Surprise! We have a bonus episode for season one, which I’ve nicknamed In the ’Cosm, Special Husband Edition! Yes, my spouse, author Bruce D. Gordon, is making his debut with the first novel in his Dissastified Me series, Dissatisfied Me: A Love Story! It’s a humorous mock memoir set against the nostalgic backdrop of pop culture that expands from the 1970s to present day.
Bruce shares with us what led him to write this first book of the series and discusses how popular culture can serve as major life milestone markers. He also talks about his love of music, and has a fun fact that gives me vertigo! (Btw, to clarify, when I mentioned I was also a dual citizen, I meant Irish and Canadian. My Broose is the Sco’ish one.)
(Please scroll down to read the transcript for this episode.)
Intro: Hi, and welcome to In the ‘Cosm. I’m your host, Canadian speculative fiction author, Cait Gordon. I started this podcast so I could chat with authors and other creatives I simply fangirl over. I hope you enjoy diving into my microcosm and feel inspired to seek out the works of these amazing humans.
Hi, I’m Cait Gordon, and today, we’re having what I like to call Season One Special Husband Edition, because on this bonus episode, I’ll be interviewing a human I’ve been married to for almost 30 years, brand-new Canadian author Bruce D. Gordon. Bruce’s debut novel, Dissatisfied Me: A Love Story, is a humorous mock memoir, teeming with pop culture nostalgia. After working many years as an IT manager for the federal government, Bruce’s love for creative writing was first sparked by the challenge of NaNoWriMo 2017. Since then, he’s participated in NaNoWriMo each year, with a goal of publishing a Dissatisfied Me trilogy. When not working or writing, Bruce enjoys playing guitar, watching superhero movies, and listening to Iron Maiden. Welcome Brooose!
Bruce Gordon: Hey!!! Hello, uh, Wifey? Or Cait?
Cait Gordon: [Laughs] I will accept both Wifey and Cait. So [laughs], as I was saying to you, it’s funny to welcome you into my microcosm because you’re always here… and you never leave! (laughs)
Bruce Gordon: I know! Aren’t you lucky?
Cait Gordon: I’m very lucky and welcome to my podcast!
Bruce Gordon: Thank you for having me.
Cait Gordon: So, um, I want to just dive in, if that’s okay with you?
Bruce Gordon: Sure! Go for it.
Cait Gordon: So, your very first novel will be out in September. And can you tell us about Dissatisfied Me: A Love Story, how you came up with it, and how you came up with that title?
Bruce Gordon: Oh boy. You know, it’s one of those funny things because, as you said, it is a mock autobiography, done with a bit of a humorous twist to it, and it’s about this guy, maybe not so coincidentally, but on the eve of his 50th birthday, he’s, he finds himself alone in the basement of his room in his mother’s home, and you know, he’s going through some of some of these old boxes which contain items, which mark milestones of his life. And so, as he’s sorts… so the book really is a reflection of his life story as he’s uncovering these old objects and remembering these things. And you know, when you mix in, you know, your life story, of course he’s going to remember some of the history that goes alongside of that. So, being a child of the late 60s are born in the late 60s, he has a lot of nostalgic memories of his growing up in 70s and 80s. So, I mixed in a lot of that, the pop culture influences there because they too contribute to his milestones. A little bit about how I came up with the title Dissatisfied Me. I always sort of say that there’s a simple answer and a complicated answer. The simple answer is, well my character, as you might guess, leads a somewhat–in his mind–dissatisfied life. So, because I write the story from the first-person perspective, “dissatisfied me” sort of fits that mold, bit of a longer thing and more, uh [makes tongue-tied sounds], sorry, I get tongue tied every now and again.
Cait Gordon: That’s okay. My friend, my friend Dianna Gunn says that we are writers, not speakers. [Laughter]
Bruce Gordon: Yeah. Well, I used to make a joke that people learn to speak Bruce, and I’m glad I’ve been married to someone, for the past 30 years, who’s learned that language very quickly.
Cait Gordon: I’m very fluent in Bruce.
