Thursday, October 13, 2011
An Interview with Derrick Ferguson
Derrick Ferguson is first and foremost a gentleman. He is the author of Dillon and the Voice of Odin, Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell, It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, and more -- an anthology of Dillon stories Four Bullets for Dillon has just come out from Pulpworks Press.
Pulp Magnet: Besides Dillon, whom you created, what other characters have you written about?
Derrick Ferguson: There's Sebastian Red, a supernatural gunslinger roaming a Weird Wild West I like to describe as a combination of Sergio Leone and Michael Moorcock. Diamondback is the main character of an upcoming trilogy of books I call my “Urban Westerns.” Fortune McCall is part of The Sovereign City Project and we'll get into his deal a little later.
PM: What classic pulp hero or villain is your favorite?
DF: Doc Savage is my absolute favorite pulp hero of all time. Favorite villain? Fu Manchu.
PM: Do you have a favorite classic pulp or new pulp author? If so whom would it be?
DF: Favorite Classic Pulp author: Lester Dent. The man had a way of just keeping a story going that still amazes me. He wrote stories that went full-tilt boogie from the first sentence to the last. But yet, his prose never feels rushed My favorite New Pulp author? Wayne Reinagel. I've only read two of his books so far but that's enough to convince me the man is a genius. Seriously. There's Wayne Reinagel and then there's the rest of us. 'Nuff Said.
PM: What is your favorite thing about reading/writing pulp fiction as opposed to any other kind of fiction?
DF: It's just so much FUN to read and write, y'know? I pick up a Classic Pulp or New Pulp anthology/novel and I just know I'm going to have a good time reading it. These are stories that have no interest in educating or uplifting or redressing the moral ills of our modern day society. I think that in order to write Pulp you also have to have a pretty high optimism level and faith in the inherent heroism inside of all men and women. I think that's why a lot of literary types look down on Pulp. They're too cynical. You can't write about heroes and heroines saving the world when you don't believe in heroes.
PM: What other projects are you working on currently? (That you can tell us about, of course...)
DF: The major projects I'm currently involved with is my contribution to Pro Se Productions SOVEREIGN CITY PROJECT: “The Adventures of Fortune McCall” Fortune McCall is a man of seemingly unlimited wealth and mastery of exotic weaponry who travels the world on his gambling yacht. He comes to Sovereign City to help out a friend and ends up staying to combat crime. He's got a crew of specialists to help him out and he needs all the help he can get because Fortune McCall is a black man and there weren't a lot of them being crime fighting vigilantes in the 1930's. “The Adventures of Fortune McCall” should see print in November.
I'm also in the final stages of wrapping up “Dillon and The Pirates of Xonira” a semi-sequel to “Dillon and The Legend of The Golden Bell.” Look for that in January 2012.
PM: When did you first start writing about Dillon?
DF: 1983. I remember so well because that's the first year my wife and I went to Florida. I was writing short stories/novellas about the character then with only the vaguest ideas of what eventually became “Dillon and The Legend of The Golden Bell” rattling around in my melon of a head.
PM: What made you want to write about this particular character?
DF: The desire to write the adventures of an African-American pulp adventure character. There wasn't one when I first discovered pulp. And my thing is that if there isn't anybody writing the stories I like to read then I have to write them.
PM: What was your main source of inspiration for Dillon?
DF: Dillon has a lot of grandfathers. Doc Savage, first off. But there's a lot of Derek Flint and Paladin from “Have Gun Will Travel” in there as well. The works of George C. Chesbro were a major source of inspiration as well. He's a writer who wasn't afraid of mixing genres and his writing taught me not to be afraid of doing the same as well. That's why there's such a diverse mix of elements in my Dillon stories.
PM: Dillon has gone through some pretty intense adventures so far, but what do you have in store for him next?
DF: “Dillon and The Pirates of Xonira” has him returning to that island kingdom with a submarine full of mercenaries to investigate the rumors of an old friend of his being involved in an international plot to disrupt treaty talks between the U.S. and Xonira. The next one after that will be “Dillon and The Devil's Bounty” which is based on a plot by none other than Joshua Reynolds.
PM: What would you like to say about the forthcoming Dillon story being written by Joel Jenkins for the Four Bullets for Dillon anthology?
DF: Just that it's a story that had me cracking up from start to finish. A story like this really entertains me as it shows that maybe Dillon doesn't have it as together as he likes for others to think. And pairing him with a character that's just as ego-driven, smart and skilled as he is makes for wonderful character interaction. Dillon and Sly Gantlet together are a team in the great tradition of pair-up's such as Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck, Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon and Bing Crosby/Bob Hope. I've been working on “Dead Beat In Khusra” which will have Sly and Dillon on a quest to find a secret weapon buried in a lost Nazi base somewhere in the North African desert. Hilarity ensues.
PM: When you write Dillon's adventures, do you listen to any thing in particular?
DF: When I write the first draft of anything I prefer to work in silence. But for second and third drafts/editing I listen to a variety of stuff. I like a lot of music. The only thing I won't listen to is Heavy Metal and Klingon Opera.
Derrick Ferguson's (and Dillon's) blog: http://dillon-dlferguson.blogspot.com
Better In The Dark: http://betterinthedark.podomatic.com/
Fortune McCall / The Sovereign City Project: (See Tommy Hancock/Pro Se Productions)