Updated: Sep 3, 2020
The Author Spotlight series featured on this blog showcases writers and their work. Writing can be a fulfilling but lonely journey - so why not have some fun and make a few friends along the way? Let’s get to know Kenyon Gagne (@KenyonGagne2):
What inspired you to start writing?
I grew up in a home that celebrated reading, and I developed an insatiable appetite for it. All the inspiration coming in had to come out. Around fifth grade or so I started getting very positive comments from teachers about my writing. It became a way to win praise and stand out. When I hit my angsty high-school years, the floodgates opened. So, reading! Reading inspired my writing.
My obsession with books was so strong that in my teens--even though I was using my own money--my mother limited me to purchasing two books per week. In a very uncharacteristic instance of defiance, I cut holes in the lining of my jacket so I could buy four books at a time and conceal two.
What are common traps/mistakes for aspiring writers?
Hmmm. I would say maybe trying to write someone else’s book--worrying too much about writing ‘rules’, and trends in the market. Of course, you’re talking to someone who has very likely erred in the opposite direction. Also, not being prepared for the seemingly limitless amounts of indifference the world can meet you with. Of course you think you’re writing a bestseller--how sad would it be if you weren’t writing with that kind of hope and excitement--but always be prepared for the likelihood that your great book will only be recognized as great by yourself and a small circle of friends and family. But don’t give up! You may have ‘friends’ and ‘family’ across the globe you didn’t even know about, and they need to see your masterpiece too!
What is something you loved but had to edit out of this book that was like sawing off a limb (isn’t writing fun)?
Well, to me this was the consolation prize of self-publishing: I literally cut nothing. Now, If I had successfully connected with an agent, and a publisher, there is no way that chapter 5 of The Goners would have survived. It’s just a sequence that I thought was amusing, with a Parisian Baker refusing service to a remotely-operated robot, resulting in the theft of a baguette and a medium-speed chase. It does serve a purpose -among other things, to satirize technological advancement that is completely apart from moral, social, and spiritual consideration. But I have no doubt that a good editor would have urged me to ditch the whole chapter and express those things more succinctly in the course of the narrative. Now that I think about it, she might have felt even more strongly about chapter 13.
Tell us a little bit about your story and what inspired you to write "The Goners".
‘The Goners Volume One’ takes place in a realistic near(ish) future America. We meet a 16 year-old girl, a 16 year-old boy, and a middle aged man who have all given up on their lives for very different reasons. We follow them into a government-sponsored suicide agency called The Meaningful Conclusion Program. The MCP’s one and only promise to the poor wretches who stumble through its doors is death within two years, doing something important for the betterment of humanity. Once a well intentioned institution, the MCP has become little more than a tool for advancing the agenda of sleazeball gazillionaire/politician Rich Brandenberg. Life in the bowels of the Program turns out to be less ‘meaningful’, and more shady than the idealized notion that Kaywin, Dublin and Prudence had all made peace with before signing up. They start to find in their friendship together some of the things that they were missing in their own lives. It is of course much too little, and far too late. But when they discover that the MCP is covering up an impending Armageddon for the sake of political positioning, they must decide whether to lay down and die--or stand up and fight.
As far as the inspiration for The Goners: Volume One goes, that’s such a long story, with so many specifics, that I actually wrote an essay about it. You can find it right here:
Or, in very brief summary: the slowdown in NASA missions following the Challenger explosion, combined with a cluster of suicides in my old home town, made me wonder if people who had failed to find meaning in life could find meaning in death... and if Uncle Sam could help...
If you had to describe the main character in three words, what would those three words be?
Kaywin is: faithful, exhausted and grieving. Dublin is unattractive, smart,
and self-pitying. Prudence is broken, beautiful and brilliant. My favorite thing about the entire book is the balance struck between the three of them.
How can we purchase your book?
Barnes & Noble: