Eleven Questions with Derrick Ferguson
1). How did your writing journey begin?
It began an awfully long time ago. When I was in the sixth grade, I would write Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired stories utilizing my classmates as characters who would find themselves in lost lands with dinosaurs and cavemen. I would write "chapters" on both sides of a piece of loose-leaf paper. The paper would get passed around the classroom for everybody to read. Even the teacher would read it. Once it made its way back to me, I'd start on the next "chapter". I was lucky I had a teacher who encouraged me in this.
2). Who are your writing inspirations?
Way too many to list them all but I'll give you the Dirty Dozen of my inspirations: Steven Barnes. George C. Chesbro. Robert R. McCammon. Lester Dent. Ian Fleming. Chester Himes. Robert E. Howard. Larry McMurtry. Michael Moorcock. Mike Resnick. Charles Saunders. Ishmael Reed.
3). Are you an outliner or a pantser?
Oh, Pantser definitely. I love flying by the seat of my pants. I know who my characters are and I trust that they'll help me navigate my way through the story. That's not to say that I just start writing without any plan of where I'm going or what the story is going to be about. It's just that I don't feel the need to extensively detail the story before I start. I don't even like to talk about my current WIP too much because by doing so, I felt I've told the story and don't need to write it down. I need the pressure of needing to tell the story when I sit down at the keyboard. I greatly admire writers who can talk for hours about whatever novel or story they're working on and then go work on it. I can't do that.
4). What are your favorite books?
Are we talking genres or specific titles? If we're talking genres then that would be Science Fiction, Sword & Sorcery, Western, Weird Western, Men's Adventure (particularly vintage 70s/80s) Spy/Thriller and of course, Classic/New Pulp. If we're talking specific titles then once again, I give you a Dirty Dozen of my favorite books:
The Man of Bronze by Kenneth Robeson (Lester Dent). The Best of Simple by Langston Hughes. I Will Fear No Evil by Robert Heinlein. A Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon. Imaro by Charles Saunders. On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming. Santiago by Mike Resnick. Isle of The Dead by Roger Zelazny. Yellow Back Radio Broke Down by Ismael Reed. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. Hawkmoon by Michael Moorcock. The Aubry Knight Series by Steven Barnes.
5). Describe your writing process.
The question I always dread being asked. Simply because even after doing this for so many years there's much about my own writing process I don't understand or have even taken the time to sit down and try to figure out. I do know that most of the work takes place in my subconscious which I imagine as looking like a sweatshop out of a Dickens novel where there's one overworked guy sweating and slaving away over the grunt work which he then ships to my conscious brain where I do the transcribing.
6). Why did you choose to write speculative fiction?
I don't ever remember or recall making a conscious decision to write what I write. All I knew was that I liked reading it and nobody seemed to be writing enough of it to satisfy me so I had to write it. It's what still drives me to write today. I write the kinds of stories I like to read. I'm my first and best audience.
7). Tell us a bit about your story.
The current story I'm working on now is a Weird Western called "The Bloodstained Trail." It's the latest story featuring my supernatural gunslinger Sebastian Red. The alternate Wild West he roams is one I like to think would have come about if Sergio Leone and Michael Moorcock had ever collaborated on a Western.
8). What inspired you to write this story?
I like Westerns. I've written straight Westerns about Bass Reeves but writing Weird Westerns gives me a unbridled freedom to do whatever I like and throw whatever in the story. Writing a Bass Reeves story I have to make sure I get all the dates straight and I can't have Bass using a gun or a saddle that wasn't invented or manufactured until five years later. Because Western fans live to point out those kinds of errors. But in a Weird Western...well, it's a Wild West I made up so who's gonna tell me I'm wrong?
9). Will there be more stories about this character?
I've already written five stories about Sebastian Red. I'm writing this one so that I'll have enough for an anthology I hope will be published later on this year. The Sebastian Red stories are scattered all over in various anthologies and I thought it was way past time I put them all in the same book so that people didn't have to buy five different books to get the stories.
10). How do we keep up with all things Derrick Ferguson?
Start with Ferguson Ink. That's the main hub of my online wheel and you can find it here: https://fergusonink.com/
If you like movie reviews I've written a whole lot of 'em that you can find over at The Ferguson Theater: https://derricklferguson.com/
And finally there's a whole website devoted to Dillon, my most popular and successful character who has quite the loyal fan base. You can find that here: https://my-dillon.com/
11). What advice would you give to new writers?
Decide right at the beginning if you're going to treat this as a business or if you just want to write as a glorified hobby. I think a lot of people have a horrendously romanticized idea of what the writing life is like and when they experience the reality, it's a very discouraging slap in the face. But I think a lot of that can be alleviated if you make up your mind what kind of writer you want to be and have a career plan to follow.
Other than that...do your best to have fun. Writing should be fun. It's something that you have to do by yourself for many hours with no other company than the characters in your head. So you better enjoy what you're doing.