Today we’ll be chatting with the Captivating Cait Gordon! Let’s take a look.
Same rules: As is, and my comments in italics.
Cait (pronounced like ‘cat’) Gordon is originally from Verdun, Québec, and has been living in the suburbs of Ottawa since 1998. She worked for over two decades as a technical writer, publishing user guides about everything from software applications to airplane simulators.
In 2016, she became a manuscript editor for indie authors and the chief editor of the Spoonie Authors Network – a blog that solely features writers with chronic conditions and/or disabilities.
Cait Gordon’s joys include cosplaying, watching sci-fi or fantasy series that are character-driven, reading books from authors she’s met, and baking . . . so much baking. In the ’90s, she doodled a comic about a green snouty man named Virj Ofreesin, his houseplant Sonny, and his pet Splot (who resembles a fried egg). She felt it was time to share these characters with the universe. Life in the ’Cosm was published in 2016, and is the first of a three-novel series. Cait is currently working on book two.
You can read more about Cait’s microcosm on her website: Cait’s Website
You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you need editing services or a spruced-up website, visit Cait’s biz, Dynamic Canvas Inc.
You’ve got one full plate, my friend!
What is your earliest memory of writing an original story?
Yipes! Barely remember last week. I know I loved when our grade-school teacher gave us “composition” homework, because that meant I could make up a story. I was so proud to read my stories out loud in class and my fellow students seemed to enjoy them. My parents bought me a little red and white typewriter. I loved that thing.
Sounds like a great memory! I wish I had a typewriter, but they’re not all that practical these days.
What authors inspire you?
I know everyone expects me to say Douglas Adams, so I will: Douglas Adams. What I loved about Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was how he so shamelessly didn’t bother to be hard science. He went to the silly place. I hearted that so much. I think that’s why in Life in the ‘Cosm, I describe gadgets in an aerospace hangar as “things that went beep.”
But I am most inspired by the small-press and indie authors I know today. These are some of the hardest working people I’ve met and they truly love writing. They inspire me to love the ups and downs of crafting a book. One of my fave indie authors (and fellow Renaissance author) is S.M. Carrière. She’s one of those super gifted authors who grabs you by the throat and takes you right into her stories. I also commit adultery with her male characters. *hangs head in shame*
“Things that went beep” always a solid description. haha
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’m an extrovert; I have ALL THE FEELINGS! There are so many things I’m passionate about—love, friendship, human rights for all, respect for people with disabilities—but I cannot write them in a “serious” novel. It’s like I’m not built that way. My vehicle is space opera. Silly space opera. I think my genre is Silly.
OH THE FEELS!
How do you build your characters? Truthfully, they just come to me. I often don’t know that characters will even appear in my stories until they do. Very little foreknowledge there. Noola in Life in the ’Cosm wasn’t even in the comic strip I doodled eons ago. She just appeared in chapter three and if you read ’Cosm you’d be like, “How could there have not been a Noola?”
It’s funny how writers are just as surprised as their readers sometimes.
Do you have pre-writing routines? I am the accidental writer. I accidentally write things.
You’re a vessel for talent. It just comes out without you even knowing!
What do you do to take a break from writing? I love reading. Lately I’ve been reading Tremontaine. You really should stop reading this article and then go and buy it. So awesome! I also love binging on televised/online series.
Sure, you can leave, but come back to finish reading. Cait’s not finished yet!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I wanted to be a published author so badly in my twenties. There was a manuscript. It was almost accepted by a small press, but I’m glad I didn’t agree to their changes. The book was not very good. It had glimpses, but I reckon there is some truth to getting a first crappy manuscript out of the way. My thirties were spent being a tech writer and trying so hard to “write a book.” Then three years ago I stopped trying to write a book. I just decided to write a story. That’s the trick, you know. Write a story!
Good advice, start small and work your way up!
How do you outline your stories? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! *wheeze, cough* BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! *snort* AAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA! Ahem. Yeah, I don’t outline my stories. I’m laughing at me, not anyone else, because I know how I write. Somehow it’s all over the place and then magically, it’s sewn together.
That was an intense answer. Ten out of ten!
What genre do you write and read in? I simply adore writing in the space opera sub-genre of science fiction. But for reading? I am a gooey period-romance sort of person. I also love medieval-like fantasy. However, since I’ve begun networking with other authors, I’ve read books from many genres I wouldn’t normally. It’s good to expand the horizons.
Is space opera what I think it is?
What writing advice would you give to your past self?
Stop trying to be an author and stop trying to write a book to impress people. Be who you are—a very silly person who expresses her quirks through aliens. Write a story that makes you!
Well said, be yourself. If you try to impress others, you’ll never be happy with your work.
What piece of advice do you commonly give, but have trouble following yourself? Ah, that would be, to quote Douglas Adams, “Don’t panic.”
Easier said than done. haha
What does your work environment look like?
A bus, a train, the doctor’s office, taxis, my couch, and then my office once I’m editing.
How do you motivate yourself to write when you’d rather not write at all? I’m very attached to my characters, so I’ll actually miss them. I’ll say to myself, Hey, you miss Virj. Go spend time with him.
What would you do if you weren’t a writer? I’m so lucky. Being an editor is my day job. I get to make other books shine!