Bruce Gordon: [Shy laugh] The, the longer, the longer narrative about the Dissatisfied Me though sort of relates to how I started my writing journey, you know, and I started writing for lack, lack of a better word, you know, I started blogging about 10 years ago. And in my blogs, my first series was called The Sunday Rants where every Sunday, I’d publish something about–something that dissatisfied me, and I tried to throw in a bit of a humorous twist to it. The blog sort of evolved into Facebook posts, which had a daily message, and it was called by The Days of Dissatisfaction, and every year I have 100 days of dissatisfaction, and the people who followed me on Facebook started dubbing me Mr. Dissatisfied. [Cait laughs] So then, so then you [laughs]. So then, and I appreciated this, as a bit of a joke, and it’s a funny one, you reserve the domain name dissatisfiedbruce [Cait laughs], my website [Cait laughs some more]. And I was so tickled pink by that, and you know, we started designing this character, wearing a kilt, you know, it was a sort of a cartoony character that supported the blog and it was–he was wearing a kilt had a bag over his head, and I continued my blogging around things that dissatisfied me, the days of dissatisfaction, mixed with a lot of nostalgic elements as well [Cait says, “Yeah.”] and they all sort of tied together, and they contributed to the writing of this book.
Cait Gordon: And you know I, officially on this podcast, I’d like to apologize to you for being upset when you came up with the 100 days of dissatisfaction, thinking, “Oh wow,” you know, “I’m so glad that you feel dissatisfied all the time!” And I, I’d like to apologize for that because if you didn’t do that, you wouldn’t have this book! [Laughter] And people loved it. They looked forward to reading 100 Days of Dissatisfaction.
Bruce Gordon: Some of them wanted it to be a permanent entry, but you know, it was hard being dissatisfied that much to be honest with you. [Cait laughs]
Cait Gordon: Yeah, because you’re married to me. [Laughter]
Bruce Gordon: And here’s the weird twist about it: every single time I hit Day 100, I looked back on the 100 days of dissatisfaction and would say to myself, “I’ve nothing to be dissatisfied about, in fact, I have a lot of good reasons to be satisfied!” So, it was a bit of a cleansing exercise, and it made me feel great at the end of it.
Cait Gordon: Oh, that’s interesting, like, for it to be kind of a cathartic thing. I do, I do want to, like, you touched a little bit about why you wrote this backdrop of popular culture. And that’s what I really loved about your book, was laced in between what’s happening in Rick’s life, is all the popular culture, I mean, you and I are the same age basically. And I think it would also appeal to people who are younger and older as well because it’s taking from the 70s to present day. And I just wanted to just ask again why it was important for you to have, I mean, popular culture really integrated because it’s not just like a little ethereal backdrop, it’s almost a character itself in the story.
Bruce Gordon: No, and it’s very true. So apart from all the stuff I just talking about, about how all these ideas connected together. To me, pop culture is an easy reference for history. [Cait makes sound of agreement] So, and if you think about it, that amazed me in my personal life, and maybe also being an only child, certain ideas of pop culture or certain elements of pop culture have made strong, I guess, landmarks of strong markers in my life. You know, I have a very simple example and I’m noy sure if this applies to everybody: Can you remember your first celebrity crush?
Cait Gordon: I can, I can.
Bruce Gordon: Do you dare share with us?
Cait Gordon: Okay. Please don’t mock me, it was Donny Osman, he had those purple socks, I even got purple socks [laughs]. I just had this, I was young, I don’t know if I was five or six, but I had this terrible crush on Donny Osmond.
Bruce Gordon: So, it defined a marker because it was–I had a similar experience too when it defined a marker, saying, “Oh, this is the first time I recognize, I remembered having a crush on someone,” you know. And sure, there’s crushes on the people in real life but, really, in my mind, you know, having a celebrity crush, it marked a time and place in history. [Cait says, “Yeah.”] You know? And you could also extend that further, like maybe your first date, what was the movie, what was the first movie you went to on your first date?
