MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JOE FERGUSON
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
Literary Short Fiction, Poetry, Satire
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
I currently have five books out.
The first, Southbound , is a collection of short stories all focusing on one character, Basement Man. The stories kind of add up to a novel about the character. The title is a double entendre denoting both a physical direction and a metaphor for when things go wrong.
Shillelagh Law is also the title of a story and a play on words based on the story and its characters. This collection is not focussed; rather it’s a variety of stories, styles, and characters.
Reflections of a Scurvy Bastard is a poetry collection.
Destination Known is another poetry collection. The title along with the cover picture of my family’s gravestone was a title and cover I always wanted to use; but had no reason to. Had to write a new poem with that title just so I could stick it on this second poetry collection.
Finally, Resumes that Work So You Don’t Have To is a spoof of those “How to Get a Job” books.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I lived it.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
Much of what is in my books was already written; some previously published the old fashioned way…mailing out and getting rejected 100 times before finding a home. Some if it is new though, and writing for me is like pulling teeth. What I usually do is turn on the laptop while watching TV, pull up a few in-progress stories, and fiddle with them until something takes off; which occasionally actually happens.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
Has no title yet, but have nearly enough short stories for another collection.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
Usually, very important. Sometimes they have some meaning that reinforces the theme or the character’s personality. But sometimes they are just great nicknames from the old neighborhood.
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere from observing people to drinking in excess.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
Got a couple of half-baked novels that I might return to when I run out of short fiction and poetry.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
All of it.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I guess I’m something of a Luddite in this regard. Seems like you would be trying to appeal to the wrong audience.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Getting out of bed every day.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
At this age; hopefully still breathing.
Have you always liked to write?
As I child I was always writing comic books which usually involved prehistoric creatures stomping Godzilla-like though various urban centers. Also, I was always able to BS my way through any subject in school if there were essay questions or papers involved; so I really had no choice.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Read and write. Show don’t tell. Easy on the attribution.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
Be a perpetual student.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I read them. Never respond to negative reviews – though I really don’t have any negative ones – guess that’s a function of not having many reviews at all. Try to thank everyone who does review.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
I should probably say promotion; but it is a great, guilt-free excuse for not actually writing.
What are you working on now?
A new short story collection.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
The opening graphs of The Pith of Sysiphus:
This would be one of those times.
Ethan read it in the lines on the rock’s course face. Felt it in the red tingle of his fingers.
He was part of a great tableau that fell away from his feet like some huge tapestry. Down the sun-dappled cliff to where Graves belayed, humming and bopping to some internal tune; down the leaf-strewn paths to the roads; over highways, across rivers, and down through the ages, fanning out and telescoping back until the whole span of geologic time, all the folding, chiseling, and scraping, the groaning of plates, and the spinning of worlds, focused on this one instant, this one, blank wall. He was the final piece of a huge mosaic.
Yes. This would definitely be one of those times.
He was possessed by an intense clarity, acutely aware of each of Graves’ off-key notes, every chalk-stained handhold, and all the tiny driftings and scratchings of every red, yellow, and gold leaf that filled the crisp air like dry snow.
Adrenaline – surging up like fire; melting strength to panic; forging fear to courage. He became certain at one point he was no longer tied in, and could not overcome the urge to check his knot. Then, suddenly, fright evaporated like rising steam, filling him with power and vitality.
A small crack, no more than a vein, took a number one micro nut. He held the tiny piece in his hands for a moment, small and delicate as fine jewelry, before nesting it in its minute perch. Not wanting to know how easily it might fail, he gave it a half-hearted tug, then clipped the rope and moved out over the face.
He could feel the splash of molecules as his soft shoes kissed the smooth stone. He was a spider dancing a ballet. Minute holds passed through his fingers like great riches.
Then … He was detached. Airborne. Time was a split screen: never-ending and instantaneous. There was no fear, no life flashing; only this dual impression of time.
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
An inability to concentrate on anything longer than a short story or a poem.
Where did your love of books come from?
I guess from my parents reading to me as a child. I could read long before I went to school and had a whole collection of Little Golden Books which I would alternate between reading and building houses out of.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
I currently do paid book reviews on a regular basis…Mostly Indie authors…And I’m continually coming across new writers that impress me. As to favorite writers the list is too long to name here. Off the top of my head: Hemingway, Edward Albee, Jack Kerouac, Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill, Tolkien, Dostoyevsky, Albert Camus, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Jean-Paul Sartre, on and on and on.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
Basement Man. Actually created by someone else; not as a character for a book; but as an insane personality for himself that he simply moved in to. It was so vibrant, I could just put him into any situation and I would know exactly how he would behave.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I am susceptible to any distraction; no matter how slight. If you want your house cleaned; just put me inside and tell me to write.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Have no choice but to be original. If I could write what people want; I wouldn’t be an Indie author – would I?
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Mostly people I’ve come across on social media while promoting my books; though some from the old days, albeit long distance. I’m currently editing a book by an old crony (actually the model for Basement Man) about the old neighborhood entitled, The Greystone Equation.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Perhaps I’d steal the Steely Dan title, What a Shame about Me.
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview?
Were you shocked when your writing earned you a multi-million dollar paycheck. How would you answer that question? Alas.
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Actually, the only website I have sells Rock Climbing T-Shirts. http://www.bumluckhome.com/
But I do have Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Linkedin Pages as well as my Amazon Author Page
And, of course, the book buying links:
There is also a free sampler of pieces from all the books:
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️