the AAPI and LGBTQ+ communities.