Cait Gordon: Okay, that’s amazing! This is fantastic! I know that too! [Laughs]
Bruce Gordon: So do I. I’m embarrassed to say was Halloween II.
Cait Gordon: Mine was Octopussy. [Laughter] But yeah, no, I really see that though how popular culture could actually, yeah, could be integrated with milestones,
Bruce Gordon: And a challenge when you’re writing over a 50-year period of someone’s life, it’s an easy way of identifying those state markers in the story, so people could say, oh yeah, “A guy saw Videodrome, so that’s probably taking place somewhere in the middle 80s.”
Cait Gordon: Right.
Bruce Gordon: So, it’s a bit of a nice cheat for me as a writer.
Cait Gordon: Yeah, very cool. You know what, I didn’t even know that. So, I’m getting to learn things about your process! [Bruce might be saying, “Well, there you go!”] Isn’t this fun? [Laughs]
Bruce Gordon: For sure. [Laughs]
Cait Gordon: Okay, so I want to talk about another part of your book, which is almost like a character in itself to me, um, music, you know, you there’s a band in the book and because I’ve actually been in bands with you back when we first got to know each other, we were in bands together, so I know how much music means to you. And can you share the role it’s played in your life; in this book you’re writing?
Bruce Gordon: Um, so that’s a very interesting question. So, music has always been a passion for me in my life. [Cait makes agreement sound.] And, you know, there are parts of, again it’s a question for me: What was the first [unclear] music I listened to, what were the first songs where I consciously had a record on the record player and started listening to. Well for me, it was all those, you know those Disney-type stories [Cait goes, “Mmm!”], you know, Robin Hood and, or stories like Wizard of Oz, which was, there was a recording made of the film score.
Cait Gordon: Right.
Bruce Gordon: I used to love those as a six-year-old, and I would listen to them nonstop, and again, I spent a lot of time listening, memorizing. And as I matured, a couple of things came very clear for me. I love music that was up tempo that had, it was just a narrow view of music at the time, but that was the only thing I really liked.
Cait Gordon: Right.
Bruce Gordon: And as I hit teenage life, what was up tempo? Heavy metal. And so, naturally injecting heavy metal, punk, those sort of influences into my character was very easy. I was like, I am a bit of a music geek, I read up about the bios of bands and stuff like that, so it was very easy for me to write about music and things like that. Yeah, very natural connection for me. It’s also in terms of writing and creativity, I always listen to music, not just for the melody or not just for the lyrics but the layers, and so I always look for the depths of things. [Cait makes sound of agreement.] And so, I think, even, even though I played guitar and I haven’t played much in the last few years, when I compose music, I will always compose in layers. And that’s sort of applied to my writing style, too, so I would have layers of characters layers of scenes, you know, and how they also relate and that sort of, you know, that’s sort of my approach in terms of thinking a little bit more than just linear but, you know, bigger picture.
Cait Gordon: And the name of the fictitious band in your book is???
Bruce Gordon: Scottish Rot. [Laughter]
Cait Gordon: And you are Sco’ish yourself. You’re like me, we’re dual citizens. (Btw, Cait is Irish and Canadian, not Scottish).
Bruce Gordon: You bet!
Cait Gordon: I loved, I loved Scottish Rot, I enjoyed their lyrics very much. [Laughter] I mean, I loved everything about that band, and what you put that band through. I think it’s a real fun element of the book.
Bruce Gordon: Well yeah, and you know, it was easy for me to… it was easy for me just because I can, I can remember it was like being a 16-year-old. Even though I learned to play guitar a little bit later, but the attitudes of being a teenager, learning an instrument, are still present, I mean, you thought you could do anything. You could practice for a few minutes and suddenly, you think you’re the best band since sliced bread. You know, it’s funny I remember recording an original song like, shortly after I learned how to play guitar, and I played it for someone, you know, I was proud of it and really excited, and the person looked at me as if I was growing another head. [Laughs]
Cait Gordon: Oh my!
