Today we travel to Vancouver Island, BC, Canada to chat with Gogs Gagnon about how a passion for computers, Apple, writing over a million lines of code, humour, dogs, therapeutic writing, Disney, and income tax software come together as part of his past and current life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
A native of New Westminster, I followed an early passion for computers by becoming a programmer and independent technology consultant. In the course of my career, I have developed software for Apple, IBM, and the government of British Columbia, where I was the lead programmer analyst and data architect.
Now, in addition to promoting prostate cancer awareness, I devote much of my time to writing. My next book is a coming-of-age memoir set in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia during the 1970s.
I’m the father of three children, and lives with his wife and their two dogs in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.
In which genre do you write?
I write non-fiction about my life experiences. My first book is my prostate cancer memoir. I’m currently writing my second book, which is a coming of age memoir that reveals what it was like going through puberty. I’m also toying with the idea of writing a few children’s books on life lessons.
How many published books do you have?
Currently, I have one book published, my prostate cancer memoir.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, and what ignited your author’s flame?
I had no plans to be a writer. However, during my 40-year career as a software developer, I’ve written thousands of pages of technical specifications and over a million lines of code. It’s not real writing, but after I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and realized it was therapeutic to share, I decided to write a book about my diagnosis, treatment and recovery. It was a real labour of love and ignited a passion for writing, and it became essential for me to share all the intimate details and lessons learned. Otherwise, I thought there was no point in writing. Since then, I’ve written several guest blogs about cancer and launched a YouTube channel.
What is an interesting writing quirk you have that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
I like to use humour while writing about my experiences to help lighten the more serious moments. For example, I imagined what a conversation would be like between different body parts during my cancer diagnosis and treatment. I’m still a little boy at heart who enjoys cartoons, video games, and playing with toys.
What would you choose as your mascot, and why?
I love dogs and would choose a dog as a mascot or a dog as a spirit animal. During my cancer diagnosis and treatment, my two dogs provided much-needed companionship that helped my recovery tremendously. Even though my wife and children stood by my side, the dogs’ unconditional love was beyond human. I’m saddened to say, one of them passed away recently. She suddenly became sick during the night, and on the way to the nearest emergency vet, she passed in the car before we arrived. It was incredibly hard and emotional to say goodbye. I’m blessed to have had her in my life for 13 years, especially throughout my cancer diagnosis.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
I can write anywhere when the mood strikes. I always have paper and a pen handy as I never know when I’ll find inspiration. Although, I’d love an office with a spectacular ocean view, with beautiful palm trees and mountains in the background, with a blue sky and sunshine. I would need a big desk and a comfy chair, with lots of inspirational photos on the wall. And of course, a bar to entertain family and friends that extends out into a big deck overlooking nature with a hot tub and private chef. Oh, and I guess a new computer with software to write would be nice too!
What are you currently reading?
I love to read biographies and overcoming memoirs and find it empowering to realize we are not alone. I have several books in the queue and currently reading When Breath Becomes Air.
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
It was devastating to hear that I had cancer, and I completely shut down. I had no plans to even talk about my diagnoses, never mind write a book. However, I soon learned that it was very therapeutic to share and helpful to journal my thoughts and feelings. At first, my journal was private and for my eyes only. But several friends, family members, and co-workers asked about my health and how I was doing. Therefore, I decided to share my private journals with them and was overwhelmed by the feedback and encouragement to continue writing.
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
My wife and I are big fans of Disney and love to visit Disneyland in California and Tokyo, although we have not yet visited Disneyworld. I recently joined a rowing team, and my wife and I like to keep active by walking, hiking, and swimming. However, COVID-19 has put a delay in our training activities. My heart goes out to all affected by the virus, including my dad, who lost two good friends. Please stay safe and be kind to each other. I’m also a member of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of BC, and a few prostate cancer support groups in my area. We currently meet using Zoom. It’s not the same, and I miss the social interaction and human touch.
List 3 interesting facts about yourself.
1. I did terrible in school and barely graduated high school. My teacher told me I had a mental block and would never amount to anything. I found a few odd jobs and later found work as a janitor. I loved the job and the people and had no plans to leave. However, in the late 70s, I purchased an Apple computer and discovered a passion for technology, quit my job and enrolled in College, where I graduated at the top of my class. I quickly found work as an independent consultant, developing games for Apple and utility software for IBM.
2. In the early 80s, I developed the first Canadian income tax software program approved by Revenue Canada. Shortly after the success and launch of the software, I landed a job with the government of British Columbia as a lead programmer and data architect, where I worked for 35 years before retiring.
3. I met the girl of my dreams on the dance floor over 40 years ago, and we have been together ever since.
If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?
I would have loved to had the opportunity to ask our dog Maya, who recently passed away, lots of questions. But I’ll keep them simple.
1. Do you remember the day we first met at the animal shelter?
2. Tell us about your life before we adopted you?
3. What are your favourite memories?
It was wonderful to have you on MTA, and a pleasure getting to know you, Gogs! Wishing you all the best and much success with this book and your next! – Camilla
AT AGE 57, GOGS GAGNON became one of the millions of men diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetimes. After his surgery and recovery, he decided to share his story to inspire others to advocate for their health and learn from his experiences. Prostate cancer hits at the very core of manhood, and Gogs, in this deeply personal account, reveals intimate details that every person impacted by the disease — man or woman — needs to know. A guide to those facing prostate cancer themselves or are curious about the disease.
Book Trailer Interview:
Where to find the book:
Prostate Cancer Strikes: Navigating the Storm is available on Amazon and a lot of other online stores in both paperback and electronic formats, with an audio version coming soon. It’s also available in many different bookstores and libraries. If you don’t see a copy, please ask for it. You can also order a personalized signed copy from my website, and you can learn a lot about my diagnosis on my YouTube channel.
For the last 5-days of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Sep 26-30, 2020, PDT, the ebook price will drop to $0.00 to purchase free anywhere in the world! Please help spread to the word to help ensure others don’t miss out on a free copy. https://bit.ly/3bdvsoI
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