Awesome! I might have to hire you for my second book…
Quick! Write a paragraph with this prompt: “the darkness rose through the sky.” The darkness rose through the sky as Hervill suppressed an urge to belch. Even though in his culture burps were customary at a feast—a compliment to the host, really—he and the incomparable Andrea had left the ambassador’s manor and were now walking the narrow cobblestone path that would bring them to Andrea’s house. Hervill didn’t think he could use the excuse of it being a belch-after-the-fact. Or could he? No. He truly wanted to impress Andrea, so he swallowed the air rising in his throat, feeling quite accomplished about his self-control. Until he farted.
I never knew I could be so intrigued by a paragraph about flatulence.
Tell a story about your greatest writing success.
So, I’d written a submittable draft of Life in the ’Cosm by October 2015. Ottawa PopExpo was going to happen in November of that year and my friends wanted my hubster and I to go as Doctor Who characters. Well, I’d never understood the cosplay thing, so I said, “I’m not doing it unless I can go as a fashionista dalek!” They said, “Okay!” Um, what? I grabbed a red construction helmet, parts of an old flashlight, painted styrofoam balls I’d cut in half, and decimated an old red dress.
When it came to PopExpo, I was set. And I had a blast! People took my photo and I even posed with a row of daleks. That was when I decided cosplay was for me. Anyway, at the end of the day we lost our friends and as I was trying to find them, someone shouted, “I like your costume!” I turned to see the Renaissance banner. I knew that press!
Caro Fréchette was the one who paid me the compliment. After speaking with Caro and Madona Skaff-Koren (another great author), Caro asked me to ping Renaissance in 2016. By March I sent them the manuscript, by June they sent me a contract, and by September, the book was published. The moral of the story is, if you can’t be yourself, be a fashionista dalek.
That’s an exciting story! Congratulations!
How many drafts does it take to get you to the final product?
The short answer is seventy billion. I revise a lot before I send things to be reviewed.
But taking a page from my tech-writing days, this is my process: 1) Write the first crappy draft. 2) Weep a little at how bad it is. 3) Clean it up and send it to beta readers to get the feel of how they see the story. 4) Review and incorporate their comments as necessary. 5) Self-edit until you want to bang your head against the wall. 6) Send the manuscript to your editor, or, carefully respect the guidelines and submit your work to a publisher. 7) Take their edits very seriously. Good editors want to make your book shine. 8) Ask to proofread the PDF before it’s sent to the printer. (Everyone misses things.) 9) Eat a cupcake. 10) Repeat step 9. (What?)
You’ve perfectly captured the writing process. Step nine is like shampoo, repeat as needed.
Do you prefer self-publishing or the traditional way?
I’ve only had the one book published by Renaissance, but I’m curious about self-publishing. I respect both traditionally published and indie authors.
I’ve only done self-publishing once. Maybe we can swap notes sometime.
What advice can you give aspiring authors? Keep going if you honestly love writing. If you hate it, step away. You might want to come back to it later, though, so do try again. If you still hate it with the heat of a million suns, that’s okay. But if you love it, remember you’re always going to feel insecure. I think insecurity is the great equalizer of new and experienced authors. We all think we’re crap. That’s okay, too. Keeps us striving to be our best.
Couldn’t have said it better myself!
Aside from writing, what’s your favourite part about the whole process of publishing a book? I love being among a group of talented authors. Being a part of a small press has such a family and grass-roots feel. I love the community. And it’s a total trip when readers are happy to meet me or write about how much they laughed at my story. I’m so glad other people find it funny, too.
What character, that you created, would you want to be your best friend? Noola and I would tear the place up! I love her so much, I named my rollator after her. But I also like Virj. He needs more friends. I would take him out for cake.
Everyone needs cake.
How do you encourage yourself to keep going when you have doubts about your skills?
I don’t encourage myself. I throw myself on the mercy of other authors. They’ll say, “WE ALL THINK WE SUCK!” That makes me feel better. Here’s to the lot of us sucking! WHOOT!
How did you feel when you first published any piece of work (novel, essay, short story, etc.)? I couldn’t physically run, but in my mind I was running all over my house! Then I called my husband and cried happy tears.
That sounds like me, so much happy panic.
Which author do you want to give a special shout out to? Caro Fréchette, because not only are they frighteningly talented as an artist, writer, and publisher, they are also one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Caro has always been there for me through my self-doubts and newbie panic attacks. I think I might owe this person thousands of dollars in psychotherapeutic counseling. Also, Caro is now my cosplay spouse (because my hubster hates dressing up). PARTY ON, WAYNE!
Do you think you’ll want to keep writing even after you’ve retired? I want to write as long as I want to write.
What project are you currently working on?
I am still writing the first draft of book two, and starting a compilation of my silly short stories, in the space opera sub-genre. Renaissance also recently accepted a proposal idea of mine for an anthology of works written by people with chronic conditions and/or disabilities, so stay tuned to see how that will happen!
Thanks so much for being part of this Cait! Good luck on your second book and I wish you all the best for the rest of your writing career and on.
Thanks for reading this and thanks to all the authors who have participated in this series! Stay tuned for more Canadian Authors like Cait Gordon to come!
If you have any ideas on what I should write about in my next post, head to the contact page. I’d love to hear from you.
STRENGTH FROM WITHIN, MY DEBUT NOVEL, IS AVAILABLE NOW IN KINDLE STORES AROUND THE WORLD.
Here’s a couple links to help you find it:
Strength From Within (Canadian Amazon Site)
Strength From Within (American Amazon Site)
If you need help finding it for your country, let me know and I might have a link. Thanks so much! See you next time 🙂
Photo Cred: Stock Snap