Bruce Gordon: They just couldn’t understand it. But for me, it was my baby, you know, and I couldn’t understand why no one else could appreciate it. So, I mean, I certainly had those feelings and attachments early on in my life, in terms of what it means to play in a band, write music, and get that initial reaction from people too.
Cait Gordon: Yeah, whether it’s good or bad, it’s still your baby, and really, good or bad, that’s all relative anyway. I can definitely say that you are an excellent song composer.
Bruce Gordon: Well, thank you.
Cait Gordon: Yeah, and an arranger. You’re awwwesomme. [Bruce laughs] I want to switch lanes, though, because you know, we mentioned about NaNoWriMo in your bio, and this is, this is something I actually want to talk to you about. I’d like to chat about how Nano, the NaNoWriMo writing movement, say that five times fast, has impacted you like, you seem to be really for NaNo, and I’m gaining enthusiasm for it as well, so can you talk to us about NaNo, and how that sparked you as an author?
Bruce Gordon: Yeah well, so. So, for me, I always, I’ve always been one to need challenges to push me forward [Cait makes sound of agreement]. Many, many years ago, I took on the challenge of learning to run a half marathon. And so, it was just a matter of okay, how do you get there, and you need to sort of have a bit of structures, really to get there. And I get it, you know, people do things very differently and I will never say, “My way is the best way or anything like that.” No no no. But what I loved about NaNo is that it gave you a conscientious goal to work towards [Cait makes sound of agreement], you know, and you could work towards that goal in any way that you wanted to. Now at the time when I did it, the goal was very, I thought was a very lofty; it was around 50,000 words to be written in a month.
Cait Gordon: Yeah.
Bruce Gordon: But the whole objective was to get writing and encourage people to write and to keep writing, even when it’s a little bit tougher to write. Because some days you’re gonna have great days, and other days may not be so good. So, for me, it sort of inspired me to just keep putting pen to paper and even on those days that I struggled, I found, you know what? I discovered a new lane to write down in that struggle day.
Cait Gordon: Nice.
Bruce Gordon: I discovered a new prompt, which I could write around and help guide me and point me in the right direction. And I’ve never been someone to structure myself when I’m writing, I’ve always had a little bit of prompts along the way, a little bit markers and goals where to write towards, and NaNo helped encourage that quite a bit.
Cait Gordon: Very cool. I tried NaNo for the first time also in 2017, and that’s when I was writing for The Stealth Lovers, and then in the spring and CampNaNo in 2018, I kind of finished the first draft of The Stealth Lovers, and then I didn’t really do anything with Nano after that. And the pandemic, everything going on in the pandemic really affected my ability to read and to write. And this year though, CampNaNo was coming around in April and I thought, well, what I like about it is you can set your own word count. So, I thought, “Okay 20,000 words.” I know how I feel with my body, my mind. I feel I can do 667 words a day or whatnot, right? Um, and then I met that, and I was like, “Hey!” And I think for me it was, it was going to that dashboard every day and just putting in the word count. Like, I actually started to be excited about it? Um, and that kind of prompting and structure just kind of helped rehabilitate my brain to just get on the bandwagon again. And so, I took May off and realized, you know, towards the end of May, I only really need about 20,000 more words to finish the first draft of Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space. So [laughs], I set another 20,000-word goal and called it CaitNoWriMo [laughter], and then I hit it, and so now, I’m kind of the mindset of, hey, if I ever feel like I need that little push, I’m just gonna use the NaNoWriMo dashboard because you can actually do things, anytime a year. Like, if I wanted to write a novella that was 30,000 words or something, I could like, you know, I don’t even have to do it in a month, I could just keep on going and uh… Would you ever consider using the NaNoWriMo dashboard, outside of the regular times or for smaller goals and such?
Bruce Gordon: I haven’t thought too much about it, and I think partially because the November timeframe always held a special place in my heart because over the last few years, they’ve helped me shape some my writings today. That said, going forward, as I start new projects, I think I would. I think it makes sense to do that, if they’re small motivators and it’s a great tool to use. I especially found it useful in the last year where, you know, it’s nice to see the graphs and the tracking of your progress and it’s a nice little encouragement to keep you motivated.
