Hi guys, today you get to meet a fantastic author that has released a great variety of books, check out this selection by Ian K Ferguson.
Hi Ian! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello. I am unapologetically a northern Englishman from Blackpool, so I’m sorry about that. However, after 20 years of running a Software Company selling systems to Local Government in England and Wales I decided on a whim to move me, my (then) wife and three children to Vancouver, BC, Canada where I have now lived for 19 years, which has been a good thing all things considered.
Now my wife has relocated (so to speak) to an old friend for a change of scenery and my three kids are in their twenties trying to work out how they will ever be able to afford to buy a place to live (it’s a head scratcher in this part of the World).
I love sports of all kinds (except American Football, Baseball and Basketball) but really will always be a Football nut at heart with Rugby and Cricket thrown in for good measure.
How did you discover you were meant to be a writer?
This happened when I was 11 in an English class at school when I wrote a poem about a Stag hunt (from a sympathetic or woeful Stag’s point of view). The teacher put a big red line through it with the words ‘NOT YOUR OWN WORK’ (which it was), so I knew it was good and I could write.
After I got sick of the I.T. industry I sat down and challenged myself to write a book, just to see if I could. Now I can’t stop and I love it. I didn’t know I had so many stories rattling around in my brain.
How would you describe your writing style?
In a few words, peculiar but accessible. Much of what I write about is serious but I lace it with lashings of humour. I do a lot of dialogue but am not so hot on the descriptive side of the equation. The descriptive side I only use when it adds something to the story, but I’m not one to spend paragraphs describing what everybody in a scene is wearing for the sake of it or whether the rain was wet or not. Sometimes less is more and I hope my readers can envisage things for themselves.
Your books are quite different to each other, how do you decide what to write next, and are you planning on branching out into even more genres?
Good question. Sometimes, as was the case with the ‘Single-Bullet Theory’, a title springs into my head and I take it from there. When I wrote the first sentence of that story I had no idea where I was going with it, but a sheep kills my main character’s only daughter in a field in North Cornwall by the end of the first paragraph and I had a story. Other times it may be a topic that has been rattling around my mind for years, like ‘The Lynn Valley Orchard Rules’ (a black comedy about an Addictions Treatment Centre) and ‘Gone Missing’.
My characters such as the detective Derek Blackstone and his rookie partner Tony Hancock pop up in cameo roles in my other books. For example, they both saw the light of day in my first book ‘Two into One’ and Tony appears in ‘The Lynn Valley Orchard Rules’. Also, the Hi-Tec software company, ANT, from ‘Two into One’ crops up as the father of one of the murdered little girls in my latest book ‘Senseless’. I like to give little links for my readers to pick-up on even when the stories are completely different.
But to answer your question about ‘even more genres’, apart from the detective series I don’t really do ‘genres’ as such, I just go where I want to go. Having said that I wrote two children’s books last year based on another writer’s original ideas and that was fun.
Tell us about your eclectic music tastes!
I love English bands. Oasis, the Smiths, the Buzzcocks, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, I could go on and on. I love the Beatles (I know that’s a bit obvious) and Bob Dylan (now that makes me sound old I know). I love folk music of all flavours and I write to Jazz. I hate most American Rock Bands (apart from Bruce of course) and all things heavy metal, I can’t stand the way they sing like over produced whining poodles about to be castrated (you know who I mean).
Who is your favourite character from your books? What do you love about them?
The first one I fell in love with was from my first book ‘Two into One’. She was called Kim McLennan, and she was a sweetheart. Unfortunately, I gave her ALS and then killed her in a plane bombing catastrophe, poor woman. The second was Michelle from ‘The Lynn Valley Orchard Rules’ who had a great sense of humour and not a little glimpse of glamour and a devilish side. But, if I’m on the line here, it would have to be Derek Blackstone. He is a cynical, 50 year old veteran of the Vancouver Police Department which under his crusty exterior has a heart of gold. If you were in peril you would want him to turn up.
If you could visit any place/time where and when would it be?
Any time, any place? OK, can I have two? The first would be Wembley Stadium in 1966 when England won the World Cup, I only got to watch it on a scratchy black and white TV with my Dad and my Grandad who spent the whole game moaning about how we were going to lose (I was the only believer at the age of 7). The second would be to be outside the Dakota Building in New York City to stop Mark Chapman shooting John Lennon with a well timed and aimed kick to the goolies.
You’re a self-published author, what parts of the process did you enjoy most? Did you find any of it tricky, and do you have any tips for someone considering taking that route with their own work?
When I had finished writing my first book ‘Two into One’ I hadn’t got a clue what to do with it so I Googled publishers and called them. They all said they wanted to publish it but only if I paid them thousands of dollars, which was a non-starter. I was starting to get into contact with the writing populace (a big thank you to Chantelle Atkins here) who kindly indicated that there were alternatives and I found Amazon and never looked back. Since then I have learned so much more, you never stop learning. Unless you are a celebrity or an already established Best Seller Author you can rule out the traditional route. Either that or you get real lucky and become a slave. But if I have a tip for anybody it would be don’t write for the money, write what you would want to read yourself – anything else is gravy.
What do you hope people will get out of reading your books?
My reasons for writing are to entertain first and foremost, and beyond that to hopefully make people think and ponder some of the issues I allude to. ‘Gone Missing’ has very dark reasons for existing, the terrible tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside which was ignored for over a decade by the Authorities, but it is still full of humour and hope.
Tell us all about your latest release!
‘Senseless’ is the second in a series of detective novels set in the wondrous urban beauty of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Wondrous urban beauty the city may well have, when it’s not raining, but it isn’t immune to the same criminal abnormalities that inflict most other large cities that make up the modern world.
