Sex and the Circus
Mike Gagnon is a professional author and writer. He lives in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada. We have conducted an interview with him about his my new novella, Sex and the Circus, a modern day quarter life coming of age tale of a young woman who manages a traveling circus.
Why is the story set in the circus?
I wanted to come up with a setting that was familiar for readers, but unusual. I like to explore human experiences that most people can relate to, but examine them through a fictional filter. There are some characters who are definite nods to favorite characters of mine by other writers and artists. I also wanted to examine the very common phobia of clowns, something which I've never understood and wanted to say something about. I wanted to show clowns as regular, every day people, who may be flawed, but not frightening. If that makes any sense.
What inspired you to write a modern-day quarter-life, coming-of-age tale of a young woman?
I wanted to tell a story of someone who must learn to assert and value themselves, while struggling with undeserved obligation. A lot of people ask why a man would write a story with a female protagonist. My response tends to be, why not? In fact, the gender doesn't really matter that much. I think many men and women both struggle with some of these feelings and situations. I choose to write the story around the character of Patty, because I think that most people, male or female, will find it more relatable. Patty is an amalgamation of several women I've known in my life, who I've often seen first hand struggling, often giving to help others without being appreciated for it or getting reciprocal care in return. There are still a lot of women in modern society who go from home, to college or university, to marriage and may never assert themselves and create their own independent identity. It's a commentary on things I've observed in North American society.
As a comic creator as well as a writer, what do you consider is 'happiness'?
Happiness is creating. For me. Happiness is when I'm writing, drawing, painting or recording. Telling stories. That's what I live for and gets me out of bed in the morning. I think that answer is different for everyone, but all boils down to doing what you love.
What encouragement would like to extend to people who read your book? Who do you want to reach?
I'm trying to reach those quarter-life people, male or female, who have been good people and give to others, but never had the chance to really stand on their own and learn who they are. There are a lot of people like that. Like I said earlier, it's a commentary on society and it's my effort to reach out to those people and let them know that they can stop and do something for them, that it's ok. Being independent and knowing who you are is important for building self-confidence, and something I feel a lot of people miss out on. It's something I had to learn from personal experience at that age too. I hope that people enjoy the story and take some of that message away with them. You can find the book in print and digital from book retailers everywhere or my website at www.gagnonwrites.com.
A leap of the unknown can be very scary, what recommendations do you have for someone dealing with the anxiety related to change?
Know that it will be okay. No matter how it works out, you will be okay. We are hard-wired to associate risk with personal harm, because of our distant ancestors, when that was true. When we face change it's natural for your brain to panic, it fears risk and change because at one time, risk meant potential death. In most cases in modern life, it doesn't anymore. You can make a change in your life and be independent or leave someone who doesn't appreciate you and the sun will rise tomorrow. In most cases, you'll still have your job, friends and family will still love you. Even if you risk and fail, it's not a defeat, it's a learning experience that will make you more successful in the future.
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