Cait Gordon: And I have this thing about the digital stickers [laughter]: 5000 words, 10,000 words! I don’t know, I just find that I it just appeals to me.
Bruce Gordon: Yeah, well they’re small encouragements, and you want, and you want to get that little sticker, and you want to get, and you want to be able to claim the prize at the end, because some of the prizes are pretty cool. If you reach your goal.
Cait Gordon: There’s prizes?
Bruce Gordon: Not–well, do they offer discounts and things like that.
Cait Gordon: Oh, that’s cool! [Laughs]
Bruce Gordon: In fact, my first, so I use Scrivener quite a bit. I’m a huge Scrivener fan, especially when learning to draft out your work. It’s such a flexible tool, but I yeah, I was able to purchase it from NaNo at a substantial discount. I think it was available to winners, but I could be wrong on that. Maybe was available to all of NaNo writers.
Cait Gordon: Well, that’s really neat. I’m gonna actually look into that and see what else is there.
Bruce Gordon: But they had subscriptions to Grammarly and neat little things like that. Nice little tools to leverage, being part of the NaNo community.
Cait Gordon: Nice!
Bruce Gordon: Yeah!
Cait Gordon: Okay, so hey, we’re kind of zooming through this. Oh my gosh, that was a pun, and I didn’t even know it [laughs].
Cait Gordon: There you go [laughs].
Cait Gordon: So, um, I typically like to ask authors about what they’re indulging in, like, are there any books and series that you’re into right now?
Bruce Gordon: You know, these days I’ve been, in this past couple of weeks, I’ve been indulging in Stanley Kubrick movies.
Cait Gordon: Right [a little laugh].
Bruce Gordon: And [laughs] it’s one of those things where I’ve been trying to rewatch them all. One thing I like about a lot of the stories that Kubrick chooses is that he likes to pick stories that have strong antiheroes, and I’ve always been a fan of the antihero. A lot of the shows that I watch and love? Yeah, they’ll have an antihero in them. And so, just to list a couple I mean, and they’re the big, big ones out there you know like you talk about the Breaking Bad‘s and you talked about the Dexter‘s and Sopranos, you know, they all have a– 24, even Jack Bauer ordinarily, he’s a, he can be considered an antihero. They’ve always been there as part of my interests that draw me into a story. So, generally speaking, yeah, but those are the types of stories that interest me is when the characters are far from perfect.
Cait Gordon: Yeah.
Bruce Gordon: And, and so, and they’re always interesting to me.
Cait Gordon: Yeah, I mean, they’re fun to read, they’re fun to write as well.
Bruce Gordon: Yeah, exactly.
Cait Gordon: I’m surprised you didn’t mention all the DC series that you watch!
Bruce Gordon: Yeah, I know [Cait laughs] and funny in your blurb at the beginning, you talk about [my] watching superhero movies, and it’s true, I mean, I do love superhero stuff. I have to admit during the COVID, and I’m starting to feel this in the last few weeks, I’ve been a little bit oversaturated [laughs] with the amount of DC, and again it’s part of how I do things like NaNo, if there’s a goal, I’m committed to hitting that goal, and I won’t stop until I get there. With this DC superhero stuff? There’s so much TV content that was generated. And look, I would say cautiously for DC fans out there that the Arrowverse that’s on the CW Network? There’s some interesting storylines in there, but it really plays out like a soap opera, and it can be slow, and it can drag, and there’s a lot of space filler, and there’s a lot of times where people are just talking about their feelings, so for about 20 minutes, when they can just say, by what they do in five seconds what they truly feel.
Cait Gordon: [Laughs and tries to speak] You and the feelings thing! You have to understand, folks, that I watch stuff with Bruce, and every time there’s an overly, over discussion of feelings, he gets very upset [laughter]. “More feelings? We have to talk about feelings?” [Laughs]
Bruce Gordon: And the thing was, I never was sensitized to that before watching these DC things, because you know it’s true. When you, when you watch constantly the episodes of Flash and The Arrow, you get you get bombarded with that. And it’s sort of sad because you could have a really good TV show, and they have one episode where they really need to talk about feelings, [laughs] and I get this sort of adverse reaction to it.