The main protagonist in these detective tales is DI Derek Blackstone a thirty year veteran of the Vancouver Police Department. Born in West Yorkshire, England he had been brought over to Canada by his parents at the age of eight yet still, in a way that Canadians didn’t really comprehend, retained the flat voweled speech of his slagheap derivations. Thirty years of serving with the Force had inevitably evolved in to a cynical outlook to his job and the world in general. His wife Mary had left some near ten years previously unable to compete with his life obsession for catching villains and he harbored some lonely regrets as retirement loomed ever closer.
Luckily when the call came to investigate the pesky issue of the murdered and missing indigenous women from Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside in Gone Missing (which had been ignored by the authorities and politicians for over ten years) he was lumped with a raw rookie in the form of PC Tony Hancock. Someone, he complained to his boss – the Deputy Chief Charles Hunt (otherwise known as Isaac by his subordinates) – hadn’t even learned to tie his boot laces yet. However, the duo, during the course of the investigation, formed an unlikely, close partnership with Blackstone’s cynicism matched with Hancock’s bright eyed enthusiasm.
It is the humorous interaction between the two that lie at the heart of ‘Gone Missing’ and it delightfully continues unabated in ‘Senseless’ which finds Vancouver under horrific bombing attacks from an unknown enemy. Blackstone and Hancock get drawn into the middle of the chaos against their better judgement whilst they try and get to the bottom of the disappearance and murders of two little girls from one of the city’s more upmarket neighborhoods.
Blackstone and Hancock are not Starsky and Hutch, they don’t indulge in screeching car chases, rather they are good men separated by their generations trying to do the best they can with what they’ve got in the real world and it’s the relationship between the two that give them an advantageous edge in their search to apprehend the bad guys and despite the serious nature of the crimes they seek to solve always give the reader due cause to raise a rueful smile.
Both ‘Gone Missing’ and ‘Senseless’ tackle major, serious contemporary issues with a gentle, subtle and sensitive touch which entertains whilst making you think.
Cynical and scruffy Detective Inspector Derek Blackstone is back with a bang…literally. Vancouver is under bomb attacks and Blackstone and his sidekick oppo, Detective Sergeant Tony Hancock, get dragged into the middle of the chaos whilst trying to solve the horrible murder of two little girls.
Amid the despicable crimes there is the usual humour that surrounds the unlikely detective partnership to make you smile.
‘Senseless’ is a triumphal follow-up to Blackstone and Hancock’s original adventures in ‘Gone Missing’.
Blackstone is one of those characters you hope will be with us for a long time.
What interview question do you wish someone would ask you?
If you could have written any novel by another author what would it be?
There are so many. ‘The World According to Garp’ by John Irving, which turns in directions you could never anticipate and got him a lot of worldwide attention would be up there, as would ‘Fever Pitch’ by Nick Hornby which rocketed him from total unknown to unknown heights of fame and also was made into two films (the British one is brilliant but the American one not so much – and that’s being kind), but, despite the fact that it is very funny, it is not a novel. My first book ‘Sandrown’un’ was my attempt to write a similar book. But if I have to plump for one I would go for ‘Billy Liar’ by Keith Waterhouse which he wrote in 1959. For me it is one of the great comic novels of the 20th Century. It is a hilarious short tale, set in a single day, about William Fisher, a 19 year old living with his parents in the fictional, dull Yorkshire town of Stradhoughton. Bored by his tedious job for an undertakers called ‘Shadrack & Duxbury’ Billy lives on invented fantasies and lies, such as him becoming a comedy writer down in London. He lies compulsively to just about everyone he comes across with all the consequences this brings. It later became a play, a film, a musical and a TV series.
As a final thought, the name of Shadrack is used by me in my novel ‘The Single-Bullet Theory’ as part of the name of a firm of solicitors I called ‘Snennard, Snennard & Shadrack’.
If you could write like any other author, who would it be?
There are two modern writers I greatly admire, John Irving and Nick Hornby (see above), the first American, the second English. Irving can take an ordinary set of circumstances and wander off into areas most people would never think of (‘The World According to Garp’, ‘The Hotel New Hampshire’, ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’, ‘Last Night in Twisted River’). Hornby, on the other hand, makes you bleed and breathe with the everyday things we all have to cope with (‘Fever Pitch’, ‘About a Boy’, ‘High Fidelity’, ‘A Long Way Down’.) They are both extremely witty and poignant without telling jokes.
I am an English born Vancouver (B.C. Canada) based writer of fiction books and have been resident in Canada for 19 years.
After over 30 years of working in the Information Technology industry I decided it was time to turn my attention to see if I was truly capable of making a living doing something I had always dreamt of – writing fiction. I wasn’t starting from scratch as I had been writing for as long as I can remember, although these were business related in the main.
My time in the I.T. industry included starting and running my own software development company (Swift LG Ltd.) for 12 years which saw the company grow from just myself to 25 employees. The company developed and sold 5 specialist systems for Local Government departments and was deployed in over 100 of the 412 of the Local Authorities that exist in England and Wales. A quarter of the total available market place. I sold the Company in 1999 as my family prepared to emigrate to Canada.
Three years ago I took stock of where my life now stood. My personal situation had changed; my three children had grown-up and were self-sufficient and my marriage had ended and I decided it was the best opportunity to turn my attention to writing full-time.
As at this moment in time I have written five novels and one non-fiction book which I have self-published through Amazon to encouraging reviews.
These books have the following titles:
Sandgrown’un – non-fiction
Two into One – fiction
The Lynn Valley Orchard Rules – fiction
Gone Missing (A Derek Blackstone Detective Story) – fiction
The Single-Bullet Theory – fiction
Senseless (A Derek Blackstone Detective Story) – fiction.
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or please feel free to email Ian K Ferguson at:
Thanks for joining us today Ian!