Monday, November 07, 2011

Out-of-Town-Authors: Will Ferguson

Riel: Check. Now, how about Burton?

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
by: Ariel Gordon

Calgary-based writer Will Ferguson's biography is quintessentially Canadian.

Born in northern Alberta and raised by a single parent, Ferguson traveled Canada with Katimavik and abroad with Canada World Youth. Then he taught English in Japan and, after returning to Canada, worked for a company that gave tours of Anne of Green Gables sites in P.E.I.

And then he wrote about all of it and won three Leacock Medals for Humour in addition to selling a pile of books.

Ferguson will launch his ninth book, a collection of essays entitled Canadian Pie, on Wednesday at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

1) As a writer (i.e. someone whose artistic practice is predicated on time spent alone) how do you approach performance? What do you get out of it?

Writing is a solitary pursuit, which I enjoy, but it can make one a little stir-crazy. I try to write travel articles and travel memoirs regularly if only to get me out of the house.

2) What do you want people to know about Canadian Pie?

It's a collection of work that spans 15 years, starting with the very first thing I ever wrote for publication (a travel piece about a Shinto retreat I attended in Japan) up to my work on the 2010 Vancouver Olympics closing ceremonies. It's a wide swath of work, from humour to travel to personal essays.

3) Will this your first time in Winnipeg? What have you heard?

I've been to Winnipeg several times and have always enjoyed it. Last time, I popped across the river to see Riel's grave. Always up for a late-night visit to Salisbury House, as well. I keep hoping I'll run into Burton Cummings. He still hangs out at Sals, right?

4) What are you reading right now? What are you writing right now?

I'm reading a history of Nigeria. It's background for a novel I have coming out next year about a woman who gets caught up in an Internet scam, titled 419.

5) You're a three-time winner of the Leacock Medal for Humour. Have you ever thought of doing stand-up? Or writing tragedy?

Spoken comedy is so much different than stand-up (even a book reading and comedic talk isn't the same), I don't think I'd have the guts. My next novel is not comedic, though. It's a much sadder, darker tale than I usually write. It was a new experience for me - very cathartic.

Ariel Gordon is a Winnipeg writer.

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