Alberta writer comes east for Writers at Woody Point

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Paul Hutchings
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Writer Will Ferguson said he has never been to Gros Morne National Park, and as a travel writer he is looking forward to everything the park has to offer. Ferguson is in town for Writers at Woody Point, which begins Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 at the Heritage Theatre.

WOODY POINT — Like most travel writers, Will Ferguson has a lot of stamps on his passport.

He just got back from researching in Rwanda where he spent time with gorillas and discovered the African country has come a long way since the horrific genocide it experienced 20 years ago. He has traveled across Ireland, South America, Europe and Canada, and, as of Wednesday, will be heading to western Newfoundland to take part in Writers at Woody Point, which starts tonight at the Heritage Theatre.

Ferguson said it’s that travel side of his writing career that helps keep him patient enough to be able to sit and write fiction. The Calgary-based author divides himself between travel writing and fiction.

“In my case, I’m really lucky in the sense that I get to alternate, travel writing really gets you out of the house,” he said.

“I’ve travelled more than I would have with a more conventional career, I love going to new places and if I were just doing fiction it would be a big challenge for me.”

Ferguson’s first book, a satirical work called “Why I Hate Canadians,” was published in 1997 and at age 48 he said he remembers at the time someone older than him saying he had missed the boat and wouldn’t make a living at writing.

Fifteen books later he has proven that to be untrue, but Ferguson admits to feeling a little out of place with the changes taking place in the publishing industry since he started.

“There have been changes and I’m out of step with them. I don’t have a smartphone, I don’t use Facebook or Twitter,” he said.

“I miss bookstores, but as the industry changes and evolves I’m sure the younger writers will be more attuned to it than I am.”

Like with a lot of writers, procrastination can be an issue. He sees social media as a time waster, and chooses not to have an Internet connection on the computer where he does his work.

“Publishers always want us to use social media more but I have yet to see a correlation between the use of social media and an increase in sales,” he said.

“I suspect that authors are very good at avoiding work and this is a way to avoid work and still believe that they’re working, that’s my gut feeling about it.”

Other books he has written include The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Japan, Canadian History for Dummies, 419: A Novel and Bastards and Boneheads; Canada’s Glorious Leaders, Past and Present. He has won the Stephen Leacock Award three times and won the Giller Prize last year.

Writers at Woody Point runs from Aug. 13-18. Joel Plaskett starts off this year’s event with concerts on Tuesday and Wednesday, starting both nights at 8 p.m.

Writers participating this year include Cathy Marie Buchanan, Des Walsh, Don McKay and Wayson Choy. For more information visit writersatwoodypoint.com.

Organizations: Heritage Theatre.Ferguson

Geographic location: Woody Point, Canada, Alberta Rwanda Ireland South America Europe Newfoundland Japan

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  • Terry Cormier
    August 13, 2013 - 08:34

    419 by Will Ferguson is a great read, offering real insight into internet scams originating out of Africa. Best wishes for a successful Writers Festival