Cait Gordon: You’re going to be okay though.
Bruce Gordon: I’ll survive. [Cait laughs]
Cait Gordon: Okay, look, I, I’ve come to the last question.
Bruce Gordon: Oh, okay, well there you go.
Cait Gordon: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
Bruce Gordon: Fun fact? You know, I don’t know if I have a fun fact. I work– because you know, I’m a public servant and that sort of fun but uh… [Laughter]
Cait Gordon: I think you could do better than that [laughs].
Bruce Gordon: A fun fact about myself, okay. As a teenager, I used to play squash, and I was on the Quebec squash team for the Under Sixteens.
Cait Gordon: Okay… why don’t you tell the people about when you were in the Naval reserves?
Bruce Gordon: Well, I was going to get to that, but is that really that fun?
Cait Gordon: That’s kind of awesome. You know I’m talking about, right? That photo that we have of you downstairs?
Bruce Gordon: Oh, you mean the one, the one that’s on the wall here?
Cait Gordon: The one where there’s two ships, and then there’s you? That’s a fun fact! [Bruce says, “Yeah, there’s that!”] Why don’t you tell people about that fun fact?
Bruce Gordon: Yeah, so I mean, I was, so I was in the naval reserves, and one of the cool things I did when I was an officer training, I was serving, uh…. I was doing some training on board a tanker, and one job a tanker has is to refuel destroyers or other ships at sea. And part of that process is that not only do they refuel other ships, but they also replenish them with other supplies, and they have what they call jackstay line, which is a line that connects the two ships, where they could pull using pulleys, all these provisions. So, part of the fun we officer cadets had was that they wanted us to have the experience of transferring people between the two ships, in the middle of the open ocean, using these jackstay lines. So yeah, we each took our turn to cut across the ship. I was the second to last to go and you know all the crewmen were doing all the work pulling us from ship to ship. And, you know, as you’re crossing the water, you’re looking down, and you see the wake, crashing between the boats [Cait goes, “Oh, goshhh.”] and it’s pretty intimidating. You know that if you were to fall, you’re going to get washed away and probably lost at sea somewhere. But these crewmen, you know they’re tired, you know. And so, as we’re going across, you know, I heard someone from the other ship go, “Aw, this this one’s particularly heavy!” [Cait laughs] Some of them started to dip forward as they worked, and then they pulled it up and of course I started bouncing away on the line. They’re howling with laughter at their little joke, but I’m holding on for dear life. Never forget that. It’s been a great moment.
Cait Gordon: Yeah, no kidding! My word! Okay, well thank you so much for appearing on my little podcast. I really appreciate that.
Bruce Gordon: Well, thank you so much!
Cait Gordon: You’re gonna get some cake out of this [laughs].
Bruce Gordon: I think we’ll have some celebratory cake. Absolutely.
Cait Gordon: You learn more about Bruce D. Gordon by following his website disatisfiedbruce.com You can pre-order Dissatisfied Me: A Love Story through the Renaissance press website, that’s pressesrenaissancepress.ca and from online booksellers, including Chapters-Indigo. Transcripts for In the ‘Cosm are available at caitgordon.com That’s C-A-I-T gordon dot com. Thanks for joining us. Take care and stay safe.
(Transcribed by https://otter.ai. Edited for clarity by Cait Gordon.)
Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who has been vaccinated against COVID-19, or how she likes to say it, “I’ve been stabbed for the good of the realm!” She wants to remind folks to continue to think of others as we battle this pandemic!
Cait is also the author of humorous space opera novels Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers, and she is the co-editor of the Prix Aurora Award nominated anthology Nothing Without Us. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Her latest new adventure is hosting the In the ’Cosm podcast, which is really an excuse to gush over authors she admires.